Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Cheese plus steak doesn't always equal cheesesteak

Putting unmelted provolone on meat that can be beat

I never though I'd say it, but I should've gone with the Cheez Whiz. 12-inch Authentic Philly and "Freedom Fries," McGonagle's.
I never though I'd say it, but I should've gone with the Cheez Whiz. 12-inch Authentic Philly and "Freedom Fries," McGonagle's.
Place

McGonagle’s Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks

1231 Highland Avenue, National City

I heard some Philly boys were serving up cheesesteaks in National City, so I set my hopes to high and hustled that way, past a half dozen dilapidated mini malls and food chains. Across from a Wal Mart. Honestly, I was just thrilled to find a small business operating in the middle of all that.

These guys have put together a fun place, with beer on tap.

McGonagle's, named for the two brothers who operate the joint, focuses solely on the meat-and-cheese mainstay, which is good considering we lost our city's best option couple years back.

That spot, The Philly Grill, had lured and kept my business with two very important words: sliced ribeye. One can, but should not, make a cheesesteak with anything less, I am told.

McGonagle's does, and is even cheeky enough to adopt the slogan "You can't beat our meat." They also sell foot-long sandwiches for $9 and change, pairing grilled onions and ribeye — or chicken — with any of a variety of cheeses, from American to Whiz. You can add Buffalo sauce, marinara, or bacon. There's a whole flow chart of the ordering process on the television screen behind the ordering counter at the front of the shop.

But you can see the edge of that slice of provolone on my six-inch, six-dollar Authentic Philly. McGonagle's.

When you go to a really busy cheesesteak spot, you typically find a line and a kitchen rushing to keep up with demand. This ensures the sandwiches get made to order — meat, cheese and bun assembled on the grill, with sizzling peppers and onion melting into everything. A couple of the best Philly spots, this happens right in front of you as you stand in line, eliciting a Pavlovian response.

I didn't find McGonagle's busy, and whatever took place back in the kitchen and out of sight, it didn't exactly melt my cheese.

I'd gone with provolone, and opted for diced peppers as well as tomatoes. The green bells hadn't cooked with the ribeye any more than the cheese, and the bread hadn't soaked up any juices. None of the ingredients wound up working together, which left each tasting kind of bland, particularly that ribeye.

Kind of a bummer. It's easy to get worked up for a cheesesteak. But all the ingredients should be fresh and uncooked when you walk in, and merged together with some unholy alchemy of brotherly love by the time you eat it. McGonagles has all the makings of a worthy and authentic cheesesteak spot, they just need to get busy making the finished product live up to its reputation.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Forget bike lanes or sidewalks in rural San Diego County

Supervisors steer around anti-car measure
Next Article

The Harrison G. Otis House: a Tudor Revival residence

Much of the craftsmanship and styling cues of the era remain
I never though I'd say it, but I should've gone with the Cheez Whiz. 12-inch Authentic Philly and "Freedom Fries," McGonagle's.
I never though I'd say it, but I should've gone with the Cheez Whiz. 12-inch Authentic Philly and "Freedom Fries," McGonagle's.
Place

McGonagle’s Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks

1231 Highland Avenue, National City

I heard some Philly boys were serving up cheesesteaks in National City, so I set my hopes to high and hustled that way, past a half dozen dilapidated mini malls and food chains. Across from a Wal Mart. Honestly, I was just thrilled to find a small business operating in the middle of all that.

These guys have put together a fun place, with beer on tap.

McGonagle's, named for the two brothers who operate the joint, focuses solely on the meat-and-cheese mainstay, which is good considering we lost our city's best option couple years back.

That spot, The Philly Grill, had lured and kept my business with two very important words: sliced ribeye. One can, but should not, make a cheesesteak with anything less, I am told.

McGonagle's does, and is even cheeky enough to adopt the slogan "You can't beat our meat." They also sell foot-long sandwiches for $9 and change, pairing grilled onions and ribeye — or chicken — with any of a variety of cheeses, from American to Whiz. You can add Buffalo sauce, marinara, or bacon. There's a whole flow chart of the ordering process on the television screen behind the ordering counter at the front of the shop.

But you can see the edge of that slice of provolone on my six-inch, six-dollar Authentic Philly. McGonagle's.

When you go to a really busy cheesesteak spot, you typically find a line and a kitchen rushing to keep up with demand. This ensures the sandwiches get made to order — meat, cheese and bun assembled on the grill, with sizzling peppers and onion melting into everything. A couple of the best Philly spots, this happens right in front of you as you stand in line, eliciting a Pavlovian response.

I didn't find McGonagle's busy, and whatever took place back in the kitchen and out of sight, it didn't exactly melt my cheese.

I'd gone with provolone, and opted for diced peppers as well as tomatoes. The green bells hadn't cooked with the ribeye any more than the cheese, and the bread hadn't soaked up any juices. None of the ingredients wound up working together, which left each tasting kind of bland, particularly that ribeye.

Kind of a bummer. It's easy to get worked up for a cheesesteak. But all the ingredients should be fresh and uncooked when you walk in, and merged together with some unholy alchemy of brotherly love by the time you eat it. McGonagles has all the makings of a worthy and authentic cheesesteak spot, they just need to get busy making the finished product live up to its reputation.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Nathan Fletcher's viral propaganda push

County supervisor to pack staff with video maker, social media star
Next Article

Dress up with cork wedges from Aerosoles and a necklace from Pier 1

“For three months, I existed only on yoga pants and sweatpants.”
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close