The Northgate area of LSU has been on the upswing for some time now. Highland Coffees keeping control of it’s longstanding location, Louie’s transitioning into the larger former Wendy’s building and Barcadia taking over the Serrano’s location and transforming it into the tasty burger joint/arcade are only a few examples of the changes taking place in the neighborhood for the better.
Now, Everything Philly has taken up residence in the former Momma Goldberg’s spot. It marks another transition for the neighborhood’s slow moving evolution into a hub of restaurants and bars that LSU students can enjoy.
Architecturally, not much has changed in the location. The glass front doors still lead to the counter where you place your order, then make your way to the tables on your left and wait for the staff to bring your order over. It has a safe blue and green color scheme, and the walls are adorned with a couple of pop art-inspired murals of the few things everyone would know about Philadelphia (pretty much Rocky and the Liberty Bell).
There’s a solid amount of seating as well; whether or not you’ll ever have a problem finding a free table is yet to be determined, but for 5 p.m. on a Friday, it’s surprisingly crowded. It’s one of the few places attempts a diner-like feeling. It certainly doesn’t have the old-school charm of Louie’s, but in an age when rustic brick walls and exposed pipes are all the rage, at least someone wants to give something else a shot.
Everything Philly is one of the most aptly named restaurants in town, almost to a fault. They serve philly cheesesteaks, water ice, philly style pizza slices, stromboli and hotdogs, along with various sides. The pizza is made with a special dough flown in from the outskirts of Philadelphia and the cheese blend and sauce are made from a Philly-inspired recipe in house, said Ameen Walker, partial owner of the WTC Group, which owns the restaurant. He, his wife Patrice, and former LSU basketball player Tyrus Thomas run the business group which has it’s hands in multiple ventures, but a love for Philadelphia cuisine inspired this, their first shot at a restaurant.
“I missed the food, and my wife and I would fly up to Philly constantly to get the cheesesteaks and all the good things we ate up there that weren’t available down here,” Walker said.
Whether or not you’ll want to support a restaurant with such an identity complex is your prerogative, but keep in mind that the restaurant’s specialty Philly cheese steaks with classic Cheez Whiz is one of the tastiest sandwiches in the area—which means a lot for a restaurant in this neighborhood.
The philly cheese steak is pretty customizable. It’s got a handful of toppings available and four different kinds of cheeses, not to mention that you can get it with chicken instead of steak. My recommendation: stick with the classics. Get the full sandwich with steak and nacho cheese (yes, that is the classic option) and add banana peppers, bell peppers, mushrooms and onions. If that seems a bit too off the wall for your taste, some safer choices like provolone cheese, mayo or mustard will do just fine.
The steak is shredded and juicy, and the toppings aren’t nearly as overpowering as they would be on some other sandwiches. They’re certainly bold choices, but here, they fit in just right. The cheese is melted and the bread is soft. According to Walker, the meat and bread are flown in from Philadelphia, so you can be sure you’re getting an authentic experience.
The water ice seems to be the biggest draw of Everything Philly so far. The sherbet-like dessert is fat, dairy and gluten free and has been sold more than 22,000 times in just the past eight weeks, according to Walker. It comes in a number of flavors, the subjective best of which is the strawberry lemonade option. It doesn’t sit nearly as heavy in your stomach as frozen yogurt or typical ice cream, but has all the delicious benefits that come with indulging your sweet tooth. It’s a cool, refreshing option that would be perfect for a quick snack.
Everything Philly may be the only one of its kind at the moment, but should success come to the maiden restaurant, that could change. Walker has his sights set on a chain of water ice locations across the Gulf South, in addition to potentially expanding the full menu to new locations as well. While you may be able to get your hands on these sandwiches on the other side of town in the near future, if you live far from campus, the trip is worth it. Baton Rouge is inundated with chain restaurants that lack a certain soul you look for in a new eatery, but Everything Philly seems to have struck a nice balance between affordability and authenticity.
Photos by Greta Jines.