Walking on South Street in Philadelphia will make you wish your eyes were bigger and your stomach was empty.
There are blaring signs, people trying to sell you merchandise, people on bikes racing between cars, and plenty of shops that line the street. The smells are boisterous and slightly grotesque, yet welcoming on the infamous Philly street. The air screams, “I know I’m gross and awkward as hell, but you’ll love it here.”
There are a multitude of skinny, filled-to-the-brim restaurants that comb the street forever in both directions. As a foreigner to Philly, being a North Jerseyan, I scoured up and down the street for a Philly cheesesteak place to eat at with my companions.
After passing the party-goers and the stumbling drunk’s safe haven Fat Tuesdays, we finally decided on Ishkabibble’s ll. Ishkabibble’s l was located about four blocks away with less seating. Both sport a black awning with pink and yellow siding and matching font colors.
We all walked in as a mob of our own, adding to the other mess of people that poked out from the seams. We made our way around people waiting for seats in the middle and booths that lined the wall, to a sign that read “order here.”
The service was strong and well-organized. No one was exactly serving anyone unless you asked your dining companions to go and get your food for you (I did not). The people inside the corner restaurant were a spillover of the people outside walking up and down South Street. Even though the place was packed, the staff was working relatively quickly.
One of our friends was able to snag us a large table located near the front of the joint.
I was the last to order out of everyone and I knew everyone had ordered a Philly cheesesteak, because that is why we walked in, after all, but I wanted something different. I ordered a cheeseburger with fried onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and ketchup.
The fried onions were beautifully chopped and crispy on the outside, but soft in the middle. The cheese was thin, but still noticeable with its profound American cheese savoriness. The lettuce and the tomato added an extra pop of flavor that helped transition the next bite to the next.
If you wanted to splurge – like my brother and everyone else at the table – you would pay for a wonderful combination of sautéed peppers and onions with melted cheese blended with juicy chopped steak, served on a puffed roll.
Since my brother is a genius with food, he decided to order a side order of mozzarella sticks to pair with his Philly cheesesteak. As he was narrowing down to the last few bites of his eye-catching meal, he came up with the idea to put a mozzarella stick between the puffed roll and nestle it in the Philly cheesesteak combo.
When I asked how it was, he said, “It was wild,” as his eyes got bigger and he shook his head in disbelief.
As a side, and later a dessert, I ordered a small cup of french fries and a vanilla shake. I forced myself to save most of the fries for the creamy vanilla bean treat. Occasionally, I would mix a flavorful bite of cheeseburger with french fries and the shake, but overall I resisted the temptation to devour the infamous combination of french fries and a milkshake.
In the car on our way home, I continued eating the rest of my fries and shake. I decided to save the rest for the following day, to keep the flavor of my memorable Philadelphia meal for a little while longer.
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