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I didn’t want to leave the house and go down to Point Loma. It was cozy at home and I could have gotten into bed and stood a chance of finishing Dead Souls before the library sends a death squad after me. It was with great reluctance that I forced myself out the door and down the freeway to visit Jin’s Grill in a Midway strip mall, right next to a Subway, of all things.

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I shuffled dissolutely across the unimpressive restaurant, miffed by the Winslow Homer-esque art and the orangey-brown tables that could have decorated the inside of any restaurant in any time at any place. Yet another average sandwich, I thought. But then I saw the little sign on the counter, left there in place of the owner who was out back cooking.

Now I’m in the kitchen. I’ll be right back to serve you. Thanks!! --Jin

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Something about the earnestness of the placard charmed me. Plus, as I read the menu, I realized that Jin’s only has five entrees: steak, chicken, burger, and pastrami, all served the same way, and a fish sandwich with avocado. Jin, in his wisdom, recommends that the subs be made with lettuce, tomato, pickle, mayo, mustard, and ketchup. The “hoagie style” Philly is often an option at the places I’ve been to, but Jin’s elevated it to prominence, so I had to try.

“You have to ring the bell,” said a man’s voice as I stood at the counter. “Otherwise he’ll never know you’re here.”

I rang the bell and, sure enough, Jin called out, almost singing, that he would be there in a minute. A very slight and cordial man, he came, took my order, and then disappeared into the recesses of the kitchen.

As I sat and waited, I saw a business type guy come in and linger around the counter. He didn’t ring the bell and I think he ended up vanishing without ordering food, perhaps under the assumption that Jin didn’t care enough to take his order.

Ring the bell, people, it is entirely worth it.

My sandwich, delivered to my table by a gracious Jin, was about eight inches long and reasonably priced at $5.95. It bulged with meat to the degree that I wondered where the toppings were. One bite revealed that they were underneath the steak, lettuce and everything.

The idea of putting condiments and salad on the cheesesteak seemed unorthodox at first, but the effect mesmerized me. For starters, Jin grills some high-quality steak. It was toothsome, delicious, and plentiful. With all the toppings on it, the cheesesteak had morphed into a kind of beautiful mutant, a hybrid of In ‘n’ Out burger and submarine sandwich. Ketchup, mustard, and pickles all contributed something amazing to the flavor. It was nothing short of incredible, even after two weeks of eating cheesesteaks every damn day. The bread was extra soft and did an admirable job of soaking up the various juices that leeched from the sandwich.

This tour is wrapping up, and it looks like Jin’s Grill might be the place. Sure, Jin broke the “rules” a little bit: there was all that salad on the sandwich and no Whiz to be seen. But I left the place with the elusive satisfaction that I’ve been trying to find in a cheesesteak.

3445 Midway Drive
619-222-0106
M-Sat 10:30-9:30
Sunday 11-8

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Comments
2

Your scraping the barrel of cheesesteak locations. You gotta head north. The SD Reader lists top places in SD county each year and your missing the top names. Philly Franks in San Marcos is one.

Dec. 7, 2012

I am dead serious in stating that Jin's is a dark horse contender for the general classification in the Tour de Cheesesteak! I went out there with "scraping the bottom of the barrel" on my mind, but the sandwich there knocked my socks off.

Philly Frank's is somewhere I am going to really try and get to, but San Marcos is a hike for me. There are logistical concerns here that didn't come to mind until I had tried to eat at every cheesesteak place I could get to.

Dec. 7, 2012

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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
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