Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008

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wanderingjew
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2008/04/07 22:49:17 (permalink)

Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008

I got back late last night from an intensive weekend of devouring some of the best cheesesteaks in Philly.

Before I begin my trip report, I just want to let everyone know that
I didn't eat here



and I definitely didn't eat here



or here



Saturday April 5

My trip began with a really bum start..

I flew US air from Providence to Philly, about 10 minutes into the flight, the captain announced that they needed to return to Providence due to some computer error message they were receiving, and although "there was nothing to be alarmed about" they felt that was the best thing to do instead of flying directly to Philly. Well, 5 minutes later they announced that they could not land in Providence due to weather and they would need to divert to Hartford. Anywho, the technical issue they had was resolved and I arrived in Philly at 3pm- two hours late.

Cheesewit was a fantastic host Saturday afternoon, he picked me up at the Airport and we were going to do a cheesesteak tour around Delaware county. I wanted to hit Chink's but unfortunately, they close at 4 pm and we would not have enough time to hit the place.

Our first stop was Leo's in suburban Folcroft



Leo's apparently has been around for over 40 years, and the gentleman who took my order behind the cash register was Leo's son.
These cheesesteaks are huge! and you can order an even larger version. I ordered mine with fried onions and american cheese. Unfortunately bigger isn't always better and the meat which is basically hacked to death was somewhat bland, however this was definetely the largest cheesesteak of the trip- I had half of my sandwich and threw the rest out so I can enjoy my next stop.



Our next stop was La Forno, a pizza joint in suburban Media known for their brick oven pizza.



I ordered another steak with fried onions and american cheese. The sandwich at Laforno faired much better, the meat was much more flavorful (could it be the oil?) and also seemed a bit more tender. Although it was smaller, it was much better than leo's. I had just over half a sandwich and called it quits to save room for our last stop of the day.



Our last stop was The Thunderbird Inn in Broomall PA


I ordered a steak with whiz and fried onions. The meat here is sliced and personally I thought the portions were a little skimpy and my sandwich appeared to be a little too inundated with fried onions. Although tastier than Leo's, overall I wasn't impressed.



Cheesewit dropped me off at my hotel in University City at around 6pm- I was staying at the Sheraton on Chestnut at 35th. A great deal for $90 on priceline. This was the first hotel I ever stayed at that actually had a computer in the room!

I spent a couple of hours digesting the cheesesteaks. I then decided to take a walk into Center City Philly at around 8pm. My first stop was the Nodding Head Brewpub. I had a Scottish Ale that was actually not quite as hoppy as most here on the East Coast and finished off with a mellow malty British Ale with hints of chocolate. I then continued to stroll towards south Philly. I had discussed some of my planned stops for Sunday with Cheesewit, one of which was Lorenzo's Pizza. Cheesewit warned me of their irregular hours. I wanted to see if they had their hours posted (I knew they were closed) unfortunately the metal grates enclosing the exterior of the building concealed the posted hours. I then meandered over to South Street- walked up 2nd Street towards headhouse Square, walked up to Walnut Street and then was back at my hotel by 11:30am. I figured I walked about 6 or 7 miles that evening.

Sunday April 6

It was drizzling this morning, however this didn't stop me from strolling to one of 4 coffee houses I would be visiting today. My first stop was the Walnut Bridge Coffee House on the outskirts of the Rittenhouse Square Neighborhood. They only offered a medium roast which I found a tad bland, however I did enjoy their pumpkin nut muffin. I then headed to Brew Ha Ha, a local chain out of Delaware in the Washington Square Neighborhood (locally referred to as "the gayborhood"), their medium roast had a little more flavor. Since I had already walked 2 miles and it was not even 11am yet, I took the subway back to my hotel and checked out at noon- By this time it had stopped drizzling although it remained overcast the rest of the day.

I took the subway back to 11th street and walked towards the Italian Market. My first stop was Lorenzo's Pizza, and yes they were open!



