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Joe's Steaks + Soda Shop

6030 Torresdale Ave., Philadelphia, PA - (215) 535-9405
Posted By Michael Stern on 1/29/2009 8:30:00 AM
Not to disrespect the big-name Philadelphia cheese steak shops, but there is a special thrill in visiting the less-known neighborhood joints that also dish out the city's greatest contribution to American gastronomy. Joe's is just such a place, a mid 20th century neighborhood storefront staffed by young women who delight in what they do, which includes building banana splits supreme and blending chocolate milk shakes thick enough that trying to suck one up a straw will cause serious hollows in your cheeks.

The open kitchen – little more than a griddle – is up front at a picture window that allows pedestrians to stop and watch the cooks work, flipping frying meat, scooting around sizzling onions, layering on slices of cheese, then hoisting it all into a long, chewy, toasty-edged roll. The result: a buttery confluence of meat and dairy and weeping sweet onion that welcomes a spill of sharp yellow peppers and pickle chips. It arrives not on a plate but on a square of butcher paper.

The interior is vintage Americana: old wooden booths and a short, 5-stool counter. A sign up front reads, "Please do not lean on the counter. This is our work space. Thank you." Chink's, the worrisome original name of the place, by the way, does indeed have a politically incorrect explanation. It was the nickname of the founder, a Caucasian man who earned it as a child because his playmates thought he looked Chinese. The current owner renamed the place on April 1, 2013.

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Scorecard

3 - Overall: Excellent - Worth a Detour
Overall: Excellent - Worth a Detour
Cheese Steak
Milk Shake
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A close view of Joe's cheese steak shows that the sliced beef remains fairly intact as it is cooked on the grill. While there is not a surfeit of meat, it's a good balance with the cheese (American) and onions and, at $6, a good-deal meal.
"A close view of Joe's cheese steak shows that the sliced beef remains fairly intact as it is cooked on the grill. While there is not a surfeit of meat, it's a good balance with the cheese (American) and onions and, at $6, a good-deal meal."
Michael Stern





This view shows how steak sandwiches are assembled, using a trowel to load all ingredients into the toasty roll.
"This view shows how steak sandwiches are assembled, using a trowel to load all ingredients into the toasty roll."
Michael Stern


Cheese steak chefs take a pre-name change break to smile for the camera of a passing pedestrian.
"Cheese steak chefs take a pre-name change break to smile for the camera of a passing pedestrian."
Michael Stern


Joe's makes its heavy-duty shakes the old-fashioned way, using ice cream, syrup, and milk.
"Joe's makes its heavy-duty shakes the old-fashioned way, using ice cream, syrup, and milk."
Michael Stern


Philadelphia's cheese steak aficionados tend to be big fans of Joe's (formerly Chink's), but it is little known to travelers from outside the city.
"Philadelphia's cheese steak aficionados tend to be big fans of Joe's (formerly Chink's), but it is little known to travelers from outside the city."
Michael Stern



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