Zandy’s Steak Shop
813 St. John St.
Let me provide a disclaimer: Zandy’s does NOT provide an authentic Philly Cheesesteak. Therefore, it is not my preference. Instead, I tend to refer to it as a “Lehigh Valley Cheesesteak”, comprised of a soft roll, a type of meat whose uniqueness is hard to qualify (tastes fresh off the farm to me!), onions, peppers and a hot tomato sauce. If you ordered this type of steak in Philly, they would refer to it as a “pizza steak” and the roll would have a soft interior with a slightly crustier roll.
However, we were delighted with our new hole-in-the-wall find. As typical, it took some coaxing to convince my skeptical, creature-of-habit husband to adventurously visit this Allentown landmark. Approaching the shop and its sign reading “Family owned & operated since 1940”, it was quite evident we were walking into a piece of local history.
It was an early dinner so the place was almost empty, but it gave a vibe of regular townies…a good sign. Greeted by friendly staff and a clean yet quite vintage environment, we ordered at the counter, paid a reasonable fee for our steaks, fries and soft drink and had a seat. While I’m not an expert on era décor, it’s quite possible theirs has not changed since 1940. My favorite was the pink marble-looking counter and table tops. We were instantly charmed and dreamed of bringing back some friends on a return visit, with the store large enough for an after-church group of young people pulling tables together to enjoy their reasonable but delicious meal. (cheesesteaks $4.90-$5.10--are you kidding me?!)
Along with steaks, Zandy’s offers fish dinners, hoagies, burgers, hot dogs, crab cakes and more. Our waitress reassured us that “everything is good here.” We soon agreed with her. While I don’t prefer a soft roll on my chicken cheesesteak, it did not hinder me from enjoying the 6 inch packed-full delight. To remain true to the “Lehigh Valley cheesesteak”, I ordered it with the hot tomato sauce, while Mark stuck with our usual ketchup. The generous portion of fries were fresh and perfect. On 2nd visit, I had a barbeque chicken cheesesteak—would highly recommend.
Would I return? Can’t wait. I was ready to return the next night. Let’s keep the historic family-run businesses alive.
*Keep in mind: Cash only, closed on Mondays.