The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA

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2009/06/23 14:41:51 (permalink)

The Slammer/Isaly's/Pittsburgh, PA

Sorry, some of these photos aren't my best.....

Because of their appearance in the new Jane & Michael Stern book, 500 Things to Eat Before It's Too Late (and the Very Best Places to Eat Them), I stopped at the Isaly's in West View, just north of Pittsburgh.  It has been several years since I was last here. 
The food item that the Sterns wrote about at Isaly's is a sandwich called The Slammer.  Here is the menu description.

For those who didn't grow up in western Pensylvania, chipped ham is ham lunch meat, sliced ultra thin.
Isaly's used to be a way of life around these parts.  They may be best known nationally as the inventors of the Klondike bar, but they were just as well known in the Pittsburgh area for skyscraper ice cream cones, chipped ham and their bbq sauce.  It seemed every town of decent size had their own Isaly's.  Unfortunately, they started disappearing and now there is only a small handful left.  I read there is one in Washington, Pa, but I have never been there.  The one in West View is luckily still going strong.
I walked in and sat in the far rear booth, so I could be more inconspicouos taking photos.  Yeah, like that could happen!  My friendly waitress asked if I knew what I wanted and I told her I came here for The Slammer.  She asked if I was here because of that book and of course, I said yes.  She told me she heard about it and read about it in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper, but she hadn't seen it yet.  I told her I had my copy in the car, so I walked outside and grabbed it.  Soon, a bunch of the employees were huddling around looking at.

I got up and walked around the room, checking things out and taking some photos. The long narrow room has lots of counter seats, tables and booths and a tin stamped ceiling.

Here is the list of Isaly's ice cream flavors available at the soda fountain.

You can buy a t-shirt with a skyscraper cone on it.

But my second favorite thing about this place?  They have the hours for the local jail posted in the corner.

Only in Pittsburgh!!!
My slammer arrived and this is quite a substantial sandwich.

As you can see, they really loaded it up with the grilled onions.  For my cheese choice, I went with swiss.  I was asked if I needed any mayo or any kind of sauce, but this sandwich didn't need it.  Delicious!  Very simple, but a true taste of Pittsburgh!
It wasn't until my sandwich was half gone, that I realized I was being a dunderhead and not drinking a milkshake.  That was soon corrected.
The strawberry shake was extra thick.
Because I was nice enough to show them the book (her words), my waitress, who turned out to be the owner, along with her husband, gave me a cool Isaly's coffee mug, which I appreciated.  She did point out one thing though.  In the book, the Sterns say Isaly's supposedly stands for I Shall Always Love You.  She said it should be I Shall Always Love You, Sweetheart, since it is plural.  This is the first I have ever heard of this version!
I mentioned the jail sign was my second favorite thing about this place.  Number one is this on the back of the menu.

That giant egg is actually the headstone for the owners in the local cemetary.  Apparently, they make so many breakfasts here, they decided to have a giant egg headstone.  And if customers go have their photos taken with it, they put the photos on the back of the menu.  Once again, only in Pittsburgh!  Even better, is what she told me they will have engraved on the headstone, which I don't think I should say here.  If you go, make sure you ask, because it is hilarious!
Isaly's is open 7 days a week, for breakfast and lunch only.
Quick quiz:  On the menu, there is a sandwich called The Bomber, which features jumbo.  Any non-Pittsburghers know what jumbo is?
post edited by buffetbuster - 2009/06/24 11:42:04

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