Cheese Steaks are the culinary icon of Philadelphia. The sandwich represents to them what the poboy means to New Orleans. There is culture, creativity, passion, and pizazz all sandwiched between a roll of bread. And like the poboy, there are many different variations on the Philly Cheese Steak. One of the first things one needs to know is how to order the gastronomic glory known as the Cheese Steak. Cheese Steaks in Philly have their own lingo, and if you don't know about it, you are likely to hold up a line while you are confused and trying to order.
In Philadelphia, the first step is to pick which rival Cheese Steak you want to partake in. In South Philly, Pat's and Geno's go head to head for sandwich supremacy. In Baton Rouge, Bite Club BR puts South of Philly and Philly Me Up to the challenge. Step two is to decide what you want before you get to the front of the line. There are menu boards to drool over while you wait, but once you're to the ordering counter, you best be ready. The Cheese Steak has four basic items: meat, cheese, toppings, and roll. You don't need to decide on the roll. Much like French bread is to the poboy in Louisiana, the Amoroso long roll is pretty much the only option for an authentic Cheese Steak.
As for the meat, you'll usually have an option to go with chicken. That's like choosing to have relations with the ugly step-sister when the hottie sister is willing and ready. Stop thinking about yard birds and go with the beef. Cheese for many is the most difficult decision. One version of the classic Philly Cheese Steak uses Kraft's Cheez Whiz or just "Whiz" to Philly Phanatics. First marketed in 1952, Cheez Whiz is a staple at Pat's King of Steaks in Philly where it was made famous as a sandwich topping. However, since the Cheese Steak has been around since the 1930s, twenty years before Cheez Whiz, the folks at Geno's consider American or Provolone to be more authentic. Either way, you're going with over 50 years of history and tradition, so the cheese choice really just comes down to personal preference.
Finally, the time comes to choose your toppings. Onions are the most common, so if you want them, you just have to say "with" or "wit" if you want to sound like a local in Philly. If you don't want them, make sure you say "without" or you may be biting into a roll full of them anyway. Other acceptable toppings include mushrooms, sauce, peppers, and more depending on whose Cheese Steak you're eating.
For my taste test, I decided to get the exact same sandwich at both locations. For consistency sake, I ordered a "whiz wit", their normal beef Cheese Steak with Cheez Whiz and onions. This was the most basic steak that I'd feel comfortable ordering because I wasn't about to get one "wit out". My first stop came at Philly Me Up on Jefferson Highway. Philly Me Up sits a fairly new, small strip mall.
|A 10" Classic Whiz Wit at Philly Me Up|
|A 12" Philly Steak Whiz Wit at South of Philly|
In any case, the I'd gladly eat either sandwich again, but that's not what Bite Club BR is all about! This Baton Rouge Cheese Steak Battle Royale must have a winner, and that's no easy decision. If I could design my own sandwich from the two I had just eaten, I'd take the beef from Philly Me Up and put it with the bread, onions and cheese from South of Philly. Unfortunately, that's not an option. I'm going to have to choose...
And the winner is...........
As I said, this was a difficult call. Both sandwiches were by all means satisfactory. Ultimately it came down to the lack of knowledge about whether or not Philly Me Up had Cheez Whiz and the lack of Whiz that they put on the sandwich after they found some. Had that Cheese Steak gotten the same cheesy love that South of Philly delivered, this would have been a different story. For what it's worth, I also like the atmosphere and character of South of Philly more, which goes a long way when trying to recreate an authentic Philly Cheese Steak. Next time I might try some different varieties of toppings and cheese, but right now, on this edition of Bite Club BR, South of Philly reigns supreme!
If you have thoughts about either of these two places or another place to get Philly Cheese Steaks in Baton Rouge, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post!
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