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Apr 7, 2012 12:10 PM

where can I get a great Cheesesteak, with a menu full of stuff for everyone else?

Traveling to the city w/ family for the weekend. I'll be with my vegetarian daughter, eat- anything son, and not so interested in meat wife. One night we will be at the Israeli place that is so talked about...the name escapes me. Would love to find a centrally located ( we will be car-less) sit down place with a really good cheesesteak and lots of other choices. I know I won't be getting the best, but it will be far better then anything I can get here in VT. If this is not in the cards I may have to get one before I get on the train. Any good ones in 30th street station?

Thanks for the help!

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  1. Your best bet would probably be to go to the Reading Terminal Market for a lunch, instead of dinner. The Terminal has loads of different food options (separate merchants under one roof but with common seating areas) that should please everyone in your group. However, the cheesesteak you find there will most likely not be "great". But I (as will most everyone else on this board) would encourage you to go to Di Nic's and order one of their roast pork sandwiches. It is the sandwich that Philly should be famous for.

    Good Luck

    3 Replies
    1. re: Philly Ray

      +1 to this. Even if at some point you go elsewhere for a cheesesteak, Reading Terminal Market is terrific. Where will you be staying? You could probably grab a terrific cheesesteak to go somewhere. And the good sandwich shops have delicious veggie sandwiches of sauteed veggies and melted cheese...I am not a vegetarian, and I get them myself on a regular basis.

      Actually, don't sweat taking your daughter to a steak shop. She will probably adore the veggie sandwiches. Damn. Now I want one!

      1. re: Philly Ray

        i have fond memories of Philly cheesesteaks and have to satisfy my urge. To give you an idea of what you guys have down there. I had one on a layover in the airport and it was better then any I've had in 20 years. We are staying at Hilton Garden Inn near the convention center

        1. re: Philly Ray

          Di Nic's pork SHOULD be the sandwich of Philly.

        2. You can't get a good, let alone great, cheesesteak at a sit down restaurant. Reading Terminal is a great suggestion.

          Another suggestion is to head down the Italian Market (9th St) during the day. You get a cheesesteak at George's at 9th & Christian (better than what is available at Reading Terminal), then go here:

          The entire menu is awesome, including the vegetarian sandwiches. Your family will love it, and you will see why we are so down on cheesesteaks on this board.

          4 Replies
          1. re: barryg

            For the record, I would like to state that I am not down on cheesesteaks in any way, shape or form. I think that many places make them badly. Alright, I am very down indeed on bad cheesesteaks. I also think that at their best, they are shining examples of everything that is lovely about grease, salt and onion. As a native Philadelphian, I have an instinctive love for grease, salt, and onion. All I ask is that it be delicious grease and salt, not just a waste of calories, sodium and cholesterol.

            1. re: StrandedYankee

              This exactly, I like cheesesteaks but Philly makes so many great sandwiches but so many places make cheesesteaks poorly, it's just embarrassing. Center City in particular is devoid of good cheesesteaks which is why recommending something to visitors is so hard. Campo's in Old City is ok.

              That said, a crappy cheesesteak here might be better than anything in VT if only for the fact that at least the bread will be pretty good, the steak will likely be ribeye, and you can't get dumb stuff on it like swiss cheese and bell peppers.

            2. re: barryg

              I have to agree with barryg. The chickpea pancake sandwich whose name is escaping me right now is actually delicious, and I'm a meat lover. Went there today and split a few of their meatier options and was reminded of why that place gets so much praise.

              1. re: tzanghi

                The chickpea one is the Panelle. Add me to the list of people recommending skipping the cheesesteak and hitting Paesano's instead. Any sit-down place that serves a cheesesteak will probably result in a bad meal for both you and the people not eating the cheesesteak. Paesano's is right near several decent* cheesesteak places, if for some reason you go to Paesano's and wish you had instead had a cheesesteak, you can get one aftewards.

                * My own opinion is that even the best cheesesteak is not something I want to eat more than once every few years, so I don't go to these places (George's is one, Paesano's is also just a few blocks from cheesesteak corner (Pat's and Geno's)). The best one I've had is at Steve's in the Northeast but that's not an option for the OP on this trip.

            3. A minority position on this board, but I believe that
              1) many, many places serve a perfectly good cheesesteak.
              2) the dinic's sandwhich is overrated. if you want a cheesesteak, get a cheesesteak.

              that said, i love reading terminal and it will have something for everyone.

              most pizza places in philly also have cheesesteaks. you just don't want to go to a general restaurant and get a cheesesteak. general rule of thumb for cheesesteaks would be that you want the options to be up on teh wall somewhere, as opposed to just in a printed menu.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bob Loblaw

                Your hotel is around the corner from Reading Terminal market so it's a no-brainer for lots of breakfast and lunch options. Another vote for DiNic's roast pork with greens and provolone. The cheesesteaks at the market are good enough but Philly's a very walkable city and there are lots of other places for steaks nearby. But not being a fan of them I can't think of any that stand out such as Campo's, Jim's, or Pat's. Blech! ( two cents). But whatever you do, think about getting the Mesibah so you can get the lamb shoulder at Zahav. Better than just about any other meat product in Philly IMO.