I ordered a steak with fried Onions and extra american. Although the steak is initially frozen when cooked, this sandwich held its own and then some. The onions were "fried to death" just the way I like them and the onions/beef/cheese ratio was perfect. I thorougly enjoyed and ate the entire sandwich



After my 1st sandwich of the day, I strolled the lively Italian Market peering in and out of the various stores and stalls.
Here is a sign for the oldest Italian Restaurant in Philly



and here is the famous Sarcone's Bakery



I stopped at Anthony's Italian Coffeehouse and had my first dark roast of the day. I then walked up towards Pats and Geno's and laughing to myself at the tourists who were lined up. I then walked back down to South Street, but stopped at my last coffee house of the day, the Chapterhouse Cafe and Gallery. Not only was this place packed, but the dark roast I ordered was definetely the best that I ordered that day. After strolling up and down South Street towards Penn landing, I headed back towards the Italian Market. It was time for round 2, Cosmi's Deli.



According to the Eating Team- this is supposed to be the Cheesesteak Shrine. I ordered mine on a Seeded Sarcone Roll, fried onions and american. This sandwich was the 2nd largest on the trip and this was by far the best roll, however I thought the rest of the sandwich was slightly lacking, either that or I was expecting too much or was still coming down from my high at Lorenzo's. I was chatting with the owner and he told me to say hello to Signman



After Cosmi's, I was heading up towards the Reading Terminal but they had just closed since it was after 4pm. I went to a sports bar near the market which used to be a brew pub which I previously visited with Alesrus and Aleswench 3 years earlier and I had a Yuengling (by this time my feet were killing me) I then took a stroll around Chinatown.
Here's the Chinatown gate



After perusing the Chinatown Shops, I meandered towards the Historical District. Here is independence Hall.



I finally made it to my last stop in the Olde City section of Philly, Campo's Market.



I ordered a steak with fried onions and whiz. This sandwich was probaby the cheesiest sandwich of the trip. Dripping with wiz, it still did not detract from the flavor of the meat, this too was a favorite of mine.



My last stop of the day was The Franklin Fountain. An old fashioned ice cream shop a few doors down from Campo's Market. I orderd a small cup of the Butter Pecan. Not only was it rich and creamy, it was also chock full of pecans. A nice way to clean the palate. (Sorry no photos) after a final stroll around olde city, I walked back to the Market East Station and took the train back to the Airport. Thankfully my flight was ontime and I was home by 12:30am.

So to summarize- are there still good cheesesteaks to be found in Philly? The answer is a resounding YES!

Although I didn't have a "bad" cheesesteak on the trip- here is my order #1 being the best

1- Lorenzo's Pizza
2- Tie- Campo's Market and La Forno
3- Cosmi's Deli
4- Thunderbird Inn
5- Leo's

#1

42 Replies Related Threads

    billyboy
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 02:25:42 (permalink)
    Awesome report, WJ!!! I hope to make it to Philly this year. Love that cheesesteak covered in Whiz!
    #2
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 06:50:32 (permalink)
    wanderingjew-
    Yet another excellent report with great photos. The cheesesteaks from Lorenzo's Pizza and Campo's Market look especially good to me.

    I am just stunned that you ate so much, since you have been practicing moderation in the last few years. Cheesesteaks have to be one of the most filling foods around. I can only assume that all the walking you did helped build up the appetite.

    Thanks for giving me some new places to try on my next visit to the other end of the state!
    #3
    CheeseWit
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 07:02:15 (permalink)
    Dale: Great report! It was my pleasure to host on Saturday. A couple of points...I usually love Thunderbird's (in Broomall, not Springfield) cheesesteaks but, I was very disappointed in the sandwiches served to us on Saturday.

    I've never been a fan of Leo's and Saturday's experience confirmed my thoughts. In one word, bland. I always enjoy La Forno.

    Now, I need to admit a mistake I made. Chink's is open past 4 on Saturdays. I think it's open 'til 9. The place I was thinking that closes at 4 on Saturdays is Silvio's in Hatboro, a stop you mentioned you were interested in making. I owe you a Chink's trip.

    I agree with your opinion on Lorenzo's. I love Campo's - probably because of the abundance of whiz.

    I'm glad you were able to find other cheesesteak shops that are not on the "Tourist Trail."
    Good to see you again.

    #4
    John A
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 07:31:32 (permalink)
    Nice report & Pics WJ, Lorenzo's Pizza gets my vote.
    #5
    MiamiDon
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 08:11:12 (permalink)
    Nice report, WJ. It looks like if one could get the Lorenzo's filling into the Sarcone roll, Cheesesteak Heaven would be achieved.

