The Philadelphian is a dive, no doubt about it.
The ceiling tiles are yellow with age. The walls are spackled but not painted over. Boxed restaurant supplies are stacked in the back of the dining room. The carpet looks as old as the black vinyl chairs, many of them with cracked upholstery, that surround the round wood-look Formica tables.
And customers can sit around those tables and eat some darn tasty sandwiches, not to mention delectable fries and onion rings. The ambience is nothing to write home about, but the food is.
When we visited The Philadelphian on a Saturday, the place was hopping, with the staff exchanging relaxed, easy banter with customers as they grilled up various permutations of Philly steak sandwiches, as well as pastrami, barbecue beef and more. The menu has a cold side as well, but on that cold day the steamy sammies were by far the most popular.
My husband had the delicious, moist and tender pepper steak sandwich, with Philly-style thin-sliced steak, bell peppers and onion welded to a 12-inch roll with provolone cheese.
Unlike many Philly cheesesteak joints, The Philadelphian does not offer Cheez Whiz, that classic cheesesteak topping. I missed it, but provolone is just fine and appropriately classic in its own right.
To be honest, I wanted a pepper steak, too — it's my favorite way to have a cheesesteak. But in the interests of journalistic thoroughness, I went with a slightly different permutation, the "#1 favorite" (or so says the menu) Philadelphian, a Philly steak sandwich with mushrooms, onions and provolone. OK, so it's not that different.
But the mushrooms did add a nice earthy touch to the sandwich.
There are several other sandwiches featuring Philly-style steak: a plain cheesesteak, a French dip, barbecue beef and the intriguingly heart-clogging "hot combo," which combines pastrami, beef and ham topped with provolone cheese.
Our kids, however, went with the chicken and meatball sandwiches, halving two regular six-inch sandwiches rather than getting the four-inch kids' versions.
The chicken was a pretty standard but a decent presentation of deep fried and breaded chicken strips on a roll, while the meatball was a nicely seasoned rendition of this classic, with large meatballs filling the firm but tender roll.
With our sandwiches we tried most of the fried side of the menu. I appreciate the fact that, after I ordered a basket of onion rings and one of fried mushrooms, the affable lady at the counter recommended against my ordering two large orders of fries: "Trust me, hon: They're huge."
Of course she was right, though the mountain of piping-hot skin-on fries was good enough that we might have been able to take a run at two portions.
Not, however, after also eating the fried mushrooms and onion rings. They were both clad in a thick, bready batter that was musky, well-seasoned and obviously made on-site. We tried, but we couldn't finish everything, much to our regret.
Sandwiches (6, 8 and 12 inches) $3.80-$6.60, kids' meals $2.50 $3.80, sides and deep-fried items $1.80-$5.50.
Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News.
Where: 9860 S. 700 East, Sandy
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday, noon-6 p.m.
Payment: Major credit cards accepted
Wheelchair access: Easy
Also: Catering available
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