This Cheesesteak Critic Has 500 Cheesesteaks Under His Belt

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Jim Pappas, 56, takes his first bite of the brisket cheesesteak from Mike's BBQ, marking his 500th cheesesteak on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Image via Tyger Williams, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

They call it a Philly cheesesteak but we all know it’s as much a delicacy in the suburbs as it is a city thing.  Ask Jim Pappas. Over 2o months, this Delaware County native has devoured 500 cheesesteaks, writes Jenn Ladd for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

He started visiting new cheesesteak joints with his childhood friend around May 2018.

The “Brisket Cheesesteak” at Mike’s BBQ in South Philly. Image via Tom Gralish, The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I got the passion, I realized there was something there,” he said.

Pappas developed a 100-point scoring system, grading on the roll, meat, cheese, extras, the shop’s overall atmosphere. (Craft beer offerings will boost the total; cranky service will lower it.)

It’s all tracked on his website, philadelphiacheesesteakadventure.com.

He began eating several a week, sometimes two a day.

Everywhere he went, he discovered something new.

At Hunt’s Annex Lounge in Woodlyn, he had a cheesesteak served on Texas toast. (Fantabulous!!, according to Pappas’ website.)

He hit 275 steaks around May 2019. In October, he  aimed for 10 steaks a week. He and his friends ate nine during a two-day trip to the Jersey Shore.

To stay trim, he walks 3 miles every day.

He ate his 500th steak on Jan. 8, two weeks after Christmas.

Read more about Pappas’ cheesesteak mission here.

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