Thursday, November 15, 2012


Pat's, Geno's, Jim's,  Delessandro's, Tony Luke's, John's Roast Pork- I've eaten dozens of authentic Philly cheesesteaks.  A shockingly high number of them, actually, especially for someone who has never lived in Philly. For example, when my college friend Esther moved to Philly for medical school, my wife and I visited her during her 1st year and tried Philly cheesesteaks for their time (not mine, theirs). We went to the famous Pat's/Geno's corner, and I had 1 from Geno's, 2 from Pat's, and the rest of the (sigh) Pizza cheesesteak that Esther ordered. (My wife finished hers despite not even being hungry, which is more evidence of why she is the most awesome person ever). 3 1/2 cheesesteaks in about half an hr. Hence my high number of cheesesteaks consumed despite not living in the city.  For a while, my favorite was the original.

Maybe it's the bias of knowing that Pat's invented the cheesesteak, or maybe it's the memories associated with Pat's (my above mentioned wife crushing a cheez wit, or my buddy Tim finishing one of their sandwiches before even getting to the soda window (5 feet, maybe 45 seconds))- but for years, any time I was driving up 95 and I had an extra 10 minutes to spare, I'd stop at Pat's and crush 2 "cheese wit's."

Within the last 2 years, however, I've been all about Tony Luke's.

Visually, it's not much different, but I believe their ribeye is more tender, their onions are well cooked, their Cheez Wiz is properly warmed, and importantly, their bread is awesome (yes, i'm aware it's not Amaroso's, the gold standard of cheeseteak bread in Philly). I dont know who makes their bread, but for the last 10 or so cheeseteaks I have had, the bread has been amazing- so, Tony Luke's is awesome, and for now, the standard by which I judge Philly-style cheesesteaks.

Despite my love for cheesesteaks, I haven't eaten them as often as I would like. For one, they're not very good for you, and I try to not be totally disgusting. But more importantly, there hasnt been many options for an authentic Cheez-wit here in Baltimore.  Until this year (at least to my knowledge), there was really only 1 place where you could get an authentic Philly-style cheesesteak- McGerks (there are good non-Philly cheesesteaks in Baltimore, even fancy versions,- but my favorite has always been a good Cheez-Wit). McGerk's sells a very good Philly cheesesteak, but for whatever reason, I just dont eat them that often unless I'm out for a night in Federal Hill- and that doesnt really happen anymore because I'm old and cranky.

Enter, Fat Larry's, just around the corner from McGerks.  Maybe because it's not a bar, or just the half block makes for a quieter location, but I've already taken to getting carryout from Fat Larry's much more than I ever did at McGerks.

To date, there have been 6 times I've eaten a Fat Larry's Philly-style cheesesteak (cheez-wit), and  they've been pretty good each time. The bread was good, the meat was tender, juicy, and well seasoned, the wiz was well-proportioned, and the onions were softened enough to take the bite off of them. This place is definitely trying to make as authentic of a Philly-style cheesesteak as possible, and it shows.  It is now my go-too spot for a Cheez-Wit in Baltimore.

PS-  I've heard that Tony Luke's cheesesteaks can also be had in Baltimore- at Scores strip club.  Can anyone confirm that? Has anyone actually eaten one there and is it really up to the standard of the Tony Luke's name?

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