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MEET THE CHEF: Frank Santos, Frankie’s Philadelphia Cheesesteaks

Santos serves up cheesesteaks, hoagies and fries at his new location.

Santos serves up cheesesteaks, hoagies and fries at his new location.

Address and phone: 2574 N. Campbell Ave., 795-2665

Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays

Frank Santos is chef and co-owner of Frankie’s Philadelphia Cheesesteaks.

Born and raised in South Philly, Santos moved to Tucson upon his retirement from the Delaware River Pilots Association after 31 years. The 53-year-old Santos learned cooking from his father, who cooked on ships, tugboats and for the Delaware River Pilots. Like most Philadelphians, Santos started making cheesesteaks when he was young, about 7 years old. He opened Daglio Cheesesteaks here with a partner in July 2004. Santos moved the business across the street and a few blocks south (in the former Le Bistro) and opened in April.

He recently spoke to Taste Plus.

Question: What’s your favorite restaurant in Tucson?

Answer: I’ll give you three. Fiorito’s, because they have consistently good Italian food, Acacia, because Albert Hall has the freshest fish of any restaurant in Tucson and everything is so well-prepared, and Rio Café, a new place, because I just really like their food.

What’s your favorite dish to prepare and why?

It’s got to be the cheesesteak and our Philadelphia Roast Pork.

What’s your favorite dish to eat?

The Cioppino at Acacia. That’s my favorite thing to eat. It’s just excellent.

What’s unique about the Tucson restaurant scene compared to other cities?

When I first moved here, I noticed that a lot of the food had a spiciness that I wasn’t crazy about. As time went on, it got more and more used to it, and now, I really like it.

What’s your favorite or most-used kitchen utensil or gadget?

I’d say metal spatulas. We use two of them to cut the steaks on the grill, a long one and a short one.

What do you always have in your refrigerator?

Unsalted butter. I use it for everything. I think a lot of restaurants use unsalted butter also, because if you make things like a stock that already have salt in them, you don’t want to add more salt in the butter. We cook our own fresh roasted turkey here, and we always use unsalted butter for that reason.

Why are you a chef?

First of all, I’m not a chef. I’m a South Philly cheesesteak maker, but I love cooking and I really love cheesesteaks and hoagies. I dreamt about doing this 15 years ago when I first started coming to Tucson, and now, I’m living my dream. I never dreamed I’d be working this hard, but I’m still living the dream and enjoying it.


Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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