One Whiz Wit a the New Phat Philly’s

By on April 20, 2012

I’ve been to Philadelphia. I saw the Liberty Bell on a school trip, and the grand old buildings nearby. But my visit to Independence Hall didn’t include a taste of that brash, sassy icon of America’s culinary independence, the Philly cheesesteak. So I don’t know if what I had at Phat Philly’s last night was a new kind of cheesesteak so awesome that people in Philly should sit up and take notice, or merely a wannabe they’d scoff at. Anyway, I thought it was darn good. And in any case, as the New York Times once stated, “the cheese steak may not be a proper subject for aesthetic analysis. Because when you think about it, a good cheese steak defies all the rules of good cooking. Overdone meat, bad bread, liquid cheese! It’s the General Tso’s Chicken of sandwiches.”

Defies the rules, and triumphs. Loyal Philadelphians have been flocking to their steak stands ever since that day in the early 1930s when a guy named Pat Olivieri sliced a steak and threw it on the griddle, mixed in onions and sold it as a sandwich. Pat’s cheesesteak shop (and its arch-rival Geno’s) is still around down by Passyunk Avenue in south Philly. In Tulsa, cheesesteaks began with a little downtown shack called Phat Philly’s. It opened about 5 years ago, and when it closed last year grown men cried. Now it’s back.

Bright, airy, and right near Cherry Street. They even serve beer now. You can get great brews like Marshall’s IPA on tap. But I’m not here for the beer. So I head for the counter.

This is where the magic is done. So I proudly order the way I read it’s done in Philly. “One Whiz wit!” At Pat’s in Philly, that means one cheesesteak made with Cheez Whiz, with onions. (Yes, Cheez Whiz. That’s the Philly tradition and critics agree that’s what tastes best, though some holdouts argue for Provolone.) They look at me as if I had ordered in Chinese. Except for one guy, he knows what I’m talking about. I think he’s the boss. “We do an Okie take on cheesesteak,” he says. For instance, he says, they use a slightly softer roll than Philadelphia’s Amoroso’s Bakery bakes for Pat’s. But they do use the traditional Cheez Whiz, though they call it “cheddar”. You can get Jack cheese instead, or, for a small fee, lots of extra toppings. You can get burgers, a vegetarian sandwich, and even chicken cheesesteak. But I went with tradition. And out it came.

Let me say that the waffle fries were great. I tasted one as I unwrapped my sandwich ($12, smaller version for around $7 available). And here it is.

Oh it was delicious! I couldn’t see the Whiz and I even asked if they had forgot to put it in. But it had melted in, blended with the hacked sirloin and onions to form a rich, marvelous creation, bursting with meat flavor made rich by browning, made even deeper by the processed cheese. It was the sort of flavor you’d hope to get if you ordered slow-braised short ribs in a restaurant where they spent 12 hours simmering them to perfection. And yet this gooey goodness was obtained after only 5 minutes on the griddle.

Now here’s where Tulsa’s own Phat Philly’s improves on Pat’s version. At Pat’s and Geno’s, as far as I know, they cook the meat (and have much longer slices) and then put it on the bread, and then, after the sandwich is ready, they put the Cheez Whiz on top. You can see it as a separate layer in this photo of a Pat’s sandwich.

But they do things differently here on Cherry Street. They spread the Cheez Whiz on the bun. Then they push the bun down on the meat as the meat is still cooking on the griddle. Then they take the bun off and splop more cheese on the cooking meat and push the cheese in. The result is this.

The cheese cooks into the meat. And it tastes better! Hey Philadelphia, check it out!

Phat Philly’s
1305 S Peoria
382-7428
Open from 10 AM to 10 PM Monday through Thursday, and to 4 AM Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday
http://www.phatphillys.com (website under construction)

Brian Schwartz: Author

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society.  www.theomegasociety.com

I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.

“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

Brian Schwartz

About Brian Schwartz

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola. “A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

15 Comments

  1. Todd

    April 20, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Been there, tried it, not impressed. Way overpriced and I was still hungry when I left. Granted I only had the small size, but spending $10 for lunch and a drink should at least be enough to satisfy my hunger. It would have cost even more if I would have ordered the fries. I have a friend that’s from Philly who said this place is his least favorite place to get a sandwich from in Tulsa.

  2. Matt

    April 20, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Talk to me when you’ve been to the Philly’s in Collinsville. Superior sandwich. What they call tots at Phat’s makes me sad as well.

  3. Heather

    April 20, 2012 at 11:26 am

    I love Phat Phillys – They have gotten less greasier on the sandwich this time around but its still awesome – I did a taste test here at the office cuz everyone about freaked when i told them about the Whiz – So I bought one whiz and one provolone – Whiz won hands down :)They have gotten a tad pricey but what hasn’t these days – Im a very happy person my Phillys is back open

  4. megan

    April 20, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Yes! Midnight Philly cravings can be satisfied once again!!!

  5. Atown

    April 20, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I prefer Steak Stuffers on 51st Street. All around much better food.

    • Brian Schwartz

      April 21, 2012 at 12:10 pm

      I must try this place, I’ve heard really good things about it.

  6. georgie

    April 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I always enjoy your food reviews….have been wanting to try this place

    • Brian Schwartz

      April 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. I try hard to write them well.

  7. Ray

    April 20, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Cheesesteaks in Tulsa did not begin here as you state. Steak Stuffers have been dishing them out here for over 20 years and also a much better sandwich!

  8. Flamingo

    April 21, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Doesn’t have the charm of their old location.

  9. Edward

    April 21, 2012 at 11:30 am

    I was so excited when they opened again because I used to go to their old location every few weeks. The sandwiches tasted much better at their old location. Now it’s almost like baby food on a bun. Too mushy and the flavor is not as good. I might try it again to see if they change back to their original sandwich.

  10. Joe

    April 27, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Picked up a small to go the other day. Through it in the basket of my Vespa. When I got home to enjoy it was still blazing hot. Amazing steak sandwich. Had to eat it in two session cause it was so filling. Love this place.

  11. cvb

    May 1, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Tried Phat’s about a month ago and the waffle fries were great. The sandwich was not near as good as Steak Stuffer’s on 51st. They are the best in Tulsa.

  12. JB

    May 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Glad they are open again. I’ve been there over 5 times since they reopened. The air conditioner works…the old place was hot. If you like a messy cheese steak, this is the place. Steak Stuffers is good and not as messy. Good peoples at Phat Phillys…and a great sandwich.

  13. Oklahawg

    June 8, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    I’ll second the recommendation on Philly’s in Collinsville. The best hot sandwich I’ve had since my days snarfing down something at the Texadelphia in Austin on Guadalupe, across from campus.

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