Like most other cities that are not Philadelphia, Dallas’ cheesesteak scene is seriously lacking. There are a few chain restaurants that make a passable version, and everyone loves the delicious gut-bomb cheesesteaks served up at the Truckyard on Lower Greenville. Now, though, there’s a North Dallas restaurant that is absolutely killing the rest of the city’s cheesesteak game — and not by just a little bit.
Big Tony’s West Philly Cheesesteak is a relatively new addition to North Dallas, nestled into a shopping center at Preston Road and Dilbeck Lane next to a Half Price Books and a massage school. The unassuming building looks just about like any other sandwich shop — a counter for ordering, tables for sitting and a few TVs adorning the walls. Philly homer sports memorabila is the real decorative aesthetic, partiularly for the Phillies and the Flyers. But what really makes Big Tony’s West Philly Cheesesteak authentic has nothing to do with what adorns the walls.
For starters, the cheesesteaks here have a seriously solid foundation in Amoroso’s hearth-baked bread rolls. Shipped in from Philadelphia every few days, there’s some sort of magical concoction of yeast and flour in these rolls that prevents them from getting soggy, even when there’s only a few bites of your sandwich left. The thinly shaved ribeye is also authentic, seasoned heavily with a secret blend that makes perfect sense. You can top your Philly with the usual — grilled peppers, mushrooms and onions, all three if you’re really serious.
The cheese options are pretty standard — white American, provolone, and Cheez Wiz, but don’t sleep on the latter. It might be a pasteurized processed cheese product, but it’s sort of like the nacho cheese of your childhood, the kind that tastes vaguely of plastic (in a good way) and doesn’t have that weird shelf-stable flavor of the crap in the jar. White American is the usual offering unless you specify another cheese, so if you’re a provolone devotee, you’re going to want to make sure to specify that.
You should also slather your sandwich in some of the shop’s signature Tony’s sauce, a thin and vinegary sort of barbecue sauce that resembles Arby’s sauce if Arby’s sauce were actually delicious. The only downside here is that the Tony’s sauce is served in a clammy-cold squeeze bottle, which means that you’re going to get a little bit of everyone else’s germy hands on the exterior of your sandwich. Never you mind, though — that only contributes to its authentic experience.
You can further round out your authentic Philadelphia experience by adding a side of Utz’s chips, though the seasoned-salt spiked fries are also an incredibly solid option. Tastykakes, the East Coast’s “fuck you” to Little Debbie are also on offer, assuming you can cram any more bread into your gullet once that sandwich is finished. If you order a large, we’re guessing \ you’re going to need a long nap before anything carbohydrate-based sounds good again.
At $10 or so for a Philly and fries, the value at Big Tony’s is also excellent. Each day, a different sandwich is on special, meaning that you can order it with a side of fries for just $9. It’s not much cheaper than the other cheesesteak offerings in town — Truck Yard’s goes for $9.99 all the time — but easily as good, if not better. If you live on the north side of town (read: the not-cool part of Dallas), though, Big Tony’s West Philly Cheesesteak is damn near a blessing when you consider the real dearth of all sandwich options — not just cheesesteaks — north of 635.