Tonight I tried one of the newer restaurants in Missoula, Philly West. The place is located on Higgins street, in between Ryman and Orange. It is actually in the same location as where the former burrito shop, La Parrilla*, used to be. The restaurant serves food that you would find in Philadelphia, with their cheesesteaks being their signature item. Philly West, from what I can tell, is trying to capitalize mostly on the large college population in Missoula. Situated right in the middle of the downtown district with late hours and a menu that would satisfy anyone after a long night of drinking, it is pretty obvious who they are targeting. Even though I am so much more sophisticated than that (yeah right!!), I decided to try it out.
The new reastaurant in Missoula, Philly West
I went to Philly West with my friends Dan and Rosie. Immediately upon entering the restaurant, you see that it is nicely decorated to fit its Philadelphia theme. Right to your left when you go through the door is a painting of the liberty bell and it just becomes more and more Philly after that. Pennants, pictures, and paintings reflecting the city cover the walls. On one of the sides, there is a map of the United States painted onto one of the walls. All of the states are painted black except for two, Pennsylvania and Montana, which are red. A depiction of a Rocky silhouette on top of the stairs covers a wall in the back. Phillies, Flyers, and Eagles memorabilia is present. The word “cheesesteak” and its definition is also painted high on one of the walls. There is plenty of seating with an assortment of high and low tables. There is a marble wrap around counter up a little ways and to the left of when you walk in that serves as the place to order take out. On the other side of the counter is the wait staff area. A little further back is the kitchen area which is in the full view of customers. It is an inviting, hip atmosphere.
I liked this map they had on the wall
We had a cute waitress who was very attentive, polite, and easy going with us. When it comes to the menu, if you are in the mood for some greasy, genuine Philadelphia food, this place is for you. The variety is great. Besides their cheesesteaks, you can also select from pizza, stromboli, sandwiches, and pasta. They also have lots of tempting side items such as french fries (they have pizza fries and gravy fries on the menu), different kinds of cheesy bread, and mozzarella sticks. The restaurant is about as casual as you can get. The menus are paper, condiments are already on the table contained in a six-pack bottle beer container, flimsy silverware is wrapped in a basic white napkin, and the food comes out in baskets.
Wanting to get the full “Philly Experience,” I ordered from the cheesesteak portion of the menu. I got the pizza steak, which is basically just a regular cheesesteak with pizza sauce added on. Rosie got the vegetarian stromboli and Dan went with the chicken wings. I should mention that Wednesday at Philly West is “Wing Night” and wings are only twenty-five cents each…not bad! Dan took full advantage of this deal and got sixteen wings.
It took about twenty to twenty-five minutes for us to get our food, the perfect amount of time in my opinion for a place like Philly West. Rosie and I got our dinners at the same time with Dan getting his dinner about two minutes after us. My cheesesteak came with a pickle and I ordered french fries with it as well. The sandwich was loaded with meat. The bread (hoagie bun) was very soft and fresh. Both meat and bread were very warm. Even though the cheesesteak contained tons of meat, it was not hard to eat. I could simply pick it up with my hands and eat it without making a mess. While it was very pleasant to eat and chew, I found the meat a little too salty and lacking a tad bit in flavor. Of course, it did not stop me from eating the whole thing. The crinkled cut fries were very basic, nothing special there. When it came to Dan’s wings, he said they were okay. But you do have to understand that Dan’s favorite food in the world is wings. He orders them everywhere and when he is not thinking about girls or working out, he is probably thinking about wings. I would not be stretching it if I said that he has probably ordered wings at every restaurant in Missoula that offers them (SIDE NOTE: Ask him what his favorite wings in town are and he will answer the Old Post without even hesitating). I tried one of his wings and found it pretty good. They had plenty of sauce on them and an average amount of meat. Not bad by any means, but not spectacular. I did not try Rosie’s stromboli but she said it was really good. I will not argue with her.
The next time I go to Philly West I am definitely going to get their pizza. I watched our waitress bring a couple of them out to other tables and they looked fabulous. The ones I saw were deep dish style with the crust about four inches high. It looked like there were about five pounds of cheese on them as well. All three of us were tempted to go over to the tables that had ordered the pizzas and ask for a slice.
Pricing is about average at Philly West, except of course if you get wings on Wednesday, then you are getting a great deal. My sandwich was $8.50 and I want to say Rosie’s stromboli was $7.50. For what you get in relation to what you pay, I would say that the prices are just about right.
While I would say my cheesesteak was nothing spectacular, I will try Philly West again. They have too much stuff on their menu not too. I also have to order a pizza soon from the place. I know they have daily specials so I might go in when I can cash in on one of those…it just gives me an excuse to eat out. I wish Philly West the best of luck in Missoula. Don’t Blink.
* – I thought La Parrilla was okay. They had some really interesting and creative burritos listed on the menu, I just don’t know if they actually tasted as good as they sounded. I would say it was not really close to the quality of Taco Del Sol but a little bit better than El Diablo. Basically, I believe the construction that was going on right by the restaurant for what seemed like forever and the highly competitive burrito market in Missoula proved to be the downfall for La Parrilla).