Excellent | Worth a Detour
Philly Cheese Steak Factory
Review by: Michael Stern
Worth A Detour
Despite its name, Augusta’s Peach Orchard Road does not evoke bucolic reveries. But even if you don’t need a payday loan, a bargain motel, or a franchised junk-food meal, I recommend a detour (off I-520) for the Philly Cheese Steak Factory. Former Philadelphians run it. They procure their meat, bread, and spices from back home. And they make an authentic sandwich.
Painted bright-enough red and yellow to stand out even on this harsh strip of urban commerce, it’s a restaurant with a bold personality. It announces it makes to be “the world’s best subs” and “heaven on a bun.”
Philly Steak, Augusta-Style
The steak does not resemble the flaps-of-beef variety found at venerable Pat’s and Geno’s in Philadelphia’s Italian Market . It reminds me of the hacked-up hash at the edge of Philly, at Mama’s and Leo’s. This version of the Philly sandwich expresses the dominant style around Augusta, where cheese steaks are a minor passion. The cheese does not form a separate layer added on top. The cooks mix it so well with finely chopped ribeye that it visually disappears. But it adds a mighty wave of salty dairy luxury to every bite. They also secret onions in the standard package. No-cost options include mayo (!), ketchup (!), and mustard (!). Pay more and the sandwich can include mushrooms, peppers, bacon, lettuce, or tomato.
Appreciate That Bread
You might have problems picking up the sandwich with your hands. They’ve chopped the meat so fine that a plastic fork is a welcome way of getting it all from bun to mouth. But don’t neglect the bread. It comes from Amoroso’s Bakery in Philly. This imported version lacks the muscular vigor of morning-fresh loaves back home. But its soft character provides the welcome sop all that juicy beef wants.
The long, tender loaves also serve as a bed for hoagies (cold sub sandwiches), top of the line being an Italian. That’s meats, cheeses, lettuce, tomato, oregano, and plenty of oil and vinegar. It’s even messier than the cheese steak, but a yummy mess indeed.
Decor echoes Philadelphia in countless 8×10 photos of friends and celebrities that adorn the walls. But this happy little “factory” packs saucy, southern-soul character all its own, visually overseen by images of proprietor La-La Alston, who claims the title Queen of Steaks. Ms. La-La once told a reporter, “There are a lot of steak and sub places out there desperately trying to mimic the authentic Philly cheese steak, and all they do is kill its reputation. None can be compared to us.”
Directions & Hours
|Meals Served||Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|