East Harlem’s Iconic Chop Cheese Sandwich! The Recipe And The Wild Ordering Method!

Who Wants A Chop Cheese?

That’s what I’m holding in my hand right now!

It’s a neighborhood favorite, perhaps named because of the “chop chop” sound as it is cooked – and it is delicious!

I initially wrote about this sandwich several years ago when it was the center of a food scandal in New York.

More on that later, but first: what is a “chop cheese?”

Here’s how The New York Times described one:

“The sandwich, also called a chop cheese — ground beef with onions, topped by melted cheese and served with lettuce, tomatoes and condiments on a hero roll — has long been a staple of bodegas in Harlem and the Bronx.”

When I was in New York recently, I knew I had to find one – at the right place where the integrity of the sandwich was ensured!

Welcome To The Central Park Reservoir!

I was excited to take on a long long walk to get my chop cheese. I started at the south end of Central Park and walked five miles to get to my final destination – but how can you complain when this is your view?

Oh, and they had a funny sign too – but I wasn’t passive, I was headed for a chop cheese!

I walked halfway around the reservoir on my way north and east through the park – it’s an incredible experience – take a look:

After walking along the reservoir, I veered north through this incredible park – an exhilarating experience.

I left the northeast end of the Central Park at 110th street – and then I walked into East Harlem:

Welcome To Harlem Taste Chopped Cheese!

That’s the official title of this bodega – by the way, here’s what a “bodega” is – as described by google:

“A bodega is a small corner store or market that sells groceries and wine. Many bodegas are located in Spanish-speaking neighborhoods of large cities. If you visit New York City, you’ll see bodegas, little shops where people buy groceries and small items.”

Here’s what it looks like inside:

As you can see, lots of candy down low for the kids, and behind the counter there is everything from mini-cigars, cigarettes, condoms and more!

And tucked away in the corner is one person and a flat hot griddle, where this cook makes magic all day long!

The cook is hidden behind this deli counter, where the menu for sandwiches shows what you can order on your chopped cheese:

A Wild Way To Order!

A cashier behind the counter took orders from a dozen of us all at once – he asked what you wanted and what you wanted on it – but here’s is what is wild:

The cashier took the order this way – scrawling letters on a short piece of a cigarette carton…here is what I ordered: a chop cheese “C” on a roll “R” with tomato”T” and onion “O” with pickle “P” but no japoeno peppers so the “J” is crossed out!

Ten minutes later, I had a sandwich!

While I ordered a roll I got it on a hoagie bun, but no matter: it was hot, juicy and delicious!

The bread had a crunchy exterior and a soft, chewy interior – and the sandwich itself was full of flavor!

This has a well-deserved reputation as an inexpensive meal for workers who need energy, nutrition and great flavor as well!

I discovered the “chop cheese” sandwich thanks to a huge controversy!

Click here for the story – a fascinating discussion of what is cultural misappropriation or just an homage to great recipes:

New York is filled with so many incredible restaurants: from bodegas to Chinese restaurants that let you hold your dinner like this!

Yes, my friend Bruce and I got a sneak peek at our spectacular crab meal at Wu’s Wonton King!

Click here for the whole story!

Speaking of sandwiches, how about this traditional Provencal meal for fishermen in France:

This hearty “meal in a bun” is delicious – and you can make it too!

Click here for the recipe:

Speaking of a delicious “meal in a bun”:

This delicious fish sandwich was sold at LA’s largest “smorgasburg!”

Click here for a tour of this incredible food market!

I also shared these incredible burgers from Hackensack New Jersey!

This delicious burger has a very unique cooking method – click here to see how they make this incredible burger!

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“Bite! Eat! Repeat!” is your site for all things food – from these step-by-step cooking directions for 52 dishes from around the world – to fun stuff like Caviar Tater Tots!

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Here’s just one of the many fun stores you can find here:

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Let me know what you think of my “chop cheese”sandwich!

If you like the story, share it with friends on social media! Thanks!

Categories: Bite Eat Swallow, Bite! Eat! Repeat!, Burgers, Eat This!, Fast Food, Food, Food Pictures, Food Porn, Food Travel, Recipes, Restaurants, Travel, Wacky Food, World's Wildest Food

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10 replies

  1. I had never heard of a Chop Cheese sandwich, but would definitely like to try one!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. Love this, John! The visit to New York and the neighborhood bodegas! And definitely the sandwich!

  3. Some very interesting sandwiches, John. I am also a fan. I’m not sure I’d venture to the place you pictured in Harlem, I would probably worry about safety even if there wasn’t cause too. That fisherman’s dinner looks really good.

  4. I always know where to come for sandwich ideas and although I don’t eat a sandwich often I could happily eat that sandwich but would opt for the jalapenos…what a time-saving way to order…Love it!


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