'Outrageous' food: A shout-out for the Philly Taco
CityPass.com recognizes a Philadelphia street food staple. It's a cheesesteak rolled inside a slice of pizza.
CityPass.com is out with a list of 15 of what it bills as the most decadent, heartstopping and outrageous foods.
Northern Liberties' PYT makes this list with a Sarancha Burger, a combo of sriracha, ranch and salsa, cheese, guac and chips on top of a burger.
Varga Bar in Washington Square West gets its due for Jumbo Lump Crab Cheese Fries, which sound tasty enough but frankly not "outrageous" when compared to the list's Piggy Fries from L.A.'s Oinkster, which tops its fries with Thousand Island dressing, caramelized onions and cheddar.
The surprise on CityPass list is the combo referred to as the Philly Taco.
It's a Jim's steak sandwich rolled inside a slice of Lorenzo & Sons' pizza - a turducken for drunks and stoners.
It was dubbed the Lorenzo's-Jim's Challenge by Jeff Barg and Adam Gordon when they first did it 11 years ago.
Barg at the time was an editor at Philadelphia Weekly, for which he wrote about in PW's Top 5 of the Moment column. "But I didn't write about it as, 'Here's this fun thing that my friend and I made up,'" he said by email. "I wrote about like it was a thing that people do."
"That's how it became a thing that people do."
Barg is proud that frat boys picked up this wild idea, which got its own page in The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book by Carolyn Wyman.
The premise is simple. Very, very late at night, you stop at Jim's (Fourth and South Streets) and buy a cheesesteak to go. You may opt for a cheesesteak hoagie, which in the taco spirit includes lettuce and tomato. Onions optional.
Then you tote the steak down the street to Lorenzo & Sons (305 South St.). Order a slice of pizza from a whopping 28-inch pie. Lorenzo's only sell toppings on Tuesdays; you want your slice plain, though.
Get some counter space or a handy car hood. Unwrap the steak, unbox the pizza and get to work.
Two ways to build it.
1. Starting at the tip of the slice, roll up the steak in the pizza and eat it like a taco.
2. Lay the steak down the middle of the slice, lengthwise, and eat it like a great big pig in a blanket, which you will feel like later when you're in bed and this food baby is rolling around your belly. (NPR debated the taco's build a few years ago.)
Science comes into play. The cheesesteak's gooey American or provolone cheese - please, not Whiz - creates an unholy alliance with the mozzarella. The beef is squished tightly against the insides of the steak roll, while the roll's crust will begin to yield to the pizza's oil and sauce.
Chew. You can almost feel carbohydrates, fat and sodium coursing madly through your system.
And then it dawns on you that two of the best ERs in the region, Pennsylvania Hospital and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, are nearby.
The infographic is here.
Barg, by the way, hasn't done the Challenge too much lately. Twice, to be exact, on his birthday.
"Each time," he said, "it's just as glorious."
To explain further, he said he became a vegetarian four years ago
In the video below, Philly.com's Tim Reardon builds a Philly Taco.