Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: South Street Steaks

spotlightThere are few things in life that are better than an authentic Philly cheesesteak. A seemingly simple thing to make, the only requirements are a roll, meat, onions and cheese. Sadly, finding one in the D.C. area has eluded this writer for almost two years. Happily, that search is over.

 

spotlight

South Street Steaks (Photo: News-Press)

 

There are few things in life that are better than an authentic Philly cheesesteak. A seemingly simple thing to make, the only requirements are a roll, meat, onions and cheese. Sadly, finding one in the D.C. area has eluded this writer for almost two years. Happily, that search is over.

South Street Steaks has the remedy for the person who has the Philly Cheesesteak blues. How serious are the proprietors of South Street Steaks? A sign behind the counter reads “We will not put Swiss cheese or mayonnaise on a cheesesteak.” Also, customers don’t have to request onions on their sandwiches. Those onions are going to be there unless otherwise requested. Why? Because a Philly cheesesteak comes with onions.

The only downside of South Street Steaks is that a trip to downtown Bethesda must be made to garner one. Rest assured, though. It is worth the trip.

When customers enter the restaurant they leave Maryland and enter Philly. The walls are adorned with giant photos that depict Philadelphia’s famous South Street, Phillies logos and (much to the dismay of Redskins fans) the Eagles are the NFL team championed in this establishment.

South Street was started by three friends – two originally from Philly – who met in college here in D.C. because they noticed that the area lacked a place to acquire a truly authentic Philly Cheesesteak. Their first location opened in 2005 in College Park. This location has since closed, but not before spawning two others. The other location is in Gaithersburg.

But enough about the history and what it looks like. Are the cheesesteaks good? In one word, yes. In two words, heck yes.

True cheesesteaks aficionados know that it isn’t an authentic Philly Cheesesteak unless it is served on an Amoroso roll, native to the Philadelphia area. South Street Steaks ships these buns in special. The Famous Cheesesteak comes in a choice of nine or 12 inches ($6.29 and $7.99). The customer orders it at the counter in the back and soon thereafter, the sound of meat slapping on a hot griddle is heard. The sizzling commences and the chopping and flipping begins. Soon thereafter the customer is presented with a work of art: a piping-hot Philly cheesesteak that almost looks too good to eat.

“This is it. This is a Philly cheesesteak,” said the Philly native this writer brought with him to get an accurate gauge on the authenticity of South Street Steaks.

Of course, South Street Steaks has other items on its menu, as well. It has Chicken Cheesesteaks ($6.29 – 9.29) and burgers, hot dogs, wings and hoagies. All seem perfectly serviceable. But let’s be honest, the reason someone is going to make this trek is going to be for the cheesesteaks.

With that in mind, South Street Steaks has a challenge for those who think they are tough enough to handle it. The “Misteak Challenge” is as follows: One person must order two Misteak sandwiches ($14.99 each), each consists of one pound of steak, eight pieces of bacon, pepperoni, fried onions, three cheeses (Cheese Wiz, provolone and american) and a handful of fries which brings the sandwich to a grand total of 2.5 pounds of cheesesteak madness. To win the “Misteak Challenge” one must consume two Misteaks (scraps and all) in the store in the span of 45 minutes without bathroom breaks. And, as the rules to the contest clearly state, without “throwing up.” Also, the only help the contestant can receive from friends and family is in the way of encouragement or mockery. If such a feat is accomplished, the spoils the victor will garner are their picture forever immortalized on the South Street Wall of Fame, a $50 gift card and a t-shirt.

When asked how many people have completed the challenge, Manager Vinnie Cabrales let out a laugh.

“How many? Nobody has done it yet … at either location,” said Cabrales. South Streak Steaks has been doing the contest for four months and has had many takers but zero finishers.

So, whether you’re just looking for an authentic cheesesteak or crave a hearty challenge, remember it is always sunny at South Street Streaks.

South Street Steaks

4856 Cordell Ave., Bethesda

southstreetsteaks.com • 301-215-7972

Hours:

Sunday – Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 a.m.