José Andrés' Philly Cheesesteak Riff Might Cause Spontaneous Ascension

For the average person, a Philly cheesesteak is something you purchase from a sidewalk vendor and crush in one sitting to soak up the one-too-many beers you had at the bar. Variations abound, but its most classic form features a soft hoagie roll filled end to end with thinly sliced beefsteak, melted cheese (sometimes provolone, sometimes Cheez Whiz), onions, and green peppers. Like the classic New York City dollar slice or the Chicago Italian beef sandwich (the latter of which became the subject of a nationwide craving following its supporting role in Hulu's "The Bear"), the Philly cheesesteak is Philadelphia's answer to the perfect street food, sharing equal footing with pretzels

But for José Andrés, the Spanish-born chef who's credited with popularizing paella in the U.S., per First We Feast, a Philly cheesesteak is something else entirely. The version he serves at his restaurant The Bazaar, located in the SLS Beverly Hills Hotel, switches out the dish's classic ingredients for elevated upgrades. And by all accounts, it's truly magical.  

Kobe beef is the new frozen chip steak

In an interview with First We Feast, Andrés lists his version of the Philly cheesesteak, dubbed "Kobe airbread," as one of the dishes that "made his career." The item first appeared on the menu at his tiny, upscale prix fixe project minibar in Washington, D.C., so naturally, he had to 86 the Cheez Whiz and provolone. "A lot of what my team and I create might seem whimsical at first glance, but they're really just familiar dishes that are interpreted in a different way," he says. Accordingly, his version of the Pennsylvania mainstay "mimics" the taste, but uses higher-quality ingredients.

Instead of frozen chip steak, Andrés uses Kobe beef. Instead of a hoagie, he uses a thin piece of pita dough that puffs when it's baked, lending an "airy effect" to the otherwise heavy sandwich. For the cheese, Andrés replaces deli slices with white cheddar or Parmesan espuma foam, topped with onion jam. According to a February 2023 Instagram announcement (posted above), the sandwich will make its way to The Bazaar's D.C. location soon.  

More playful spins on classics at The Bazaar

The Philly cheesesteak isn't the only item on The Bazaar's menu that's inspired by a regionally beloved dish. The Las Vegas location also boasts American-inspired bites like "bagel and lox cones" with dill cream cheese and salmon roe, twisting up a New York classic. There's also a sloppy joe that replaces mystery meat with beef Bolognese, served on a steamed bun, and "cotton candy foie gras" with crispy amaranth. On the opposite end of the menu, there's a lineup of top-grade meats from the fire pit, including a whole suckling pig that costs $620 and requires an advance notice of 24 hours. The man has layers.

If you're looking for Spanish-inspired dishes with an equally playful bent, your best bet is Bazaar Mar in Chicago, the chain's seafood-centric outpost. You might not find as many inventive takes on cheap sandwiches, but you'll probably forget all about Philadelphia as you tuck into mussels in escabeche, nuestros berberechos (Spanish cockle clams in brine, served with potato chips and lemon wedges), and classic ceviche with leche de tigre, sweet potato, red onion, corn nuts, and cilantro.