Taste Buds: South of Philly

A small café bustling with the sounds of busy workers, eager customers and an alluring aroma of the best Philadelphia Cheesesteaks located anywhere in the south. This is what you will encounter when you visit Sylva’s own South of Philly. Located in the 44 E Sylva Shopping Center, South of Philly brings you the best Philly Cheesesteaks in the south that you will ever eat.

Upon entering the store, I was greeted by co-owner and operator, Justin Kirkland. Kirkland owns and operates the store alongside his mother, Terry Kirkland.

Justin explains,”My mother was born in Sylva but was raised in Philadelphia. She is very committed to her job. She decided to open South of Philly because there were no other restaurants like this in the area. So on Labor Day of 2012, we had our grand-opening, and it was a huge success. South of Philly uses only the freshest ingredients and takes extreme pride in their work. We get our bread shipped here from Pennsylvania. It is hand-rolled and the company, Amorosos’, is Amish-owned. You can really taste the difference in the bread. Our meat is shipped very local, from Asheville, and it is from free-range animals and has zero hormone injections. We use USDA Prime graded meat selections, and that is the highest grade there is. We take extreme pride in our work. Even our vegetables are grown and bought from organic suppliers. Both our vegetables and meats are cut in house. If we can do it here, we do it.”

My photographer, Chris Ward, and I, were seated at a table while we waited on our food to be served. Looking around the restaurant, I noticed several framed pictures of baseball photos and street cafes. There were four tables for seating as well as a booth. The overall appearance and atmosphere was welcoming and inviting. Once the food was served, we were in heaven. The food came out prepared nicely on traditional paper-lined red baskets. To start, we were served both a traditional Philly Cheesesteak and a Chicken Philly, both loaded with peppers, onions, mushrooms and provolone cheese. The presentation of the food was mouth-watering.

The warm, fresh  bread was stuffed full of meat and vegetables, and the melted cheese was peeking out the sides. As if this wasn’t enough already, we were surprised with two huge baskets full of crisp, seasoned French fries and juicy, sweet, onion rings. And last but certainly not least, both Ward and I were treated to servings of their made in-house macaroni and potato salads. We certainly did not leave hungry, in fact, Ward and I were served so much food that we had to ask for multiple carryout boxes. South of Philly really outdid themselves and their overall service was impeccable.

When Ward was asked what his favorite dish was, he replied that it was the traditional Philadelphia Cheesesteak.
After taking a bite, Ward described it as “a perfect blend of steak, provolone, and vegetables. This is hands down the best Philly Cheesesteak I have ever had.”

The Chicken Philly, my personal favorite, was just as great. The combination of succulent chicken and melted provolone, all smothered together with onions, mushrooms, and green peppers was wonderful. The taste can really only be described as heaven in a basket.

Both the chicken and steak sandwiches are sold in six and twelve-inch sizes. A six-inch Cheese Steak can be bought for $5.75 and a twelve-inch for $7.50. A six-inch Chicken Philly is $6.25 and a twelve-inch is $8.00. As well as chicken and steak, they also offer a variety of other sandwiches on the menu. They offer a Cuban sandwich and Turkey Philly as well as Italian hoagies and a vegetarian hoagie.

South of Philly even has their own kid’s menu. The kid’s menu consists of your choice of chicken fingers, a ham and cheese sandwich, or a turkey and cheese sandwich all served with your choice of fries or chips for only $3.75. But the list doesn’t stop there. They have a variety of sauces to choose from and Pepsi products to drink. Be on the lookout for new menu items coming soon. One menu addition they will be offering soon are wraps. The wraps will come in a variety of flavors from the traditional chicken and steak to a delicious chicken parmesan!

South of Philly also offers weekly combo specials to help you eat great food at an even greater deal. Their combo special at the time of our visit was a 12-inch Mushroom Philly with your choice of sides and a drink for only $8.50 plus tax. But remember, these combo specials change weekly so stop by often to check out the latest deals!

Overall, South of Philly is a wonderful, hidden gem, and if you haven’t tried it, I urge you to go now. You won’t be disappointed.