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philly cheesesteaks

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I'll be visiting from toronto next weekend and I'm absolutely dying to try an authentic philly cheesesteak. I've heard so many mixed reviews as to who makes the best, so I'm interested to hear your reccomendations. Thanks

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  1. South Philly. 9th & Passyunk Geno's or Pat's. They face each other "head to head" across the street from each other. It's a decades old competition.
    I personally like Geno's, but many swear by Pat's. You can get one of each and make the call.

    By the way, the way to order them "South Philly style" is by saying the type of cheese and whether or not you want onions. For example, you don't say "a cheesesteak with cheese whizz and fried onions." You can, but if you want to sound like someone from the neighborhood, you say "whizz with". (My personal recommendation). Enjoy.

    9 Replies
    1. re: mums

      This is not a consensus on Chowhound. I'd say the majority of us avoid both Genos and Pats at all costs. Do a search on this board for cheesesteaks and you will find the lengthy debate and lots of opinions.

      Susan H

      1. re: Susan H

        Now we don't necessarily avoid them at all costs, just during the day, when we have time, and want the best do we avoid them....

        However, if you are here for pleasure and are out when the bars close at 2am, there are no better steaks to be found than those at Pat's and Geno's.

        If, however, you are looking for that quintessential steak that shows you what a cheesesteak really is all about, and you have time during the day to travel about, then there certainly are better places.

        1. re: Hojo

          I haven't tried Geno's, but Pat's was the second worse cheesesteak I've had in Phila. (the worst being Rick's in Reading Terminal). I found them to be tough and grisly.

          IMO, the best 2 a.m. cheesesteak (on weekends) is Sonny's, in Old City.

          1. re: gina

            You won't be disappointed with Jims. To soak up local flavor go to Geno's, avoid Pat's. When you get there you will see why! Geno's is as clean as an operating room, Pats.....well you will see!

            1. re: Johnny Boy

              I totally concur that the best, what I call "commercial", cheesesteak is Jim's.

              Regarding Pat's vs Geno's, maybe the fact that Geno's is as clean as an operating room while Pat's isn't explains why Pat's has considerably more flavor than Geno's? :)

              The Pat's vs Geno's argument is one that will go on forever. I don't know many people that like both.

              However, there are so many places in the suburbs that just blow these places away, such as...

              Pudges (E. Norritown on 202 and Jeffersonville on Main St)
              Phil's Tavern (Ambler on 73)
              Steak and Hoagie Factory (Warminster on Street Road, Abington on York Rd). The one in Warminster is open 24/7!
              Yellow Submarine *my personal favorite* (Maple Shade)
              Big John's (Cherry Hill)
              Gaetano's (Willingboro, Maple Shade)

              1. re: mitch h


                "Yellow Submarine *my personal favorite* (Maple Shade)
                Big John's (Cherry Hill)
                Gaetano's (Willingboro, Maple Shade)"

                I use the Gaetano's on Rt130 in Cinnaminson, and they are great also.

                We used to go to Big John's regularly, at the time it was one of my all time favorites for cheesesteaks. Ever since it changed hands, and "John" sold the business it has gone downhill and not as good. Haven't been there for years, is it any better now?

                I will have to try the Yellow Submarine. Where is it near?

                1. re: Johnny

                  The more I think about it, Big John's is definitely not what it once was. I was there last year and I was very disappointed. The size of their sandwiches have gotten significantly smaller and the quality is not what it once was.

                  Yellow Submarine is down the road from the Jug Handle. I think it is on Fork Landing Road. It has been owned by the same individual since the 80's and is as good as it ever was.

        2. re: Susan H

          Avoiding Pat's and Geno's is not a consensus either. We all have our preferences, and Pat's and Geno's are among the choices.

          There will never be a consensus when it comes to Philly cheesesteaks. Just personal preference.

          1. re: Susan H

            It depends: do you want a "South Phila cheesesteak experience" or just the Best Sandwich Possible?

        3. I am very fond of Tony Luke's on Oregon Street, but a couple of reviews on the web say that John's Roast Pork on Snyder is better is that true? Looking to pick up some sandwiches to tailgate at the U2 concert, so seating and ambience are not an issue. Just want the best sandwich.

          3 Replies
          1. re: yellojkt

            John's Roast Pork is better, but unless things have changed, it's only open through mid-afternoon. And with Tony Luke's, unless you're there well before 6pm on a concert night, well, there's going to be a long line.

            1. re: yellojkt

              Try Ishkabibel's or Jim's on South Street,or maybe Jim's at the corner of 62nd and Noble Streets.

              1. re: yellojkt

                Try Ishkabibel's or Jim's on South Street,or maybe Jim's at the corner of 62nd and Noble Streets.

              2. See? It's unanimous! LOL

                1. Big John's in Cherry Hill is terrible. We stopped in here yesterday, and the steaks, though big, were tasteless and greasy.

                  1. Unfortunatley the best Philly Cheesesteak is not in philly:
                    Laspada's Original Steaks
                    4724 Pennell Rd, Aston, PA

                    Thinly chopped steak, invisible, but flavolful onions and melted cheese throughout. Perfect rolls tie it all together.

                    My second favorite has been Tony Lukes, then Johns Roast Pork. Both have better roast pork than their steaks, but try both.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sanberdoo

                      John's is the best if you like your steak chopped up. Steve's is the best if you prefer your steak flipped.

                    2. I vote for Pat's. Devil a cheesesteak is SUPPOSED to be greasy, and Pat's has this down pat. Also, regarding Geno's...the cleanliness is not very "South Philly"--I like the grit of Pat's, part of the charm in a weird way. I know many won't agree with me on that one, but after living abroad for a year that was where my Dad insisted on going from the airport and it tasted wonderful! Also, for suburbs Steak and Hoagie in Warminster is the best.

                      1. Pats and Genos are cool for tourists and a middle of the night fix - thats about it.

                        Went to Tony Lukes last week - was pretty darn good.

                        Jims on South Street has always been a winner.

                        In South Jersey - Chicks or DiVellos in Cherry Hill. Big Johns stinks now (IMO).

                        1. I don't like DiVello's AT ALL. they are right across the street from my office, so I wish they were any good. They add too much cheese to the chopped meat when it is on the grill, and it turns into a gummy mess. I know they have been voted best of South Jersey in the past; I just don't understand why. Lou and Ann's makes a much better sandwich.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: brightman

                            You know what - I forgot about Lou and Ann's. Everything there is good - been awhile since I was there so it looks like a trip this weekend.

                            Still like DiVello's though....

                          2. For a great cheesesteak, go to Lou's Steaks and Zeps on E. Main St. in Norristown.

                            1. Cheesteak is most over-rated sandwich ever created, but it puts our fair city on the map. This however is a great sandwich town. Check out other post, but great roast pork sandwiches at Reading Terminal, or if you want a bit of S. Philly, try Evelyn and Shank's chicken cutlet with rab! yumm. Save your money and your stomach and avoid the cheeseteak.

                              1. No mention of Chink's? That is one of the best steak sandwiches I have ever had.

                                NE Philly location. Parking is tough, but prices good and its a no nonsense location.

                                6030 Torresdale Avenue
                                Philadelphia PA
                                (215) 535-9405

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: moose1111

                                  I second Chink's steaks. Simple and delicious. And it's still an operating soda and shake shop. Although I'm only in my thirties, everytime I'm in Chink's I imagine a trip back to the 1950's. I always sit at the counter and invariably I end up in a friendly conversation.....great place.

                                  Steve's Prince of Steaks on Bustleton is close but doesn't quite match Chink's.

                                  This thread has been smoldering for over a year? How'd that happen?

                                2. although it's not usually recognized as one of the cheesesteak big hitters i have always LOVED the cheesesteaks at Paul's Pizza at 20th and Spruce. It's just a nondescript looking pizza joint but in my opinion these are the best! (Also the proprietor is very nice and it's never a long wait).

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: hopalong

                                    I usually live by two rules in life ... Don't order ribs if you don't see any smoke, and don't order a cheesesteak at a pizza joint.

                                    All too frequently, they toss the steak in the oven to melt bland plastic mozzarella over a blander meat and end up burning what used to be a fresh tender roll.

                                    Joe's Pizza on 16th (south of Market) is an exception. They grill up a great steak. I haven't tried Pauls'.. I used to live at 20th and Walnut, but that was many moons ago..

                                  2. John's Roast Pork ... with a scooped Carangi Bakery seeded roll... You should always go with a friend so you can split a cheesesteak and a roast pork without killing yourself. I once tried to eat one of each ... I couldn't do it ..

                                    1. understand your wariness about pizza place cheesesteaks. but what is the point of living by rules unless you can be pleasantly surprised by the exceptions?

                                      in this case, paul’s in an exception- a very tasty exception (cheese all mixed in with the meat, toasted but not burned bread, good fried onions etc.)

                                      my father grew up in philly and sometimes when he's back in town he has two paul's steaks a day. check it out sometime if you're ever back in the area. under-the-radars can sometimes be just as good as the famous places.