Ask any Philly native where to find the best cheesesteak in town, and you’re likely to get a passionate response on who serves up the best beef and cheese sandwich. Ask the next guy, and you’ll get an equally passionate answer – for another joint.
Philly cheesesteaks are one of Philadelphia’s most legendary draws. The cheesesteak is said to have started in 1930, when local hot dog vendor Pat Olivieri decided to grill up some sliced beef on his cart for a sandwich. A local taxicab driver spotted the sandwich and asked for one, and history was made.
Dozens of local joints serve up their spins on the Philly cheesesteak, and the matter of the best sandwiches in town is so hotly contested that one website, Philly Steakout, even collected a year’s worth of Foursquare check-ins (with Yelp ratings, to boot) to determine which sandwich spots are most popular with locals and tourists.
Here are five spots to get you started on your cheesesteak quest.
This, of course, is where it all started. The Olivieri family still owns Pat’s King of Steaks, a 24-hour street-side shop where hungry sandwich-seekers line up for the original Philly cheesesteak. Go for the classic “whiz wit” (that’s a cheesesteak with Cheese Whiz and onions, for you out-of-towners) for a deliciously greasy and cheesy – not to mention authentic – cheesesteak experience.
It’s no coincidence that rival Geno’s Steaks sits across the street from Pat’s. The cheesesteak war on the corner of 9th and Passyunk Avenue is a fierce one, with Geno’s ace in the hole being that they were the first to start putting Cheese Whiz on their sandwiches. Go for the “whiz wit” here, too, and judge the winner for yourself.
The cheesesteaks served on seeded rolls at John’s Roast Pork have earned a James Beard Foundation Award for Culinary Classics. The winner here? The “provolone wit,” though it’s highly recommended you try the namesake roast pork sandwich, too.
Make sure you know how to order before you get to the window, because the staff members at this legendary Philly cheesesteak joint aren’t known for their hospitality. It’s well-worth it, though, for one of the best cheesesteaks in South Philly.
According to the Greater Philadelphia Visitor’s Site, the secret to Dalessandro’s tasty cheesesteaks is the fat the cooks grease their grills with. The steak here is finely chopped to mincemeat perfection, then mixed with your choice of cheese (provolone is highly recommended).
Where’s your favorite spot to grab a Philly cheesesteak?
(Main image: Kim Scarborough used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license)