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The mere fact that you're reading this story means that you know Philly cheesesteaks are absolutely delicious. You probably live outside of Philadelphia and are wondering what you can do to optimally satisfy the hankering you’ve been having for a sub sandwich topped with freshly grilled steak, sautéed onions and peppers, and either provolone or cheese whiz.
Click here for the Best Cheesesteaks Outside of Philly
The origin of the Philly cheesesteak dates back to 1930; Pat Olivieri, a hot dog vendor in South Philadelphia who had undoubtedly grown tired of eating his own hot dogs, threw some freshly butchered beef on his grill. A taxi driver smelled what Olivieri was cooking and asked for a steak sandwich instead of a hot dog.
According to the narrative, Olivieri’s hot dog spot was flooded with taxi drivers who had heard of the delicious creation and wanted to try it for themselves. Olivieri soon opened up Pat’s King of Steaks at 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue, eventually adding cheese to his sandwiches.
In 1966, Geno’s opened up across the street. Both establishments are open 24 hours a day and are in constant competition for the title of best cheesesteak in town. In fact, Geno’s founder, Joe Vento, claims that he, not Olivieri, was the first to add cheese to the steak sandwich.
But what do you do if you live outside Philadelphia and have a craving for the delicious sandwich? You could make one yourself, but who has that kind of time nowadays? And couldn’t restaurants do a better job of replicating the exact ingredients?
Luckily, The Daily Meal has searched far and wide to bring you 15 such establishments. From New York City to Los Angeles, we’ve got you covered. Many of these spots, like Joey’s in Detroit or the Cheese Steak shop in San Francisco, have fresh Amoroso’s bread and desserts from Tastykakes shipped in directly from Philly.
So much to eat, so little time...
What Is the Best Meat for Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches?
Have your attempts to make a perfect Philly cheesesteak sandwich at home ended in failure? If the answer is yes, you could be using the wrong steak.
Not all meat is created equal. Some cuts are better than others for achieving the ultimate cheesesteak texture. The steak is the most important part of the sandwich, so choosing the right kind is essential for recipe success.
Not sure what to buy? Keep reading to learn about the best meat for Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.
Best Cheesesteaks Outside Of Philly
The mere fact that you're reading this story means that you know Philly cheesesteaks are absolutely delicious. You probably live outside of Philadelphia and are wondering what you can do to optimally satisfy the hankering you've been having for a sub sandwich topped with freshly grilled steak, sautéed onions and peppers, and either provolone or cheese whiz (Photo Credit: © Facebook/Carl's Steaks).
The origin of the Philly cheesesteak dates back to 1930 Pat Olivieri, a hot dog vendor in South Philadelphia who had undoubtedly grown tired of eating his own hot dogs, threw some freshly butchered beef on his grill. A taxi driver smelled what Olivieri was cooking and asked for a steak sandwich instead of a hot dog.
According to the narrative, Olivieri's hot dog spot was flooded with taxi drivers who had heard of the delicious creation and wanted to try it for themselves. Olivieri soon opened up Pat's King of Steaks at 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue, eventually adding cheese to his sandwiches.
In 1966, Geno's opened up across the street. Both establishments are open 24 hours a day and are in constant competition for the title of best cheesesteak in town. In fact, Geno's founder, Joe Vento, claims that he, not Olivieri, was the first to add cheese to the steak sandwich.
But what do you do if you live outside Philadelphia and have a craving for the delicious sandwich? You could make one yourself, but who has that kind of time nowadays? And couldn't restaurants do a better job of replicating the exact ingredients?
Luckily, The Daily Meal has searched far and wide to bring you 15 such establishments. From New York City to Los Angeles, we've got you covered. Many of these spots, like Joey's in Detroit or the Cheese Steak shop in San Francisco, have fresh Amoroso's bread and desserts from Tastykakes shipped in directly from Philly.
I Ate at 16 of the Best Philly Cheesesteak Spots in 12 Hours
I had major hesitations about doing this. Not because eating steak and cheese sandwiches for 12 straight hours would probably shave a few months off my lifespan. Not because I didn’t believe in my stamina or my qualification. I was worried because you don’t just walk into Philly, make a declarative statement, and expect it to go over smoothly.
