Friday, July 17, 2015

NYC Dining: Cheesesteak Sandwiches at Wogie's

After moving to an unfamiliar city, there is inevitably a certain point when it starts to feel less foreign. New York City felt huge and overwhelming when I first arrived last summer – I couldn't escape the swarms of people, crowded subways, or towering skyscrapers. I didn't know how to navigate the subway systems or where to buy groceries. Then, when Jake visited me last week, I realized that New York isn't so big and scary anymore. I can travel through Manhattan without getting lost or flinching at the busy sidewalks, and I even know the characteristics of most of the Manhattan neighborhoods. But the thing that struck me most is that I now have favorite places. Favorite restaurants, shops, subway stops, grocery stores, and parks.

Wogie's, a sports bar in the Financial District specializing in cheesesteak sandwiches, is one of my and Jake's favorite places. They have tasty, authentic cheesesteaks for a very reasonable price, especially for the Financial District. 

We stumbled upon the restaurant last year after a day of sightseeing at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. We were hot, probably a little sunburned, sick of tourists, and craving Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. (Except Jake was only craving a steak sandwich because he doesn't like melted cheese...) Anyway, I pulled out on iPhone and searched for "best cheesesteak sandwich near me" and up popped Wogie's. Since we could easily walk there form Battery Park, we decided to give it a go. And we loved it so much that we went back this year, after finding ourselves in Battery Park again (we took the ferry to Governor's Island. You can read about that adventure here!)

During both visits, the small-ish place wasn't packed. Then again, I'm pretty sure we showed up around 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon both times, and the Financial District clears out immensely during the weekend. As soon as you walk in the restaurant's front door, you walk down a set of stairs leading to a basement room nicely decorated with large tables and a bar. Of course, since Wogie's is a sports bar, the bar boasted TVs playing various sports games. The atmosphere feels cozy, relaxed, and perfect for a greasy meal and drink with friends. 

Jake and I recreated our orders from the first visit and got one steak sandwich (for him) and one cheesesteak (for me). Both $10 meals were spectacular. Jake says, "I think the best part of the cheesetseak was the bread. The bread was authentic for philly cheese steaks.. hard outside, really soft inside. It was greasy but not overly greasy."

Trying to get the Philly experience, I opted for Cheez Whiz  on my sandwich. The steak turned out perfectly cooked and juicy, the bread was crisp, and the Cheez Whiz was, well, just like any other Cheez Whiz I've ever had. Actually, I found my sandwich to have too much Cheez Whiz, which is surprising given how much I adore cheese. However, the extra cheese came in handy as a dipping sauce for my french fries!

Jake and I split an order of chili waffle fries for around $5. I would've went for cheese as well, but like I said, Jake doesn't like melted cheese so we stuck to chili. The chili had a nice flavor and worked well with the fries, but I felt like something was missing from the combination. As it turns out, dipping the fries in my extra Cheez Whiz was the perfect solution. Next time I would probably ask for chili cheese fries instead of just chili, although both were delicious. Jake said the fries were good but didn't stand out compared with other restaurants. Last summer I think we also ordered fried pickles and loved them, but we didn't place the order this time. 

Verdict: Go to Wogie's! The atmosphere, food, and friendly staff are all winners. There's also an older location in the West Village, so New Yorkers hopefully don't have to travel far for a good cheesesteak.