Phat Philly owner Isaac Mogannam comes from meat sandwich royalty – his father, Paul, owns the successful Burgermeister empire and was one of the pioneers of serving humanely raised, sustainable meat in casual restaurants. Mogannam’s love for Philly cheesesteaks happened while working at the Postal Chase, where one of the regular Fed Ex drivers used to have them flown in from his hometown and share them with the staff. From that point on, Mogannam was hooked.
On December 22, 2008 he gave the Mission district an early Christmas gift – Phat Philly, an authentic Philly cheesesteak shop, but with one notable exception: they’re using Masami Ranch American Kobe beef (wagyu), humanely and sustainably raised with no steroids or antibiotics and fed a 100 percent vegetarian diet. Except for the Amoroso rolls and snacks like Tastykakes shipped straight from the City of Brotherly Love, everything at Phat Philly is made in-house, from the Mr. Pibb-laced barbecue sauce to the Newcastle beer cheddar sauce, to the marinara and roasted garlic mayo, to the steakhouse chili. The classic cheesesteak ($6.50 7-inch/$9.75 12-inch) is a generous pile of tender beef, caramelized onions, and your choice of cheese (white American, provolone, and for the purists, Whiz). The soft roll barely contains the marvelous mess. Head to the Pepper Bar to heap your choice of peppers on top – though I’m a Whiz-only kinda gal. If you’re not feeling the beef, all the Phat’s sandwiches, from the chili Philly to the California (with applewood smoked bacon and curls of luscious avocado) can be made with chicken.
Vegetarians won’t be disappointed either – choose from a veggie hoagie ($6.25/$8.50) with avocado, tomatoes and lettuce; a Portobello steak ($6.50/$9.25); a tofu steak ($6.50/$9.25); or a seitan steak ($6.95/$10.25).
All vegetarian options are topped with cheese, caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, and Phat’s roasted garlic mayo. The seitan (chicken flavored wheat gluten) is delicious – it has the texture of meat, with a subtle, salty-sweet flavor. Even my dining companion – a staunch carnivore – enjoyed it; in fact, once everything is piled on the seitan, it’s tough
to tell it isn’t meat.
Criss-cut waffle fries are addictive and decadent topped with that cheddar beer sauce ($4.75/$3 half order). Phat’s takes a short trip to Chicago with the juicy Italian beef sandwich topped with Chi-town’s favorite condiment: sweet and spicy giardiniera (bell peppers, celery, pimentos, and carrots) flown in just for Phat’s.
Wash it all down with $2 sodas (with free refills) or a selection of ice-cold beer – including $2 Pabst Blue Ribbon all day every day. And save room for those Tastykakes ($2) – I’m partial to the butterscotch krimpets.
Phat Philly is the kind of place I know I’ll find myself craving – this is comfort food at its best. For the lucky folks who live between 16th and 26th Streets from Harrison to Castro, they also deliver after 5:30 p.m.
Phat Philly: 3388 24th Street (at Valencia), 415-550-PHAT (7428), www.phat-philly.com, daily 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
– S. Reynolds