Amendment: John’s Roast Pork Makes A Top 5 Cheesesteak

The constitution may very well be the most important document in America to this day. Gratzfeed’s top 5 cheesesteak article, a close second. Like the constitution, sometimes amendments are needed as times evolve and things change. They’re an important way to update and preserve the integrity of important works. As a result, I am making the very first amendment to my most popular article.

I first had John’s Roast Pork some years ago. While I think I liked it, I never thought it was quite the sandwich some had made it out to be. As the years went by, time and time again I kept hearing John’s Roast Pork’ cheesesteaks being referred to as some of the best Philly had to offer. I decided I had to give it another go. Another go turned into another go. Another go into another and so on and so fourth. Get it?

There’s a reason John’s Roast Pork has the strong reputation it does, their cheesesteaks are out of this world. The meat is flavorful. The rolls are terrific. They give you plenty of cheese and onions. But it doesn’t stop there, something about their cheesesteaks must be addressed and right this very instant. The sandwiches are HUGE. Seriously, it’s borderline offensive how much meat they pile on a single sandwich. Disturbing. Last time I went I was pretty full from just one half, but curiosity got the best of me and for some sick reason I was compelled to experience the feeling of eating a whole one again. It’s pretty much a suicide mission. It’s like having a football in your stomach. Or quintuplets. The thing is, I can eat a lot. If anything I usually complain about portions being too small. Not at John’s. You get your moneys worth and then some. You’ll be full for pretty much a whole day.

If you never been to John’s and want to get some intel, let me paint a picture. It’s your standard Philly dive joint. Small inside where a line wraps around. You either order at one stop at the counter or the next depending on if you’re getting something from the grill like a cheesesteak or the next if you’re getting a roast pork or beef. They have an enclosed seating area with benches and condiments and then some additional benches outside with no enclosure. Simple. Divey. Delicious.

On a side note, while in this case I’m focusing on the cheesesteaks, their roast pork and beef is dynamite too. Like the cheesesteaks, the sandwiches are humongous. Definitely worth a try if you’re into those.

Now you may be wondering, who’s getting bumped from the top 5? Honestly, I think I’d go with John’s Roast Pork over Tony Luke’s. Tony Luke’s is still great though and is undoubtedly a South Philly classic. So, I’m going to do the logical thing and make John’s Roast Pork 5A. and Tony Luke’s 5B. Does that make any sense? Probably not. But I want people to know Tony Luke’s is still a top cheesesteak and I want them to know about John’s Roast Pork too. There you have it, the first amendment to Gratzfeed’s top 5 cheesesteaks has been made. John’s Roast Pork, welcome to the cheesesteak elite. unnamed-5.jpg

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Gratzfood Review: Shanks Original

If you read Gratzfeed then you’re already familiar with our comprehensive guide to Philly’s best cheesesteaks. While we searched far and wide in order be as thorough as possible there were admittedly a few places we didn’t get to hit, one of them being Shanks. Located on Columbus boulevard, Shanks is a little joint right by the river that fits the mold of a typical Philly cheesesteak spot. It’s dive-y. After a trip to home depot my buddy and I swung by and put it to the test as we looked to unlock another notch on our cheesesteak belt, quite literally too.

What I ordered: Cheesesteak. American cheese. Fried Onions.

Cost: $8.75

Verdict: The bread was pretty good and the meat was solid. So it was good right? Eh, kinda.  The cheesesteak was good but it didn’t really have anything special that separates it from the competition. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it but it’s not a sandwich I would go out of my way for, especially with all of the other options close by. For $8.75 I thought they could have added more meat and perhaps that’s something they can do in the future to better stand out. I mean my hunger was satisfied after eating it but in my opinion eating a cheesesteak isn’t supposed to just fill you, it should effectively knock you out. This kind of reminded me of a slightly better cheesesteak you can get from say your local pizza spot, which isn’t necessarily a knock it’s just not a Philly elite in my opinion. Good, not great, if it’s put in front of me I’m not going to say no but I’m not trekking out of my way for it. You get it. Cool.

