100 Favorite Dishes: No. 54, Wicked Philly at Pappa Geno's
This year leading up to our annual Best of Houston issue, we're counting down our 100 favorite dishes in Houston. This list comprises our favorite dishes from the last year, dishes that are essential to Houston's cultural landscape and/or dishes that any visitor (or resident) should try at least once.
Occasionally, when I review a place that I really love, I'm disappointed to return a few months later and find the place a threadbare husk of its former self. Consistency is a troubling problem with far too many restaurants, but I'm glad to report that Pappa Geno's never seems to have stumbled over that particular block. The sandwiches are every bit as plump and Philly-proud with each visit.
Many of the cheesesteaks here are just too, well, cheesy for me -- and when you throw on the mayonnaise, we're talking about a surfeit of creaminess that can verge on overwhelming. But not the Wicked Philly. Along with a boat of gravy-covered, thickly-battered fries, this is a sandwich that I want to spend all day with, cozied up to Pappa Geno's orange-and-white-checked counter, watching the neighborhood ebb and flow through the restaurant's front doors.
The handful of giardiniera-style pickled vegetables on top are just spicy and just crunchy enough to cut through all that fattiness, creating what this Texan thinks is an ideal Philly cheesesteak. (Please don't hunt me down for saying that, Philly natives; I clearly don't know any better.)
The list so far:
No. 100: Dumplings at Heights Asian Cafe No. 99: Mixta Pizza at Friends Pizzeria No. 98: Veggie tacos from Radical Eats No. 97: Bean pie from Conscious Cafe No. 96: Swiss chard crepes from Giacomo's Cibo e Vino No. 95: Eggs Mia Bella at Mia Bella No. 94: Mulligatawny soup at the Queen Vic No. 93: Helado de Lúcuma from Pollo Bravo No. 92: Black bean burger from Natachee's No. 91: Chupacabra pizza from ERA No. 90: Roast chicken from El Norteño No. 89: Eggs El Salvador from Brasil No. 88: Frank the Pretzel from Eatsie Boys No. 87: Caldo Tlalpeño from Tacos del Julio No. 86: English pea soup at Brasserie 19 No. 85: Falafel from Zabak's No. 84: Buttermilk-fried pork loin with fried eggs at Canopy No. 83: Grillades and grits from BB's Cajun Cafe No. 82: Haemul dolsot from Seoul House No. 81: Pandan waffles at Parisian Bakery III No. 80: Pita bread and hummus at Phoenicia No. 79: Goat pepper soup at Peppersoup Cafe No. 78: Melon and Texas feta salad from Beaver's No. 77: Hot Italian beef from BB's Beef & Hot Dog No. 76: Bacon-avocado burger from Facundo Cafe No. 75: Pancakes from Fountain View Cafe No. 74: Hobnobs from Fluff Bake Bar No. 73: Chu chee eggplant from Nidda Thai No. 72: Sausage sampler from King's Biergarten No. 71: Shawarma from Abdallah's No. 70: Moules-frite at the Broken Spoke No. 69: Hong Kong-style French toast at House of Bowls No. 68: Sashimi sampler at Sushi Miyagi No. 67: Baleadas from Honduras Mayan No. 66: Snow ice from Star Snow Ice & Teriyaki No. 65: Boudin balls from MerCheri's No. 64: Miso ramen at Umai No. 63: Grim burger at Lankford Grocery No. 62: Dabeli at Bansuri Indian Food Corner No. 61: Wine and cupcakes at 13 Celsius No. 60: Pâté de France from Spec's No. 59: Steak and eggs from Ninfa's on Navigation No. 58: Breakfast pita at Niko Niko's No. 57: Vegan curry at Cafe TH No. 56: Samosas at Shiv Sagar No. 55: Ceviche at Latin Bites Cafe
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.