I absolutely agree with the Philly West recommendation. My job brought me to UCLA for a month, and I must have eaten here 10 times for lunch.
Their cheese steaks and their burger both come in a very slightly crispy french bread with a moist and soft (but not doughy) inside. The cheese steak has the usual savory thin cut steak (rib eye?) with onions cooked to enough to have some give to them (but retaining a satisfying snap), and just enough marinara sauce to add flavor without overpowering or drenching the thing. I've eaten at all the hot spots in philly, and I like this place better. (for real connoisseurs, Jake's Philly Cheese Steaks in Houston, TX is still a little bit better...man I miss that place!)
The burger was a surprise to me. You get a huge, juicy, flame-grilled patty served in the same bread as the cheese steaks....a welcome departure from the usual soft bun. They don't overcook the thing...there was always a little pink in mine, and I never had to ask them to cook it medium.
It's a small place and there's just one lady behind the counter who took care of the bar and the few tables every time I was there. Most of the people at the restaurant seemed to be regulars. But for new people who came in she was a riot; she was flat out rude to those who were either rude to her or came in with ridiculous requests. I got a kick out of it, and I highly recommend this place to anyone who wants a greasy, delicious afternoon fix.
I've been chowhounding for years and rarely post, but after tonight's experience, I feel compelled to share my experience here with you guys.
I went with a group of 6 tonight for dinner. We were promptly seated but, as became the theme, we were not attended to for quite a while...at least 10 minutes. Our drinks took another 10-15 minutes after ordering to arrive. My girlfriend had the sangria, which was actually pretty good...just the right amount of citrus sweet/sour to complement the wine without overpowering it. The same can't be said of my bloody mary. There was so much lime (and irritating CHUNKS of lime) that I could barely taste the tomato juice or the vodka. And forget about Tabasco or other spice...if they were there, they were completely somehow hidden in the lime.
For our appetizers, we shared the french fry trio, the fried olives, and the macaroni and chesse. The french fries were the best of the three; they were presented in three heaping cups (coffee cup size) with wax paper holding in each of the three preparations: standard fries, sweet potato fries, and garlic fries. All were fried to a satisfying light crisp, and all had just the right amount of respective flavor. They were served with three dipping sauces on the side: a spicy ketchup and two creamy (mayonnaise-based?) ones. The ketchup was overbearing and tasted like cocktail sauce, while the creamy ones added almost nothing to the fries. I enjoyed the fries on their own (without the sauces). The mac and cheese was middling and was almost too salty. In its defense, the cheese was actually pretty subtle (I'm not sure what kind was used...perhaps a havarti) and the dish was baked to a satisfying crisp on top. The fried olives were simply terrible; an unnecessarily salty experience (even for olives!) served with "lemon mayo" which is more accurately described as "just plain mayo".
And then the entrees came. I had the steak, which I ordered medium rare. I think I would have enjoyed the filet had it not been prepared medium to medium well (and a little dry; no juice, no blood). The best part was the garnish; lightly singed brussel sprout leaves rich in flavor. There was also a tiny amount of unremarkable mashed potatoes to one side.
My girlfriend had the "crispy skin chicken breast". The chicken also was a little on the dry side. What struck both of us was how gamey the meat tasted. It kind of tasted like the smell of raw chicken...very unappealing. This was surrounded by a few braised vegetables, far too many halved pearl onions (I didn't think there could be such a thing until tonight), and a carrot puree. The entire dish was destroyed with too much salt. Surprisingly, the salt didn't overpower the chicken's gaminess, but it pretty well ruined the vegetables.
I had an ice wine while the rest of the crew had dessert (I sat dessert out; I'd had enough of this place).
To my fellow chowhounders: there are much, much better food options in the area for the money. The lounge is nice and I'd meet people here for drinks, perhaps before or after a show, but that's it.