This is the city where passion is found between every crack in the sidewalk. Where no issue is a small issue, where yelling is recreation. Philly is the city where that hitchhiking robot, which counted on the collective humanity of strangers to reach destination after destination, was beheaded a few years ago. And I love it.
This is pretty much what I looked like all day.
I was born in Philly, and I’ve eaten more cheesesteaks than I can count. At Eagles tailgates. After concerts at the Troc. On Saturday nights and Wednesday mornings. On friends’ couches in Fishtown and on my grandmom’s stoop in South Philly. The conversation that accompanies the sandwich always ends along the same lines. “This is the best cheesesteak.” “What the hell are you talking about? Absolutely not.” “Fine, then what’s your favorite?”
I’ve had that argument many times, and I’ve changed my answer many times. But it hit the point where I needed an actual answer. So we packed our bags to spend 12 straight hours in search of a champion.
The Original Philly cheesesteak at Pat's.
What was I looking for? It starts with the steak. The Philly cheesesteak is made with sliced ribeye, and it can be prepared in three distinct ways. The steak can be chopped finely, pulled or chopped into loosely-separated ribbons, or left in fully-intact large pieces. For me, the best cheesesteaks have ribbons of steak. The fine chop generally gets too dry, and the full-sized slices don’t let the cheese permeate every nook and cranny of the sandwich. Ribbons preserve the juices, allow for slight crisping, and let the Cheese Whiz and onions hang out in one beautiful mess.
That’s right, Cheese Whiz and onions. Those who prescribe to a certain mentality would order that by saying “Whiz wit,” but honestly, it doesn’t matter what combination of words you use to relay the message. I will always order fried onions (not breaded, but flash-fried on the griddle) on my steak. Sure, white American cheese is tasty. Provolone is acceptable. But Whiz is seldom seen outside of Philly, making it impossible to pass up. That was my cheese of choice for this noble pursuit.
And that all lives in an Italian roll. Whether your allegiance lies with Liscio’s, Aversa’s, Carangi, or Amoroso’s, a good cheesesteak roll will be slightly crackly (more like a plastic grocery bag than a baguette) on the outside and pillow-y soft on the inside. Everything has to work together to create the perfect sandwich. The ratios, the integration, the attitude. There has to be textural variety, saltiness, sweetness, and fat throughout. The first, sixth, and thirteenth bites should all be equally enjoyable.
My favorite of the day at Tony Luke's
South Philly's Tony Luke’s served the best cheesesteak I had all day. Every single bite was full of steak, cheese, and onions. The seasoning was strong and the steak was treated right, seared quick on the hot griddle. The grease was there, but not overwhelming, combining with the Whiz and slyly dripping out of the roll from time to time. The roll was slightly crackly on the outside and soft on the inside, soaking up grease and cheese. And the steak, onions, and cheese became one. It was everything that a cheesesteak should be, with zero pretension or prejudice.
Yes, Tony Luke’s has multiple locations. You can get one at a Phillies game or over the bridge in South Jersey. It’s a chain. But who said that all chains are bad? Sometimes the Goliaths are Goliaths for a reason. The steak I ate under an overpass on Oregon Avenue was the best of the day. Nothing like the congealed, soggy, mistreated monstrosities I’ve encountered in Philly’s less frequented establishments. Not even close.
- 2 hoagie rolls, multi-grain if available, sliced lengthwise (keep them intact𠅍o not slice all the way through)
- 1 (9-ounce) package Philly-Gourmet Steaks for Sandwiches (1 package is enough for two sandwiches)
- 1/2 sweet onion, sliced (Vidalia is preferred when in season)
- 1 tablespoon butter (to fry onions)
- 3 to 4 ounces mushrooms, baby portabella, sliced and quartered or halved
- 4 to 5 slices American cheese, deli-sliced (don&apost buy the packaged stuff)
- 6 slices provolone cheese, deli-sliced
- salt and pepper to taste (sea salt and freshly ground pepper is best)
Aside from being buried alive, being suddenly struck blind, or losing a limb in a freak gardening accident, we can all agree that one of the worst things that can happen in life is that moment when you close your eyes to bite into a cheesesteak, only to pull out a big, tough slab of meat, its tail-end slapping onto your chin and scalding your face with a million degrees of molten, liquefied cheese.
