Ahhh, the cheese steak hoagie. Quite possibly the perfect sandwich. Thinly sliced steak surrounded by a long hoagie roll and covered in peppers, onions, mushrooms, and of course cheese. It makes my eyes water just thinking about it. Since I don’t live in Philadelphia, it always has seemed like I get short changed on these delicious sandwiches. We don’t have a Geno’s or a Leo’s that is featured daily on some sort of television network. We do, however, have Gabriel’s Hoagies, which for my money competes with the best cheese steak hoagies anywhere in the country.
Gabriel’s Hoagies is a little hole in the wall joint in the middle of nowhere that began serving hoagies to the residents of Ypsilanti in 1959. The inside is tiny with only a few tables, but expect to see 10-15 people come and go while you’re eating. You walk up to the counter and order your food, and it is brought to you within minutes. The service is very friendly, and your food comes very fast. You’re not even expected to throw away your empty styrofoam plates or cups, because the staff will collect them for you. You get a little bit of that southern hospitality hole in the wall joint feel from this place.
They’re still there, in the same location, serving up incredibly delicious eats off of one of the most basic menus you can find. There is no real variety at Gabriel’s. You can have a cheese steak hoagie, a plain steak hoagie, a lunch meat special or a ham and cheese. They also have a garden salad or a ham and cheese salad. You can also buy assorted bags of chips and Pepsi products. That is it. I’m sure everything is delicious, but I’ll never personally find that out. The only option for me is the cheese steak hoagie with peppers, onions, and extra cheese.
There’s nothing incredibly special or fancy about this sandwich, which is exactly how a cheese steak hoagie should be. Upon ordering your hoagie, you can hear the chef in the back throw your steak on the grill and start chopping it up. The bread comes slightly toasted and makes for a good container for the rest of the ingredients. The cheese is melted throughout the meat, which adds a nice gooey component that holds everything together. The thing that really makes the sandwich for me are the cherry peppers. They are soaked in vinegar, and contain the perfect amount of sweet and spicy to balance out the sandwich. I get them on top of my hoagie and also a bit on the side just in case they went light that particular visit. They sell them in jars, and I’m telling you they could be eaten by themselves with a spoon right out of the jar.
If you’re a fan of cheese steak hoagies and are within driving distance, I urge you to immediately get into your car and drive to Gabriels. It’s in the middle of nowhere and you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled, but once you find the location I promise it will not be your last visit.