Location: 228 Market St., Old City, Philadelphia
Phone: (215) 629-5760
Date Visited: 05-11-2008, 12:15 p.m.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
For starters, this is getting ridiculous. Today was the fifth day in a row that I've swallowed up a cheesesteak; I did D'alessandro's on Wednesday and Friday (the review of which is being withheld for a later, more prestigious occasion), already wrote about III Illiano's on Thursday and Lou's yesterday. Today was Sunday, and I went with #7 on WIP's super cheesesteak list: Sonny's Famous Steaks, on Market Street in Old City, about a block from the lovely Arden Theatre Company.
There were some elements of the drive which I found to be rather perplexing, elements that are Sunday mainstays at this time of year. Traffic on 76 East between the Roosevelt Blvd. and Girard Ave. gets completely constipated due to zoo traffic, so I take the wise man's route, Kelly Drive. However, this was similarly frustrating, as I encountered a Regatta-driven detour once I approached the boathouses. And to top it all off, it was Mother's Day, so the commotion was at a slightly higher level than usual.
Most importantly about the establishment itself, the parking was a challenge. I did not expect to circle around for 20 minutes looking for a spot. I found myself a little place that I wasn't sure would be legal, on the corner of Fifth and Chestnut, about three and a half blocks away.
I love Old City. It's vibrant, colorful, and on this particular day, the whole neighborhood smelled like fresh food. I found my way to Sonny's, a pleasant, middle-of-the-block sitdown, complete with outdoor seating. Inside, the floor was clean, the look was pretty sharp and the seating was surprisingly ample. It was just after noon, and with no line I was greeted promptly and placed my order, cheesesteak, fried onions, American. With a bottle of Coke my lunch was $8.25, and took no more than three minutes to prepare as I obnoxiously snapped a few pictures of the interior. I don't really know photography etiquite so well, whether I should ask permission before shooting, but I just shot anyway. In the meanwhile, I noticed the slightly comical t-shirts that each of the people behind the counter was wearing, black shirts with the Sonny's logo on the front and a silhouette of a cheesesteak on the back with the words, "Bite Me." I inquired, and yes, they had extras for sale for $15. Large, please.
The other deduction came during the drive home, as I shoved the last piece of roll into my mouth. The sandwich was gone, every single morsel of it, and I could have eaten at least another half. Granted, I didn't have a stomach full of pasta from the night before (as was the case yesterday), but a cheesesteak should fill you up, and this one, unfortunately, didn't. And when I say unfortunately, I really mean it, because this cheesesteak was one of the most delicious I've ever had.
Again, I love Old City, and now I know where to get a fantastic Old City cheesesteak as late as 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. I'm pretty sure that knowledge will come in very handy in the near future, and when it does, I'll remember to buy two and savor them both.