Best Cheesesteak in Charlotte
5 Charlotte cheesesteaks that might pass the Philly test
APRIL 06, 2017 7:34 AM
People who come to Charlotte from outside the South have fun with our local eccentricities: Snow panics, mayonnaise manias, the need for regular infusions of pimento cheese.
I get it, transplants. I’ll see your coleslaw and chili on a burger and raise you: The Cheesesteak.
It’s just a pile of shaved beef and cheese on a roll with a chewy crust. But for anyone from Philadelphia or southern New Jersey, it’s practically a religion. Finding it. Arguing over it. Dismissing every local attempt at it.
Is it “wit” or “wit’out”? (That would be onions.) Is it “prov” or Cheez Whiz? (That would be the cheese on top.) Is it on an Amoroso roll? (That would be … beyond my experience to detect.)
I get it, and admire you for it. If I were banished from the South to some icy wasteland (and some stories I’ve written have brought me close), I’d spend the rest of my life pining for a good barbecue sandwich. I understand the need to keep pawing through the pile of contenders, hoping for something that comes close to making you miss home a little less.
Take my co-worker, Adam Bell. He may have been in Charlotte for 18 years, but he’s a native of a Philadelphia suburb. When he got the word that Lee’s Hoagie House was opening south of Charlotte, the man vibrated harder than that time someone cracked the Liberty Bell.
Lee’s Hoagie House is Bell’s pinnacle. He puts it up there with Pat’s King of Steaks, owned by Pat Oliveri, credited as the inventor of the Philly-style steak sandwich, and Geno’s Steaks, owned by Joey Vento, credited as the the person who put the cheese on it.
With Lee’s now open just below Lake Wylie, it seemed like a good time to take Charlotte’s pulse on cheesesteak options. I spent a couple of weeks’ worth of lunch hours roaming around, keeping my order very simple: A cheesesteak, however each place chose to prepare it.
I rejected a couple (Philadelphians are right, there are some lame cheesesteaks around here). But I did find a few worth considering:
It’s a haul from many areas of Charlotte, in Lake Wylie Commons, a small shopping development south of the Buster Boyd Bridge. But it was doing a steady and heavily male business when I was there (15 men and two women at lunch, not counting the busy people behind the counter).
A generous pile of thinly sliced steak, onions optional, cheese choices (most people get provolone), and warm bread that’s crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. You can also opt for a brightly flavored “house sauce” (tomato). In Philly parlance, that makes it a pizza steak. They already serve Pennsylvania-favorite Herr’s chips and plan to add Tastykakes.
Extra: Owner Rick Zioncheck’s wife, Patsy, makes a single-serving cheesecake with a walnut crust and her own lemon curd you can spread on it. They’re in the refrigerator case.
Details: Available in 6-inch ($6.75), 9-inch ($9.25) and 18-inch ($18.50), with a choice of fried onions, lettuce, tomatoes, hot peppers, tomato sauce, provolone, American cheese or Kraft Cheez Whiz. 312 Bulkhead Way, Suite 101, Lake Wylie, S.C., 803-619-4046.
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