As Heard on Hurd approaches, we’re ramping back up with more Food Truck Friday reviews, brought to you by our sponsor, Citizens Bank of Edmond. Each month, you can find this truck and many more at Heard on Hurd, which returns to downtown Edmond 6-10 p.m. Aug. 18.
So it’s a little embarrassing that it’s taken me so long to review Phill Me Up Cheesesteaks, a food truck dedicated to one of the finest sandwiches ever created and by far the best thing to ever come out of Philadelphia.
“Um, Greg, are you forgetting about the First Continental Congress?” you might be asking your computer screen. Hey, dummy, that screen isn’t going to answer you. But since you’re being argumentative, I’d argue that cheesesteaks have created more overall happiness than the United States of America.
If that sounds blasphemous to you, then I’d suggest you look up what blasphemous actually means.
Phill Me Up has been on the road since 2014, spreading the good word and better sandwiches to hungry patrons. While they carry provolone cheese upon request, this is definitely a “Whiz wit” truck, meaning they default to using cheddar Cheez Whiz and including caramelized onions.
I can enjoy my cheesesteaks either way. It just comes down to a matter of taste. Speak of which...
The top seller, as it should be, is The O.G. ($8). It’s a classic cheesesteak with chopped and griddled ribeye cooked with caramelized onions and slathered in cheddar Whiz inside a crusty hoagie roll. Some people like a really soft roll, but I prefer a hoagie to either have some crunch or some chew. Too soft and the bread will fall apart before you can eat what’s inside it.
Why ribeye? It’s the perfect cut for cheesesteaks. Not only is ribeye one of the beefiest tasting cuts of beef, but it’s got a pretty decent fat content. That turns off some folks when you’re making steaks (incorrectly, but to each his own), but it’s ideal in this application. The fat bastes the rest of the meat, keeping it from drying out and adding more of the luxurious flavor.
Onions are also must-have, regardless of how you feel about onions. The moisture from the onions steams the meat, which is great for the texture, but it also picks up a lot of that fried fatty flavor and blends it with caramelized sweetness.
The real divider here is Cheez Whiz vs. provolone. Whiz has a more assertive flavor, but it also doesn’t taste (or feel) exactly like real cheese. There’s a reason it’s spelled with a “z,” after all. Provolone has that stringy, gooey melt and a more authentic cheese flavor, but it’s also more subdued, giving way to the beef and onions.
At the next Heard on Hurd, Phill Me Up is doing a special cheesesteak called Hello Portobello ($9), which swaps the provolone for the Whiz in order to highlight a more subtle flavor — tender, steak-y slices of portobello mushrooms. As a finisher, they drizzle the top with garlic aioli, adding another layer of flavor and keeping the sandwich nice and moist.
I know not everyone likes mushrooms, which is insane, but whatever. Portobellos are some of the meatiest mushrooms out there and a natural fit for a sandwich like this. I especially appreciated the size of the mushrooms in the cheesesteak. Portobellos can be very big and some chefs like to slice them into long strips. These were cut into coins, which let the mushrooms nestle in among the beef and onions for a more integrated flavor and texture.
One dish that surprised me was the Famous Philly Dog ($6), because I’ve had similar dishes before that just didn’t work out nearly as well as this did.
They use an all-beef hot dog and pair it with ribeye, onions and Whiz inside a hotdog bun. One reason this clicks is that the Whiz and the hot dog spices are big flavors that keep either one of them from dominating. By retaining the ribeye in the sandwich, rather than fully replacing the meat with a hot dog, it adds more beef flavor to balance out the spice.
I could definitely see kids and adults alike eating this, though I’d keep napkins at the ready regardless of age. It’s definitely best eaten with a knife and fork because the softer bread is more likely to give way to the creamy cheese. .
I didn’t get a chance to try it, but I’m intrigued by the Frito Philly Pie ($6), which is exactly what it sounds like. Maybe I’ll grab one at Heard on Hurd.
The key, in my opinion, to Phill Me Up Cheesesteaks’ success is a tight menu that presents similar flavors in different ways. Even the chicken Philly cheesesteak sticks to the formula, just with a different protein.
When you do it this well, you don’t need to add a bunch of extras to your menu. Besides, food trucks are best when they stay laser-focused on a small menu they can produce quickly. There’s a reason this truck’s been around for a minute.
Food Truck Friday reviews are brought to you by Citizens Bank of Edmond, which presents the monthly street festival, Heard on Hurd in Downtown Edmond. Heard on Hurd is an authentic block party style festival that features three dozen food trucks, a live concert with local artists and retail pop-up shops. Edmond has a special vibe of its own and Citizens Bank of Edmond provides an outlet for the Edmond community to shine. Heard on Hurd highlights the importance of supporting local eateries, artists and retailers. At the heart of Heard on Hurd is Citizens Bank of Edmond which is proud to provide the means for so many local thriving businesses.
The next Heard on Hurd is 6-10 p.m. Aug. 18 at the corner of Broadway and Hurd in Edmond. For updates, follow @HeardonHurd on social media with hashtag #JointheHurd.