The Philly cheesesteak is one of those foods that does double duty as both a symbol of civic pride and a hotly debated point of contention. Philadelphia denizens argue over which iconic cheesesteak destination reigns supreme (the most famous rivalry being Pat's vs. Geno's) and whether provolone or the bizarre pasteurized process cheese food known as Cheese Whiz makes for a better sandwich. Here in Dallas, some 1,300 miles away from the nation's cheesesteak capital, diners are thankfully free to enjoy said sandwiches free of such bickering — after all, we've got to save our energy to fight over which barbecue place is the best.
There's certainly no shortage of local cheesesteak options, including local chains like Texadelphia and Fred's, as well as the popular made-right-in-front-of-you versions at Lowest Greenville hangout Truck Yard; but just down the street from the Bishop Arts District, there exists a small, independently owned restaurant that's quietly putting out some of the best cheesesteaks in town. Since opening last spring next to a barber shop in an unassuming West Davis strip mall, Cheesesteak House has garnered a loyal following of locals for its standout sandwiches served in a no-frills, counter-service setting.
In a nod to authenticity, owner Joel Padilla imports the bread for his sandwiches from Philly bakery Amoroso's; slightly crusty on the outside with a bit of chew, they provide a worthy foil for the generous filling of finely chopped, griddled-to-order beef topped with grilled onions, melty Swiss cheese, and any other additional toppings (green bell peppers and jalapenos make excellent add-ons), making for a sandwich that can successfully be picked up and eaten without having to resort to a knife and fork. There's no Cheese Whiz to be found here, but Padilla's housemade queso makes a tasty, if somewhat blasphemous, substitute.
The fries and onion rings are nothing to write home about, but they're always perfectly fried golden brown and greaseless, and provide a necessary vehicle for the lineup of excellent housemade sauces that includes a perfectly spicy chipotle mayo ("mayotle"), a zingy honey mustard, and an unusual banana pepper ketchup. With cheesesteak prices starting at a mere $5.25, it's easy to get out for under $10 a person.
For those who can't resist the urge to gild the lily (or consume a week's worth of meat in one sitting), consider a special Padilla has dubbed "Alan's Burger": a half-pound beef patty topped with "a mountain" — no really, that's what the sign says — of cheesesteak meat, plus Swiss cheese, grilled onions, and queso. A behemoth like that practically cries out for a cold beer to accompany it, and thankfully Cheesesteak House also happens to be BYOB.
Cheesesteak House is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and stays open an hour later on Fridays and Saturdays. Expect two TVs tuned into the sporting events of the moment; if your game of choice isn't showing, ask nicely and Padilla or one of his friendly staff will probably turn it on for you.