Do you eat your pizza with a fork and knife? Then you're gonna have a problem at ~PHAT PHILLY~, because you're about to eat one of the messiest, drippy, meaty sandwiches I've encountered since I had an Oki Dog in L.A. one stoned night during my college days, circa 1992.
What's an Oki Dog? That bad boy is a bastard combo of two hot dogs, with pastrami, chili, and cheese, all swaddled in a tortilla. Yes, it was a doublewide hot dog burrito, how utterly demented and strangely delicious. (Maybe that was the weed talking.) My vegetarian boyfriend looked over in horror at one point, pointing at the puddle under my dripping Oki Dog, and said, "It's bleeding." (No, we didn't last.)
I will not purport to be an expert on Philly cheesesteaks, I'm a native Californian. But I certainly know tasty chow. The classic cheesesteak I had at Phat Philly rips: a pile of well-caramelized onions and hacked up Masami Farms American Kobe beef are shoveled into an Amoroso roll flown in from Philly--nope, there's nothing graceful about it. The regular classic is $6.50, and phat is $9.75. It's beefy (it's the same quality beef that Pot de Pháờ uses for their broth) and juicy and delightfully bad for you--kind of like the sandwich version of a peep show.
I taste-tested my friend's half made with the traditional addition of Whiz, and the other (mine) with the house-made Newcastle Brown Ale cheddar sauce. I gotta go with the cheddah as the champ choice, although the Whiz definitely had a strong congealing power, an important factor in keeping it all together. (You can also get white American or provolone cheese.)
A visit to the pepper bar also added to the flavor and mess factor: I dug my personal combo of both hot and sweet peppers (just how I like it, uh huh). As I sat outside with my wingman scarfing our "steaks," most people who were walking by looked over curiously and then longingly at our food with pure, unbridled food lust. I might as well have been sitting out there topless, I swear. Although two skinny chicks walked by, and as one looked at the Phat Philly sign, she said, "Ew, that sounds so gross." Yeah, you keep on walkin', sister. Enjoy your air, vodka sodas, and baby carrots.
The rest of the menu has a variety of cheesesteaks, from spicy buffalo to pizza to chili to mushroom steaks. A regular comes on a seven-inch roll, while the phat roll is 12 inches. You can play this a variety of ways: get a regular, eat the whole thing, and be stupidly full; or split a phat one with a friend; or get a phat for yourself and have half for lunch and the other half for dinner (that's what I did, and got to feel horrible about myself twice in one day, it was fantastic). Or, you're the We Eating guys, and you get an entire phat for yourself. You can also get any steak made with chicken--I guess that would make it a cheesechicken.
There are sides like criss-cut waffle fries (mighty tasty covered in the cheddar beer sauce--but eat 'em quick, because once they cool down they're kind of meh) or kick-ass onion rings (both $4--fries are $4.75 with the sauce). There are some items I haven't tried, like the salads, or Italian beef ($7.25) topped with giardiniera. I am coming back for the Italian Cheezy Beef, mark my words--I want his number. Vegetarians won't go hungry, and can order a veggie hoagie, a portobello steak, or a tofu steak ($6.25-$9.25).
There are three beers on tap (Pilsner Urquell, Newcastle, and Blue Moon), and kudos to the nice staff who offered to top me off once the frothy head on my cold beer dissipated. Mighty friendly staff, in fact. And soda refills are free. The décor is pretty sparse (checkered floors, metal tables and chairs), so don't expect anything design wise that' 's going to knock you out--it's up to the steak to do that.
For you Philly native diehards, there are some legit snacks, like Tastykakes, Herr's Chips, and Peanut Chews. Coming soon (maybe): online ordering and payment, curbside service, and hopefully later hours Thu-Sat, stand by! There's a bus stop right out front, so I can imagine some MUNI riders (and drivers) trying to get their steak hand-delivered on the bus, mark my words. I'm glad Phat Philly is at least a 20-minute bike ride from 'hopper HQ, because the last thing I need is to be on a first-name basis with the staff here, for reals. I'm going to relegate it to "hangover status only." But those of you with good metabolism, I say go for it and order it phat!
3388 24th St.
Cross: Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA 94110