Good cheese steaks outside of Philly? Are such things possible? Most of the time you get dry meat and a gummy roll around these parts. But not at Carl’s Steaks. Located downtown just a few blocks from the WTC PATH station, Carl’s is a hidden neighborhood gem, worth a hike for lunch or as a stop for the train crowd.
They have a $10 lunch special for a large cheese steak, fries and a drink. Not too bad for NYC prices, and it will definitely fill you up. I got the works on mine, pictured above- onions, sweet and hot peppers, cheese. I put hot sauce and BBQ sauce on there- sacrilege for a Philly purist- but I know what I’m doing. The roll is crisp and crusty with a soft inside to soak up all those juices. The steak is thin and juicy, not overcooked and certainly not stringy or dry in any way, with lots of flavor. And the hot bonnet peppers are delicious.
You can get Cheez Whiz, the classic, or the Italian standby of provolone (my favorite), or American. I figure if you’re gonna get fake American cheese you might as well stay pure with the Whiz. Sometimes the line is out the door during lunchtime, but it is worth the wait. This is the best sandwich in the area, including Les Halles’ French Dip and Pane Peppe’s excellent selection of salumeria concoctions. If you can’t make it to Pat’s or Geno’s you owe it to yourself to try Carl’s, they make an authentic Philly cheese steak that will leave you sated and somewhat amazed.
View Larger Map