The long-awaited South Philly review

Cheesesteak and Water iceThat’s right, folks, I realize I’ve been slacking a little bit, but we’re back on schedule with a post about what has got to be the best cheesesteaks in Memphis (perhaps even the Mid-South).

I’ve eaten at what are arguably three of the best cheesesteak joints in Philadelphia: Pat’s, Jim’s and D’Alessandro’s. Although it’s been years since I had a cheesesteak in Philly, I’d put South Philly’s sandwiches right up there with those titans.

South Philly’s aim, according to their Web site, is “that the sound of the cook chopping the steaks on the sizzling grill, the savory aromas and the come-as-you-are setting bring the flavor of Philadelphia to you even before you take that first bite.”

This isn’t marketing hyperbole. When you walk into the restaurant, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the scent of cooking beef, the clang of metal on an iron griddle and the symphony of good conversation that seems to always be there when I enter (maybe that’s because I always enter around lunchtime on a weekday).

Scattered about the walls are photos and memorabilia from around Philly and they even have a sign teaching you how to order your sandwich, starting with whether you want the cheesesteak “WIT” or “WIT-OUT” onions (you should definitely order it “wit”).

When the food gets to your table, it’s hard not to notice one key thing: cheese integration. This is what makes or breaks a cheesesteak for me, and South Philly’s has been perfect nearly every time I’ve been. Each bite has a perfect mixture of beef, cheese and onions (I’m a purist, so that’s all you’ll find on a cheesesteak I order).

They’ve also brought another staple of Philly cuisine: water ice. I’m far from a connoisseur of water ice, so I can’t speak to how good their ice is. I enjoyed the Strawberry Lemonade flavor I tried, but it didn’t blow my mind quite like their cheesesteaks.

The thing that really puts South Philly over the top is the dedication to service. Owner Mike Dinwiddie is in the shop most days and if anything is ever wrong, he does his absolute best to make it right.

I promised previously that I would get to the bottom of the recent drought in the TastyKake market. I e-mailed Mike, and he took time out of his day to let me know what’s going on.

Unfortunately, Tastykake does not have a distributorship near Memphis. To the best of my knowledge they only distribute in the Delaware Valley, and as far south as Virginia, and as far north as NY.

Mike mentioned that shipments to out-of-region vendors may have stemmed from one person trying to “help out cheesesteak joints” and that it may have become too much of a burden.

South Philly may begin to sell Hostess in the future.”They are local and local is good,” Mike sent about Hostess.

My hat’s off to Mike for replying to me so passionately (he also informed me that they’e just switched to a local water ice vendor “Parker’s Water Ice” and that they use Amoroso, a roll “Philly people go nuts over” and Ritter meats) and for running an absolutely incredible “cheesesteak joint.”

If you haven’t already, hit them up downtown. If you’re in the area, you can order on-line and they’ll even deliver to certain areas.

It’s completely worth it.

South Philly on Urbanspoon

4 thoughts on “The long-awaited South Philly review”

  1. The one time I went to South Philly, the sandwich took half an hour, and the cheese whiz was not actual Cheese Whiz, but gas station nacho cheese.

    Needless to say, I have no interest in returning.

  2. I’m truly sorry to hear that. I’ve never had anything but the best of service from them. When I’ve dined in, I’ve gotten my food within 15 minutes.

    I’ve had the occasional issue with high volume on delivery orders, but most of the time I receive my delivery in about 30 minutes.

    I can’t really speak to their Cheez Whiz quality, as I’m not a fan in general, but do me a favor and go back once more (I give most places 2 chances) and get one with Provolone.

    If that one lets you down, let me know.

  3. We hate that we broke that man’s heart. He is correct, we do not use “cheese whiz” but instead we use cheddar cheese sauce. Cheese whiz is too expensive so like most places in Philly who keep “whiz” for the “tourists” we use a generic brand.
    I am sorry that he waited half an hour. One of two things must have happened. It could have been before a big Tigers basketball game and our times have occasionally hit that 30 min. mark. On these rare occurrence you can be comforted by $2 beer pints, $1 parking, and the fact that we are still the quickest eats this close to the Forum. The other thing that may have happened was that I just was not there. I promise that if I had proof that, on a normal night or day, a customer waited half an hour I would fire my entire staff and give that person a $100 gift certificate.
    If he did wait that long I am truly sorry.
    Mike Dinwiddie

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