by Ian McNulty
Finding a good Philly cheesesteak is not an easy proposition in this town, but things have been improving lately.
The local standard for comparison is the one served at Stein’s Deli & Market, though it’s only available on Tuesdays as a special. There’s a very good example on the daily menu at Jims, which opened earlier this year inside Studio Inferno in the Bywater. And more recently, farther down in the Bywater, Jughead’s Bar & Grille has started sizzling up steak sandwiches.
Jughead’s is in a stout, cinderblock building that will be familiar to local barbecue aficionados as the former home of the Joint, which moved to bigger digs a few blocks away (note: the Joint is closed this week for a summer break, with a reopening scheduled for Aug. 20).
The menu is short and simple: cheesesteaks, a chicken sandwich done in the same style, BLTs with or without chicken, a vegetable sandwich and Caesar salads with steak or chicken. Macaroni salad is the only side. Prices are between $7 and $9. Sandwiches are made with crusty banh mi-style loaves. The cheesesteak I tried was loaded with chopped cloves of griddle-hot garlic, with the melted provolone binding the onions, peppers and mushrooms to the swiggles of sliced rib eye.
Jughead’s is the first restaurant from John Delamater and Lisa Rahon. Delamater is a carpenter, and those skills were put to work in the renovation of the old Joint space. The interior has been redone a bit, and more significantly, in the back, where the Joint once had its massive smoker and a few tables, Jughead’s sports a covered patio with a bar and a big TV.
The Jughead’s name is partially a tribute to a buddy’s dog and also a reference to the character from the Archie comics. Delamater says he picked it to help set a certain tone for the place as a friendly hangout.
“It’s just a place you come in for a sandwich and a couple of beers,” he says. “We don’t want anyone to mistake this place for fine dining.”
There’s little danger of that. A train line runs just beyond the patio fence, and locomotives rumble past so close it seems like they might run over your cheesesteak. But when in the right frame of mind this can actually add a bit of ambiance.
Jughead’s serves lunch and dinner daily.
Jughead’s Bar & Grille
801 Poland Ave., 304-5411