4

Taste of Philly

The guys behind the counter got my order wrong three times -- but from past experience eating at the Taste of Philly on Colorado Boulevard in recent months, I knew that three attempts was about average for getting the correct order in the correct bag. The wait gave me plenty of time to look around the place, which seems to get a little skeevier and a little more rattletrap every time I drop in. This is a cheesesteak joint, so I'm not looking for linen tablecloths, spotless walls or tuxedoes on the countermen. But the giant, greasy, dust-choked hole cut in the ceiling through which the ventilators suck, the rings of grime around the tiles and the cluttered, dirty counter are starting to push the boundaries between honest hole-in-the-wall grit and just plain carelessness. The service was as surprisingly friendly as ever -- but that wasn't enough to make up for the fact that the cheesesteak here has slipped badly. Skimpy on the meat, too dry, almost completely unlubricated by cheese and tasting more burned than grilled, this was the kind of sandwich I'd expect at a mall or the airport. I could've been eating it while watching Rocky, listening to the Dead Milkmen play Punk Rock Girl and talking to my father-in-law on the phone about how da Iggles were looking this year, and I still would've felt a million miles from Center City. If this had been the first bad cheesesteak I'd gotten from Taste of Philly, I could've kept my mouth shut. Even if it was the second or third, I might have restrained myself. But I've had probably a half-dozen disappointing cheesesteaks in a row now (along with hoagies that have run the gamut from great to barely edible), and that does it for me.

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