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Philly Cheesesteak

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  • Brett Jun 20, 2002 01:59 PM
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I am going to be in N.J. in a month and I am looking forward to stoping my heart by eating great pizza and cheesesteak. I will be making a trip to Philadelphia, so I would like to have a cheesesteak in the city that gave birth to it. Does anyone know the BEST place to go in Philly? I've know of Pat's, Geno's, and Jim's, but I heard Dalessandro's is the true king and the others are just tourist traps.

I know opinions will vary. Thanks.

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    Gabriel Solis

    This has been covered in detail a number of times in the past year or so, not surprisingly.

    It seems there is no definitive cheesesteak. That is, lots of people will tell you that they know which one is definitive, but it's something about which honorable people will disagree. I'd suggest making the most of it: go to Geno's, Pat's, _and_ Jim's. The nice thing about Philly is that it's small. The three restaurants are less than a mile apart (the first two are actually across the street from one another). How will you know which one is the best (in your experience) unless you do.

    I'd also say that the actual food is pretty similar from place to place. It's the gestalt that sets one apart from another. (I think others disagree with me on this, but there you have it.) I don't think any of them is "just" a tourist trap, though all three do, indeed, court tourist dollars (can you blame them?) Geno's and Pat's, at least, seem as much neighborhood-y joints as anything. (Note Geno's recent sponsorship of upgrades on the ball field across the street--evidence of their committment to the community as well as their anti-Mummia stance, but that's another conversation entirely).

    Enjoy,

    Gabriel

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gabriel Solis

      Honestly, every time I walk past Jim's I feel ill from the smell of the place. I'm a fan of the cheesesteak and not a squeamish person in general, but time and again I feel this way. Actually, I think that a great cheesesteak can be had at Lorenzo's on the corner of 9th and Christian in the Italian Market. The guy (I think his name is Peter?) cooks up all of the ingredients to order - the end result is fresh and extremely tasty.
      it's kind of cool to see the cheesesteak corner (9th and passyunk) but I think that you can get a better cheesesteak elsewhere.

    2. Chink's on Torresdale Ave. or the place in Reading Terminal (look for the big line). I personally don't care for Jim's at all, and find Pat's and Geno's just good. I've never had D'Alessandro's.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Megan

        As stated in other posts, the best cheesesteak in Philly is very difficult to pin down. Any of the places mentioned serves a fine example, except "the place in the Reading Terminal Market". If you're in the market, there are 15-20 better choices for your dining dollars. Avoid the long lines at Rick's (that's what it is called) and take your cheesesteak business elsewhere to avoid disappointment.

      2. No text

        1. I have become very hot for two places in the Northeast foir superior cheesesteaks:

          CHINK'S, 6030 Torresdale Ave, is like going back in time to a very cool retro wood paneled and boothed place with very good bread, abundant meat and cheese and very good fried onions.

          FRUSCO'S, 7100 block of Frankford Ave., also makes a great steak, gooey with cheese and with plenty of good rib eye shaved steak.

          Those would be my two top picks currently, besides GENO'S and PAT's. DALLESSANDRo'S is very good, but softy, squshy and very cheesey and messy, but not as good a product as the aforementioned.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Rich Pawlak

            Chubby's across for D'Alessandro's is a better steak IMHO (especially during busy times when D'Alsesandros STEAMS 20 lbs. of meat on the grill at a time ...)

            Chubby's is rib meat.

          2. Thanks for all your input. I think I will take Gabriel's advice and sample what a number of establishments have to offer. I have been told before that Philly isn't that large, so travel won't be a problem.

            I'll try and make it to the places that all of you have mentioned. Sounds like I should avoid Jim's though.

            When I mentioned that a place may be a tourist trap I was just referring that they may have increased prices or lowered product quality etc, because of the large amount of business they generate. Being from Toronto, and having a close poximity to Buffalo, people tend to debate on who has the best wings. In Buffalo it's between the Anchor or Duff's, both of which increased prices because of the amount of business generated, but the product didn't suffer. Duff's opened up shop in Toronto, and they are extremely good, but there are "unheard" of places in Toronto that I think have superior wings.

            Sometimes the unknown can be better, but all I have to go on is what I can find on here. Places like Chubby's, Chinks and Frusco's I didn't know about, but now look forward to going to them. I thank you all again for your recommendations and if there's any more I'd love to hear them!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Brett

              We have this cheesesteak war on average every few months. I thought I would keep quiet this time but I can't. Jim's is our absolute favorite (almost tied with dalessandros). Please include Jims in your tour it would be an absolute shame to miss it. There is a reason that Jim's has a 22 zagat rating and its not the tourists voting.

            2. Brett,

              I'm researching the same question, as I will be in town in a month. Interestingly, you may want to check out this thread before dismissing Jim's.

              Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

              1. Just a heads up:

                If the menu says "philly cheesesteak" walk out. The only thing worse would be "philly style steak and cheese sandwich".

                1. Tried Dalessandro's yesterday and it wasn't up to snuff. The meat wasn't flavorful enough and the ratio of meat to cheese was all wrong. There was WAY too much meat on the sandwich for starters. Plus the cheese all slipped down to the bottom of the roll, with the effects being: 1) the roll got soggy and tore at the bottom letting the insides slip out, and 2) you could only get bites that mixed steak and cheese on the bottom half of the roll, the top half being all meat. I don't know why this place gets such rave reviews, I guess some people see all that meat and think quantity = quality. Unfortunately in this place, where two high school kids were working the grill, this is far from the case. To top it off the eating in options are a disaster if you don't get a spot on the counter. They consist of crappy fold out plastic chairs placed on a tilted floor where you feel like the seat is about to tip over if you sit back. So basically you end up sitting crouched onto the edge of the chair to eat on the slim little fake wood foldout bingo tables. Go to Jim's, you'll be much better off.

                  1. I'll add Tony Luke's to the mix of ones to consider.....IF you can resist the roast pork.

                    A few years ago Craig Laban and some area high school kids did a piece for the Inquirer that gave the crown (as it were) to John's Roast Pork, which is only open weekdays until 3PM. IIn the wake of that article, Holly Moore also gave it a rave review. Might be worth venturing out there. In fact it might be worthwhile to check out www.hollyeats.com for some reviews.

                    That said, in the "home of the cheesesteak," even the worst cheesesteaks are still pretty good.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jzerocsk

                      John's Roast Pork gets my vote for best steak and best roast pork. Awesome.

                    2. Another vote for John's Roast Pork. IMO, the best there is. The only problem is making yourself get a cheesesteak there because their roast pork sandwich with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone is excellent. The Carangi rolls are the best.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Den

                        Den. Thats why you gotta go with someone else so you can halfsie both sandwiches. You're right on.

                      2. John's Roast Pork is sensational. I've had the cheesesteak there too, but the roast pork sandwich - the big one, on the good roll - is irresistible. Worth the trip, even though it's a little out of the way.

                        1. Chink's gets one vote here but it depends where you will be. If you are in Center City or Old City, consider Campo's or Sonny's (both around Market & Third Sts.) but avoid the place in the Bourse. While Philadelphia is compact downtown, going to Chink's or Frusco's in the Northeast can be a bit of a trip. The good thing is that you have a lot of great information (and some agreement and disagreement) depending on where you will be and how much time you have.

                          1. Jims on South st...........And Tony Lukes is must stop.Bobby Flay did a throwdown with him.....

                            1. Tonys is at 39 E Oregon Ave

                              1. A bunch of my out-of-town clients had the same goal: to get the "best" cheesesteak. I told them about all the options, including Geno's and the owner's "This is America, when ordering 'speak English' " sign, and they all opted to go elsewhere. They couldn't believe anyone would be so provincial these days. Were we actually TRYING to suppress tourism?

                                Not only that, but they thought it was funny that a sign urging the use of English mangles its punctuation (the apostrophes used as underlines).

                                None of them would believe that the average lunch cart makes a pretty decent cheesesteak (although they took my word about ordering provolone or American vs. Whiz)

                                1. Go to John's Roast Pork. Get a Cheesesteak and a Pork sandwich, and you'll never again get into an argujent over what is the best in Philly. You'll KNOW.

                                  1. I was at John's 2 weeks ago. It was .....freezing. Got a pizza steak and chowed it while sitting in the car with heat blasting. Of course, it was deluxe! Anyway, if anyone goes down, there was some road construction and a detour to get to John's. It was well marked though.