two very different philly cheesesteaks
okay so excuse me if i get the lingo wrong but i'm visiting philadelphia for the first time ever in mid-october and i want to experience the cheesesteak. could you recommend two very different ones that i must have?
is there anything else that i absolutely must not miss?
I only go to PA when visiting my boyfriend's family, so he takes me to all the good eatin' spots. I'm sure you'll get lots of good recommendations. On our last trip, we tried both Pat's and Geno's cheesesteaks and I have to say I've had better. Unfortunately, I have no idea where it is that we go when we get those "better" cheesesteaks.
If you happen upon a Rita's (and they're still open... being a S. CA girl I'm not used to places closing in the winter), stop and get a water ice. I like the strawberry or blueberry flavors... all made with real fruit. I also liked the drink they made with water ice and the un-frozen custard mix. It's just something I don't ever see here, so I look forward to it when we visit.
The soft pretzel people in the airport are pretty good, too. Make sure you get the little cups of mustard.
Those are just what Iike, as a visitor. I'm hoping you get some good recommendations so I can make a list for our next trip out!
I second Tony Luke's.
I was advised right here on chowhound that you need to order cheesesteaks at John's Roast Pork, and roast pork with broccoli rabe at Tony Luke's. Now I was hesitant to order roast pork, because what the heck, I ain't here for pork, I'm here for cheesesteak, right? But when I finally did order the pork, I loved it! (and Tony's cheesesteaks are right up there too, if you just can't bring yourself to order pork).
Since it's your first one ever, I suggest getting a "traditional" one at Jim's on South Street. By traditional I mean soft roll, decent size, option for whiz if that's your thing. Don't be intimidated by the crowds or the grill guy...it's a good place.
For what many consider the best cheesesteak, I also recommend John's. John's steak is massive and uses a much harder roll. It's delicious, but I'd try Jim's (or Pat's/Geno's but I don't really like either one) first to get a "taste" for the sandwich (no pun intended!).
For an even different twist, try the cheesesteak spring rolls w/sriracha ketchup at the Contintental. Addictively yummy.
there are some bad cheesteaks out there, and some really good ones, but there's also an insane number of perfectly good cheesteaks in philly. i don't think it makes a lot of sense to plan your whole itinerary around one cheesteak place. i agree that the roast pork sandwiches are also quite good.
for what you "absolutely must not miss," reading terminal market.
From what I hear, Tony Luke's is better than the famed Pat's and Geno's (and I have tried all three and concur). If you want two very different sandwich experiences, why not get a cheesesteak and enjoy another local (possibly unsung) specialty, the hoagie?
For your "two very different ones" get one from Tony Luke's/John's/Pat's/Geno's/Jim's (my favorite from that list is John's) and one from Steve's Prince of Steaks on Bustleton Ave (northeast Philly).
Steve's is my overall favorite and uses a longer, crisper roll and has somewhat thicker steak. The others are more of a traditional cheesesteak (though each are different in their own right).