It is always fun to discover a new restaurant. It is even more fun to realize that the restaurant is going to succeed.
You can sense it as you walk through the door; it’s letting you know that the folks who run this place have got it right. I got this feeling the first time I brought the dine-around bunch to Johnson City’s newest sandwich shop, Charley’s Philly Steaks.
The staff are uniformly pleasant and knowledgeable about the food they serve. The dining area, though small and utilitarian, is clean and spacious, and features the more civilized tables and chairs instead of the usual booths.
There’s something else. Charley’s has their corporate slogan printed in large letters on the dining area wall: “Om. Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom.”
My dining partner received several copies of Charley’s menu from Megan, our order taker, and we took our time going over what Charley’s had to offer. The menu is very simple: They start with the classic Philly steak sandwich and do variations and swaps that make up the balance of the menu.
In addition to regular fries, Charley’s does “Gourmet Fries,” made up from different toppings and add-ons. Charley’s sells the sandwiches by themselves and in combination with regular or gourmet fries. Salads are available, starting with fresh greens, sliced tomatoes, red onions and such, either plain ($2.99) or with grilled breast of chicken ($3.99) or grilled steak ($3.99).
The sandwiches come in three sizes, a 6-inch small ($4.29), an 8-inch medium ($6.49), and a 10-inch large ($8.49). Getting your sandwich in a combo with regular fries is just $2.99 more or $3.99 more with the “Gourmet Fries.”
Charley’s has iced teas in several flavors, along with fountain drinks and their own original lemonade.
A few comments and suggestions were made among the members assembled, and we were ready to go. My dining partner ordered the medium-sized Charley’s classic Philly Cheesesteak combo with regular fries and a Peach Tea ($10.78). I chose a small Spicy Asian Barbecue Chicken with a Fresh Garden Salad and a Peach Tea ($9.77).
Our Dieter decided on a 6-inch Veggie Deluxe with a Peach Tea ($6.76) while the Carnivore opted for the 8-inch Memphis Steak and Bleu combo with Buffalo & Bleu Gourmet Fries and Peach Tea ($11.48).
Our orders arrived almost as soon as we had finished bringing our drinks and sauces to the table. My dining partner’s classic Philly Cheesesteak, topped with lettuce, tomato and dill pickles lived up to its “classic” moniker; the baguette-style bread was fresh as were the ingredients, making each bite a good one. The surprise was the medium-sized paper cup filled with some of the freshest carved straight-off-the-potato fries I’ve ever tasted. A dollop of rich, red ketchup was all that was needed as garnish.
The Dieter’s Veggie Deluxe was a delicious mixture of grilled onions, mushrooms and green peppers added to provolone, Swiss and cheddar cheeses and topped with an excellent balsamic vinaigrette dressing. With his Memphis Steak sandwich and Buffalo-style gourmet fries combo, it looked like our Carnivore was going flat out for a bleu cheese crumble overdose. Not to worry, the crumbles had a cooling effect on the Buffalo fries’ hot sauce, and actually contributed an edge to the sorta-sweet barbecue sauce on the sandwich.
My Asian Barbecue Chicken Sandwich was excellent, especially so once I added grilled onions, mushrooms and a fresh dill pickle slice or two. The sauce was just the right blend of teriyaki and hoisin mixed with crushed garlic and chopped onion and black pepper. My Garden Salad was cold and crisp, with ripe tomatoes, shredded lettuce, carrots, sliced cucumbers, chopped onions and … sauerkraut strands? That’s what it tasted like, at any rate. Though they included a packet of ranch dressing, it wasn’t necessary as the salad was just fine on my fork and no dressing needed, thank you. We all remarked on how good Charley’s unsweetened Peach Tea tasted, and how well it complemented each of our menu choices.
Dinner for two at Charley’s runs about $20 depending on your combo choices and drink order. Charley’s also has kid-sized meals available. They’ve got a drive-up window for on-the-go orders of the freshest, tastiest sandwiches and sides around.
Why not give ‘em a try for lunch or supper?
They’ll have you saying “Om. Nom. Nom. Nom. Nom.” too.
2800 W. Market St., Suite 800, Johnson City
Mon-Sat Noon-9 p.m.
Sun Noon-6 p.m.
Credit cards welcome