Best cheesesteak joint opens 3rd NJ location
It’s slowly coming north.
The ‘it’ being a place Anthony Bourdain once called the best Philly cheesesteaks around. Ouch Philly, THAT had to hurt when you’re talking about a joint in Jersey.
‘It’ is Donkey’s Place. Opening as a bar back in the 1940’s after the war it’s still going strong 74 years later. They’re known for their unique cheesesteaks.
I can’t do a better job than nj.com’s Pete Genovese of describing them so let’s just go to his quote.
“Donkey’s is another place that bends the cheesesteak ‘rules.’ The meat is not chopped but served in big hunky slabs. And the bread? Not your usual sub roll, but a poppy seed roll. Top it with a thick pile of onions, and you have a cheesesteak bully, one that dares you to call it out.”
So after many decades of fame Donkey’s Place opened a second location in Medford in 2001. They went east. They called it Donkey’s Too.
Now they’re going north.
A 3rd Donkey’s Place is opening probably within the next month in Mount Holly. Donkey’s Place Downtown will be at 37 Washington Street.
Owner Joe Lucas says he’s excited to be joining Mount Holly. “It's really changed around since I was a kid… it seems to be like the next Haddonfield, we’ll say,” Lucas said. “I'm just happy to come over here and try to be a part of the history – I feel we're a good fit.”
Now how did this place of legend get to be called Donkey’s Place? Joe’s grandfather Leon Lucas was a former boxer who then opened the bar in Camden in 1947. He was a hard hitting fighter whose punches had a reputation of being like a mule kick or a donkey kick. It stuck, thus Donkey’s Place came to be.
In addition to their legendary cheesesteaks the new Mount Holly location will have mini panzerotti, fries, onion rings and I’m getting hungry just thinking about it all. It will be heavily takeout with some outdoor seating. Could you guys maybe think of going more north into, say, Mercer County?
Oh, and get this! Joe’s brother Rob Jr. is looking into opening a fourth Donkey’s location in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia. Hey, if Bourdain called these Jersey cheesesteaks the best Philly cheesesteaks why not take on Philly!
There’s even going to be a book out about the Lucas family and their iconic bar. “DONKEY’S PLACE” is written by Russel Lloyd who is a long-time next-door neighbor of the Lucas family in Medford. The book, which will be like a love letter between what Camden meant to Donkey’s Place and vice versa, will be out in a couple of months.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.