              2. Tony Luke's the original stand has plenty of sandwich options including some good vegetarian stuff. The sit down restaurant across the street has a decent amount of other options, but I don't know what they have in the way of vegetarian.

                Also check out Cosmi's deli on 8th street. Decent steak from what I hear and I know it has a few vegetarian sandwich options.

                2 Replies
                1. re: tzanghi

                  well said, Mr. Loblaw. well said.

                  also, +1 on Tony Luke's as a good destination for a proper cheesesteak, but Reading terminal will be far more convenient for you & has is a Philly must-visit, if just for the variety & atmosphere

                  "A minority position on this board, but I believe that
                  1) many, many places serve a perfectly good cheesesteak.
                  2) the dinic's sandwhich is overrated. if you want a cheesesteak, get a cheesesteak."

                  1. re: knappy123

                    knappy - your view on DiNic's roast pork is a minority but not uncommon. People complain about the roast pork not having enough flavor, and being too dry. Alternatively order the pulled pork, and make sure to order it wet. You will find it a bit more flavorful. May not be everyone's cup of tea, but it does address some of the issues folks have with the roast pork.

                2. To put the roask pork/cheesesteak debate to bed. I will try to find time to try a pork sandwch from a wonderful place. Not back to my original dilema. How about a cheese steak at or very near to 30th street station?

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: jefpen2

                    The only notable one I know of in the vicinity is Abner's on 38th & Chestnut Sts, but that might be too far away. I can't speak to the quality since I have never had one there.

                    However, I think there are a couple of food trucks parked on Market St near the station. You could probably get one there that is good enough to satisfy your craving.

                    1. re: Philly Ray

                      Yea a food cart is you best bet.. it's a crapshoot but most will be decent enough. Main gamble is if the bread is any good and hopefully you don't find one using steak-ums. Order with onions and American cheese, salt, pepper, and hot peppers if you like that.

                    2. re: jefpen2

                      Hi. Your request has gone unanswered and this thread went astray. If you end up in the Reading Terminal Market, the best stand to get a cheesesteak and, by the way, one of the best in the city, is Spataro's. You asked about wanting a cheesesteak with other options and that's a tough one. Spataro's is a superior cheesesteak. Now, if you want something near 30th Street Station and don't have a car, you can go to Abner's at 38th & Chestnut, but it's really only about steaks and cheesesteaks there. It's decent. It's just like Jim's as Abner Silver was involved with Jim's.

                      1. re: cheesewit

                        I'm going to give you another idea that some here will poo-poo. But I'm telling you I know what I'm talking about when it comes to cheesesteaks. I've been to hundreds of steak shops both here and across the country. I give cheesesteak tours to out-of-towners via other food websites. If you want a good one at a restaurant that has many, many other foods, go to Famous 4th Street Deli at 4th & Bainbridge. The cheesesteaks are very good. A bit pricey ($11.00 for a cheesesteak), but good. And they also offer a very unique one: a pastrami cheesesteak. Yes, pastrami on a cheesesteak. I can hear all of the naysayers out there reading this, but I'm telling you they do very good cheesesteaks.

                        1. re: cheesewit

                          I won't poo-poo the idea of a cheesesteak with pastrami. As a kid, my favorite was pepperoni pizza steaks (because, you know, cheesesteaks alone just don't have enough grease and salt...we won't even talk about the cheesesteak hoagies with mayo phase I went through at 14 & 15!). However, I might advise against it for someone in from out of town who will have limited time and opportunity for cheesesteak eating. Assuming jefpen2 will probably have only one opportunity to get a cheesesteak, I would probably be inclined to send him somewhere with simple, straightforward cheesesteaks done well.

                          Jefpen2, if you're still following this thread, I am not throwing suggestions for specific places at you because I just moved back to Philadelphia after living away for seven years. I can tell you what my favorites once were, but I haven't eaten a cheesesteak in Center City in...possibly a decade. I would eat my cheesesteaks in the Northeast, Roxborough or South Philly. Not to mention over in NJ! In Center City, I would eat in Chinatown about 70% of the time. For a Philly Brat like me cheesesteaks really are a neighborhood thing, not a Center City thing.

                          The roast pork sandwiches people are talking about? They can be very good sandwiches, and I do like them a lot. I prefer them with spinach to broccoli rabe. That whole bitterness thing turns me off. Be aware that they are very, very different from cheesesteaks. What they lack, in my humble opinion, is the luscious greasiness of a truly great cheesesteak. Except for the bread, the two sandwiches are nothing alike.

                          1. re: StrandedYankee

                            I wasn't suggesting the pastrami cheesesteak. I was suggesting Famous 4th St. Deli if the original poster still wanted a restaurant with cheesesteaks and other options. And I am suggesting Reading Terminal Market for its multiple options and my recommended cheesesteak.

                            1. re: StrandedYankee

                              Your comment about spinach versus broccoli rabe for roast pork sandwiches strikes me as funny as I have come to that conclusion myself in recent months. I used to be a spinach lover but then joined the broccoli rabe camp for a while but now I sometimes find it too bitter as it can overpower the rest of the ingredients. So back to the sublime spinach.