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First Look: Steak & Ice
December 12, 2012 | 11:50AM

If there’s anyone who knows how hard it is to find a decent cheesesteak in D.C., it’s the Philly-bred men behind District staple Taylor Gourmet and as of today, Taylor Charles Steak & Ice.

Missing the Philly cheesesteak experience from back home, co-owner Casey Patten said they’d been toying with putting a cheesesteak on the Taylor menu for over a year. But, he added, if they were going to do it, they were going to do it right.

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Cheesesteaks, as a general rule of thumb, require a certain quality unto themselves and therefore their own shop; according to Patten, it starts with the roll. “You have to have something with some chew and pull to it, something that can absorb the juice and the cheese without getting soggy. Then comes the meat. We use phenomenal ribeye and we cut it ourselves so that everything is fresh and used within two hours of the cut.”

It’s an art that’s hard to find perfected in Philly and almost impossible to encounter in the District.

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At Steak & Ice, however, they’ve mastered it. The cheesesteaks ooze flavor in that sloppy-sexy way, overflowing with spices, add-ons, tang and juice. The options are seemingly endless but a preliminary choice of beef rib-eye, chicken cutlet (made entirely from fresh 100-percent chicken breast meat) or marinated portabella mushroom caps should point you in the right direction. From there you can order your sandwich “wit” or “wit-out” grilled onions and choose your cheese; provolone, american, cheez whiz or house-made white whiz. If you’re feeling bold, add pepperoni, bell peppers, pizza sauce, mushrooms, bacon, long hot peppers and more for an additional fee.

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And, as is the case with Taylor Gourmet, there are some incredible menu creations to choose from. We highly suggest the Spinach (beef rib-eye with garlicky spinach, grilled onions and provolone) and the Pepperoni (beef rib-eye with grilled pepperoni and White Whiz). Steak & Ice also serves chicken cutlet sandwiches (not to be confused with the same hoagies from Taylor) as well as their take on a sloppy joe. Vegetarians will rejoice over the portabella cheesesteak (pictured below; trust us, it’s killer) and The Truth, a grilled eggplant sandwich with roasted red peppers, garlicky spinach, sweet onion dressing and provolone).

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The most incredible thing about the cheesesteaks (OK, or just as incredible as the flavor) is the fact that their creators care so much about the product. Patten jumped behind the grill to cook one for us himself, explaining all the while that their meats go through multiple additional steps to ensure freshness, that their meat is never chopped on the grill (a standard ploy in the industry to hide sub-par quality of meat) and that the ambiance–from the graffiti and the manholes to the long countertops (“for getting your ‘Philly lean’ on”)–are all a piece of home.

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We also swooned over “Charles’ Balls,” the side of fried zucchini fritters that melt in your mouth with a dabble of lemon aioli, and their fries (choose from Old Bay, cheese, sloppy joe or pizza). And–because these guys know there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing–they’ve also got jumbo hot dogs, salads and truffled cheesesteak spring rolls.

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PRO TIP: whatever you do, don’t leave before ordering dessert. From frozen custard to Italian water ice (with rotating flavors) and gelati–the best of both worlds layered together–they’ve got your sweet tooth covered. (And did we mention they’ve got ice cream sandwiches too??)

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What’s more, they offer an exclusive soda selection straight from a Philadelphia soda brewer–Penn Pop–that distills draft beverages only for them. (Good god, that Mandarin Creme…) Customize a soda with a scoop of frozen custard; you won’t be sorry. Want something that tastes even more like Philly? Wash that cheesesteak down with Kool-Aid. They really did think of everything.

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Taylor Charles Steak & Ice is open Sunday – Thursday 11am – 9pm and  Friday & Saturday 11am – 3:30am, with a delivery option soon to follow. Nothing not to love.

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