The Five Best Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia
Philadelphia is, of course, the birthplace of the Philly Cheesesteak. But too often, the debate over the best cheesesteak is identical to the debate of which came first- Pat's or Geno's.
Few things are comparable to visit to 9th and Passayunk for a cheesesteak at Pat's, Geno's or, if you're feeling particularly hungry, both one after the other. This goes especially for late on a weekend night or before or after a big sporting event over at the nearby Sports Complex.
But while Pat's and Geno's may have been first, I wouldn't say they're the best. Cheesesteaks are available all throughout the Philadelphia region, and you can always get a better-than-decent cheesesteak from your usual neighborhood pizza place or bar. But when it comes to Philly's most famous sandwich, these ones are the best ones you can find- whether you're ordering wit' or not.
The author's son tries his first Philly Cheesesteak, at Joe's Steak and Soda Shop (Stephen Silver)
The Five Best Cheesesteaks in Philadelphia:
1. Tony Luke's (39 E. Oregon Ave.)
Another South Philly institution, Oregon Avenue's Tony Luke's was founded in 1990 by the chef of the same name, a reality TV perennial. Tony Luke's has begun to franchise all over the Philadelphia area and frozen versions are available at local Acme supermarkets.
2. John's Roast Pork (14 Snyder Ave.)
While it's named after a completely different sandwich, John's Roast Pork (opened in 1930) offers a famous cheesesteak which may be the city's largest. Coming on a seeded roll, the "Ultimate Cheesesteak" must be eaten to be believed.
3. Joe's Steak and Soda Shop (6030 Torresdale Avenue)
In a very only-in-Philadelphia story, this shop, located in a residential neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia, was known until a few years ago by another name, considered by many a racial slur; Chink's Steak's became Joe's in 2013 after years of controversy, and a second location opened last year in the city's Fishtown neighborhood.
4. Campo's Deli (214 Market Street)
This Old City institution, on Market Street, offers a great deal of food options but it's best known for its cheesesteak. Founded in 157 and under its current management since 1957, Campo's prides itself on customer satisfaction. In addition to the Old City shop there are locations in three local sports venues, including Citizen's Bank Park and the Wells Fargo Center.
5. Jim's Steaks (400 South Street)
The South Street destination is almost as famous for its art deco ambiance as for its food. But it's a top-notch sandwich, especially late at night. Jim's Steaks has a heritage that goes all the way back to 1939 (locations in Northeast Philadelphia and suburban Springfield, Delaware County as well.)
One more note on cheesesteaks:
The further away you are from Philadelphia, the less likely you are to find a good cheesesteak. You can find a good one in New York or Baltimore, but probably not on the West Coast. And if the menu doesn't call the sandwich by its proper name ("Philly Steak and Cheese," "Philly sandwich," "Cheese steak,") do not order it.
Stephen Silver is a journalist who has lived in Philadelphia for 11 years. A father of two, his work has appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, New York Press, SB Nation, The Daily Banter, CSNPhilly.com, the Good Men Project, Chatterblast's The Lightning Strike, Splice Today, Screenrant.com and the Philadelphia area's Patch websites. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.