Monday, March 11, 2013

Who Moved my Cheesesteak?

Betsy, our recent guest blogger, put the idea of melted cheese and thinly sliced grilled meat all wrapped up in delicious bun into our brains.  So we had to find some local West Coast versions of the Philly cheesesteak to satisfy our cravings.


The trailer
New Brick and Mortar
We started with our go-to place Philly Boys Cheesesteaks, which we've been going to since they were a bright, yellow trailer (roughly the color of the cheese whiz used to make the cheesesteaks).  Now they've moved into a brick and mortar building right by where they were originally located with the trailer, which tells you business is good.





What's so great about this place?  Simple, they keep it simple-- crusty Italian bread, your choice of white cheese (Provolone) or "whiz" and thinly shaved, grilled meat.  The bread is from Borracchini's Bakery, an Italian bakery serving Seattle since 1922.  The meat's top round, it has onions mixed in and salt and pepper-- end of story.   Sweet pickled and hot peppers are available on the side, but really why mess with the holy trinity when it's awesome in it's purest form?  We normally go white, but occasionally FloJo gets plain crazy and has white cheese and whiz.

John Schofield ( a true Philly native) is the owner of A.C. Automotive which shares the other half of the building now with his cheesesteak business.  John started his cheesesteak business back in March of 2011 along with partner Frank Bucci (the other Philly boy).  The "Boys" met ironically at the school where their girls went to school.  John has been making cheesesteaks since he was a teenager back in Philly and just believed there was a need to bring true cheesesteaks to Seattle. Now you can also find the next generation in the business, John's son A.J. works at the counter serving up the piping hot sandwiches his father has taught him well how to make.  

A couple of downsides to Philly Boys 1)  they are not open on the weekends, so you have to have an excuse to be in SODO during the work week to score one of these sandwiches  2)  normally there are only two people working so during the lunch rush it could take 15-20 minutes to get your cooked to order sandwich 3) we tried the tortilla soup on one visit and it was not very good so stick to the cheesesteaks and you'll be fine.

On your next trip to Costco, make sure to skip their hotdogs and go for one of these cheesesteaks instead. It will set you back $8.50, but the pay-off is a happy tummy and you'll have the energy you need to power warehouse shop.


The competition is blocks away from Ro's day job in Pioneer Square, Tat's Delicatessen.  We've tried to go a couple of times during lunch, but it's either been extremely crowded or we haven't been able to find parking.  Finally, we went after work for dinner and were able to find street parking!   The stars aligned and we had to admit, Tat's is giving Philly Boys a run for the Cheesesteak King title.


Mike and Brian
Perhaps because the owners are East Coast boys as well. Brian Tatman (where the "Tat's" name hails from) and Jason Simodejka attended Penn State together.   Brian grew up in Philly and Jason in New Jersey and both moved to Seattle circa 1996 and quickly found the cheesesteak scene here lacking. One day over lunch, sick of their corporate jobs, they decided to go for it and open a deli.  They opened the original Tat's on Occidental Ave.  They have since moved to larger digs on Yesler Way, but remain loyal to the Pioneer Square neighborhood.  Jason has since moved back East and a new co-owner, Mike Sichel, who's been part of the operation since the word go, has moved into his new ownership role.

The cheesesteak was piping hot when we got our to go order.  The employees doing the grilling are hidden by a high counter, but they appear to grill to order.  We chose the 8" which sold for $8.50, but there is also a footlong option for $12.  

The Italian roll was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and the meat and onions well seasoned and moist.  Tat's roast their meats in house.  You can choose from Whiz, Provolone, Swiss, Cheddar, American, Pepper Jack or Mozzarella cheeses.  We stuck with the traditional Provolone.  Other options include: 'wit' onions, mushrooms, sweet, fried or hot peppers all at no charge.  Extra meat, cheese or bacon can also be added for an additional charge.  There are also chicken cheesesteaks, pizza steak or hoagie steak options, but we are traditionalists.


The deli has both Seattle and Philly sports jerseys hanging side-by-side probably indicative of the split allegiance the owners now have when the Phillies or Eagles come into town. The deli is in a prime location to feed hungry sports fans either pre-funking or after the game. 

Tat's menu is pretty extensive if you want to venture away from the cheesesteak and try something else.  We have yet to do this, but we've heard the Tat'strami sub (pastrami sub topped with coleslaw and Russian dressing) is "tat-rific".   

Tat's has a online frequent guest "Perka"" app that rewards you for multiple sandwich purchases.  They also stay open for dinner and serve beer and wine to wash those sandwiches down with.

As far as the ultimate decision of which Seattle cheesesteak reigns supreme, we are a divided household.  FloJo is giving it to Philly Boys while Ro is going with Tat's.  We highly recommend either for an authentic Philly cheesesteak experience without spending the dough to fly there.  

We welcome any comments if you've found other cheesesteak contenders in the Seattle area you deem worthy of contending for the title.

Live life with flavor, fun and plenty of cheese!


Philly Boys Cheesesteaks
3201 4th Ave S Seattle, WA 98134‎
(206) 414-7707
Neighborhood: SODO
Hours:
Mon 10 am - 4:30 am
Tue-Fri 9 am - 4:30 pm


Tat's Delicatessen
159 Yesler Way Seattle
206-264-8287
Neighborhood: Pioneer Square
www.tatsdeli.com
Hours 8-6 p.m. M-F
11-6 p.m. Sat (and 3 hours before Sounder's kick-offs on Sunday)




Philly Boys Cheesesteaks on Urbanspoon


Tat's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon