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philly cheesesteaks

  • v

I'm a Philadelphian born and bred. Living in CA
since 1969. Taking family back for Wedding.
But I am turning it into a Pilgrimage. We are looking for the ultimate in 4 categories:

1. Cheesesteak. (Old Favorites are Mama's in
Bala Cynwyd, Larry's in Overbrook, Delassandro's
in NE)

2. Hot Soft Pretzels. (Vendors near U of P were the memory---Someone on this site suggested Reading Market)

3. Hot Dogs (Levis' from the sixties)

4. Italian Water Ice (Neighborhood window in Overbrook, not sure if it ever had a name)

Thanks

Victor

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  1. I'm not all that much an Italian Ice fan, but in the other categories:

    Cheesesteak: Dalesandros, which you mentioned and a new place which I like despite the fact they just got a Best of Philly, Sonny's on the 200 block of Market. Sonny's slices the rib eye for their steak fresh each morning.

    Pretzels: Fisher's Pretzels in Reading Terminal Market. There is no second place. Third place, maybe, the pretzel store on Sansom, just below 16th.

    Hot Dogs: My favorite is a hot dog truck on Passyunk, between 23 & 24th. Odds are, they'll be the juiciest, plumpest dogs you've ever had. For Texas Wieners, Texas Wieners on Snyder between Broad and 15th. Levis's is, unfortunately, no longer around.

    Holly Moore
    HollyEats.Com

    Link: http://www.HollyEats.Com

    7 Replies
    1. re: Holly Moore
      v
      victor lieberman

      Dear Holly,

      Thanks so much for the quick reply.
      Sonny's is a new one and we will be right
      downtown for a family wedding.

      The other guy didn't know the name of Fisher's
      just the Pretzel place in the Reading Terminal,
      so that helps too.

      Have you eaten the apparently famous pork sandwhich at Tony Luke's that some of the hounds are into?

      V

      1. re: victor lieberman

        Tony Luke's makes a great pork sandwich. Almost as good as DiNic's in Reading Terminal Market. DiNic's makes the best pork sandwich in Philadelphia. Order it with greens and aged provolone.

        Tony Luke's is a lot of fun - you will do great with anything on their menu, including their pork sandwich.

        I'm of the opinion that the Pork Sandwich is as classic a Philadelphia tradition as the Cheese Steak.

        Holly Moore
        HollyEats.Com

        Link: http://www.HollyEats.Com

        1. re: Holly Moore

          I may be alone in this but my favorite cheesesteak is Ishkabibble's on South St.

          And Tony Luke's roast pork with sharp provie is freakin awesome.

          1. re: sc
            p
            Peter Denitz

            Let me add a pork sandwich vote, and an emphatic one at that, for the Standard Tap in Northern Liberties. It's one great item among many at this gem.

            1. re: sc
              v
              victor lieberman

              Do they play Kay Kaiser records at
              Ishkibbible's

              v

              1. re: sc

                goodness - my catch word for everything! Ishkabibbles! Will have to go there - Does anyone know the exact address? and how far it is from Hahneman (SP?) Hospital???

          2. re: Holly Moore

            I'll be in Philly next weekend and have read the reviews/ opinions on the best chesse steaks. I'd like to know which place has the best sliced cheesesteaks on the BEST bread/roll.

          3. The best soft pretzels are at the pretzel stand in the Horsham Village Mall in Montgomery County at Blair Mill and Morland Roads. They have been there for about thirty years and every one around the area knows that these are the best. Their hot dogs are excellent as well.

            9 Replies
            1. re: steve
              v
              victor lieberman

              thanks for tip. I believe there are a lot of "finds"
              outside of downtown.
              v

              1. re: victor lieberman

                Downtown? This ain't New York. No downtown in Philadelphia.

                The correct term is Center City - approximately a 26 block by 8 block area that makes Philadelphia one of the most walkable cities in the country.

                Holly Moore
                HollyEats.Com

                Link: http://www.HollyEats.Com

                1. re: Holly Moore
                  v
                  victor lieberman

                  hey I'm an ex-local.
                  easy,
                  its only been 1969 since i was there.

                  v

                  1. re: Holly Moore

                    downtown and center city mean basically the same thing here.
                    (and have since i was a kid, living at 5th and spruce).

                    otoh, there is no 'uptown' here.

                    (ooops... just looked and saw how old this thread is! there must be some new stuff down lower).

                    1. re: Holly Moore

                      no one from the city actually calls "Center City" Center City. It's usually those who aren't from Philly originally or who are from outside (e.g. the suburbs, NJ). The correct term is downtown.

                      1. re: hotteacher1976

                        That's interesting because I've had the exact opposite experience. Whenever I've had friends come to town they always ask me about spots "downtown" which always sounds weird to me. And "Center city" is used by local newscasters here exclusively while national newscasters might say "downtown" Philadelphia. Guys who work construction when they have work in Center city will say "I was down the city today" or "I was down Center city today". I've never heard one say I was downtown today.

                        1. re: Chinon00

                          When I moved to Tampa in 83 I asked how to get to 'Center City'...
                          I remember them looking at me like I was an Eskimo or something...

                        2. re: hotteacher1976

                          i agree wth Chinon00...my wife is from North Eastern PA, and she always calls it downtown, which is a term i never used for center city...center city confuses her, an out-of-towner...i grew up in Overbrook and most of my family is from northeast philly....center city sips is a happy hour group in center city...its a play on what philadelphians call center city.

                  2. For me it will always be a toss-up between PAT'S and GENO'S both at 9th and PAssyunk, near the Italian Market, for the best rendition of the Philly cheesesteak, but I have heard many a good thing about SONNY'S already.

                    Fisher's at the Reading Terminal, hands down, for the pretzels. The vendor of my college days at Penn, parked at 36th and Locust Walk, was the best breakfast on campus.

                    Tony Luke's is a respectable roast pork sandwich, but I would also send you to DINIC'S at the Reading Terminal Market for a very good one, or to ROCCO'S, at The Downstairs at the Bellevue Food Court, Broad and Walnut, for a very very good roast pork sandwich.

                    Planning any other pilgramages?

                    Good luck!

                    1. I live in Virginia but often make the trek to Philadelphia. While there, I make a number of pit stops for cheesesteaks. One of my favorite places for cheesesteaks is Steve's, located on Bustleton a couple of blocks south of Cottman in Northeast Philadelphia. The meat is cooked to order, the fries are terrific, and the place has indoor seating (of a sort) so as to protect the diner from the elements and the finish of his car from food stains. I also like Rick's in the Reading Market; their cheesteak is of superior quality, I think. I tried Sonny's on my last trip. I thought it was good but not great. It may be that the hype surrounding the place had unreasonably heightened my expectations. My wife (normally a vegetarian but willing to backslide for a REALLY GOOD REASON), finds Dallessandro's on Wendover to be the best. For me, I prefer sliced to what I call crumbled meat; thus, I eat along with her but not with the same enthusiasm. Interestingly, there is a steak place on Main Street in Lexington, Virginia of all places called City Subs and Steaks which serves a steak that is very similar to Dallessandro's. John, the owner, used to work at steak joints in Philly and South Jersey so he presents the real deal. Finally, I know that Pat's and Gino's are considered passe by the in-crowd but I find their steaks delicious and the atmosphere super-Phillyesque. One of my trips always includes a stop at 8th & Passyunk. Now, all of that said, I'm always ready to pioneer new places. Any suggestions?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Dave Nelson

                        Many consider Jim's Steaks, at 4th & South Sts., to be better than Pat's or Geno's, which are really more about atmosphere, to tell the truth. And South St. is quite a scene, as you'll see--a poor man's Greenwich Village. (Parking's tough, though.) For true connoisseurs (are they permitted on this site?), the original Jim's at 62nd & Noble, below Girard, is the place--but beware the neighborhood. Good luck.

                        1. re: Dave Nelson
                          v
                          victor lieberman

                          I will let you know next week after our
                          pilgrimage.

                          tell your wife that my memory is that Dallesandros
                          is the best. I am the crumbled meat guy myself.

                          Which is interesting that in all the Pat's/Jim's/Geno's controversy, crubled vs sliced
                          has not been mentioned.

                          The place that intrigues me as a newcomber is
                          Tony Luke's.

                          v

                        2. I'm in South Philly now, transplanted from Overbrook. It had hung on for a long time but finally succumbed to the urban decay and crime of Section 8 Housing about 8 to 10 years ago. Parts of South Philly are still the way it was forty and fifty years ago.

                          1. Cheeseteak--George's on 9th Street just off Christian in the Italian Market (Or Ninth "Shtreet"1 as the locals call it). The best cheestesteak served to you by surly-but-friendly guy named Mark with a beard and ponytail.You pick your bottle of soda out of the vintage Coca-Cola cooler and sit at the counter where Mark serves you your steak on waxpaper. The menu on the wall lists the sausage sandwiches as Mild, Hot or Burn My Ass! I sign reads "Don't divorce your wife because she can't cook. Eat here and keep her as a pet."

                          2. The two boys who push a shopping cart around the East Passyunk Avenue area every morning yelling "Freshhh Pretzelssss!"

                          3. Texas Weiner on the 1400 block of Snyder west of Broad. Pictures of Frank Sinatra (South Philly's carpetbagger demigod) hang everywhere on the wall).

