There are some damn good reasons to visit Antone's Famous Po' Boys these days. For one, over the next year it's partnering up with celebrities who are co-creating their own signature sandwiches, with profits benefiting local charities. You can grab Bun B's Hot Wang Sandwich—devised with Legacy Restaurants Corporate Executive Chef Alex Padilla—through the end of September. Other celebrities coming through: the Texans's Whitney Mercilus, artist Donkeeboy, Kam Franklin of the Suffers, and Kaiser Lashkari of Himalaya Restaurant.
But the specialty celebrity sandwich isn't the only one garnering attention at Antone's. Back in July, the restaurant's Tex-Mex Cheesesteak was named one of the best sandwiches in America by trade publication Restaurant Hospitality.
As something of an expert on anything with the word "cheesesteak" in it, I had to try this thing for myself.
One thing that the Tex-Mex Cheesesteak isn't trying to be is a copycat. While it has thin-sliced beef and cheese in a (very good) hoagie-style roll—making it a cheesesteak by its most basic definition—it also has onions, sliced and sautéed bell peppers, sliced banana peppers, sliced jalapeños, and chipotle mayonnaise. The cheese is pepperjack, which you won't find on any menu boards back in Philly. That would be blasphemy, but hey, we're not here to recreate the original.
The alchemy of the ingredients is what matters here, and it's pretty special. The peppers are sweet and tangy, that bread (from Bread Man Baking Co.) is crunchy and sturdy enough to keep the sandwich together, and the cheesy, gooey goodness gets into every nook and cranny, so no bite is without it. If chef Padilla (who created this sandwich and has experience working in New Jersey) was looking to combine the fatty, nostalgic simplicity of the classic Philly cheesesteak with the flavorful wallop of a fajita, he pretty much nailed it.
It's impossible to say exactly what is the best sandwich in America, but I'd gladly put one of Antone's Tex-Mex Cheesesteaks up against some of the top offerings from across the country. Now, if only someone here would try a Texas riff on a roast pork sandwich.