    I know about Pat's and Geno's, but what's the scoop on Jim's? (other than that it has a weird facade)
    #6
    joerogo
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 08:27:02 (permalink)
    Excellent report. I have the same thoughts about Leo's. I have never been to 1 thru 4 and look forward to trying them.

    Wow did you do some walking!
    #7
    wanderingjew
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 09:26:39 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by buffetbuster

    wanderingjew-
    I am just stunned that you ate so much, since you have been practicing moderation in the last few years. Cheesesteaks have to be one of the most filling foods around. I can only assume that all the walking you did helped build up the appetite.


    not only did the walking help, but pacing myself on Sunday did too. Moderation usually does goes "out the window" when I'm traveling although if you notice, I rarely ever "snack" on these trips and I always have 2 big meals a day (usually lunch and dinner)


    quote:
    MiamiDon Posted - 04/08/2008 : 08:11:12

    I know about Pat's and Geno's, but what's the scoop on Jim's? (other than that it has a weird facade)


    The last time I went to Jim's I was dissapointed not only by the roll, but by the skimpy portions, I think Ellen described it perfectly once before when she said "the sandwich tastes like air"


    quote:
    joerogo Posted - 04/08/2008 : 08:27:02

    Wow did you do some walking!


    I'm glad when a local can appreciate all the walking I do. I usually walk like this on a daily basis on all of my trips but sometimes wonder if anyone who is not familiar with the area can truly appreciate this.
    #8
    ann peeples
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 09:34:29 (permalink)
    Great report!Having never experienced a true eastern cheesesteak, your descriptions and pictures had my stomach grumbling...
    #9
    kland01s
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 09:41:19 (permalink)
    Great report as always WJ! Now come to Chicago and we can do an Italian Beef run!
    #10
    wanderingjew
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 09:44:08 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by kland01s

    Great report as always WJ! Now come to Chicago and we can do an Italian Beef run!


    I'll be there Labor Day Week!
    #11
    cheapsteak
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 09:46:01 (permalink)
    Wow, that's some eating.

    I'll second the general sentiment -- you didn't miss much with Jim's (which I guess is why you didn't go?). Although the original Jim's in West Philly is much better.
    #12
    divefl
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 10:00:09 (permalink)
    Fantastic. Thanks for showing the places that aren't whoring for attention on every Food and Travel chanel show. If you're good people find you.
    #13
    Bluemaxx
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 10:30:23 (permalink)
    WJ - this is the single greatest post of all time (in my humble opinion, of course). I think I will start pulling my hair out now and screaming at the top of my lungs! Man, do I miss really good cheesesteaks (chopped, not sliced of course). Crying now...
    #14
    mr chips
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 13:04:07 (permalink)
    Great report my man. glad you enjoyed your trip.
    #15
    TJ Jackson
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 13:36:38 (permalink)
    The Campo's cheesesteak looks very, very good.....but I will be hard pressed if I ever get to return to order anything but the "mama mia" italian hoagie (lousy pic, but a GREAT sandwich)



    #16
    ScreamingChicken
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 14:10:53 (permalink)
    While reading this thread I ate a french dip sandwich from the vending machine here at work...somehow I think the sandwiches in the photos tasted a whole lot better!

    Brad
    #17
    leethebard
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 14:19:26 (permalink)
    thanks for the tasty report...ohhhh cheesewiz on a steak...what are we thinking!!!!
    #18
    JAKE91
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 16:04:42 (permalink)
    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20080404_After_45_cheesesteaks__the_best_were____.html?text=xlg





    #19
    ellen4641
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 16:52:24 (permalink)
    Great comprehensive cheesesteak report, WJ! About the best I've ever seen!

    I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks Pats, Geno's, and Jim's are way overrated. (and not even particularly good). (IMO, Geno's tasted like horsemeat, way too tough)

    And you've got a good memory, regarding my reporting that Jim's Steak tastes like "air".
    And even though they came right off the grill, they were just "warm", instead of being "hot and juicy"....

    La Forno and Lorenzo's look espescially yummy to me. I like the cheesesteak at John's roast pork, as well. Been there yet? They use that bread with the sesame seeds. (and they open real early in the morning; good to keep in mind)

    Regarding the Thunderbird, "where's the beef?".... too much roll ... but it still looks tasty..

