Joe’s Steaks | Philly Cheese Steaks Among the Best

Review by: Michael Stern

Hidden-Gem Cheese Steak Shops

Not to disrespect the big-name Philly cheese steaks, but beyond theme lies a treasury of  great steaks that are lesser known. Culinary explorers thrill to the experience of visiting off-the-beaten path joints. Here they find wonderful variations of the dish that is the city’s greatest contribution to American proletarian gastronomy. Joe’s ranks among the best of them. It’s a mid-20th century neighborhood storefront. The women who staff it delight in what they do. Their duties include building banana splits supreme and blending chocolate milk shakes. They make the shakes thick enough that trying to suck one up a straw will cause serious hollows in your cheeks.

This Is Genuine Street Food

Passers-by along the street enjoy a great view of the open kitchen. It’s little more than a griddle, up front at a picture window. Here pedestrians watch the creation of Philly cheese steaks. Cooks flip frying meat, scoot sizzling onions, layer on slices of cheese, then hoist it all into a long, chewy, toasty-edged roll. They know exactly how to create the buttery confluence of meat and dairy and weeping sweet onion that defines cheese steak excellence. Of course, it welcomes a spill of sharp yellow peppers as well as pickle chips. They present it not on a plate but on a square of butcher paper.

Old-Time Philadelphia

Joe’s interior is vintage Americana: old wooden booths and a short, 5-stool counter. A sign up front reads, “Please do not lean on the counter. This is our work space. Thank you.” Old timers know Joe’s by its original name, Chink’s, which has a politically incorrect explanation. It was the nickname of the founder, Samuel Sherman, a Caucasian man whose childhood playmates thought he looked Chinese. The current owner, Joe Groh, who grew up cutting beef and peeling onions for Mr. Sherman, renamed the place on April 1, 2013.

What To Eat

Cheese Steak

Milk Shake


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