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Philly steak and cheese?

MrRamen Feb 14, 2008 01:39 PM

I will be traveling to Philadelphia in April and I need to know everyones opinion. Which is the best Philly steak and cheese sandwich shop. I heard Pat's and Luke's. But are there anymore?

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  1. m
    Main Line Tracey RE: MrRamen Feb 14, 2008 04:51 PM

    Guys! Be nice!

    For tourists, I recommend Genos steaks in South Philly. Ask any cab driver and they will be able to take you there. Good steak sandwiches in a typical South Philly neighborhood, with definite atmosphere. Just order a "cheesesteak with whiz" and you will get the typical cheesesteak experience.

    Definitely call it a cheesesteak and not a steak and cheese sandwich. Enjoy!

    1. w
      waynefoodie RE: MrRamen Feb 14, 2008 04:56 PM

      The best cheese steak in South Philly is at John's roast pork on snyder.

      2 Replies
      1. re: waynefoodie
        gjassman RE: waynefoodie Feb 14, 2008 07:09 PM

        John's has the best Philly pork and cheese sandwich too!!

        1. re: waynefoodie
          Bigley9 RE: waynefoodie Feb 15, 2008 06:07 AM

          John's is great but closes at 2 or 3pm (on the other hand you can get a cheesesteak at 10 am). I think when you are saying "Luke's" you are referring to Tony Luke's - they are good.

        2. b
          Bob Loblaw RE: MrRamen Feb 15, 2008 06:36 AM

          rule #1: don't buy it from anywhere that calls it a "steak and cheese."

          I'm not a fan of the more elaborated ordering "rules" (wit/witout, etc.) - I find those silly. (and there are worse). but it's a cheesesteak. or a cheese steak. either. just not a steak and cheese.

          there's actually many, many places that can give you a perfectly acceptable cheesesteak.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Bob Loblaw
            cheesewit RE: Bob Loblaw Feb 15, 2008 08:52 AM

            Bob: You have said it perfectly. I give cheesesteak advice to many (via other websites, food blogs, tours) and your advice simply is the best.

            1. re: cheesewit
              Bob Loblaw RE: cheesewit Feb 17, 2008 05:33 AM


          2. k
            KOK RE: MrRamen Feb 15, 2008 09:57 AM

            If you are going to Pat's, also get one from Geno's right across the street. I like both, and don't let any any "too touristy" talk stop you.

            My favorite is at Steve's Prince of Steaks, on Bustleton Ave, south of Cottman in NE Philly. They use sliced steak instead of chopped and a longer, crispier roll. Excellent.



            1. r
              Redstone RE: MrRamen Feb 15, 2008 11:57 AM

              Pat's and Geno's are hideous; I wouldn't feed either to somebody else's dog, much less my own dog. Trust the people here to give you recommendations for places that have GOOD cheesesteaks. (To make sure you don't sound like a tourist, always use the term "cheesesteak," not "steak and cheese.")

              My favorite has always been Pudge's...it's in East Norriton, not in the city, but worth the drive.


              9 Replies
              1. re: Redstone
                cwdonald RE: Redstone Feb 16, 2008 08:38 AM

                Best thing to do is to go to Geno's and order in spanish.. afterwards, go to RTM for DiNic's roast pork.

                1. re: cwdonald
                  bluehensfan RE: cwdonald Feb 16, 2008 01:07 PM

                  Go to DiNic's *first* so you can enjoy the pork. Get it with provolone and broccoli rabe.

                  *Then* go to Geno's, order in Spanish (or try to), and get verbally assaulted by the staff or mugged by those rogues who assaulted one of their employees.

                  At least you will have eaten a good sandwich at DiNic's beforehand.

                  1. re: cwdonald
                    crazyspice RE: cwdonald Mar 5, 2008 03:00 PM

                    That is too funny! Too bad the Out-of-Towners won't get it!

                    1. re: crazyspice
                      jerseyguy2 RE: crazyspice Mar 11, 2008 06:35 PM

                      I also think that is hilarious. I have an outstanding place in NJ (about 15 minutes from downtown phila.) for a cheesesteak. The Italian Villiage on rte. 73 in Maple Shade makes steaks that melt in your mouth. They bring tears to my eyes they are so good. They have the best combination of roll, meat, cheese and grill anywhere. You have to be careful not to order a whole sandwich cause it is enough for three people.

