Thursday, October 22, 2009

Subway South Philly Cheese Steak Review

Did you ever wonder how a Subway Philly cheese steak from the cheese steak headquarters in South Philadelphia would rank amongst its local competition? Today I will be providing a review that will set the record straight about who can make a better Philly cheese steak, one of the largest restaurant chains in America or the small local Philadelphia shops.

First I would like to provide a little overview of Subway. Subway has over 30,000 restaurant franchises in over 90 countries. The SUBWAY® chain consistently ranks at the top of Entrepreneur magazine’s Franchise 500 rankings. Besides being number one for the Submarine Sandwich Category, the SUBWAY® chain has received the distinction as being the number one Franchise Opportunity for 15 of the past 21 years! In Philadelphia, Subway has a strong presence as well. Here are the following Subway addresses in Philly for your convenience:

1827 JFK Blvd
Sterling House
Philadelphia PA 19103

Benjamin Franklin Pky
Philadelphia PA 19103-1208

2201 Walnut St
Philadelphia PA 19103

Franklin Mills Circle
Franklin Mills Mall Food Court
Philadelphia PA 19154-3141

1109 Walnut St
Philadelphia PA 19107

2385 Cheltenham Ave#132
Philadelphia PA 19150

2951 Market St
Suite 201
Philadelphia PA 19104

1001 Market St
Gallery II Mall
Philadelphia PA 19107

3400 Aramingo Ave
Imperial Plz
Philadelphia PA 19134

9979 Bustleton Ave
Shoppes at Red Lion
Philadelphia PA 19115

Concorse Train Location
Two Penn Center Plaza
Philadelphia PA 19102

106 South 16th St
Philadelphia PA 19102

1000 Roosevelt Blvd
Space 155
Philadelphia PA 19116

7339 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia PA 19136

2329 Cottman Ave
Roosevelt Mall NE
Philadelphia PA 19149

4500 City Ave Ste 220
City Centre Shp Ctr
Philadelphia PA 19131

5610 Lancaster Ave #300A
Overbrook Plz Shopping Center
Philadelphia PA 19131

551 Franklin Mills Circle
Philadelphia PA 19154

6125 Ridge Ave
Philadelphia PA 19128

1625 Chestnut St
Shops at Liberty Place
Philadelphia PA 19103

2936 Island Avenue
Philadelphia PA 19153

9475 E Roosevelt Blvd #3Subway
Philadelphia PA 19114

501 S Broad St
Philadelphia PA 19147

714 Market St
Philadelphia PA 19106

511 Cecil B Moore Ave
Philadelphia PA 19121

3228 N Broad St
Philadelphia PA 19140

6200 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia PA 19135

#1 Franklin Mills Blvd
Philadelphia PA 19154

9745 Roosevelt Blvd A
Philadelphia PA 19114

4600 E Roosevelt Blvd
Bldg G
Philadelphia PA 19120

45 Snyder Ave
Philadelphia PA 19148

545 N.Broad St.
Philadelphia PA 19123

200 Oregon Ave
Philadelphia PA 19147

910 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia PA 19107

2217 S Broad Street
Philadelphia PA 19145

801 Arch St
Philadelphia PA 19107

1100 South St
Unit 1
Philadelphia PA 19107

8944 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia PA 19136

Oxford Avenue & Levick Street
Philadelphia PA 19111

203 North 34th Street
Philadelphia PA 19104

3800 Locust Walk
1920 Commons Food Court
Philadelphia PA 19104

1000 Easton Rd Suite 200
Wyncote PA 19095

2376 Street Rd
Bensalem PA 19020

1500 Garrett Rd
Barclay Sq Shp Ctr
Upper Darby PA 19082

700 N Rt 73
Palmyra NJ 08065

My review today is about the Subway in South Philadelphia located at 45 Snyder Avenue (this is right across the street from the famous John’s Roast Pork). There are very interesting observations that I made from eating at Subway. First, I ordered a foot long Philly cheese steak for $8. This is the same price as Gino’s and Pat’s Steaks, the most popular cheese steak places in the world. Was it worth it? Absolutely not!

Subway gives you a variety of breads to choose from but I choose the Italian roll. This roll is a semi soft roll but does not come close to the texture appropriate for Philly cheese steaks that are found at many of the local South Philly bakeries here. Why doesn’t Subway make an exception and outsource the rolls in South Philly. Their sandwich would be so much better and this would help the local community. This is one big mistake for Subway (the inevitable part of being in a giant franchise).

The steak was semi chopped. But the amount of steak that was put in the sandwich was minimal compared to the local competition. Also, the steak was not freshly cooked on a grill as the locals do. Instead it was precooked and then microwaved (I am sure my readers are familiar with Subway but just as a refresher).

The onions…well…there weren’t any. What? NO onions! No onions on my Subway Philly cheese steak. You can ask for them from the condiment section but they wouldn’t be fried or come close to an original South Philly cheese steak onions.

My biggest problem was the cheese. I asked for American cheese and I received one small slice on top of each half loaf section. This equated to hardly any cheese at all and considering that it was microwaved, the end result was tasteless.

I did eat one half of my Philly cheese steak with the special Chipotle sauce that they have. It did spice the sandwich up a little but not much. You can also ask them to add hot or sweet peppers with your sandwich for a little more flavor (you should as you will need it).

By writing this review, I am not knocking Subway. I actually like the place when I travel. However, in Philadelphia, Subway is up against some very fierce local competition and this review stands to show that to compete in this market even a giant name like Subway needs to demonstrate culinary skills. Their name can only get so far in this market. Subway has a great name, is very clean, and offers consistent products. This normally works well especially when you are selling Philly cheese steaks in places like Small Town, Utah (Imaginary name for illustration purposes) to people who never ate a real Philly cheese steak, hoagie, roast beef, pizza, or any of the million other great foods offered here. Of course they will think the sandwich is great because they have nothing to compare it too. But you can’t fool true Philadelphians, especially South Philadelphians who smell cheese steaks every time they leave their house.

Again, I like Subway as a whole but I think that their Philly cheese steak is no match for real Philly cheese steaks. Also, I specifically choose the Subway in South Philly as it is headquarters for the real cheese steak. If a South Philly subway Philly cheese steak is no competition to the locals then I am only left to assume that this sandwich has the same problems nationwide. And the price…absurd. They should make this a $5 foot long like the rest of their sandwiches and then maybe I will change my review. If the locals are charging between $5.50 and $7 for a sandwich how could Subway possible charge $8 for a sandwich half the width in this kind of recession? Come on… this is Philadelphia, Subway. Get with the program! Philadelphians are tough, smart cookies. The Philadelphia Phillies just won the National League Championship 2 years in a row…Does Subway think that Philadelphians aren’t smart enough to distinguish between a real Philly cheese steak?

Subway Philly cheese steaks…what do you think about them?

Subway on Urbanspoon


  1. I know this is a little harsh but how can I take a food review seriously from someone who says he likes Subway?

    Microwaved cardboard bread and lowest common denominator meats served by people who should be bagging groceries?

    I'd rather eat Dinty Moore Beef stew cold from the can. At least the preservatives have some flavor

  2. Just for the record, the last Subway I went to put double the cheese their standard fare would offer - or about triple your description. The suggested variety was Pepper Jack, which is respectable.

    The dear lady offered onions and green peppers immediately, to be toasted (not microwaved) with the sandwich.

    I don't understand how you got inferior materials that close to Philadelphia, but like most franchises, there are always minor variations (my least favorite is when barbecue sauce is missing from the condiments).