Food Critique: The Happiest Heart Attack You’ll Ever Induce

For a beef city, Kansas City has tragically few decent Philadelphia steak sandwich places.  Thankfully, I really only need one.

I have been eating at this restaurant for nearly 20 years and it is an important part of my family life.  Four sets of my cousins make a yearly pilgrimage to Kansas City to eat at the Caboose (and to draft for fantasy football).  My father considered giving up his medical practice to buy this restaurant.  With what we know now about ‘cholesterol’, it may have been good to have an M.D. operating that restaurant.  It is The Chartroose Caboose: or  My Favorite Place on Earth.  They say they make Philadelphia steak sandwiches but I say they make the happiest heart attack you’ll ever induce.  Their sandwiches are SO good.  The bread is toasted, the steak thinly sliced and sautéed in some magical deliciousness they won’t reveal, and the cheese oozes off the bun.    I’ve heard they may offer burgers and chicken fingers but I do not know why anyone would order them when they could have one of their Phillies.  Their most popular sandwich is the Rock Island with green peppers, onions and cheese.  My favorite is the Katy- just extra Swiss cheese and meat.  Try a beer or a strawberry limeade with it.

The ambiance of the atmosphere is not what is notable about this.  It’s casual and without a lot of decorative touches.  It’s one of those places that decorate with a big screen TV with sports on it and grease stains on your shirt- one of my favorite types of places.  When the Chiefs were good (oh the glory years), they named the star from each week’s game next to their sandwich called the Super Chief.  You order at a counter and eat at one of the 40 or so tables.  At noon expect a line out the door- with periodic signs indicating the length of wait from that point in line.  They’re fast and they’re fuss free.

Here are the rest of the technicalities:  3 locations, the original at 105th and Metcalf, one at 435 and 87th street, and one in Belton.   The menu is pretty much Philly steak sandwiches with different vegetables and cheese options.  Price is $7-$10/person, but if you can get away with it, the kid’s meal is all an adult would need to eat.  The side options are fries or onion rings.  Not a lot of options, but with taste like this, who needs choices?

Speaking of choices… this is not the place for someone looking to make healthy eating choices.  The healthiest choice you can make here is to not get nacho cheese to dip your fries in.  OK, that’s the healthiest choice I ever make.  They also have veggie sandwiches and steak salads.  My vegetarian friends swear that the veggie sandwich is fantastic.  I swear that I won’t ever be a vegetarian when there are places like this to eat.  I refuse to view the nutritional information, but the ingredients are cheese, bread and steak.  I can figure that one out.  Still, every once in a delicious while, it’s great to say diets, cholesterol, calories, irritable bowel, Body Mass Index, be damned.  This sandwich is damned GOOD.

Location: 10636 Metcalf Avenue Overland Park, KS 66212; 12976 West 87th St. Parkway Lenexa, KS 66215; 8314 E 171st St, Belton, MO 64012-5337
Hours: Mon – Sat 11-9pm, Sun 11-8pm
Price: Moderately priced

I give Chartroose Caboose 5 “bring a defibrillator” out of 5

by Laura Shrader

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