                      Happy Eating

                      1. re: jerseyguy2
                        crazyspice RE: jerseyguy2 Mar 12, 2008 06:15 AM

                        Years ago, when I lived in NJ, there was an italian spot on 73 in a shopping center in Maple Shade or maybe it was Mount Laurel. I can't remember the name, but I was wondering exactly where The Italian Village is? My daughter lives in NJ and that sound like something we would enjoy. Yesterday we had lunch at Brio. Expensive for lunch, but decent food.

                        1. re: crazyspice
                          jerseyguy2 RE: crazyspice Mar 12, 2008 08:17 PM

                          Italian Village is just south of main street (537) on rte 73. It is in a tiny strip shopping center along with Direct Buy and a furniture store. Their hoagies are also great. They use top quality meats in their deluxe italian.

                  2. re: Redstone
                    cwdonald RE: Redstone Feb 17, 2008 10:01 AM

                    I like Pudge's and ate there frequently when I was working in the area. Personally I like their chicken cheese steak better than their regular cheesesteak.

                    Another place that deserves mention is Chink's in the northeast on Torresdale ave. Its a true throw back place, making it with sliced steak, and they serve a mean egg cream as well.

                    1. re: cwdonald
                      cheesewit RE: cwdonald Feb 17, 2008 10:50 AM

                      Just as an FYI about Chink's. They're opening a second location soon on the 900 block of S. Columbus Blvd.

                      1. re: cwdonald
                        crazyspice RE: cwdonald Mar 5, 2008 03:01 PM

                        They have had their share of criticism too! Crazy people.

                    2. mddletown RE: MrRamen Feb 17, 2008 08:43 AM

                      Steve's Prince of Steaks in northeast philly is the best around, I think. They have a vat of melted American cheese and scoop it on like cheese whiz. I know this has been debated on here many times, but a true Philly cheese steak is not made with whiz so be sure to order American or Provolone. For example, if you call any local pizza shop in the area and order a cheesesteak, it will come with american. Maybe in South Philly they will default to Provolone. Cheese Whiz is only for french fries and tourists.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: mddletown
                        Boognish RE: mddletown Feb 18, 2008 04:30 AM

                        I have no idea why you'd claim that a "real" steak is never made with wiz, when it's been established repeatedly that the first "cheese" ever used was cheese wiz so that the griddle could be kept kosher (the "cheese" was contained in a can and wouldn't contaminate the griddle). I'd be happy to point you to the interviews, etc that back this up.

                        Any cheese other than wiz is perfectly acceptable (and in my case, preferrable), but wiz is the original.

                        1. re: Boognish
                          mddletown RE: Boognish Feb 18, 2008 12:49 PM

                          Who cares what the original is??? You agree with me that whiz is not the way to go so what is your problem?

                          1. re: mddletown
                            Boognish RE: mddletown Feb 18, 2008 01:21 PM

                            No problem at all.

                            Lets us eat steak!

                      2. p
                        phillybob RE: MrRamen Feb 17, 2008 11:11 AM

                        Boy am I glad I stumbled onto your question. I can save you.

                        First of all, don't ever use the term "steak and cheese" again. You may not be from NY, but it makes you sound like your are, and that could create problems for you at all of these places. Plus, it makes me want to beat you up and I don't even know you.

                        You don't order a burger and cheese...you order a cheeseburger. Same here.

                        And they all like ENGLISH. If you know english, get in the line and order. If you speak Spanish or any other language, go home and learn english and then come back.

                        Regardless of what anyone tells you (cabbies, people who have been here before, philosophers, etc...), go to Pat's and Geno's, but for God sake don't waste your money on the cheesesteaks. You will find yourself in the middle of South Philly, on a "corner" although three roads come together there, that is bursting with neon. Pat's is the dumpy place that certainly has the history...Rocky, etc...but Geno's has all the flare. Regardless...if this is the end of your search for a cheesesteak, it will akin to buying tickets to a title fight, and leaving after the first two fights on the undercard. You will have eaten a cheesesteak, but a very tourisy version (with very little meat).

