In the Shadow of a Railcar, Philly's Representing

The Truck: Philly Boys Cheesesteaks, 3201 Fourth Ave. S., SODO, 414-7707

The Fare: Philadelphian.

The Stop: Deep in the heart of SODO, a Seattle restaurant institution has sat with rail cars for rooms. If a food truck is defined by food on wheels, this place--which for decades was the kitsch-tastic Andy's Diner--is the grandfather of today's sleek mobile whippersnappers. Its current incarnation is the Orient Express, the wonderfully bizarre maze of dining rooms and karaoke booths that has become a destination for divey late-night parties while also a frontrunner for the worst Chinese food in Seattle. You probably couldn't pay me to eat at Orient Express, but the other day I ventured to its far newer neighbor on wheels to try a cuisine equally as exotic: that of Philadelphia and its cheesesteaks of lore. My interest had been piqued by a quick glance rolling down Fourth Avenue South where a sign on the bright yellow trailer declares, "The Only Philly Cheesesteak."

The day we arrived at Philly Boys for lunch, it was dreary and damp, and after lusting for the string of pho restaurants we passed on the drive over, we were grateful to see a sandwich board declaring "HOMEMADE SOUP" propped outside. Luckily there were just enough dry spots on the picnic bench outside to seat two, but the friendly guy in a red Phillies cap offered to seat us in the customer waiting room of A.C. Automotive next door were we to want more room to enjoy our meal. In fact, the owner of A.C. Automotive, John Schofield, co-owns the truck and has parked it here since March.

For sandwiches, Philly Boys offers Steak ($8), Cheese Steak ($8.50), Pizza Steak ($9.50), Tuscan Steak ($10), and a Chicken Cheese Steak ($8.50). The cheesy offerings are served with onions with the option of Cheez Whiz or white American cheese (the superior option). The Tuscan comes with sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, and a mix of provolone and Parmesan cheese; the Pizza comes with the same mix of cheeses and tomato sauce. They also have Hot Dogs, Cheese Dogs, and Cheese Fries, and the soup du jour. We ordered the Chicken Noodle, the Tuscan, and the Cheese Steak with white American.

The soup--replete with a bay leaf to certify its homemadeness--was heartily seasoned and a perfect offset to the cold. Our sandwiches arrived 10 minutes later served on enormous Italian rolls fairly full of meat. The meat is "aged 14 days" to increase the savory flavor, and it was solid, in that crumbly cheesesteak kind of way. The sweet peppers, the condiment hiding out on the side of the truck, are essential: Their fresh, acidic bite cuts the heavy flavor and makes the sandwich complete. I far preferred the original style sandwich to the Tuscan, which was blander despite the nice touch of parsley seasoning, then regretted not being adventurous enough to consider the customer-favorite Pizza sandwich. American cheese and steak just taste right together, and the sandwich certainly fit the bill.

While we were eating under the dripping umbrella, the gregarious Schofield came to talk shop and let us know that they're developing a permanent storefront for the cheesesteaks, adjacent to his auto shop, to be opened in the next couple months. Then they will launch the cart on its mobile destiny, perhaps to select with high concentrations of hot dog stands and nightclubs. While it's a bit steep for a grab-and-go sandwich, the cheesesteak hits the spot when you need that chewy bread, chopped steak, and melted cheese that Philly knows best.

Follow Voracious on Twitter and Facebook.

comments powered by Disqus