Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Roast beef and cheesesteaks (Tony Luke's)

Tony Luke's wrapper

If you read my blog, I'm sure you realize I like most combinations of meat and bread. That runs the gambit from Oscar Meyer to Porchetta, as long as I have protein surrounded by carbs (cue the jokes), I'm a fairly happy guy. Now, I've heard good things about Tony Luke's. Not that there's much that can go wrong by stuffing beef and cheese inside a hoagie roll, but the consensus is that their sandwiches are truly something special. When Tony Luke's does it, it's culinary art, not like the random dude selling frozen cheesesteaks on the corner of 34th and Walnut. I guess the saying "too legit to quit" is completely appropriate in this case.

Roast beef Italian (Tony Luke's)

I actually first learned about Tony Luke's watching Bobby Flay get his ass spanked on 'Throwdown.' If I recall correctly, he made a bootleg fancy schmancy version of a cheesesteak (probably with some form of chipotle mayo, since that's the only trick he has up his sleeve), and was promptly disposed of when Tony Luke busted out a broccoli rabe and provolone sandwich. Naturally, I ordered the Roast Beef Italian since it has all those elements. Basically, they stuff as much freakin' roast beef as they can without tearing the spine (I'm not sure that's what it's called) of a foot long hoagie roll layered with a creamy mix of broccoli rabe and provolone cheese.

Roast beef Italian (Tony Luke's)

This thing is truly epically large. The sandwich is fantastically well thought out... the beef is proper and juicy, tender enough that it pulls apart easily, but with tendon interspersed so there's distinct textural contrast. The flavors are carefully planned, with the strong beef scent accented by the sharp cheese, which in turn gets offset by the slight bitterness of the broccoli rabe. Honest opinion? It puts DiNic's to shame... and that's not a knock on DiNic's, but a testament to Tony Luke's.

Cheesesteak! (Tony Luke's)

Of course, going there meant getting a cheesesteak. Since the Roast Beef Italian already had provolone, it made sense to change things up and to go with cheese wiz. Things that come from cans = always better, for instance... whipped cream, cheeseburgers, cheese... I rest my case. Anyway, this sandwich didn't feel too far off from the roast beef one. Maybe my palate isn't very refined when it comes to differentiating different cuts of meat, but it feels the same, with the exception that this was cooked on a flat top griddle instead of roasted in its juices. Appropriately tender and adequately fat, the beef flavor melds just as swimmingly with the cheese wiz as the roast variant did with the provolone. Both are great, just with different flavor profiles.

I think each of these runs about $7-8, so they're not quite as cheap as the cheesesteaks I could pick up from random carts on campus, but that's not really a fair comparison either. Tony Luke's shit runs circles against those guys. Do I mind paying an extra couple of dollars for that kind of quality? Nah, it's okay to splurge sometimes.


Anonymous said...

Nice post. Tony Luke's is great, but its location out on the edges of South Philly kind of sucks. Have you tried Di Bruno's yet? I hear good things.

esther said...

Maybe my expectations were too high? I went there over the summer and was not impressed. I decided that I'm not a cheesesteak fan!

Nicholas said...

Anonymous - I do too, wanna go this weekend?

esther - nah, it's good to have high expectations. If I had to venture a guess, they serve more people during the Summer, so maybe the quality dips a little? If that's true, it's not good business practice, but I liked it quite a bit. Blasphemy on not being a cheesesteak fan though...

Sherry said...

I love it when Bobby Flay loses on Throwdown :D I was especially appalled when he tried to make sushi. T___T

Is Tony Luke still on campus on Spruce? I used to go there a lot. I love how greasy their cheesesteaks are!

Kevin said...

Tony Luke's!! I've never had their roast beef or cheesesteaks, though my dad said their cheesesteak was "very good" (and he's a tough person to please, so I'll take his word for it. But the roast pork was amazing.

Jim's Steaks was pretty good, but I've heard some lousy things about Pat's and Geno's despite all of their acclaim. Too bad I never got to try John's Roast Pork, which is supposed to be epic.

danny said...

is this place easy to get to from downtown philly? because last time i went to philly using the chinatown buses, i spent most of my time in the downtown area. this looks too good to pass up next time i go to philly though. and cheese whiz scares me. there, i said it.

Rodzilla said...

Happy to see your take on a well known place.

Also glad to see you will pay the premium for a better product.

Nicholas said...

Sherry - FUGGGG! There was a cart on campus?! Thank god it's gone, or else I'd be Michelin man again. Yeah it's gone :(

Kevin - Thanks for the suggestions (and keep them comin' since this one was spot on). Their roast beef/cheesesteaks are both good enough to make me go back to try the pork for sure.

Danny - in terms of geographic location, it's on South Street, so it's definitely closer to downtown than anything else (unless you mean center city as downtown, in which case it's a long trek). If you're down here during the year, hit me up and we'll go a cheesesteakin'. Cheese wiz though... embrace the fear. That shit is like liquid crack.

Rodzilla - only sometimes... haha

Anonymous said...

you need to try saad's halal which is like a block away from me. i know you're a carnivore and all but seriously, their falafel is the best in philly. also fu-wah's tofu hoagies.

i'm sad at the lack of west philly/university city reppin' :(

you know who.

Ada said...

Hey! I just stumbled upon your blog and realized you're a Columbia alum. I currently attend Barnard and am a food blogger as well. I really enjoyed reading your post about HamDel sandwiches:)

Sherry said...

It wasn't a cart! It was like next to Beijing and Gia Pronto... very 60s diner-ish. Great shakes too. Mmmmmm

Totally agreed with Anonymous - Saad's is awesome!!

Nicholas said...

Anonymous - we'll see :p a meal's not a meal unless there's meat (imho)

Ada - ha, yeah... I actually really miss Hamdel as well as M2M. Amy's such a sweetheart isn't she?

Sherry - nah, that things gone! I wish it were still here though. I don't really make it to that side of the campus very much though...

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