                        Jim's on South Street is another place you can add to the list. The sandwich is subpar, but the atmosphere on South Street is not to be missed. Go there, but not for steaks.

                        The Heavy Weights?

                        Tony Luke's (not Luke's). Near the stadiums...we are the only city in the world where all 5 of our stadiums are located adjacent to each other.

                        John's. Incredible, but only open until 2:00 pm or until them run out of rolls. This is the most non tourist place you will ever visit...but also probably the best tasting steak and the biggest value.

                        Steves (in NE Philly...a little bit of a ride). Maybe my current favorite. Not cheap, but it is what Pat's and Geno's used to be before they went tourist. You may want to go here first, because there is definitely a chance this steak might kill you. It is that good, and that bad for you.

                        D'Alesandros (in Roxborough...still in Philly). A different kind of steak...they mix the cheese in with the meat before they put it on the roll. Great value, and a mainstay. Not very touristy at all, but the people who do the research always end up here. Closed Sundays. Small, cramped...eat it in the car, just get a lot of napkins..

                        Chinks in NE Philly, but not a great neighborhood...I wouldn't go after dark. Incredible sandwich, and you will feel like you are in the 50's...not because of the decor (there is none...they just haven't changed anything since then).

                        There are more, but this should hold you. If you have a few hours the best thing to do is grab someone or a two people and go to three or four of these places, and get ONE sandwich at each. They will cut it in as many pieces as you need.

                        You can do your own cheesesteak tour, and see the city at the same time.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: phillybob
                          crazyspice RE: phillybob Mar 5, 2008 03:03 PM

                          Here! Here!

                          1. re: phillybob
                            Displaced California Foodie RE: phillybob Mar 7, 2008 04:45 PM

                            phillybob: Where is John's located?

                            1. re: Displaced California Foodie
                              Philly Ray RE: Displaced California Foodie Mar 7, 2008 06:04 PM


                              But note that the Saturday hours are very inconsistent.

                              1. re: Philly Ray
                                Displaced California Foodie RE: Philly Ray Mar 8, 2008 06:30 AM

                                Thank you!

                            2. re: phillybob
                              discndav RE: phillybob Mar 25, 2008 01:21 PM

                              Chink's report:
                              I was there for the 1st time on a Thursday before 11a, there is nothing wrong with the neighborhood. Their cheesesteak was "less greasy" than all all the others I've had in the city. Compared to the others, it was very good and I have no negative comments on it. Their $4 old time milkshake was good also.

                              My thoughts on the other steaks:
                              Pat's: tough meat
                              Geno's: tasty
                              Pat's: OK, greasy
                              Campo's: good meat, small sandwich
                              John's Pork: great
                              Rick's in RT: terrible and over priced
                              Steve's Prince of Steaks in NE: good meat & cheese, lot of bun
                              Tony Luke's pork; the best
                              I have had not tried: Mama's, Delasandro's or the one across the street yet.

                              1. re: discndav
                                Bob Loblaw RE: discndav Mar 25, 2008 02:00 PM

                                I'll try them once they change their name. How they can advertise on the radio is beyond me.

                            3. Den RE: MrRamen Feb 17, 2008 11:58 AM

                              If you want to see or go to the Italian Market on 9th, a great option is George's on 9th Street near the corner of Christian. Tiny place, great cheesesteak!

                              1. p
                                phillyjazz RE: MrRamen Feb 18, 2008 09:38 AM

                                If you don't speak English, try this handy guide. Most Philadelphians are not as parochial as the poster below might have you believe.


                                Maybe we need to offer anger management classes with some of our eats.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: phillyjazz
                                  Bigley9 RE: phillyjazz Feb 19, 2008 09:11 AM

                                  thank you philly jazz - I was trusting that phillybob was at least somewhat tongue in cheek.

                                2. p
                                  phillybob RE: MrRamen Feb 20, 2008 08:08 PM

                                  Yes, very tongue in cheek, but the cheesesteak info was all truthful.

