So apparently there’s been a certain mobile Food Truck out serving in St. Paul and certain other locations near the Twin Cities for almost a year now, and I only just learned about it from a random appearance at a recent Truck Rally. Boy do I detest my lack of information-gathering-skills at times.
Though oft derision-based as it normally is, sometimes the application of my Quasi-review is purely necessary for the very simple reason that there’s not a lot that needs saying! Prime example, my very latent discovery of PepperJax Philly Express, who make, what else? Philly Cheesesteaks! What other menu options do they offer you ask? Nada! You get a beef philly, a chicken filly, or one without meat… frieson the side (if you want). That about sums it up.
Brief history for fun. Apparently the company story revolves around the owner meticulously trying to make the perfect Philly meat (despite the fact he lives and operates in Nebraska), patenting a certain cut of steak, and opening up this “new concept” quick-service casual restaurant sometime after retiring. PepperJax Grill was born, and over a hundred restaurants have popped up in the Midwest, including one very pretty far-roaming Food Truck.
Thus I grabbed myself a sandwich, doused it with some sauce (you can either do Spicy Ranchor pick from a line of BBQ sauces… the latter which I don’t really understand), chowed down and got to it! See what this now-Minnesotan extension is like.
Oh, and they have this cute little chutein front of the wide window that your toasted Philly Roll/Bread slides down! It’s like your own personal delivery waiting for its scrumptious meaty contents before being shipped to your mouth.
Food:9.5 – Spicy, beefy, melty cheese, soul food comforting goodness, it’s no wonder Pepperjax has grown so much. I love their bread! It is absolutely perfectly soft, absorbent but firm, with a great texture to it without being chewy. Probably one of the closest things to a true Philly we can get in the Midwest. However, close is still not the actual thing; eating through it, I do somewhat wish there was MORE cheese, and I have yet to feel it’s reached that Pinnacle of grilled meat perfection that calls out to the masses. Close, so very good and satisfying, but not quite there yet.
Holdability:7 – I guess one COULD walk and eat with it; I was standing and eating mine without quite as much problem as I thought I’d have. But it’s still a Philly, you look at that picture and tell me you’re not better off setting this giant bad-ass down on a table to dig in. It can get quite messy. And that’s without even considering the “Gunner”option… which I think I should do sometime…
Price:9 – $8for the classic, $7.75 for the Chicken,$7for all veggie, with an additional $2 and $2.50 forFries and Double-Meat(Gunner) respectively. Considering how damn big these are, and good it is, I’d say these are pretty well priced. Would like it better if they had some discount snack item option, a $5 or under thing.
Speed:9 – Each sandwich done one by one, once you actually get the order in, it’s made pretty damn quickly. I’d say it actually went from meat and veggies on the grill top to stuffed inside the bread in only… 1-2 minutes at the most? The only wait came in the person at the register.
I would like to make quick comment that, when finally stepping up to the long counter in front of the window in line, there seems to be a bit of a consistently awkward wait to see when you can actually order. Gotta wait for one of the cooks behind to guesture towards you, and apparently it’s usually later than I expected (it was actually the guy already halfway down the counter’s turn when I thought it was mine. Made a weird situation.). Fair warning.
Toe: 8.5 – Very singular, very good and delicious, going through the line itself is a little adventure in watching the grill top and the bread slide. They’ve created a bit of that feeling of the classic Philly shops, in that you know when you go there that it’s the only thing you’re going to get. There’s a little part of it that pulls back from the completion of the compelling atmosphere though, I find. Perhaps it’s just the seemingly obvious association and attachment of a restaurant chain, maybe the small logo amongst the big black truck pulls its impact back and makes it feel more like a catering van (I mean hey, when I first saw it I expected it was only in Minnesota on a very brief one or two-time event basis). Just saying.
Hell, it’s trucks like these that I don’t need my “suggestion” section after the review, you know what to get! Go grab a Philly, be happy. Nom in the deliciousness of all those meat and veggies; no wussing out with the “scratch the onions/mushrooms” order, and if you do it better be because you’re allergic. Philly Cheesesteaks should be eaten in every bit of their glory… with maybe some of that spicy ranch sauce on top, probably not too traditional in the home city but it tastes pretty damn good here. As does the sandwich.
Note: in respect for the business model and food truck deliciousness, though this is indeed a “Quasi-Review,” if the score ever shifts to put PepperJax into my top 10 listing, they will receive an official “seat” and not just an honorary mention.