Former stand-up comedian leaves the stage, gets rave reviews for his crowd-pleasing subs
With franchise sub shops on every block serving up mass-produced generic sub sandwiches, many of us have forgotten what a true Philly cheesesteak tastes like. If you want to experience the real deal — the Philly cheesesteak that hardcore Philadelphians clamored for at the recent Eagles vs Rams game at Exposition Park, then get in line at Figueroa Philly.
At the corner of Figueroa 39th Street, across from the stadium, the fast-and-friendly restaurant that Danny Hizami opened up seven years ago has stayed on top of its game by offering up the highest quality ingredients, like Boar’s Head meats, that give the eatery the edge that has kept crowds coming back year after year.
When Hizami, a former stand-up comedian, decided to convert his father’s former Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant into a Philly Cheesesteak shop, he made it his mission to bring the most authentic and delicious cheesesteak to LA. He traveled the eastern US researching and personally tasting the best hoagies, and he brought back the proverbial secret sauce that has made his restaurant famous. From his inauspicious opening day, when he sold just six subs, Hizami is now filling the house, selling upwards of 500 subs on peak days.
With an original menu of traditional subs, like their most popular sandwich, the Figueroa Philly — made with steak, fresh onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and your choice of cheese, Hazami began attracting cheesesteak fans. As diverse patrons, from students from nearby USC and sports fans, to conventioneers and tourists, frequented the restaurant, Hazami expanded the menu to please his clientele, adding specialty subs like “Flaming” Hot Cheeto Cheesesteak, The Yin Yang Philly, and the Texas, Buffalo and Boston Philly subs.
The menu also includes a line-up of deli delights, Mia’s Famous Hoagies, named for his daughter, featuring a variety of thickly-layered Boar’s Head meat sandwiches; and Laura’s Hot Wings, named for Hazami’s wife, available with Mango Habanero or Buffalo Hot Sauce.
For regulars, the restaurant has a “secret menu” of subs that are available by request. The menu also features limited-time subs, like the LA Street Dog Cheesesteak, a $12 sub that will be served only on Sunday, December 30, 2018, as a nod to National Bacon Day. The sub includes a bacon-wrapped hot dog, steak and topped off with melted Cheese Wiz.
Hizami’s inventive sub creations and careful sourcing of ingredients have earned Figueroa Phillys the distinction of Best Cheesesteak in LA by CBS, an honor which Hizami says is made possible due to simple economics and real estate values. He says as the owner of the premier real estate where the shop sits, which has been in his family for 40 years, he does not have the overhead of a lease, which enables him to spend more where it matters to his customers.
“I can buy the finest ingredients, which my competitors can’t do,” he says. “Our quality is what sets us apart.”
No matter what you order, if “Danny” — as he’s known to regulars — is behind the counter, it will be served with a broad smile. Its clear to see by his charismatic personality, exuded as he greets customers by name, patting them on the back, thanking them for their patronage, and cracking jokes like you’d expect from a former comedian — that he loves his work. By the faces of those enjoying their food, his clients love him too — or at least they love their Philly cheesesteak. Ba-dum-ch.