Cheesesteak Manifesto

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The cheesesteak is the hackneyed stereotype that makes us groan. The only thing that could make our eyes roll more would be running up the Art Museum steps, dressed up as Ben Franklin, while flying a kite and throwing a snowball at Santa Claus. The question of where to get a cheesesteak makes us groan. We cringe with every stereotypical b-roll shot of a grill and fried onions during a national Eagles broadcast. We’re disciples of Vetri, Vernick and Sbraga, not Jim, Pat or Tony. When Anthony Bourdain finally came to Philadelphia to do a show, he deliberately omitted the city’s most known sandwich. And we were thrilled.




The cheesesteak has become our albatross. The sandwiches at 9th and Passyunk, our Cheesesteak Vegas are nothing more than bait for tourists. A trap to be avoided, even at 3 a.m. Especially at 3 a.m. And even if you've nodded approvingly of this takedown of the cheesesteak, there's something else us Philadelphians know is true. Nowhere makes a cheesesteak better than Philadelphia. We will never order a steak and cheese. Mayo and Swiss cheese have no place on a traditional cheesesteak and any steak that promises to be an "authentic Philly," most assuredly will not be. We are insulted when out-of-towners come to our fair city and rank their favorite steak sandwiches. Who are they to ignore our favorite neighborhood spot? "Hacks" we scream. "Who is this clown" echoes across Internet comment sections.

And that's the rub. The cheesesteak and Philadelphia are indelibly connected. The world will not let us forget the cheesesteak and we make it best. So we must bring the cheesesteak up with us. It must become a symbol of how far we've come.

2014-year-of-the-cheesesteakThis year on Foobooz, we will exalt the cheesesteak. Not by settling for $9 cheese/bread sandwiches with a couple of low quality slices of beef but by promoting those who do it right. Whether that means heaps of quality grass-fed beef at a fair price or even a new take on a cheesesteak that represents Philadelphia today. It's ok if the cheese comes from a farm and not a 72-ounce can. It is all fair game and will be covered on Foobooz this year, 2014 - The Year of the Cheesesteak.

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Year of the Cheesesteak [Foobooz]

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  • CaptianLogic

    Early nomination the the cheesesteak at THE ABBAYE!

  • Phila140

    Varga Bar @ 10th and Spruce has a great Ribeye Cheesesteak Sandwich (which comes with their wonderful fries).

    • ConnieD

      I’m sorry, but that does not look like a good cheese steak to me. that looks like a bread/onion/cheese sandwich. Is it just me, or when someone gives you a steak sandwich and all you see is lots and lots of bread, you know it’s going not going to be good. the first thing i would do is slide all the meat and cheese down to one end of the bread and cut off the empty dry part of the roll. THEN dig in.

  • doombay

    “We’re disciples of Vetri, Vernick and Sbraga” – says it all. If it doesn’t fit in your formula, it doesn’t warrant press.

    • rk

      few hate on philly mag’s version of foobooz more than I, but doesn’t this seem like the wrong post to make that complaint on? They’re specifically acknowledging their bias (I’d say more that they’re easily woo’ed by smart PR, but whatever) and saying they’re looking to expand. As much as I’m disappointed that expansion is for the f*cking cheesesteak, I applaud the move.

      Personally, I’d rather they expand their geography–name the last 5 places outside of Center City/South Philly/U City/Fishtown they’ve spoken about. What, there’s nothing interesting in Mt. Airy? Bourdain found a spot that’s never been in foobooz that I know of in one day here. Why so little on N. 5th street’s food? Why not more on exploring the Polish and Russian markets. the year of the cheesesteak is a boring, bad gimmick, in my opinion. but at least it’s a new one for them. I’d rather have a weekly exploration of somewhere never before mentioned on foobooz, whether successful or not.

      • The Legend

        you hate it so much why ya here?

        • rk

          for better or worse, sometimes it has good information. Used to always have good information. If philly’s eater were updated a little more, i’d be gone. getting bought by philly mag was great for arthur, terrible for this sites quality.

      • JA

        Pretty simple…the restaurants on N. 5th, the restaurants in the Polish and Russian communities (etc.)…don’t play the Philly Mag/FooBooz game. They don’t have slick P.R. people AND they don’t pay for advertising on this level. They may bring eyeballs (which are then exposed to paid adverting), but they don’t bring in direct dollars to Philly Mag or FooBooz.

        • rk

          ya lo se.

  • Lord Chesterfield

    How can you rant about the importance of “authenticity” and then proclaim in the next breath you will celebrate and explore innovation in the art of the cheesesteak? I think the Abbaye steak mentioned above is a great example of a cheesesteak for today’s philly that fits with the amazing craft-beer-bar and dining-at-bars culture we have going on now.

    But guess what? It’s got aioli (mayo) and gruyere (swiss), so sadly, its fucking shit since neither has any place on a cheesesteak. I look forward to seeing how this year of the cheesesteak concept will play out. Tell us where you find this grass-fed beef cheesesteak at a fair price that is innovative in spite of only containing meat, an acceptable variety of cheese, and maybe onions.

    • http://philadelphia.foobooz.com/ Art from Foobooz

      I say we as a city rant against this lack of authenticity. I’m not saying I’m in favor of that. in fact I’m not. Let the mayo flow!

  • Butaquaman…

    Fobooz is the Simpson’s Comic Book Guy of food blogs.

    • The Legend

      why so serious? Stuff yourself silly with one!

  • Caroline

    Beautifully said.

  • YoDawgIHeardYouLikeCheesesteak

    “Man, Philly loves so much more food than just cheesesteaks. Don’t you hate how every tourist only thinks about cheesesteaks when they come to Philadelphia? Anyway, here’s a whole fucking year devoted to cheesesteaks.”

  • perot

    The best cheesesteak in town is THE ROAST PORK SANDWICH …AT JOHN’S !!!

    • David F

      I agree !

    • Guzzi

      THIS GUY GETS IT

    • Picolopadre

      Good food filthy place

  • William Rhodes

    What’s this “we” shit? I love cheesesteaks.

    • Earl J

      Yo, amen!

  • David F

    We serve only the best quality Ribeye sliced fresh daily and cooked to order at Sonny’s Famous Steaks !

    • Kevin Walsh

      True story. Driving by place in Fresno, CA. See a sign that reads East Coast Cheesesteak. I’m thinking, who’s the clown who’s trying to pull a fugazy on a naive bunch. I walk in and see a woman with like 15 piercings in each ear. I ask “Is this a real Philly cheesesteak?” She slams her fist on the table, crinkles her face and says, “Wha da hell is wrong wid youse people?” I said, “Oh baby I’ll take one!” Real deal. She was having all the stuff shipped out. I was like $11, but if you gotta have a cheesesteak in Cali, you’ll pay about any price.

      • price

        that’s pretty much what you’ll pay here anyways

  • Boo-urns

    Chink’s (er, Joe’s). ’nuff said, you all can stop looking now.

  • It’s about the protein hit

    Like

  • Guest32

    It’s pretty apparent Arthur has not done his homework .. You can’t fool people lines don’t lie

  • Picolopadre

    Fact is if they get your advertising dollar they are happy , if they don’t they smear you every chance they get