Gratzfood Episode 1: Chick’s Deli

Gratzfeed likes to consider itself a jack of all trades. We bring you music, sports, food, entertainment, current events and whatever the hell else we feel is necessary for your eyeballs to come across. While that’s not going to change anytime soon, there’s been a recent influx in food related content for a few reasons

  1. I love food
  2. Everyone else loves food
  3. I’ll take any excuse to eat food I can get

I realized that while food write ups are cool, I wanted to bring viewers an even closer look at the places I already know and love, or the new places that I’m trying for the very first time. I wanted people to understand the culture, the vibe, the ambience, etc. That’s why I enlisted the help of my close friend Steve Ziegler (shameless plug for Zig Media, -no seriously he’s damn good at what he does, you can watch the video and see for yourself) and set off to capture these places on camera for you all to see. For episode one I decided there was no better place to start than Chick’s Deli, located in my lovely (besides those taxes though am I right?!) hometown Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Chick’s Deli is the definition of a hidden gem…literally. It’s located behind a main road, Route 70, in this little strip that nobody would see from just driving by. Heck, you could tell Joel Embiid his crush Rihanna was waiting for him there and he still wouldn’t be able to find it. In todays world, everyone is enamored with the superficial aspect of food, the ice cream that’s rolled, fancy looking plates with the little bowls of ketchup instead of the classic packets or bottles, the artsy drizzles that look like Picasso drunkenly decorated your dish. Chick’s forgoes the nonsense and focuses on what really matters, the actual food and it’s quality. No frills, Chick’s Deli is well, a deli, that specializes in hoagies, cheesesteaks and other sandwiches. The majority of their traffic comes from the lunch crowd, people picking up sandwiches for the office, construction workers getting a quick bite on their breaks etc. Rather than pumping out advertisements, they rely on word of mouth and if you ask them they’ll probably tell you it’s worked pretty damn well. For the record, this is not a food review. I have been going to Chick’s for years and have known their food is aces. Instead, this is a glimpse inside one of the areas favorite local gems, the people that make it go and of course the food they serve. Hope you all enjoy, cheers!

Gratzfood Presents: The Top 5 Cheesesteaks

I’ve been wanting to make this list for a while and I mean a while. Definitely a list I thought about making before Gratzfeed was even the premier online blog it is today. Growing up I spent a lot of time with my single dad which led to, lets just say…”ill advised” food trips (if you’re looking at it from a health standpoint). However, if you’re looking at it from a purely pleasurable/magical/sensational standpoint than these food excursions were anything but ill advised but rather well advised, extremely. Living in South Jersey and with my dad being from Philly, cheesesteaks became an instant go-to for us, going late night, before games, after games and just going to the city simply for the sake of eating a good fucking cheesesteak. With that said I’ve had enough cheesesteaks in my life to kill Andy Reid, one for every Sixers loss, one for every dollar in Ryan Howard’s contract (OK maybe not that many but you get the point). Simply put, I’ve tried a good chunk of em and while it may not be something to brag about, at all, it does make me qualified in a world where  my resume comes up short just about everywhere else. Here are the top 5 cheesesteaks

5. Tony Lukes- Anyone worth their weight in cheese whiz will tell you that the key to a good sandwich is the bread. Tony Lukes uses Liscio’s rolls which are pretty damn hard to beat. Put a generous helping of rib eye steak on those bad boys and you’re in business. Tony Lukes is a staple, it’s close to the sports complex and even in the stadiums themselves. To be fair though not all Tony Lukes are created equally, since it’s rise in popularity they’ve expanded at a rapid pace across the tristate area and while those sandwiches are serviceable, they can be underwhelming in size and overwhelming in price so make sure you go to the original on Oregon avenue if you want the true experience.

