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Born in the 1930s via the imagination of a hotdog vendor with some extra meat from the butcher on his hands, the Philly Cheesesteak is a city icon that has spread throughout the nation. But if you want the real experience, from authentic cooking methods to the pleasantly gritty feel of a long-standing eatery, go to Philadelphia. Sliced, juicy ribeye, fried onions and an assortment of cheese from American, provolone, to even Cheez Whiz (people love the stuff), all smother a long hoagie roll to create a traditional cheesesteak that is considered a must when visiting Philadelphia. Some places top their variations with peppers, mushrooms and sauces. While we could have a list that stretches for miles, these are our picks for the best places to get a Philly cheesesteak…in Philly.
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Jay’s Joint features a well thought out menu that color coordinates spicy and gluten-free options along with items served in their signature, pretzel roll which gives each sandwich that extra “incredible” factor. Along with a wide selection of cheesesteaks, folks can enjoy turkey breast, roast beef and chicken atop outstanding bread selections, including a gluten-free pretzel roll. Relish in homemade local beer sauces, creative appetizers that still fit the theme, and cream cheese-based sandwiches. Jay’s joint is heavily involved with giving back to the community, making the visit even sweeter.
Jim’s Steaks originated in 1939 and has continued to blossom via more locations and an ever-growing fan base. The original location remains a favorite, thanks to nostalgia and a solid formula for creating the classic. A savory balance of easy to eat pieces of tender meat, onions and cheese come full circle when piled on darn good bread.
This isn’t the first time Sonny’s Famous Steaks has made a “best cheesesteaks” list, and it’s highly probable it won’t be the last. Using authentic methods, Sonny’s tips their rolls with the mouthwatering ribeye. But fear not vegans, the menu offers something for everyone.
Dalessandros carries through the tried and true ingredients that make a cheesesteak, a real Philly cheesesteak. Customers marvel over the soft, flavorful meat that is delicately seasoned. The counter-serve joint cranks out countless sammies on a daily business, as there’s a loyal local following along with an abundance of travelers who’ve heard through the grapevine.
Joe’s Steaks and Soda Shop completes a great authentic food experience by offering a variety of specialty sodas, from birch beer to chocolate. Prepare for some serious indulgence (that’s totally worth it), courtesy of an abundance of hearty sandwiches to choose from, fries with cheese sauce and some of the creamiest milkshakes to ever touch your lips.
Steve’s Prince of Steaks is yet another gloriously simple counter-serve joint that continues to prove it doesn’t have to be fancy to be legendary. Here the meat is thinly sliced into bigger pieces, giving a satisfying texture. Customers note there’s a bit more of a kick to this version as well. The burgers are worth a try as well. Steve’s is a cash-only restaurant.
Jimmy G’s Steaks hits the mark on many things—the meat is moist and rich, the prices are reasonable and the French fries are likely some of the best you’ll find at a cheesesteak establishment in Philadelphia. With that heavenly outer crunch and soft, steamy, carby center, the tasty potato wedges are thicker cut than most, which really rounds out the meal.
We are at a time when almost any classic food can be found in an artisan form. In Philly, there’s Cleavers, a polished version of the typical steak stops. Of course, everything is given an edge, from the USDA rib eye to the aromatic fresh-baked buns. And what would a modernized restaurant be without a vegan option? Enter their portobello veggie cheese “steak”! From spiked shakes to local beer, the twists are subtle and on point.
Chubby’s Steaks, located on Henry Avenue, doesn’t mess around—they deliver straight forward food for the hungry man or woman, and they do it right. Enjoy their classic cheesesteak, dreamy cheese fries and a frothy brew—a combination worthy of royalty. The roasted pork is a solid pick as well if looking to change it up.
Ishkabibbles may not have that dense, oily feel to it like other popular options, but a strong customer base can’t get enough of these “lighter” “airier” classic cheesesteaks. At lunch, the space fills quickly with hungry patrons eager to down one of these sublimely simplistic capsules of goodness. Service is stellar, so lines move fast. Don’t forget to try the famed Gremlin drink, which is a mix of grape and lemonade.
Touted as being not too tourist-heavy (our apologies in advance), George’s Sandwich Shop is just too delectable not to list. Along with a perfected accumulation of Italian favorites, the joint whips up a mean Philly steak with enhancing accouterments like sweet pepper and onions. Venture out and try the buffalo chicken steak.
Chops Cheesesteaks strives to improve every ingredient within their awesome sandwiches, to maximize flavor and lovability. They’ve succeeded. From the meat to the bread, they are nothing short of drool-worthy. It’s a bit of a fresher take.