Jim’s Steaks, South Street, Philadelphia, PA
In Episode 74, we gave full service to perhaps the two most iconic Philly Cheesesteak joints – Pat’s and Geno’s. But did we find the best Philly Cheesesteak in existence? It’s not fair to make such a declaration until every cheesesteak in the City of Brotherly Love has been tasted. In furtherance of that noble mission, we checked out Jim’s Steaks, South Street, Philadelphia, PA.
For ambiance, this place is fantastic. The crowded entry area and no-nonsense staff invoke a fun sort of pressure for swift and decisive ordering. They know their food is good. They don’t need you there. So if you’re not ready to order something, get out of the way and make room for somebody who is.
Disappointingly, unlike the more renowned Pat’s and Geno’s, Jim’s menu doesn’t offer French fries. They do offer an Italian sub, which we ordered to diversify a bit – dining along with four kids in tow. The Italian was solid. Better than average even. Large, meaty and made to order. Peppers and pickles on the side upon request were free and fantastic.
To reach the dining space upstairs, you pass shelves of pepper jars, stacks of napkins, and general storage in the open areas. If you are lucky, you’ll also pass a dude slicing hoagie rolls in the hall with a hardcore power tool slicing apparatus. Upstairs, if you can score a window seat, you’ll get a nice view of South Street and all its character.
Finally, what you are really here for…how was Jim’s cheesesteak? You can get Cheese wiz, provolone, or American. Wiz is the classic route, so we went all Wiz. It was good. It was very good. Everyone could safely confirm that Jim’s was better than Geno’s. Less greasy. Plenty of meat. Wiz placement directly on the roll was slightly controversial, as such placement may have masked some of the cheesiness.
Gary Costello declared Jim’s excellent, but inferior to Pat’s. Hugh Gallon thought Jim’s was on par, or even better than Pat’s. Hugh, notably has an implicit bias towards Jim’s as it was his first ever proper Philly Cheesesteak some 20 years ago.
If you’re going to hit the essential Philly Cheesesteaks, Jim’s cannot be missed. The cheesesteak is undoubtedly great, wherever your rank it. But what sets Jim’s apart from Pat’s and Geno’s its location on fantastically fun South Street, and its intimate interior – which instantly makes you feel like you’re in on a secret, exclusive club of cheesesteak enthusiasts – like Cheesesteak Eating Record Holder “Humble” Bob Shoudt – Twenty (20) Steak Sandwiches in 1 ½ Hours February 2014.