What is it about cheesesteaks that make them so confident? Perhaps it’s the masses of meat and cheese or perhaps it’s the incredible man-points one gains by eating cheesesteak or maybe it’s just something in the personality of someone who opens a cheesesteak joint, they seem to love aggressive slogans. BB’s Sandwich Bar (120 W 3rd St, NY, NY) proudly proclaims “The best damn cheesesteak. Period.” Whoa, easy killer, I’m just here for a sandwich, relax. (Astute readers might remember that Carl’s Steaks in midtown east has a sign that reads “AOL Voted Best Sandwich in NYC.”) See other cheesesteak reviews here: Wogies (the current favorite), Carls, 99 Miles to Philly.
BB’s wins the award for most-focused sandwich shop. Their menu has only one thing on it: cheesesteaks. I love this kind of focus! They also sell sodas and chips, but those must be there just to placate vegetarian friends of steak lovers. BB’s is tucked in a little shop that it shares with a cupcake store. How bizarre? Maybe the cupcakes are for the vegetarian friends? Seems like it’d be better to share the store with a cap store, or a knife store or something more manly like a WWE wrestling ring.
BB’s cheesesteaks ($5) are a bit different. Most cheesesteaks are served on a long roll, sliced lengthwise and stuffed with grilled steak and cheese whiz. Real cheese, onions and mushrooms are optional. BB’s cheesesteak is served on a kaiser roll with american cheese, onions and some kind of magic sauce. In most cheesesteaks, the meat and cheese flavor is all there is and it’s completely overpowering. In BB’s you get a lot of other flavors. There’s not nearly as much meat as usual can you can barely taste the cheese since it’s a tiny little sliver melted into the huge roll. The secret sauce loses some of it’s allure when you discover it tastes like ketchup. Most cheesesteaks are so big you want to plant your face in the second half and take a nap. Not BB’s, these are normal sized and you can get up and keep walking around the west village afterward, looking for old LPs, “tobacco use only” pipes, or fingerless gloves, because that’s all they have for sale. The sandwich is good, but feels more like a “house signature” deli sandwich, than a supremely refined cheesesteak.
All those differences aside, BB’s cheesesteaks are tasty little sandwiches. For $5 you get a sandwich that won’t debilitate you, a variety of flavors and a few minutes to consider their aggro slogan. No, it’s not the “Best damn cheesesteak”, hell, it’s not even really a cheesesteak! Sorry, BB, you’re out of the running. Nice sandwich though.