Texadelphia opened its second current Houston location Tuesday, and its first inside the Loop (at least since the Studemont location closed). I, being a born-and-raised Philadelphian who—I've said before—has eaten many cheesesteaks in his life, decided to check it out.
Now, some of you may be expecting me to come in here and trash Texadelphia, thinking I might say it has amateurish takes on an East Coast institution, or something like that. But no, I’m not doing that here. If I have a complaint about the sandwich, it’s that the roll is far too soft and squishy for a cheesesteak. In fact, a larger roll would’ve sufficed, because I felt like I was Lennie Small caring for a puppy.
Otherwise I enjoyed the cheesesteak (and am looking to try all the cheesesteak variations here in Houston). I ordered the South Philly, which per its name is the most accurate representation of the sandwich most popular at South Philly outposts like Pat’s, Geno’s, Jim’s, and Tony Luke’s. (My personal favorite is Northeast Philadelphia haunt Steve’s Prince of Steaks, for those making a trip.)
And now, some education: A traditional Philly cheesesteak is thin-sliced beef with cheese (either provolone, American, or the most common, Cheese Whiz) inside a roll (preferably from Amoroso’s Bakery). You can add sautéed onions (that makes it "wit"). You don’t typically add peppers or mushrooms, though pepper and mushroom steaks are available at most reputable places.
Philadelphians are split over one final cheesesteak element: ketchup. I’m a lifelong ketchup-in-a-cheesesteak supporter, and I’ve had heated arguments with friends and family members over this issue. In the end we all agree to disagree, but many of us do ketchup inside the steak, since it adds an acidity and sweetness that perfectly counters the often tangy cheese.
Back to Texadelphia: The South Philly has mushrooms and peppers, which I accepted because I'm not always a boring purist. However, I know it’s Texas, but tortilla chips with a cheesesteak is just madness. Also, there is no ketchup on the tables, which can be easily rectified.
Other steak options include the Texican (mozzarella, jalapenos, queso) and the Left Coast (chicken, mozzarella, guacamole), which would be thrown back at greasy counter windows in Philly but I’m sure work well everywhere else in America. I do like the option of a pizza steak, which is also common in Philly and, like Texadelphia’s, has beef, marinara sauce, and mozzarella (though provolone is also common). For those not wanting a cheesesteak, there are wraps, burgers, salads, and plenty of queso.
Best yet, the Montrose location is anchored by a sports bar with televisions. While I wanted ketchup at the table, I liked the Texadelphia setup. Most Philly steak spots are counter-service jawns (“jawn” is Philadelphia’s version of a catch-all noun) with minimal seating, so comfort isn’t a necessity. But at Texadelphia you can kick back and slowly enjoy your cheesesteak with a beer. Bravo.
Texadelphia is decked out in Texas paraphernalia, from college helmets to local beer signage. I would’ve liked a couple nods to Philly (would a Rocky poster kill you?), but as a casual sports bar that happens to serve decent-enough renditions of an East Coast favorite, I approve.