It's the mark of a carelessly-made cheesesteak, and quite simply, it never happens in Philadelphia. Philly cheesesteak maestros know what an important role meat prep plays in the finished product, chilling huge slabs of flavorful and richly-marbled ribeye before slicing the meat paper-thin against the grain, so that your teeth shear neatly through each bite. Lesser cheesesteaks in other parts of the country are often made with cheap, flavorless shaved frozen meat, or big chunks of sirloin, and it's just not the same.
1—Sauté Bell Peppers and Onions
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high. Add onions and bell peppers and season generously with salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring often at first then only occasionally as vegetables soften, adjusting heat as needed and adding a splash or so of water if vegetables are browning too quickly, until golden brown and very tender, 25–30 minutes. Remove pot from heat, add vinegar, and give everything a good stir. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
Do ahead: Vegetables can be cooked 3 days ahead. Let cool, then cover and chill. Reheat before assembling sandwiches.
Here's a little guide to slicing your boneless beef short ribs.
10 Recipes Inspired by the Philly Cheesesteak
Header image: Easy Philly Cheesesteaks from CHOW
Outside of Ben Franklin and the Liberty Bell, the Philly Cheesesteak is probably the most iconic thing that people associate with the city of Brotherly Love. And while the cheesesteak might be Philly’s most popular sandwich, it’s not without imitators. So were here to show you how to make a proper steak – just like you’d get in South Philly – as well as some variations that are … nontraditional.
1. The Basic, Authentic Philly Cheesesteak
When it comes to a Philly cheesesteak, there are only four ingredients you need to worry about – thinly sliced rib eye cheese (either American, sharp or mild provolone, Whiz), fried onions (if you like them) on an Italian roll. Follow our guide and you’ll be making a steak just like one you’d find on the streets of Philadelphia. Get our Basic Philly Cheesesteak recipe.
2. Belcampo’s Philly Cheesesteak
Sort of a traditional cheesesteak, just with a few tweaks. Belcampo’s version swaps the Italian roll with a French and adds in sautéed red and green peppers. Topped with a homemade whiz, this sandwich is a tasty sister sandwich to the Philly classic. Get our Belcampo’s Philly Cheesesteak recipe.
3. Philly Cheesesteak Potato Skins
Let’s just get this out of the way – potato skins are in fact not a sandwich (duh). And now that we have that covered, our cheesesteak potato skins take everything that’s good about the cheesesteak and puts it in bite-size form. Get our Philly Cheesesteak Potato Skins recipe.
4. Steak-Joint Chicago Cheesesteaks
This creative take, from the Food Network’s Jeff Mauro, uses three kinds of cheese – provolone, ricotta and cheddar – and finishes the sandwich with a heavy scoop of giardiniera, a pickled Italian relish. Get the recipe here.
5. Bulgogi Philly Cheesesteak
Spicy beef bulgogi is the star of this Korean inspired Philly steak from Hapa nom nom. The marinade includes garlic, onions, soy sauce, sesame oil and gochujang (Korean red pepper paste). Get the recipe here.
6. Buffalo Chicken Cheesesteak
For a super simple weeknight meal, try this spicy take on the Philly steak. It’s not super authentic but who doesn’t love cheese, buffalo sauce, chicken and fried onions on a hoagie roll. Get the recipe here.
7. New York Style Asiago Cheesesteak
This New York spin from Food52 ups the flavor with the addition of marinated steak – using wine, tarragon and garlic – a zesty sauce and asiago cheese slices. Get the recipe here.
8. The Philly Reuben Sandwich
While a vegetarian Philly cheese-seitan / Reuben mash-up sounds like something out of the kitchen of Chopped, we think you’ll like this recipe from Keep It Kind. It’s good enough to make you forget about steak – for one meal at least. Get the recipe here.
