Real Philly style cheesesteaks right here in Austin
Reviewed by Kate Thornberry, Fri., July 13, 2012
Phatso's Cheesesteaks1207 S. First; 709-4915
Monday, 11am-2pm; Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-9:30pm; closed Sunday
Cheesesteak sandwiches are a special regional food item hailing from Philadelphia. In order to be considered a genuine cheesesteak, the steak must be sliced very thin, fried on a flat griddle, anointed with either Cheez Whiz or provolone, and served on a roll baked by the Amoroso Baking Co. of Philadelphia. (Cheesesteaks can be made with chicken, in which case they are referred to as chicken cheesesteaks.) Typically, onions are grilled with the meat, and various items such as sweet or hot peppers and marinara sauce can be added in upon request. Cheesesteak aficionados tend to be pretty strict on all these points; if it isn't made just the way they make them at Pat's King of Steaks or Geno's Steaks, it's just not a cheesesteak.
Fortunately for us all, Phatso's Cheesesteaks toe the line religiously, right down to the Amoroso's rolls. "My goal is to provide the same type of product as Pat's or Geno's, along with the same type of attitude," says Walter Underwood, the owner/operator of Phatso's. The menu at the trailer is straightforward and streamlined: Pick beef or chicken, onions or no onions, Cheez Whiz or provolone, sauce or no sauce. Pepperoni, bacon, mushrooms, and jalapenos can be added in for an extra charge. Depending on your choice of options, your sandwich will cost between $5.25-8.50.
"Sometimes people get a little bogged down by all the choices, so I have a special 'under the table' menu of winning combinations," says Underwood, who grew up just outside of Philly. "The Pepperoni Pizzasteak, the Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak, the Hawaiian Chicken Cheesesteak, and the Phat Walter ... that one's named after me: beef, onions, jalapenos, mushrooms, bacon, and both cheeses." Underwood has made a few adjustments; he uses London broil for his steak to keep it a little leaner, and for his onions he uses Texas sweet 1015's. "And on Fridays at lunchtime I offer queso as a cheese choice," he smiles. "My queso has about 12 ingredients, including hot sausage and cheddar, and it takes a couple of hours to make, so I can only offer it once a week."