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Manhattan Cheesesteaks

Carl's Philly Cheesesteaks

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Carl's Philly Cheesesteaks

Maggie | Sep 29, 2003 12:31 PM

**disclaimer: i know nothing about cheesesteaks** so don't get all dogmatic on me, 'kay?

anyway, this place in murray hill (3rd ave between 34th & 35th) finally opened on sunday, and it was crazy busy. when we went in, around 9, they told us there had been lines out the door since 11am. the neighborhood is definitely excited. anyway, as i said, it was a bit crazy with some opening-day kinks (amorphous lines, random service people standing around, a bit of a wait), but the staff and owners were really friendly and the experience was all good.

they offer steak and chicken sandwiches, with choice of cheez-whiz, provolone, and american, with or without grilled onions, with add-ons of hot, sweet, or green peppers and some other various toppings. there's a "pizzasteak" too, but i don't know what that is, and some other stuff i can't remember. the atkins version of the sandwich (no roll) made it on the menu. around $6.00 plus $.50 for add-ons. fries: plain & cheese for $2-$2.50. along with sodas, they offer those little 7 ounce beers--heineken, corona, and something else--for $2 or $3.

we got a cheesesteak and a chicken-cheesesteak, the latter with provolone and green peppers and the former with american, and both without onions. one is instructed, by a placard on the wall behind the grill, how properly to order a philly cheesesteak, but we weren't ready to bust the attitude yet lest we be revealed as posers, and no one cared. we got some fries, too.

the cheesesteak was definitely & appropriately the winner, perfectly grilled meat with that smoky-grilled flavor, peppery & succulent, with the cheese quotient well calibrated. the chicken was also good, but it was lacking a little of that juicy goodness and there was less meat in the sandwich. the green peppers were grilled lightly, and added a pleasant crunch. the bread was the weakest link--a fine-tasting hoagie roll but nothing spectacular. the fries were awesome. they're just regular old frozen fries in a bunch of oil, but they were fried perfectly: golden brown, not too greasy, piping hot.

the owner came to ask us how we liked our food, and we told him it was great but that we didn't know our philly cheesesteak stuff. he told us that he wished we did, because he wanted to know if there was anything else he should be doing, or be doing better. i had nothing to offer, but i thought i'd pass on the invitation to all y'all hounds with cheesesteak religion to get on down there and preach (if the sandwich needs conversion)!

the space is set up with the grill and all that lined up on the south side, four or so bar-style tables in the back, and a kitchen beyond. several fans keep the place cool and relatively grease/smoke smell free. the owner's wife (who was working the register) is an artist and i was told she made the mosaic pieces in the store--a large one on the back wall with the name of the store and tables with a deep red design. all in all, a modest space with a cool flair and really friendly folks (i think they live in the neighborhood, too) who seem dedicated to turning out good food. and yes, they deliver.

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