Taylor Charles Steak & Ice: Doing Philly Proud (Video) (CLOSED)

The guys behind Taylor Gourmet take on the cheesesteak—and nail it.
Thin slices of rib eye are piled onto the cheesesteak at Taylor Charles. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Any Philadelphian will tell you that opening a cheesesteak restaurant a mere 150 miles from the sandwich’s birthplace takes guts. Philly natives Casey Taylor Patten and David Mazza—the pair behind the local hoagie chain Taylor Gourmet—know the risks. If a Philadelphian doesn’t like your sandwich, he’s gonna let yuhs know. Happily, their Taylor Charles Steak & Ice, which opened four months ago on Northeast DC’s hopping H Street, delivers all the necessary components of a bona fide cheesesteak.

Working behind a gleaming white counter at the graffiti-walled shop, sandwich makers start with thin slices of rib eye, grill them on a steamy flattop next to a pile of onions, top them with six slices of American or provolone cheese (there’s also house-made “cheez whiz”), then chop it all up and scoop it into a sub roll. The bread is similar in texture to that used at Taylor Gourmet, but it’s a far better vehicle for a hot, wet sandwich than for a cold-cut sub, because the moisture makes the hard roll soggy on the inside and a little spongy, reducing the sense that a wee chain saw is shredding the roof of your mouth.

Taylor Charles offers a menu of specialty sandwiches that range from a decent pizza steak to an ill-conceived riff on wings called the Buffalo, with chicken and way too much blue-cheese dressing. It’s best to keep it simple with a plain cheesesteak, some thick-cut fries dipped in whiz (we prefer the original over the white version), and a sweet-and-sour lemon ice. There are salads, too, but ignore those. Healthy food is anathema to the spirit of cheesesteak, which is all about relaxed indulgence—and respect for a sandwich that requires no further embellishments than those dictated by tradition.

This article appears in the April 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.

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