Last week I began the months-long process of revisiting all of the cheesesteak shops that made my top ten in 2022. It didn’t take long to move on to another one. Unrelated circumstances led me to drive through the section of Northeast Philly that is home to the original Steve’s Prince of Steaks late Tuesday morning. They came in at number five on that list. So knowing that I’d have to eat there at some point this year, I decided there was no time like the present.
When I visited Steve’s last April, I was returning to an old favorite for the first time in many years and was slightly skeptical that their unorthodox steak would be as good as I remembered. To my delight, it turned out to be even better.
As a reminder, they use unchopped pieces of beef that are a little thicker, but not as big as the pre-chopped slabs used by most other steak shops. Some think they don’t put enough meat in each steak and go with the double-meat option. I tried that once and thought it threw off the meat to roll ratio. A one-and-a-half sized portion might be ideal, but in the absence of that option, I prefer the standard portion.
While they offer American and Provolone, Whiz is the go-to cheese at Steve’s. They don’t have seeded rolls, but I’ve always loved the seedless ones they use.
With the exception of the prices, the menu hasn’t changed much over the years. I don’t think I’ve ever ordered anything other than a cheesesteak there.
I arrived early enough to avoid any crowd and placed my order immediately. It was called out within five minutes and I grabbed a stool in front of a section of counter at the far end of the shop.
The steak appeared to be identical to the others I’ve had from Steve’s at first glance.
But when I took a closer look at it from a different angle, I could see some of the meat might have been a little over-cooked. Then I took a bite and the roll wasn’t as good as I remembered. It was fresh, but the crust didn’t have the chewy quality that normally makes it so appealing. I asked if they were the same rolls they’ve always used on my way out and was answered in the affirmative. I guess roll-making isn’t a perfect science.
Some of the meat was as tender and juicy I recalled from last year. But other pieces – while not quite tough – were a little drier and chewier than they should have been.
The overall flavor of this cheesesteak was still good, but it didn’t blow me away to the extent that it has in the past.
When I determine which steaks will make my revised list – which will be expanded to a top 20 – later this year, I’m not going to judge Steve’s based solely on this one steak. It wouldn’t be fair to allow one sub-par effort to fully wipe out the memories of all the great ones I’ve had there. But Tuesday’s steak will certainly be part of the equation in determining where they should be ranked.
One thought on “Does the Prince Still Reign?”
Very few restaurants don’t have a subpar day once in awhile. Unfortunately you just happened to be there this time.