Thursday, April 30, 2009
NebraskaPhilly’s back again/doing a little cheesesteak thing.
My cheesesteak experience has been limited mostly to the turkey cheesesteak at Grinders. I haven’t been to Chartroose Caboose, but I totally need to. And all the while I lived by the now closed Cheesesteak Alley, I stayed away because the sign said something like “Philadelphia invented it and we perfected it” -- a claim I found to be narcissistic at worst and dubious at best. Although I’ve never been to Philadelphia, I doubt much of anything is getting perfected across the street from the Kmart in Mission.
PepperJax Grill was voted First Place Best Sandwiches in Omaha Magazine’s Best of Omaha 2008. That’s something I can believe in. Omaha is, after all, a city noted for its love of Runzas so the bar can’t be too high. (Actually, I shouldn’t be so quick to judge -- I just checked out Runza online and it looks kind of good. Much better than I remember.)
We got to the front of the line at PepperJax Grill's Lawrence location, and I ordered my Philly with everything. The guy asked, “Do you want jalapeno juice?” Of course I wanted jalapeno juice.
It appears that creating a cheesesteak is a three-person operation -- PepperJax Grill is set up like a Chipotle or Subway, where you follow your sandwich down the counter as they fix it. Personally, I prefer not to see my food getting made, especially when it looks like they’re manhandling the bread. If that’s an essential step to engineering the ideal filling pocket and achieving sandwich perfection, so be it. I just don’t want to watch it happen.
My Philly tasted fantastic -- the steak, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and cheese were all in balance. Eating it was surprisingly mess-free, too. For comparison, whenever we’re at Grinders I inevitably go through a stack of napkins and yet somehow still get Cheez Whiz all over everything.
But as delicious as the PepperJax Grill cheesesteak was, between it and the cheesesteak at Grinders, I’ve got to go with Grinders as my favorite. The Cheez Whiz makes a big difference, as does that savory dash of spite that goes into just about everything that Grinders serves. Let’s face it, despite the fact that more often than not the people working at Grinders seem to be actively trying to ignore their customers, they make one fine cheesesteak.
947 New Hampshire | Lawrence, KS 66044