I have no interest in sports, except for UFC fights and the ribbon-dancing part of gymnastics. And honestly, one of the biggest draws about watching the fights is getting giant plates of nachos and nuclear-flavored wings. We had a fight night viewing party at our house recently, and I spent hours preparing gourmet noshes for my guests, only to realize that I was completely missing the point. Watching sports goes with meaty sandwiches, jalapeno poppers and cheesy fries. Period.
Enter Straight Out of Philly. Incredibly, I've never been here, even though I've always heard encouraging reviews. "I go to the gym so I can eat a Philly right after." "They have delivery. It saved my life." "Get the double meat! You won't think you'll be able to eat it all, but you will."
On my first visit, I ran into a couple of friends who were chowing down on their cheesesteaks, proving that I am the last person in on this not-so-secret joint. Even my editor admitted that frequenting this haven of meat is a guilty pleasure of his.
And no wonder: The choices alone are astounding. There are 22 types of steak sandwiches, with the options of double meat ($3 extra), different breads and the addition of marinara and mozzarella. The Boss ($13.95) comes loaded with steak, Canadian bacon, grilled onions, peppers, jalapenos, pineapple and cheese. Not eating beef? Try a chicken version ($10.95) or veggie Philly ($10.95).
The rest of the menu is a game-day cornucopia: cheesy hot buffalo fries ($6.95), chicken fingers ($8.95 for three with fries) and meatball subs ($10.95). I went straight for the hot Philly and added mushrooms ($11.95). While waiting, I nibbled on my friend's fries and found them to be perfectly proportioned -- substantial but not too thick, well-seasoned and crispy. He was a good sport and let me finish the basket in the name of journalism.
My sandwich was a hefty melange of thinly sliced, chopped-up meat, sauteed onions, peppers, jalapenos and mushrooms with cheese. A soft, almost football-length roll cradled the fragrant meat and soaked up the drippings. I had forgotten to ask for double meat, but it didn't matter because I could barely finish what I had in front of me. The sandwich was really good -- no chewy bits of gristle or excess fat impeding the texture of the griddled meat, and the vegetables were judiciously portioned. I especially liked the heat of the jalapenos cutting through the rich flavors.
That weekend, on a lazy Sunday afternoon, my husband and I ordered delivery. We got the hot pastrami sub ($10.95), eight-piece wings ($9.95), onion rings ($2.50) and jalapeno poppers ($6.95).
I liked the pastrami sub, layered with lettuce, cheese, mustard and sweet pickles, but my husband thought it was boring. I told him he should have ordered The Boss. The wings come in a variety of sauces, and I chose the honey hot. They weren't spicy at all, but they did have good flavor, although I had a quibble with how small they were. It was almost like eating popcorn chicken wings.
The onion rings and poppers were exactly as they should be -- delicious, addictive and still managing to retain their texture even after a prolonged delivery period.
Straight Out of Philly has been providing straight forward blue-collar food for more 10 years, and doing it well. So if pizzas have become predictable and nachos are wreaking havoc on the living room carpet, now's the time to get in on the secret.
By Riza Brown
Daily News correspondent