| If you
are visiting Philly, or taking visitors out for the real Philly experience,
this is the place. There are never-ending debates about who makes the best
Philly cheesesteak, but Jim's is reliable, consistent, has a good location,
you can actually sit down inside, and they make a great steak.
Pat's and Geno's can be hard to take, especially in inclement weather, and while I like both those spots, I have found from experience that visitors tend to find Jim's a bit more pleasing. I actually like the rolls at Pat's best, but Pat's meat can be a bit tough at times, it is sliced thicker, and left intact, not chopped on the grill like at Jim's. Geno's meat might be the best of all, but their whole cheesesteak package doesn't always blow me away, I'm not sure why.... There are ancient partisan battles about whether the slices of meat for a cheesesteak should be chopped (shredded might be a better term) on the grill or left whole. I gotta say I kind-of like it chopped...
If you are new to the concept, the cheesesteak is a wonderful Philadelphia creation, built from thinly-sliced steak, fried on a big flattop grill, and served on an italian roll with cheese and fried onions. It has been outlawed by the American Medical Association. There are a million variations on the cheesesteak, one can add peppers or mushrooms; tomato sauce makes it a pizzasteak. Lettuce, tomato, raw onions and mayo make it a cheesesteak hoagie. The options are endless.
Which brings us to another perennial debate: to Whiz or not to Whiz? Some old-school purists insist that provolone is the original authentic cheese. I was a provolone adherent at first, horrified by the prospect of eating that gooey, unnaturally-hued cheese-like product Cheeze-Whiz. But a quick, careless order at Pat's turned me around. Whiz is the only way to go. Trust me on this. I know it sounds gross, but there is something about the Whiz that really cuts through, while the provolone gets overwhelmed. Don't even suggest american cheese, unless you are fond of eating wallpaper paste.
To my taste, the
best cheesesteak is a "Pepper-cheese with". To the uninitiated, that's
green peppers, soft and warm in a bowl on the grill, Whiz, and fried onions.
There seems to be some confusion about the terminology, so here it is:
Jim's does NOT have chickensteaks. You know, chickensteaks are not bad, but they are something else altogether. Don't fool yourself that they are just as good. If you just do not eat beef at all, go down half a block to Ishkabibbles and get a chicken steak. Don't get Whiz on a chicken steak. That's disgusting. Or just go across 4th street to Alyans and get a falafel.
Jim's does NOT make french fries. No one knows why.
Jim's does make hoagies, but nobody eats them. They really aren't bad, I'm told by non-beefeating friends along for the ride, but hardly anybody gets them. Let this be a cue.
They have beer and soft drinks. There is an upstairs seating area that is often crowded, but tables empty fairly quickly, so you can usually find a spot. You can also sit along wall downstairs, but that can get pretty claustrophobic if it's at all busy. Jim's is inexpensive. You can load up a steak pretty well for under $5.
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