Whiz Wit at Markie D’s

Photo by Ken Justice

My boyfriend and I have an ongoing “there are two kinds of people in the world” riff. It started with breakfast food. I have a terrible sweet tooth, and he much prefers salty, pickled, and spicy-type foods. So when we go to breakfast, I’ll get something like a waffle with strawberries and whipped cream and he’ll get sausage and polenta or chilaquiles. In short, “There are two kinds of people in this world: sweet [me] and savory [him].”

This kind of binary thinking has punctuated the whole of our relationship: There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love Samurai movies, and those who do not; those who are always cold and those who are not; those who like Vegas and those who do not… Last weekend’s trip to Markie D’s was one more log on that fine fire of dualism. Feeling a bit nostalgic for our recent trip to the City of Brotherly Love, we decided to see if the City of Angels could put together a passable cheesesteak. Markie D’s, which sits on the corner of Washington and Commonwealth, just off Sepulveda in Culver City, bills itself as “Home of the Real Philly cheese steak.” The verdict after the jump.

You guessed it. There are two kinds of people in the world: those who think that Markie D’s approximates a real Philly cheesesteak and those who do not. I am of the latter camp, and while K’s palate is clearly more refined than my own (I tend to refer to mine as a “truckdriver palate”), I am the cheesewhiz-eater of the couple (he has his cheesesteaks with provolone) ergo I suspect in this case I may be more capable of an accurate gastronomic ruling.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad cheesesteak. It was loaded with meat. Had I never tasted a real Philly cheesesteak (in Philly) I don’t think I would have any argument with it at all. But I just didn’t think it was all the way there. The meat was a bit too bland and the cheesewhiz didn’t taste quite right either. K says it was 95% there. I’d say 80% at best, maybe even 75%. But here’s the funny thing, Yelp and Trip Advisor reviewers are similarly divided. It seems that for some folks Markie D’s scratches that Philly itch like nothing else, while others just aren’t feeling it.

Regardless, I would go back. I practiced east coast culinary snobbery for a long time. (It took me three years before I ate a crab cake in LA.) But I’m over it now. Just because I’ve never had a croissant as tasty as the ones in France or a gelato on the par with the scoops I’ve sampled in Florence, doesn’t mean I’m going to kick the habit stateside. Markie D’s really tries. It’s clearly a labor of love from a displaced Philadelphian. The service is super-nice, the walls are covered with Philadelphia memorabilia, and the dessert selections in particular are impressively authentic:
And no matter what kind of person you are, nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a TastyCake.

9 thoughts on “Whiz Wit at Markie D’s”

  1. I used to know Markie, a long time ago. (I guess I still do, I just haven’t seen him in six years or so.) He’s a really good guy, and definitely has the love for his hometown and the cheese steak.

  2. I’ll check it out. Nice write up on the place.

    You committed the ultimate faux pax for the folks from Philly, it is a “cheese steak” not “philly cheese steak”. My cousin’s wife and friends natives of Philly now in the area educamated me on that one pronto.

  3. IMHO, the best cheesesteak in town is at Fredo’s in Pasadena. It’s on Lake a few blocks north of the 210.

  4. Good to know, Nathan. I’ll check it out. And Fraz thanks for the tip. Rob: I think Markie must have been who was behind the counter when we there. He seems like a super nice guy who’s taken it as his own life’s mission to spread the joy of the cheese steak.

  5. I’ve heard good things about Markie D’s, as well as Fredo’s, which seems to be the number 1 pick for the folks over on Chowhound. I’ve never been, so I can’t say either way (although they all seem to like Philly’s Best, which I thought was mediocre at best). The best cheesesteak I’ve had outside of Philly so far is at Big Mike’s in Hermosa Beach. Not as good as the real thing, and they’re a little too generous with the meat (upsets the meat/cheese ratio), but it’s definitely better than Philly’s Best or (gag) South Street (the only thing that place is good for is getting Philly-style hard pretzels). Big Mike’s has TastyKakes too, though not all the time.

  6. I was just there a couple of weeks ago (prior to last Phillies game) and he said that he was retiring. I assumed that Markie D’s is closing soon.

  7. No matter how anyone would like to replicate a cheesesteak (the one most misidentified as a “philly cheesesteak anyway), it can’t be done, unless: 1. you get one from a vender who’s located someplace in the Delaware Valley, 2. somehow manage to duplicate the bread used by those venders, and 3. (very important) know that the best cheesesteak doesn’t come from either Pat’s or Gino’s, that instead it comes from the local guy who has known you all your life…

    In other words, you can’t get a good cheesesteak anyplace but Philly or South Jersey (maybe Delaware, but it won’t be easy)…

    and don’t even get me started on TastyKakes, which have gone down hill in quality since they upped the price per package from 10 cents to 25 cents and higher. Now they’re smaller and not quite as good.

  8. I think most of the good cheesesteak places in LA get their rolls from Amoroso. I don’t know how well the rolls travel, but that’s about as good as it’s going to get here.

  9. Hey Guys,

    Sorry to report but Markie D’s sold their last cheesesteaks yesterday (Halloween). My co-worker and I ordered a few for the office yesterday and when we arrived they already had the closed sign up. The man himself rang us up and even offered a few drinks on the house.

    Sounds like he had a good run in the food industry and is ready for a change. He mentioned managing bands / tours and that he was going to be working with Slash, Mickey Dolenz etc coming up soon. I wish him luck in his new endevors.

    New owners coming in, similar menu different recipies. Not sure if the name is changing.

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