4. Steve’s Prince Of Steaks- Steve’s has everything you want in a cheesesteak: great tasting meat, lots of cheese, a solid roll, and late hours. If you’re looking for the quintessential Philly cheesesteak vibe then this is your place. Neon signage illuminates the divey atmosphere and nothing screams cheesesteak more than going up to a counter (ripe with every topping you could possibly want) and ordering one. Also, can’t stress the importance of the late hours. Eating a late night steak (sober or not) can be likened to a religious experience. Actually scratch religion, it’s more like marriage, seems like a great idea at the time but then you wake up questioning why you made this life choice that will haunt you forever. Not to scare you though, Steve’s is worth any gym session, guilt trip or self loathing you may endure.

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3. Leo’s Steak Shop

The hidden gem. Another dive, the Folcroft, PA spot has virtually no indoor seating and only a handful of weathered benches outside. Here’s the deal with Leo’s, their steaks are HUGE. Unlike the two aforementioned  places Leo’s chops their meat up real fine and piles it high on the roll. These suckers are juicy and tasty, with just the right amount of delicious cheese. This is definitely the least known entry on the list and with small wait times, I’m not exactly complaining about it. This tiny shop packs a heavyweight punch that can go toe to toe in the ring with just about anywhere else in Philly.

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2. Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop

Since 1949 Joe’s was known as “Chink’s” but with everything having to be all politically correct and shit nowadays they changed the name to Joe’s in 2013. Well, being perfectly honest this place could be called Horseshit Steaks and Slop and I’d still eat it because these are some of the best tasting creations the city (or anywhere else in the world) has to offer. For real, the quality of the meat is probably the best of anywhere in the city. Joe’s slices their meat down from a ribeye roll and pairs it with a great roll to make for a truly heavenly match. They also have real, authentic milkshakes which is just what you want to pair with a cheesesteak to show that you really give zero fucks in life. The original on Torresdale Avenue has the old school vibe going too, a big grill right in front of the window piled high with meat, a long counter, some tables, old jukeboxes that I don’t think work, this place has it all. There’s a reason this place has been in business since 1949, can give up it’s name, and still be one of the most popular places. One bite of these and you’ll understand exactly why.

  1. Dalessandro’s

This is the best cheesesteak. The best Philadelphia, or any other place in the world has to offer, hands down. I usually try to not sound so definitive on something opinion based but I’m pretty confident this is fact, science if you will. Navigating this corner shop (which is a total dive, albeit clean), can be likened to a crowded fraternity basement, rubbing elbows with the locals and a lot of “excuse me, excuse me”. Seating is at a premium with really one long “L” shaped counter (they have some tables to the side but the people waiting for takeout essentially take that option away). There are a few tables outside too, but as I write this in December, weather can obviously be a factor. So what makes these the best? It’s really just the perfect combination: the meats amazing, great bread and just the right amount of cheese. The portions are also generous, to say the least. OK, I’ll put it to you this way, they literally stick a fork in it because it’s so packed with meat that you can basically have a second meal just from what falls off the bread. I also like to call this a “cleaner” sandwich in that it’s not overly greasy and the breads never soggy. If you’re looking for the best cheesesteak in Philly, this is your place, without question.

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Takeout Titleholder: Cosmi’s Deli

This place is a little deli in with virtually no seating, so takeout is the move here. Packed with flavor and located in South Philly, this makes for a great pit stop on the way to a game.

All Underrated Team:

Campo’s Deli- Campos just has a delicious cheesesteak, plain and simple. Probably the first honorable mention of the top five. They have locations on Market Street and at the sports complex (and Liacouras Center). Not the biggest sandwiches in Philly but the high quality and taste alone cement it’s top ten standing in a competitive circuit.

Ishkabibble’s

While Jim’s on South Street is an undeniable powerhouse, Ishkabibble’s is more than a worthy alternative if you want to avoid absurd wait times and still get a delicious steak. Ishkabibble’s also has some of the best fries around so you can have the ultimate combination of indulgence.

Chickie’s And Pete’s

Sure you know about their out of this world crab fries but their cheesesteaks are also a standout on their big time menu. Great meat and they top it off with their crack injected (i think that’s the secret ingredient?) cheese sauce. True gluttons (like myself) can even dunk their sandwich into their cheese cup sauce from the fries, now that’s a pro tip right there.