Monday, September 14, 2009

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen Review

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen Philly Cheese Steak Review

For some time now I have been telling my readers that I will be letting the secret out of the bag for the best Philly cheese steaks. Before this blog came along, most tourists only know of Pat’s, Geno’s, and Jim’s. Now that I have reviewed the three most popular, it is time to give away some secret cheese steak joints. The first place I will review will be Famous 4th Street Delicatessen in South Philadelphia. They serve all types of sandwiches but after this review you will know why I consider them one of the best Philly cheese steak places.

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen is located at 700 South 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147. This Jewish deli was established in 1923 and is one of the last of its kind, especially in Philadelphia. Famous Deli is a true hidden secret that many locals know of. Actually it is not a true secret in the sense that only locals know about but it is not like Geno’s Steaks where there are lines blocking traffic in the street. Famous Deli did have some international exposure as it was in several movies including Philadelphia (1993) and In Her Shoes (2005).

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen began as a traditional Jewish deli but has recently changed hands in 2005. Considering that I have been eating here for several decades, personally I have not seen a difference in the quality of the food since the ownership change (this is a good sign). It is very important for a family restaurant that has been established for many years to be consistent with its original formula for success even in times of an ownership change.

The reason that I selected Famous 4th Street Delicatessen as my first cheese steak review outside of the Big Three Philly cheese steak places is because I felt that it would serve as a perfect example of the point that I have been trying to establish on this blog, which is that there are so many better, cheaper, healthier, friendlier cheese steak shops in Philly that the tourists don’t know about. You may ask me why I am giving these secrets away for free. I am a food critic and hope for recognition of my work some day. In the meantime, I don’t mind being compensating with a few comments on my blog. One of my other reasons for spilling the beans so to speak is that I truly would like to see other small restaurant/ food businesses benefit from the enormous amount of money that is being spent by tourists at the Big Three steak houses. There is plenty of room for other food businesses in Philly to earn some of the revenue that tourists bring to Philadelphia.

My review of Famous 4th Street Delicatessen:

Obviously, I have personally selected this company because I believe it to be a first class Philly cheese steak shop. I have recently ate there to verify my past conclusions (I always do this to ensure of a fresh review). Famous Deli is a Jewish Deli that serves all types of sandwiches. My favorites there include the Corn beef Reuben and the pastrami on rye. However, about a year ago I was there with some friends and one of the people in my group ordered the cheese steak. I then sampled it and to my surprise I was hooked.

Famous Deli’s cheese steak will put Geno’s, Jim’s, and Pat’s to shame in a competition. Matter of fact, I would bet that if all three of them came up with one sandwich together that Famous Deli would still win. Why do I say this? Don’t worry I have several reasons.

Famous’ Philly cheese steaks have all of the qualities of a best Philly cheese steak. First, their sandwich is very large. The length is the size of a 12 inch loaf of bread but the width is what makes this a large sandwich. The roll is stacked high with chopped rib eye steak and cheese. One half of a sandwich will full the average person. That’s right! I had a very large table the last time I was there and almost everyone ordered a cheese steak and almost everyone left half to take home.

The cheese is fully melted in their cheese steak unlike Jim’s whose sandwich still had ears of cheese sticking out unmelted.

The onions on this steak sandwich are fried until a little black. Famous takes a cooked well approach to the onions as opposed to Geno’s Steaks, which only lightly glazes the onions (they don’t have an ounce of discoloration on them).

The bread used here is also the traditional Italian roll. However, I am not exactly sure as Famous makes most of their food on premises (this would make it a Jewish roll).

The price of this Philly cheese steak is debatably high though at $11. Let me defend this price. This price includes 2 nice sized potato cakes and a large bowl of pickles and cole slaw. By the time the sandwich comes out you will be lightly full from the best tasting cole slaw that you will ever eat. So this $11 goes a long way. I know that Geno’s Steaks is $3 less but you would need 3 Geno’s cheese steaks to equal 1 of Famous’ sandwich.

In summary, Famous 4th Street Delicatessen is a perfect example of a great Philly cheese steak place outside of what tourists are traditionally advertised. If you visit this place, order the cheesesteak and let me know if you agree with my review. Famous Deli has great service, a positive history, a variety of good foods (including its chocolate chip cookies baked on premises), a large tasty cheese steak, a good atmosphere, and a reasonable price. Famous 4th Street Delicatessen goes down as one of the best Philly cheese steaks!

Famous 4th Street Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

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