I have what I hope will be a significant cheesesteak outing planned for this weekend. But in the meantime, the thought of another long-roll sandwich that I haven’t had in quite a few years lodged itself in the part of my brain that focuses on food – which admittedly doesn’t leave much room for other functions.
There was a breakfast and lunch truck known as Gus’s that was always parked next to the Philadelphia building where I worked between the late 90s and 2012. I discovered a fondness for several food items on Gus’s menu during that period; one of them being the cheeseburger hoagie; known as the “cheeseburger sub” in much of the country. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever had one of them that wasn’t from that truck – until today.
Tuesday was roughly the midpoint between my last and next cheesesteaks, so that seemed like the best time to eat another heavy lunch on a roll. I have previously discussed the stretch of MacDade Boulevard in Delaware County, PA, that is home to an abundance of roadfood options, including a few sandwich shops. I focused my search for a relatively local cheeseburger hoagie in that area and came across a place that has been on my radar for their cheesesteaks, but which I had never been to; Michael’s Sandwich Shop in Woodlyn, PA.
Michael’s is a few blocks off of MacDade and is not in the most scenic spot, but it has the sort of old-school sandwich shop vibe I find endearing.
Although the place sounded busy when I called in my order from the car, it was empty when I arrived a few minutes later.
Some of you are probably familiar with my effort to eat cheesesteaks at the spot where they were made or in my car nearby as soon as possible in order to get the roll in peak form, before it’s steamed by its wrapper. But I decided that was less important in this case since the burger hoagie would not be rated against other sandwiches and took it home to eat; the ride was about 15 minutes. And it turned out no damage was done, as Michael’s uses butcher paper without foil. The hoagie also was wrapped fairly loosely. Those two factors led to a roll that was still perfectly fresh when I got to it.
It wasn’t a seeded or extremely crusty roll, but it was a good, old-fashioned steak and hoagie roll with a pure chew that I enjoyed more than some of the ones I’ve had at far better known steak shops.
I ordered my cheeseburger hoagie with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, fried onions and the regular hoagie seasonings – salt, pepper and oregano.
They used frozen burger patties to make the hoagies on Gus’s Truck. I thought about asking in advance if they do that at Michael’s, but decided not to and just take the chance. I turned out to be disappointed on that score. I’m almost certain they were commercial patties.
While I’d obviously prefer fresh meat, frozen patties are not as grievous of a sin in a burger hoagie as they are when served traditionally, on a hamburger bun. The more substantial roll and the abundance of toppings in a hoagie renders the meat at least a little less central to the sandwich’s success.
Having said that, I would refrain from getting another cheeseburger hoagie from Michael’s for that reason. LaSpada’s Original, which is right on that stretch of MacDade Blvd. and which I wrote about in May, spells out on their menu that they use fresh, never-frozen beef for their burger patties. If I come down with another cheeseburger hoagie craving in the foreseeable future, I’m likely to head their way. I didn’t do so today mainly out of a desire to try a place I hadn’t yet been to.
I suspect it’s best to stick with steaks and hoagies when visiting Michael’s. To that end, I intend to try their steak at some point. But I’m not sure it will be as part of the current cheesesteak project I am trying to wind down in the coming weeks.