                                  1. t
                                    toyman70 RE: MrRamen Mar 5, 2008 06:21 AM

                                    How could no one mention the BEST steaks anywhere... Mama's in Bala Cynwyd
                                    ( http://www.mamaspizzeria.com/ ) hands down the best. Huge steak, not chewy or
                                    gristly. The cheese, don't order extra it has oodles of it. There is none finer than Mama's

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: toyman70
                                      BigAppetite RE: toyman70 Mar 5, 2008 03:58 PM

                                      Do yourself a favor and stay away from Mama's. The sandwich IS huge, but there is no flavor to it. If you do get a Mama's, throw the sandwich away and eat the wrapper, it'll taste better. Quantity does NOT equal quality.

                                      1. re: BigAppetite
                                        toyman70 RE: BigAppetite Mar 5, 2008 05:03 PM

                                        Sorry but I don't know what you might have been eating. Very tasty and
                                        far better quality than any around, easily.

                                        1. re: toyman70
                                          BigAppetite RE: toyman70 Mar 6, 2008 03:51 PM

                                          If you are talking about mama's on Belmont, then unfortunately, it was one of theirs. Eat the wrapper, it'll go down easier, and be tastier than any actual food product from this establishment.

                                    2. OlderPhiladelphian RE: MrRamen Mar 8, 2008 05:47 PM

                                      Regarding the question of cheese whiz. I am 67 years old and have been eating cheesesteaks for 60 years and never once as a child or as a teen or as a young man did I ever see or eat a cheesesteak with whiz that disgusting cheese that Pat and Geno's uses. It is NOT the original cheese!!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: OlderPhiladelphian
                                        brightman RE: OlderPhiladelphian Mar 9, 2008 12:54 PM

                                        there is no question of cheese whiz. it is a perfectly acceptable choice on a steak sandwich.

                                      2. j
                                        Julie02 RE: MrRamen Mar 10, 2008 11:02 AM

                                        I think Pat's and Geno's are for tourists. Their steaks are awful. I always recommend Jim's at 4th & South. Jim's are the only cheesesteaks I eat, and the line outside the shop is proof!

                                        16 Replies
                                        1. re: Julie02
                                          Philly Ray RE: Julie02 Mar 10, 2008 11:57 AM

                                          Lines don't prove anything. You can drive by Pat's and Geno's and the sometimes the lines almost touch each other across Passyunk Avenue.

                                          1. re: Julie02
                                            bluehensfan RE: Julie02 Mar 11, 2008 11:08 AM

                                            Having eaten at Pat's, Geno's and Jim's, I have given up on cheesesteaks. I'll stick with the pork.

                                            1. re: bluehensfan
                                              BigAppetite RE: bluehensfan Mar 11, 2008 12:53 PM

                                              If those are the only places you've tried cheesesteaks, you've done yourself a disservice.
                                              I will buy a cheesesteak from Geno's, but that is because of his support of law enforcement.

                                              1. re: bluehensfan
                                                brightman RE: bluehensfan Mar 11, 2008 01:05 PM

                                                The pork is great, but you really should try a steak from John's, Tony Luke's and Steve's...

                                                1. re: brightman
                                                  Den RE: brightman Mar 11, 2008 03:26 PM

                                                  A couple of months ago I went to Steve's for the 1st time and thought it was great. I went again a few days ago and...great again. I think that place is awesome. In between, I've had a couple cheesesteaks at Cisco's in Flourtown and George's at 9th & Christian. Cisco's a local fave and George's whenever I hit the Italian market.

                                                  1. re: Den
                                                    BigAppetite RE: Den Mar 11, 2008 04:42 PM

                                                    I've had Steve's a few times. Each time has been worse than the last. I don't know what the fascination is with this place. I've had better sandwiches eating steakums.

                                                    1. re: BigAppetite
                                                      brightman RE: BigAppetite Mar 11, 2008 05:15 PM

                                                      so far, you offer only negative opinions with regard to the places suggested, bigappetiite. which is your go-to steak place?

                                                      1. re: brightman
                                                        BigAppetite RE: brightman Mar 11, 2008 05:34 PM

                                                        I've stated that I buy from Geno's. I mainly go to Dalessandro's, although they aren't as good as they once were. Fiesta and the Henry James offer a good steak as well.

