As an out-of-state student at Michigan State, I’m asked what I miss most about home often. My answer is the same every time: the food (sorry Mom). There are a few things I can really only get back home, and one of those things is a cheesesteak.
If you’re from Philly, have ever been to Philly, or know anyone from Philly, you know about cheesesteaks. I live about 15 minutes outside of the City of Brotherly Love and have had plenty of exposure to this beautiful sandwich. When it comes to cheesesteaks, I know what I’m talking about.
Up until now, I have never even tried a cheesesteak or any sort of variation of a cheesesteak in Michigan, but in the name of Spoon University, I did it. I went to 6 different restaurants in East Lansing to see if I could find anything comparable to the cheesesteaks I love so dearly. I rated each one I tried on a scale of 1 to 10 and explained the reasoning behind each ranking as I went. Here’s what I found:
This is a variation of a cheesesteak. I ordered the cheesesteak wrap from MSU’s favorite drunk food distributor: Conrad’s. Pulling off a cheesesteak in a wrap is not an easy feat, and Conrad’s came up short here. The wrap was really heavy on the onions, I mean REALLY heavy. Also, the onions weren’t mixed in with the steak, which is something you’d generally find in Philly.
This wrap reminded me of a 7th grade dance, with all the boys (onions and tater tots) on one end of the gym (the wrap) and all the girls (steak, cheese, and peppers) on the other end of the gym. No one dared venture over to the other side of this wrap, and when your friend tried to push you over to the opposite side, you sprinted back to your side ASAP. Overall, the steak was fine, but it wasn’t involved in every bite, which is a must.
2. PITA PIT
Pita Pit also offers a variation of a cheesesteak: its “Philly Steak” wrap. Again, pulling off a cheesesteak wrap is no easy feat, and Pita Pit had a tough time with this. The peppers were very overpowering, and I didn’t taste much cheese at all. They also used provolone cheese which I thought was interesting. The steak was chopped well and wasn’t that dry, but it was just overpowered by the peppers.
Not gonna lie, I was skeptical about this. But then I figured this place has “Jersey” in the name, so at least it’s from the East Coast. This cheesesteak surprised me; the steak was chopped well (not too thin/thick), and it was tender. Aside from that, the cheese, onions and peppers were mixed in with the steak while they were on the grill instead of just being thrown into the mix at the end, which is a HUGE plus.
If I find myself craving a cheesesteak while I’m at school, instead of just wishing I could teleport to Jim’s Steaks, I might head over to Jersey Mike’s and get this again. The only downsides to this cheesesteak were the peppers were a little overpowering at times, and Jersey Mike’s doesn’t have any ketchup in the store, and I like to put that on my cheesesteaks – but I can just bring my own or throw some on when I get back to my apartment next time. And honestly, I would eat this again even without the ketchup.
Steakhouse Philly claims to have the best cheesesteaks in Lansing, so I was most excited to try this place out. Plus “Philly” is part of the name – I had high hopes. Those high hopes weren’t met, though, because there was more roll than cheesesteak in every bite, and the sandwich started to fall apart early on. I was also expecting more cheese, and I was surprised that their standard cheese was provolone and not American cheese. This cheesesteak was also very heavily seasoned with lots of pepper. I added some ketchup to my cheesesteak, which helped, but at the end of the day, there just wasn’t enough steak for the roll.
Leo’s offers a variation of a cheesesteak with its Philly Cheesesteak Pita, and they do a pretty good job with it. The steak was juicy and chopped well, and the presence of mushrooms, fried onions, and peppers didn’t take away from the cheesesteak. I was expecting this sandwich to be a little cheesier, and I think having a little bit more cheese involved would make this a better variation of a cheesesteak.
I would hardly call this a cheesesteak. The MSU dining hall’s steak was completely overpowered by the overwhelming presence of peppers and onions, and it was dry. The steak wasn’t chopped at all until it was flipped over, which means that by the time the person making the cheesesteak begins chopping it up, it’s overcooked and dry. The sandwich was also falling apart before I took my first bite, which was almost all peppers. The Gallery at Snyder-Phillips tried on this one, and it seems to be relatively popular (all four students ahead of me ordered the “Philly Cheesesteak”) but I wouldn’t eat this again.