Mom About Town blogger Stephanie Donald shares her experiences of things to do and where to go in Foley. But make no mistake, she makes sure each featured destination is perfect for any age.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m new at this parenting thing. My daughter is one and half with so much of her life in front of her but I constantly find myself wondering what she’ll be. Will she have all I hope for her? Will she be stronger, smarter, and more confident than her mama which I pray for every single day? But more than anything I pray that my girl will be tough, that elusive mixture of kind, and well, gritty.
South Foley Cheesesteak Company offers its own perfect mixture, that blend of deliciousness without that uppity fine-dining snootiness. There are few places that can blend something great without trying too hard, but these guys pull it off in spades.
When my husband and I first pulled into the strip mall that houses South Foley Cheesesteak Company, it was an early spring evening so night was already starting to fall. With a squeaky white interior and bright lighting you can see straight into the cozy restaurant. And that’s when my breath caught I said, “Is that a Giroux jersey?!”
Claude Giroux is the current fearless leader of the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team. What I can safely say is the greatest sports team out there, ever. The Flyers have a rich history with a cast of characters that have earned them quite the reputation. The team earned the nickname the Broad Street Bullies for never being afraid to drop the gloves. They literally and figuratively fought to win when no one thought they had the raw talent to do so, something that I have long been able to identify with.
South Foley Cheesesteak Company is not a fancy joint. White walls with black and white checkered table cloths, the plastic kind that are easy to wipe off when a dollop of cheez whiz escapes. There’s memorabilia all over the walls from Philly’s sports teams, and the simple menu featuring classic Philly sandwiches, fries, and more on a sliding letter board over the counter.
But when you walk in you have to stop a moment, the scent transports you. Fresh beef on the griddle is one of those scents that gets your mouth watering. On top of that was one of my favorite smells of all time, sautéing onions. When I say I love it, I mean I love it so much I’m petitioning Yankee Candle to add it to their collection.
I know not everyone feels the same way. My husband for example won’t touch onions with a ten-foot pole. Me? I’d put caramelized onions on just about anything, so when we ordered you can best believe I went with a cheesesteak with peppers, onions and the classic cheez whiz. We decided to split a basket of fries.
Now South Foley makes everything to order, even the fries, so after we ordered I had a minute to do something amazing. I walked my daughter over to the Flyers wall and began to tell her the story of my fearless Bullies. They had photos of some incredible past players and a photo of their greatest new addition, Gritty.
Gritty was introduced to the world in the fall of last year. Anyone who knows anything about mascots knows that launching a new one is no easy feat, just ask the Ottawa Senators Spartan, or the Brooklyn Nets Brooklyn Knight. But Gritty was no ordinary mascot, he embodied so much of the Flyers. Goofy-looking mass of orange fur always wearing his hockey helmet and Flyers jersey to cover his large squeaky belly button, from the jump Gritty was different. Yes, he was fun and sweet enough to interact with kids, but he was also irreverent. He got ejected from the Flyers’ Stadium Series game against the Pittsburgh Penguins for “streaking”. His in-game antics include ripping apart the penalty box and putting broadcasters in headlocks. Things that earned him his share of critics.
“This is Gritty,” I whispered to my daughter under the bright lights of the restaurant. “He is the most amazing mascot in all of sports.” There were so many other things I wanted to say to her in that moment. Stupid really, having moment with your child over a mass of orange fur. But for me it was more than that. I want my daughter to have her own Gritty moments. Okay, minus the streaking.
I want her to grow up kind and funny. I want her to grow up so sure of herself she’s unafraid to try new things or think outside the box. I want her to never be afraid to stand up to someone. I want her to be that perfect blend of sweet and, of course, gritty. The balance I don’t believe I’ve ever been able to achieve in my own life is something I so desperately want for her.
Kind of like the balance of cheese, meat, bread, peppers, and onions in the perfect cheesesteak. It wasn’t long before or order was up and my girl and I sat down at our table. In one night I got to introduce my daughter to my favorite team, my favorite mascot, and one of my favorite foods. South Foley is doing Philly proud.
There’s a reason I choose cheez whiz. Yes, I know calling it cheese may be a stretch. But in a cheesesteak it is able to ooze into all the crevices between the meat. A soft squeeze of a cheesesteak should give you all you need to know. The bread should be crusty enough to hold a significant portion of steak with a little softness to it doesn’t scratch your mouth and can sop up the flavorful juices. The cheese should ooze out. And the meat shouldn’t crumble like it’s overcooked or look red like it’s undercooked. It should be soft, leaking some juice. South Foley Cheesesteak Company had one of those perfect cheesesteaks.
On top of that the shoe strings fries, since made to order, were piping hot and not overly salty. All in all a delicious meal. One I had the opportunity to tear small pieces from and allow my daughter to sample for herself. It was a hit, even the onions.
South Foley Cheesesteak Company has found that elusive balance that makes a great cheesesteak. But they’ve also found a way to balance incredible flavor with simple surroundings, where the sports of a city tell the story of what they want their food to be. It just happens to be the same story I love getting to share with my baby girl. I may not know what she’ll be, but I’ll always pray it’s just a bit gritty.
Enjoying the blog? Catch up with all Stephanie’s Mom About Town adventures on her website.