Thanks to Philadelphia restaurateurs Pat and Harry Olivieri, hungry meat lovers have been enjoying what is now known as the Philly Cheesesteak sandwich since the 1930s. The original sandwich was lacking the crucial "cheese" component, but that was remedied later with the addition of mild provolone (Cheez Whiz didn't make its debut until the 1950s but is now considered the quintessential cheesesteak cheese).
Since then, the combination of fried steak and melty cheese on a soft roll has become a staple in Old Town Scottsdale's late-night diet with help from the 24-hour eatery Philadelphia Sandwich Company.
The sandwich institution, which sat at the corner of Fifth Ave and Scottsdale Road for the past seven years, recently picked up and moved to the giant space that once housed the shuttered White House club, next to the Dos Gringos on Craftsman Court.
So what took over their old spot? Another cheesesteak sandwich shop, duh.
Big B's Hangover is the new kid on the block, serving late-night hot steak and chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, and sliders.
So of course, we had to pit them against their predecessors.
May the best cheesesteak win!
In This Corner: Philadelphia Sandwich Company
The Setup: The 24-hour eatery has been feeding the hungry Scottsdale party scene since 2005. Their new location is over 4,000 square feet, complete with pool table, drum set, and plenty of inside seating. The late-night lines are still long, so be prepared when you get the counter -- that means you know exactly what you want and you have your money in hand. No exceptions.
The Good: The roll was soft and chewy, the meat was cooked perfectly, the onions were diced and grilled, the Whiz was gooey -- and it was pretty -- just like a Philly Cheesesteak should be. Plus, we're totally diggin' the new space. It's light and spacious, and super-clean.
The Bad: We couldn't really taste the onions; we could only see them -- and the sandwich as whole was a kind of boring. There wasn't much to complain about but that's because it was just wasn't anything special. And although the space is clean and huge, it kinda reminds us of a frat house. A really nice frat house, but a frat house nonetheless.
In the Other Corner: Big B's Hangover
The Setup: The quaint sandwich shop is nothing more then a counter space for ordering your food, a couple of bar seats against a wall, and a few tables outside to enjoy the weather and eat your food -- fine by us. We don't need much more. The sandwich shop is owned by none other than Bryan Chittenden, who is also responsible for popular Scottsdale hot spots Stingray Sushi, Geisha A Go-Go, Jimmy Woo's, and Spanish Fly.
The Good: The girl behind the counter might have been one of the friendliest people in the food-service world. We can't remember the last time we ran into someone who actually seemed to be enjoying her day at her job.
But onto the sandwich -- the meat was fried up with diced mushroom, peppers, and onions, and was covered in cheese. The bread was hardy enough to contain all the ingredients without falling apart, and the mushroom really added another dimension to the flavor of the overall sandwich without overpowering the meat.
The Bad: Look at that thing. It's a mess. A horrible mess. We managed to hunt down a knife a slice this sucker in half making it a little bit more manageable, but we really would have liked to have seen more of the ingredients actually in the sandwich instead of spilling out the top.
And the winner is...
Big B's Hangover. Yep, the newcomer takes the win with its ultra-messy sandwich. Once we got past the mess, we loved the added flavor and texture of the mushrooms and the peppers. We would gladly skip the frat house and shove this disaster in our mouth any night of the week, drunk or sober.
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