                                                        1. re: BigAppetite
                                                          brightman RE: BigAppetite Mar 11, 2008 05:54 PM

                                                          You stated you buy from Geno's because Joey supports the cops, not because he makes an exceptional sandwich. I can't relate to your preference for Dalessandro's. The giant pile of grey steaming meat on the grill is very unappealing. I prefer my steak flipped, not chopped into tiny bits. I would guess you prefer yours chopped. I am not familiar with Fiesta or Henry James - are they also in the Roxborough area?

                                                          1. re: brightman
                                                            hveagle RE: brightman Mar 12, 2008 08:13 AM

                                                            Agree with your comment on Dalessandro's, Brightman. To me, Jim's steaks also suffer the same problems.

                                                            1. re: hveagle
                                                              Den RE: hveagle Mar 12, 2008 02:24 PM

                                                              Dalessandro's and Jim's are geared toward volume. IMO, the better quality places, John's, George's and Steve's all cook the steak to order. The steak goes on the grill only after you order.

                                                              1. re: hveagle
                                                                brightman RE: hveagle Mar 12, 2008 02:56 PM

                                                                The Jim's in Springfield on Baltimore Pike is very good. Reminds me very much of Steve's.

                                                              2. re: brightman
                                                                BigAppetite RE: brightman Mar 12, 2008 05:30 PM

                                                                I can't get a steak that is one big lump of meat you need to fight every time you take a bite. Dalessandro's works on the theory of the meat giving the sandwich taste, not the grease.
                                                                Fiesta and the Henry James are in Roxborough as well, just up the block.
                                                                Geno's sandwich is run of the mill, it's not the best, but there are worse places. The fact that he supports law enforcement as much as he does moves the needle to the point where I would recommend him, as long as the person is willing to try other places as well.
                                                                When I have been to Steve's, I have never seen them cook my sandwich to order. All I know is that the taste of the sandwich is lacking, I would rate Geno's above Steve's.

                                                                1. re: BigAppetite
                                                                  brightman RE: BigAppetite Mar 12, 2008 07:39 PM

                                                                  Steve's cooks every sandwich to order. They do it behind a large window for you to see. There are never lumps of meat - the thin steak slices are laid evenly across the roll. Maybe you are not going to Steve's Prince of Steaks, either on Cottman Ave or the Boulevard?

                                                                  To me, the grease from the steak mixing with the cheese, onions, beef and tomato sauce ( I am a pizza steak guy) is sublime. If I had to pick my top 3...Steve's, John's, Talk of the Town, Tony Luke's (ok, top 4 :)).

                                                              3. re: BigAppetite
                                                                Den RE: BigAppetite Mar 12, 2008 02:18 PM

                                                                Well, you don't "get" Steve's and I don't get Dalessandro's or Geno's.

                                                                1. re: Den
                                                                  crazyspice RE: Den Mar 12, 2008 06:20 PM

                                                                  Hey Guys! How about this - Everyone has different ideas of what tastes yummy on a long roll! Cheese, meat and grease. Go figure. I would rather go back to the debate of "What would you trade your cheesesteak for?" <(:-D. I will add that the entire thread has entertained me to no end!!

                                                  2. a
                                                    aznsusan RE: MrRamen Mar 25, 2008 04:48 PM

                                                    Gaetano's in Jersey!! sorry, I know you wanted in Philly, just had to add my 2 cents

                                                    1. h
                                                      HankJim RE: MrRamen Mar 28, 2008 02:44 PM

                                                      Geno's and Pat's do seem to be more geared toward the tourists...Never been to Jim's or John's, but planning on it now....was just at Mama's today, which I used to love, but something about them makes it taste like you're eating nothing..no flavor whatsoever...as for Deli's, definately good, but not so sure it's as good as its once reputation...owners just switched last week as well, stay tuned......and now the Henry James...a small, eat-in tavern with cold beer and great food...the cheesesteaks are great, especially with some home-made hot roasted peppers..hmmmm.....right on Jamestown Street, across Henry Ave from Deli's

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: HankJim
                                                        discndav RE: HankJim Apr 24, 2008 08:08 AM


                                                        A great list reviewing 40 cheesesteak places. I can't argue with their top 3 choices.

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