Manayunk’s The Rook

Manayunk is one of Philadelphia’s more interesting neighborhoods. It’s main drag – conveniently called Main Street – is home to an array of shops and restaurants, while its side streets are lined with old houses, extremely narrow and, in some cases, on small, but steep hills. While I’m by no means anti-Manayunk, for whatever reasons, I haven’t spent much time there and none at all for a number of years until this afternoon. 

One of the cheesesteaks that’s been on my radar to try is the one at The Rook, which sits on one of Manayunk’s little side streets in a building that looks like it may have been a home at some point. It’s also not out of the question that it’s always been a tavern. Whatever the case, I don’t believe The Rook is very old, even if the building it occupies is.

The Rook in Philadelphia’s Manayunk section

Its main room contains a bar and a handful of high tables with stools. There appeared to be a smaller room with a few regular tables in the rear, but I didn’t get a good look at it.

We arrived just after they opened at noon.

Although The Rook may be best known for its burgers, they have enough healthier choices on their menu for me to invite my mother, who lives fairly close to Manayunk, to join me.

They also serve cheesesteaks on my beloved Sarcone’s Bakery seeded rolls. 

Those Sarcone’s rolls were thankfully available.

We all know that restaurants have been struggling mightily with staffing issues since Covid hit. While I can’t be sure, it appeared that something of that nature might have been going on today at The Rook. The bartender was on the phone for a bit after we arrived and never had any help other than the kitchen staff the entire time we were there. 

In spite of that, our order was taken and food delivered only slightly slower than is typical. And that wasn’t a problem at all, as we weren’t in any rush. I appreciated the guy’s efforts. 

You’ve probably noticed that I don’t normally have anything on the side while eating a cheesesteak, but this one came with shoe-string fries. I have a decided preference for thin fries over thick and was pleased with these.

Cheesesteak with Cooper Sharp cheese and fried onions

As expected, the Sarcone’s roll was outstanding. The cheese-to-meat ratio was also excellent. There was plenty of Cooper sharp cheese well mixed in with the meat, but not so much that it overshadowed the meat.

Unfortunately, the meat was the one weak spot of this steak. While it was well-seasoned and abundant, it was also overcooked and a little dried out. 

While the sandwich had a nice overall flavor, given the centrality of the beef to a cheesesteak, that one fault will likely prevent me from placing The Rook on my final “Best Of” list. 

I’d like to return there at some point though to try their “O” Double cheeseburger. And I should probably give the steak another shot. If they were having staffing issues while I was there, they could have extended to the kitchen.


On a sad note, I learned a little while ago that Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant of Conshohocken, PA, will be closing next month. They are arguably as old-school – in the best sense – as any remaining Chinese restaurant in the Philly region. 

After discovering them online last year and being enticed by their menu, which includes  Chicken-in-Foil, I ventured over there and was disappointed to discover that they had not reopened for dine-in service and were only offering takeout – which I had to settle for. Here is the post I wrote about them at the time.

Golden Dragon’s dining-room.

The closing of Golden Dragon leaves Jade Garden in Dresher, PA, as the final Chinese restaurant I’m aware of in the entire Philadelphia metro area that serves Chicken-in-Foil, an old-time favorite appetizer of mine. If anyone reading this knows otherwise, please say so in the comments.

Published by BZ Maestro

I live outside of Philadelphia and fairly food-obsessed. Thank you for taking the time to share in that obsession. If you enjoyed this post or the blog generally, please consider clicking the "like" button and signing up as a follower.

2 thoughts on “Manayunk’s The Rook

  1. So what is a “jawn”? Is it a sandwich? The Philly Special looks pretty good.

    Since you liked everything about the cheesesteak except the beef, maybe you should give them another chance. If the kitchen was also short-staffed, maybe the regular guy wasn’t manning the flattop. Or maybe he was trying to do too many things at once.

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    1. I agree with you on giving them another try. Actually, it would have to be two more tries, as I want to try that “O” Double cheeseburger.

      Don’t get me started on the word, “Jawn.” It’s a word that was created maybe a decade or so ago and is unique to the Philadelphia region. It’s basically a wildcard word that can be used to mean anything. It seems to get used a lot for sandwiches. I’m not a fan of the entire concept or the word. It goes against my traditionalist tendencies.

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