                          4. There was a walk-up window on Callowhill between 65th and 66th, called Marks' (or something)next to the West Philadelphia Soccer Club but that's closed. City Water Ice near 70th on Haverford closed last year, A Korean-owned walk-up at 65th and Haverford called Polar Bear is still in business. The best water ice
                          has to be John's at 7th and Christian in the Bella Vista section of South Philly near Mario Lanza's birthplace. They have been in business since 1925 and make the water ice on site. But South Philly is littered with good water ice. Honorable mention goes to Willie's at 9th and Christian and the chain Rita's that has a branch on South Street makes a pretty good water ice.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Jay
                            v
                            victor lieberman

                            thanks so much.
                            we will hit most of your spots.
                            Do you know of Tony Luke's?

                            v

                            1. re: victor lieberman

                              Tony Luke's at Front and Oregon makes an excellent cheesesteak and pork sandwich. Not as good as George's
                              but it is open 24/7. The best of the perpetually open places.

                              1. re: Jay

                                You need go no further then John's for both the best Roast Pork AND the best Cheese steak. Bring a friend, and split one of each. It is VERY hard to eat one of each, even if you are hungry. A fresh scooped Carangi bakery roll is hard to beat, and their seasoned meat is even harder.

                              2. re: victor lieberman

                                John's Roast Pork has the best steaks and pork sands in the city right around the the corner from Tony Luke's.

                            2. d
                              Deborah Pastor

                              I grew up in Merion, next to Mama's and IMHO it has gone downhill for cheese steaks. The last two I had there (a couple of years ago) were each so bad that after the second one I decided never to go again. I hear their pizza is still good. Larry's in Overbrook is good and Lee's Hoagies has good cheesesteaks - its on Lancaster in Wynnewood.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Deborah Pastor

                                lee's ain't there anymore...its been a couple years...they had decent sandwiches

                                1. re: EastCoastWineMan

                                  It was probably there 6 years ago when Deborah posted.

                              2. Not sure if it's still there after all these years, but when I did an internship at The Inquirer in 1997, there was a guy who would park his cheesesteak truck right there on the corner of Broad and Callowhill Streets every weekday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. I tried Pat's and Geno's and some of the other places and for my money, the best cheesesteak in town was from Gus's truck.

                                1. 1. Cheesesteak- this depends on your taste, but most agree some of the best are John's, Jim's on South St. and Tony Luke's. I'm a Jim's girl :)

                                  2. Hot Soft Pretzels. Depending on your time (if it's early or late at night), go to Center City Pretzel Co. at 10th & Washington and get them straight off the oven rack in your hand, 4 for $1.

                                  3. Hot Dogs- Texas Weiners on Snyder is probably your best bet.

                                  4. Italian Water Ice- not many places are open yet. John's is my favorite, but they don't open until May. Same for Italiano's. Since most places are closed for the season, can I suggest Capogiro for excellent gelato instead?

                                  2 Replies
                                    1. re: lawgirl3278

                                      Center City Pretzel is on the south side of Washington Ave btw 8th and 9th

                                    2. I just tried S.O.S. (Steaks on South) between 3rd and 4th. They won "Best Cheesesteak" from the City Paper. It was pretty good. They were EMPTY at 12:05, and service was super-quick. Had a traditional cheesesteak with fired onions and sauce (Wiz.) Fries were right out of the oil and VERY hot (lots of them for $2.00) and were the kind "dusted" with starch of some sort.

                                      It's a tough call being so close to Jim's but they offer a lot more meat for your money, and IMO equal quality. No beer though ...

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: phillyjazz

                                        Most places on South Street do a light lunch business on weekdays (it killed the McDonalds, as well as the KFC/Taco Bell). It's really a great time to go

                                        1. re: coolgeek

                                          Because of this thread I tried Mama's in Bala-Cynwyd this past weekend.
                                          Fergeddaboudit!
                                          I am also through with D'Allesandros in Roxborough.
                                          These places are past their prime for cheesesteaks. (Mama's pizza is okay and the place is very clean.)
                                          To me, a good cheesesteak must also include a chewy but not soppy roll.
                                          I don't know a thing about Larry's.
                                          But I sure would love a recommendation in the burbs rather than having to traipse all the way to Center City. Is there such a thing?

                                          1. re: idia

                                            larry's isn't center city..it's over on 54th st near St joe U...they are ok...better if u r drunk as hell

                                            1. re: idia

                                              not quite as bad as your Mama's and D'Alessandro's experience, but I went to Steve's Prince of Steaks on Bustleton last Saturday... great roll, and not a bad steak, but for a $7 sandwich (American, 0.89 extra for provolone), I got 6, (8 tops) slices of meat... on a roughly 12 inch roll, that's either a joke, or an insult.

                                        2. 1. Steve's or Jim's
                                          2. Reading Terminal
                                          3. Tony Luke's
                                          4. Rita's