Cheesesteaks in the Salt Lake Valley

Moochies versus the Downtown Philly.

There are two cheesesteak shops in town, both claiming to represent authentic Philadelphia fare, Moochies (http://www.moochiesmeatballs.com) and Downtown Philly http://www.thedowntownphilly.com/). I’ve been a Moochies fan for years; but I have never been to Philadelphia, so my opinion is less than informed, as far as my Philadelphia friends are concerned (Brandon and Parker). No matter how many times I told them that Joanna is a Philly transplant, and that she has Tasty Kakes shipped in from home (http://www.tastykake.com). It didn’t matter that if I went in and ordered “a six inch, without” they knew exactly what I wanted. I am not from Philadelphia, or even Pennsylvania. I haven’t even been there; so I have no basis for comparison.

That’s where the Downtown Philly comes into the picture. A recent addition to the Salt Lake Valley scene, the Downtown Philly (which is really no where close to downtown- Moochies is, however), the Downtown Philly boasts that it is “Utah’s only place for authentic cheesesteaks”. “That’s a bold statement,” I told my wife, a confirmed and unapologetic Moochies fan. She agreed, and we made the long haul to South Jordan (or, “the sticks”).

We went at about lunchtime on a Wednesday. The line was to the door- always a good sign. We made our way to the counter, where I ordered a “six inch, without” and a “Twelve inch, with mushrooms, peppers and jalapenos” (can’t have a cheesesteak without hot peppers). To the uninitiated, a cheesesteak is thinly sliced beef with onions on a soft roll, with (usually) Cheese Whiz (http://brands.kraftfoods.com/cheezwhiz/). If one wants onions, he says “with”, if he doesn’t, “without”. I understand the locals in Philly actually shorten the “with” to just “wi-“. I don’t partake of Tasty Kakes or Birch Beer, which the Downtown Philly has. I just want the sandwich. I also ordered a grilled ham and cheese for Wyatt. They got the order perfect, and we sat down to eat.

Now, again, not knowing what a “real” cheesesteak is supposed to taste like, despite eating at Moochies for years, this is where the fun begins. The sandwiches were remarkably similar. The rolls were soft. The beef was thin and tender. Downtown Philly’s beef is a little spicier. I suspect that is pepper in the marinade. It didn’t make their sandwich better than Moochies, just different. There is plenty of meat on both of them. Downtown Philly loses points for charging extra for hot peppers, and for offering provolone on their sandwiches (if you recall, the Philadelphia press ripped John Kerry when they overheard him ask for it). From what I have read, chewy cheeses are less authentic than the aforementioned Whiz. Moochies, then, would lose points for not offering Pennsylvania Dutch birch beer (http://daretogodutch.com/) or Herr’s chips (http://www.herrs.com/). I don’t count those as negatives, though, because I only came for the sandwich.

Comparing them, they are enough alike that if one of them is authentic, I would wager that both of them are. My wife and I still give the slight edge to Moochies; but that would not stop me from eating at the Downtown Philly again, if I found myself in South Jordan (again, “the sticks” or “the boonies”). I would rather make the drive to Moochies.

Maybe I could convince my friends from Philly to try them and see.