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Does the Philly Cheesesteak Suck?

The real deal. Pat's in Philadelphia.
The real deal. Pat’s in Philadelphia. Photo: Nick Kindelsperger

Though almost completely devoid of any explanation, we have to admit to being avid followers of GreaseFreak. The site reviews Chicago’s most iconic foods, including hot dogs and Italian beefs, by merely throwing up an amateurish picture of the food and giving it a star rating. Occasionally, though, he’ll indulge us with words and attempt a “Grub vs. Grub” challenge, which explores such hot topic issues as Chip Chowdown: Arturo’s versus Lazo’s, Maxwell Street Polish Sausage: Jim’s Original versus Express Grill, and Berghoff Brat: “then” versus “now.” His latest is a search for the best Philly cheesesteak in the city, which turns sour fast: “It wasn’t until I downed nine Philly steaks on consecutive days in Chicago that I came to my senses: They suck.” Of course, we immediately contacted the Grub Street Philadelphia Editor to see what he had to say.

First, here is what the GreaseFreak had to say about the state of cheesesteaks in Chicago:

The griddle grotesquely browns every aspect of the meat and the additional chopping and cooking with onions (and sometimes green peppers and mushrooms) obliterates any chance for the steak to impart a tender, natural flavor. The cheese or Cheese Whiz that’s mercifully added is the final reminder that the cooked meat in a Philly steak is largely inedible on its own.

None of the places get above two stars out of four for taste. He eventually settles on Hoagie Hut as the winner, but he isn’t happy: “The least worst of the cheesesteaks above is probably the most removed from the traditional serving style…Hoagie Hut’s steak is never sliced and its bread is used for almost all their other sandwiches. It ain’t Philly, but it ain’t bad, neither.”

But when we talked with the Grub Street Philadelphia Editor he actually thought Hoagie Hut’s looked the best.

Based on the photos from the link you sent, I would say the Hoagie Hut’s looks the most authentic. Best Philly Stop and The Works both look pretty authentic too. I can’t believe that there are that many places in Chicago that serve cheesesteaks.

So what have we learned here? Much like the Italian beef in the Chicago, perhaps the Philly cheesesteak is a creation that is best had in its original city. You may get something that looks similar, but it will probably miss some key element. Of course, if you can think of a Philly cheesesteak he missed, please let us know.

philly steaks: onions, cheese and…geez! [Greasefreak]

Does the Philly Cheesesteak Suck?