Bourdain Eats a Cheesesteak

donkeys-place-cheesesteak-400When Anthony Bourdain finally came to Philadelphia to film one of his TV shows, he steered clear of the city’s iconic cheesesteak. But he recently came back around these parts for an episode of his CNN show, Parts Unknown and he showed he wasn’t afraid to woof down the region’s singular sandwich.

Debuting on Sunday, May 31 at 9 p.m., this week’s episode is all about New Jersey and Bourdain makes his way to Camden for a cheesesteak from Donkey’s Place. Bourdain calls the cheesesteak “sublime” and “unbelievably good.”

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Drive-Thru Cheesesteaks And Meatballs For When You’re Just Too Lazy To Even Get Out Of The Car

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In the past, I have bought lots of drive-thru hamburgers. Some of the best tacos I’ve ever had have come from a drive-thru (one particular drive-thru, actually, in Denver, but I was generally pretty drunk). In New Mexico, I could buy a bottle of Jim Beam, two packs of smokes, some beef jerky and a bottle of cold medicine all from the same drive-thru, which was exactly the sort of convenience I expected from my local 7-11.

And while I understand that it’s gonna be a LONG time before I can do most of those things in Philly, at least there’s someone out there looking out for my cheesesteak-based drive-thru needs. Namely, the folks behind Zio Gio which, no lie, call the cheesesteaks, meatballs, cheddar cheese fries and odd, hoagie-roll-mounted open-face pizzas they serve “Authentic Italian Street Food.”

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Abner Silver of Jim’s Steaks Dies

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Abner Silver, the owner of Jim’s Steaks on South Street passed away today at age 79. Silver co-owned Jim’s with Bill Proetto since the South Street location opened in the mid-seventies. Silver became the sole owner when Proetto passed in 2011.

Silver, a jazz buff, was responsible for setting up Jim’s first cheesesteak eating stunt back in 1978, when Lynda Kuerth devoured 11 steak sandwiches. Silver was also the founder of Abner’s Steaks in University City.

Silver had suffered from Alzheimers in recent years but passed peacefully today.

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Tale of the Tape: Philly’s Finest Sambonis Cheesesteak

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Last year when Philly’s Finest Sambonis competed on the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, we had a bit of fun at their expense. In Philadelphia magazine, Jason Sheehan wrote, “Philly’s Finest Sambonis truck never vended in Philadelphia before appearing on The Great Food Truck Race. Which is why I am hereby declaring myself the King of Bulgaria and the prettiest Eskimo in Atlanta, Georgia. Because apparently that’s just how this shit is done now.” But the team of friends from Philadelphia made the finals of the show and started hitting locations around Philadelphia. But it wasn’t till yesterday that I was able to catch up with the truck while they vended at the Porch at 30th Street Station.

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Tale of the Tape: Train Wreck at Beck’s Cajun Cafe

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As Serious Eats pointed out in its rundown of Philadelphia cheesesteaks, under seasoning is a big issue. Even spots that aren’t just phoning it in often lack adding any salt or pepper. Under seasoning is not an issue on the Train Wreck at Beck’s Cajun Cafe. This Philadelphia take on the Po Boy adds Andouille sausage and salami to the traditional cheesesteak.

Today we take the Train Wreck for a spin and see how the Creole take on the cheesesteak stacks up.

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The Gastronaut: Hey Santa …

Illustration by Kagan McLeod

Illustration by Kagan McLeod

Dear Santa,

First things first, I have to thank you for being so good to Philadelphia since the last time I wrote you. I asked for a lot of things on behalf of the city last year — outdoor drinking and BYOs and soup and more delivery options — and you came through in spades.

This year, my requests for Philly are a little bit darker. Rather than asking for things we need, I’m asking for things to go away. This is mostly because we’ve had such a good year already, and because our neighborhoods are so full of amazing restaurants and chefs doing the best work of their careers. Hard as it might be to say, what Philly is due for is a cull. To keep the scene healthy. And Santa, sometimes hard choices need to be made.

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Serious Eats Rates Philadelphia Cheesesteaks

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Serious Eats founder Ed Levine and associate editor Niki Achitoff-Gray came to Philadelphia and sampled 30+ cheesesteaks over two days. And what did they find? “Finding a truly great cheesesteak in Philly is hard. Like, alarmingly hard.”

And as I’ve been eating my share of cheesesteaks over this Year of the Cheesesteak, I agree with what came out of their guiding principles. Especially that the meat is consistently underseasoned, bland and often dry.

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University City Gets a New Sandwich Joint

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Jake’s Sandwich Board is celebrating the grand opening of its second location in University City at 40th and Sansom Streets on December 1st, at 11 a.m. And if you’re one of the first 500 students to show up and show ID, you’ll be getting a mini bottle of Sriracha, oh yeah.

And if that’s not enough, on December 3, co-owners Gary Dorfman and Sean Stein will be hosting a Three For All – offering $3 sandwiches (any sandwich on the menu) for 3 hours (from 12 noon until 3 p.m.).

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Joe’s Steaks in Fishtown Makes Progress

Joe's Steaks at Girard and Frankford.

Joe’s Steaks at Girard and Frankford.

Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop’s new location at Frankford and Girard was announced back in May and work has finally begun to convert the old Acropolis Diner into a cheesesteak emporium. Pictured are several shots of the exterior and interior being overhauled.

Despite the current look, owner Joe Groh is still aiming for a mid-December opening.

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