9. Screaming Eagle Cheesesteak Sub
Adapted from the original Screaming Eagle, a Boston College dining hall staple, this take on the Philly cheesesteak is something any ‘Birds fan could get behind. It’s got fried onions, peppers, mushrooms and sharp cheddar. Plus the name.. E A G L E S EAGLES! Get the recipe here.
10. Philly Cheesesteak Pierogi
The criminally underrated pierogi get’s a Philly makeover with a cheesesteak stuffed version from the kitchen of Serious Eats. Perfect for the upcoming football/tailgating season. Get the recipe here.
Options and then some
Want to dress up your sandwich while eating in? We got it, and it’s for free. A long chain of various peppers on the counter, from mild to scorching peppers that you can add to your cheesesteak, is always present. When you bite into our steak after you’ve customized it, you’ll know the difference.
You say you’re not a beef lover – no problem. Try the chicken steak. The same idea as beef steaks, but made with white meat – it’s just as fresh and tasty.
One of Dalessandro’s other unique characteristics is that you can order gourmet sodas, domestic and imported beers. Your options might overwhelm you, though. You have more than 20+ choices of bottled beer.
Have we mentioned our hoagies? They’re on the sign outside the shop and on our menu for the same reason as our famous steaks. We have more than 10 hoagies and 7 burgers, depending on your mood, and we recommend them as well. But if you’ve never had our cheesesteak, that should be your first choice.
Because cravings should not be ignored
Alma Del Mar
When Queer Eye came to Philly for its fifth season, one of the highlights for us was that we got a great Mexican restaurant in Alma Del Mar. Months later, the colorful patio furniture is out and the white table umbrellas have opened. You can find some memorable seafood dishes at this newcomer including the greens and seafood salad, the salmon burger, and fish and grits. One of the best dishes, though, is the lobster benedict. Covered in an Old Bay hollandaise sauce, one bite will make you thankful for exploring life outside your bed’s blankets for a few hours.
Bud & Marilyn's
There are so many brunch options at Bud & Marylin’s that the menu might give you the same indecision you feel when your ex calls. Do I “hold and answer” or just “send to voicemail”? When you’re here you need to try the amazing brisket hash. The dish stacks braised brisket over sautéed greens, snap peas, and country potatoes, all with an egg on top and served in a skillet. The brunch menu also includes some of the familiar quirkiness this place is known for. Case and point, the “Fauci Face Palm Painkiller” pouch cocktail, which comes with a distressed Dr. Fauci sticker for you to enjoy on their covered picnic tables.
Café La Maude
Normally furnished with European-style sidewalk tables, this Lebanese-French cafe is set up for brunch in the streets. With wicker chairs and big red umbrellas at every table, Cafe La Maude continues to serve one of the best brunches in Philly. For a spicy start to your day, look no further than the green shakshuka. The dish is topped with a tangy carrot tahini sauce over sweet potatoes, fried cauliflower, green fava beans, kale, and spinach.
This popular BYO’s sidewalk setup includes long wooden tables, massive black and white umbrellas, and some wide green street turf that kind of reminds us of Lincoln Financial Field. In an ultimate go-sweet-or-go-home move, try their cannoli French toast. The challah is soaked in a cinnamon vanilla custard before it’s baked, and the ricotta cannoli filling is so generous that you’ll have heaps of it on every bite. Also, they’re open for brunch seven days a week from 8am-2pm.
Café y Chocolate
Few things are more satisfying in life than Café y Chocolate’s “Huevos Motuleños Especiales.” The dish swims in spicy salsa verde with refried black beans and is topped with a poached egg mixed with ham and mozzarella cheese, roasted poblano rojas, caramelized onions, and tomatoes. This neighborhood Mexican cafe and coffee shop doesn’t have the largest sidewalk setup - outlining the mural-wrapped building are small square tables and folding chairs. But from your seat, you’ll have views of the bright and striking floral art that’s all over the restaurant’s exterior.