Verdict: It’s not bad, but it’s not real Philly either.
That said, it might be the closest to Philly cheesesteaks in DC. Only South Street Steaks in College Park came closer to the real deal, when we tried it out years ago. So I’ll give Taylor Gourmet a “pretty good, worth a try.” But it won’t put Pat’s/Geno’s/Jim’s out of business, either.
For our taste test, I ordered one steak and one chicken, brought them home (a 10 minute walk) and cut them in half so my Philadelphian husband and I could each try both flavors.
What I liked:
The authenticity of the cheesesteak. By this, I mean no mayo, no lettuce, no tomato. Nothing extra. Just roll, steak (or chicken), cheese and mushrooms or onions. Try ordering a cheesesteak with mayo in Philadelphia. No seriously. You’ll get laughed at if you’re lucky; more likely cursed out or thrown out. Whenever I see a cheesesteak with any other toppings – unless it’s a pizza steak or a cheesesteak hoagie and specifically labeled as such – I know it’s a scam. No matter how authentic the place claims to be.
The quality of the ingredients. Both the steak and the chicken were juicy and high quality. My provolone was good and well-melted, still warm and fresh after the short walk home. The mushrooms were mixed in nicely and substantive. The roll was pretty good, but might have been a bit more substantive. I know Taylor’s has experimented with the recipe for their bread, and it’s chewy, but a tad soft for a cheesesteak.
You won’t be hungry for a while. The cheesesteak was filling. The smell filled the room, and I think the cheesesteak expanded in my stomach afterwards. Perfect for game watching – baseball playoffs, in this case. But not so good for lunch, unless your office has designated post-lunch nap time. And truth be told, my stomach did start to hurt later …
Ease of pick up. I walked into Taylor Gourmet on 19th Street on my way home from work. It was not at all crowded, the staff was nice, and they made my food quickly. They were surprised by my cheesesteak order – I guess not that many people take home cheesesteaks at the end of the work day? Although why-the-heck-not is beyond me. They offered me a cup of water while I waited, which was also nice. I panicked for a brief second when I overheard a woman asking her manager if she should put lettuce and tomato on the cheesesteaks. A quick and emphatic “NO” from the manager restored my faith in the quality of my food.
So that leaves only the roll.
The bread was pretty good, not great. It was the one slightly disappointing factor. G would probably say the ingredients are too high quality – which really says something about what people in DC would expect vs. what Philadelphians would require.
So a thumbs up, with the caveat that it’s an authentic Philadelphia cheesesteak in DC. But for special occasions only, or my waistline – and stomach – will pay the price.