    I've got to try those places, plus Chinks and Dalessandros ASAP..

    ellen

    #20
    Davydd
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 17:12:52 (permalink)
    I will have to bookmark this thread for if and when I ever get to Philly again. An absolutely great report. You actually put away more cheesesteaks in the same amount of time than Buffetbuster puts away pies. You guys are tremendous.
    #21
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 17:17:08 (permalink)
    That is why I felt a little weird pointing out to WJ just how much he ate in those two days. As filling as cheesesteaks are, this would have been WAY beyond me.

    Oh and Davydd, we haven't forgotten about those three or four pork tenderloins you ate in just a few hours span in Iowa last year!
    #22
    Benzee
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 18:50:01 (permalink)
    Hello all ,

    Another great trip report . We may be visitng the Franklin Institute this weekend so if you had to pick one place , open on a Sunday , which would it be ?

    Benzee
    #23
    CheeseWit
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/08 19:04:06 (permalink)
    Benzee: WJ will tell you Lorenzo's in the Italian Market in South Philly or Campo's in the Old City section of the city. And those are pretty good recs. Stay away from P, G, and J (Pat's, Geno's, Jim's).

    There's a decent neighborhood pizza/steak shop right around the corner from The Franklin Institute. Little John's Pizza at 161 N. 21st St. (21st & Cherry Streets). Cheesesteaks are decent. I've enjoyed them.
    #24
    signman
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/09 01:01:05 (permalink)
    Dale, nice report as always. Is Lorenzo's on S.9th? How did the tomato pies look.

    Mike from Cosmi's is a nice guy. I've always enjoyed the triple threat which includes mushrooms and peppers, as well as onion. It's a good value, even if it is chopped.
    #25
    wanderingjew
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/09 08:32:40 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by signman

    Dale, nice report as always. Is Lorenzo's on S.9th? How did the tomato pies look.

    Mike from Cosmi's is a nice guy. I've always enjoyed the triple threat which includes mushrooms and peppers, as well as onion. It's a good value, even if it is chopped.


    Yes, Lorenzo's is on S. 9th, right at the beginning of the Italian Market. No tomato pies. I think you're confusing Lorenzo's in Philly with Lorenzo's in Trenton- I don't think it's the same ownership. The pizza looked like your "garden variety" NY Style- regular and sicilian slices, but they did look good.
    #26
    Mrs.Crunch
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/09 13:25:15 (permalink)
    I'm soo Jealous!!

    Don't suppose you had any pretzels??
    Safe travels as always!
    #27
    CajunKing
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/09 14:42:57 (permalink)
    WJ

    I can see why you walked everywhere, you needed to make more room for the next cheesesteak.

    I loved your report, I was glad to see you bypassed the tourist traps to find the real cheessteaks.


    #28
    JBarry713
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/09 18:13:24 (permalink)
    Good report and great pics, some good places I would like to it next time in Philly. I have already done the Big Three (Pat's, Geno's and Jim's) plus Sonny's. Wish you could have commented on the rolls more (with the exception of the Cosmi's roll - which looked great), they are one of the two most important part of the cheesesteak (at least to me).

    WJ, in terms of meat alone, do you think Lorenzo's was the best steak, with it being frozen and all? Or was it just the sandwich as a whole that you liked the best.
    #29
    wanderingjew
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    RE: Cheesesteak themed weekend in Philly 2008 2008/04/10 08:35:07 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Jack Barry

    Good report and great pics, some good places I would like to it next time in Philly. I have already done the Big Three (Pat's, Geno's and Jim's) plus Sonny's. Wish you could have commented on the rolls more (with the exception of the Cosmi's roll - which looked great), they are one of the two most important part of the cheesesteak (at least to me).

    WJ, in terms of meat alone, do you think Lorenzo's was the best steak, with it being frozen and all? Or was it just the sandwich as a whole that you liked the best.


    Jack,

    The rolls were all excellent, no complaints there so I didn't go into a detailed description, if they didn't meet my standards you definetely would have heard it, the only difference was Cosmi's roll was superior so I believes that needed special mention.

    Despite Lorenzo's steak being frozen, it was still probably the best sandwich overall, It may have been the oil or the meshing in of the onions as they were were fried I think the extra american, and the thinly sliced and generously fried onions did it too.
    #30
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