#91: Cheesesteak, 99 Miles to Philly


39 down. 62 to go.

What a week, huh? I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been so overwhelmed and working non-stop. I completed the first half of my thesis on Wednesday, an event to encourage people to eat more sustainable fish. I now have my next event at applewood in Brooklyn coming up in less than two weeks. You should come! Anyway, I’ve had little Greg time, and even less Quest for 101 time. It’s been over a week since my last sandwich! I knew I couldn’t waste anymore time. The Quest must go on! So after picking up some paper supplies for my thesis, I headed over to Union Square with only one place in mind.

As I first walked into 99 Miles to Philly and noticed all the tributes to Pat’s, The First and The Originator of the Philly Steak, posted to the walls I thought to myself, “What a stupid premise!” The entire concept of this place is to be like another legendary restaurant while constantly reminding people they are not at that original location. If they had a tag line it would be “99 Miles to Philly: Don’t you wish you were there!” I got past my initial reaction, and walked up to the counter to order my sandwich. I was slightly hesitant because I wanted to make sure I ordered the right one — I don’t have time to be ordering wrong. Neil was right there to help me.

“Where you from?” he asked me with a big smile on his face. It’s been awhile since I’ve been mistaken for a tourist in NYC. I later realized he was just shocked that I lived in New York and hadn’t had a cheesesteak from here before. It was as if I had never been to the Museum of Natural History, Central Park or the Empire State Building. Neil assured me that I would be pleasantly surprised, and he was spot on.

I could tell I wasn’t in Philly ordering from Pat’s or Gino’s because Neil was sociable, patient, and complimented a guy wearing a Knicks sweatshirt. His friendliness was perhaps the only difference I noticed. It’s been five years since my last cheesesteak in Philly but that sandwich brought me right back. The long roll was stuffed with chopped up meat, sauteed onions, and “whiz.” The proportions were perfect — a great meat to cheese to bread ratio. I didn’t even find it too greasy only going through two napkins. It was delicious in every way a cheesesteak is meant to be. I am no expert, but this was the most authentic Philly cheesesteak I’ve had in NYC. The next time I’m craving a real cheesesteak, I’ll take the option only 5 miles from where I live and with less Eagles and Phillies fans, thank you.

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