Thursday, January 30, 2014

We’re Back in Tucson…

for a couple of weeks and in a few days will be joined by Chuck’s cousin Dora who is flying out to first see the Phoenix family and then will be coming down to spend time with her grandson who attends the University of Arizona.

We thought that we were going to have a leisurely few days but the need to make major replacements of the RV’s A-V components have eaten into our spare time. So all we have had a chance to do is catch a few quick bites at two of our Tucson favorite spots.

We started with a visit to Frankie’s South Philly Cheesesteaks & Sandwiches, and this time we came during the lunch hour. The place was jumping. The residents of the Old Pueblo (their name for Tucson) appear to have taken a liking to South Philly food.

On our travels, we have come across any number of restaurants serving a version of the Philadelphia Cheesesteak, but when you see the use of Swiss cheese or the use of mayo as a condiment, you know it’s not the real deal. Only two restaurants have come close to what we got back in Philadelphia—Gaglione’s in San Diego and Frankie’s here in Tucson. Do you think because both have quick-frozen Amoroso rolls flown in from Philadelphia has something to do with it?
“Frankie Santos (in the photo below) came to Tucson direct from Philadelphia, PA…grew up on the corner of 3rd and Porter Street in a neighborhood row house. His family has lived in South Philly for the past 45 years. Recently retired from the Delaware Pilot's Association where he was a valued employee for over thirty one years,…Frankie has brought the famous tastes to our desert” (
Chuck ordered the twelve-inch cheesesteak with mild provolone cheese.
As we sat waiting for our sandwiches he looked across the table and asked if I “heard the beautiful music of two metal spatulas on the flattop.” (Did you think he was going to say something romantic?) The clinking sound of metal on metal means that the thin slices of rib eye steak are being divided into small pieces. Chuck prefers this method as opposed to the “whole slice” method of preparing the contents of the Amoroso roll. And yes, this preference is as strong at the “wit” or “witout” onions and the choice of cheese—American, provolone, or authentic Cheez Wiz.

I have never had one of Frankie’s cheesesteaks so cannot make an educated evaluation. While saying it was a bit dry, Chuck was a happy man nonetheless.

So if I don’t have a cheesesteak, what do I order? “…Ask almost anyone outside of Philadelphia to name the city's most famous sandwich and you will undoubtedly hear ‘cheesesteak.’ But among actual residents of the City of Brotherly Love, another between-the-bread concoction vies neck and neck with the cheesesteak as a local favorite, and it is even more uniquely local—the Philadelphia-style Italian roast pork sandwich. There is plenty of overlap, since many sandwich shops here sell both roast pork and cheesesteaks, and both come in several particular variations. But just as there are stands primarily famous for cheesesteaks (Pat's, Geno's, Jim's), so are there places that are first and foremost about pork” (Larry Olmsted at
“There are many interpretations, but almost all use thin slices of pork (slow cooked in its juices), broccoli rabe or spinach (heavy on the garlic), and provolone cheese. The result is an intense flavor profile—savory, acidic, sharp—that's earned raves from diehard foodies. The version created at John's Roast Pork (pictured), a tiny shop situated in a nondescript industrial zone, won a James Beard Award for culinary excellence in 2006. The variant made at Tommy DiNic's—located in the Reading Terminal Market, an urban palace of foodstuffs, itself worthy of an afternoon's wandering—was recently judged by the Travel Channel as ‘the best sandwich in America’" (

I ordered mine as a nine-inch sandwich with both hot and sweet peppers on the side along with extra broccoli rabe and Frankie adds an additional touch with a side of pork jus on the side. One bite and I was back in Philadelphia.
The next day we returned to one of our perennial favorite Tucson spots—Beyond Bread.
It was a Saturday—the only day on which one of my all-time favorite sandwiches—the Ernie’s Everything Reuben is served.
Imagine warm juicy corned beef sitting atop a light vinegar slaw, piled high on an everything pretzel roll, covered with melted Swiss cheese, and dressed with Russian dressing. As a young man sitting next to me on our last visit said: “It’s the best thing about Saturday.”

With the sandwich, I ordered a side of pasta salad made with orecchiette (little ears) pasta, red bell pepper, corn, and scallion with a light vinegar dressing.
Unfortunately, I found the cheese—that I think is feta—to be a bit overpowering.

Chuck selected the Cam’s Classic with roast beef, lettuce, and horseradish sauce on a garlic Italian roll
with a small cup of baked potato and bacon soup.
The soup was smoky from the bacon and was a bit thick for my taste.

We had two very good lunches that were not without their minor flaws and both experiences earn 4.0 Addie ratings.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.


eyad ammar said...

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eyad ammar said...

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eyad ammar said...

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