Jake's Philly Tex-Mex

Cheez Whiz would be redundant on the fajita Philly at Jake's Philly Steaks on Chimney Rock -- the Philly-Tex-Mex sandwich comes with chile con queso. What's the difference between Cheez Whiz and chile con queso? I asked the owner, Robert Ginn. "Cheez Whiz comes in a jar, Velveeta comes in a box," Ginn said.

What kind of fajita meat does Ginn use? "Inside round," he said. And what kind of meat is on the regular Philly cheese steak? "Same cut, different seasonings," he said. Jake's on Chimney Rock, the city's foremost cheese steak emporium, was founded in 1991 by a couple of guys from Philadelphia. Ginn, who grew up a few blocks away, took over Jake's after the guys from Philly went out of business.

Ginn modified the menu to appeal to local tastes. He introduced the Tex-Mex fajita Philly shortly after he took over. He added some Tex-Mex seasonings to the meat and used chile con queso instead of Cheez Whiz. The sandwich was an instant hit. People on the East coast hate Tex-Mex and Velveeta. I am thinking Jake's fajita Philly could change some minds. Jake's also serves breakfast tacos these days.

When I reviewed the restaurant in 2003, the rolls were frozen Amoroso rolls, the same bread used at Pat's and Geno's in Philadelphia. That experiment has ended. "The bread smelled frozen," Ginn complained. French Riveria Bakery a block down Chimney Rock makes the cheese steak rolls now. And they are excellent.

In Philadelphia, Democrats lean toward Pat's, while Republican's prefer the tidier Geno's, I have been told. "I don't like Pat's or Geno's --they don't season the meat," Ginn told me when I asked his opinion on the two legendary cheese steak joints. "I like a Philly cheese steak joint called Jim's," he said. Ginn is an independent--and his sandwich is unique. Next time I think I'll do double chile con queso though. I like my Tex-Mex Philly extra cheesy.

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Robb Walsh
Contact: Robb Walsh