Readers' Choice: Cheesesteak Is the Best Sandwich in America
What's the best American sandwich? It's a question for the ages. But if you were to believe our wise readers, it's the Philly cheesesteak.
In a recent Far & Wide poll, 44 percent of people voted for the simple yet generous sandwich as the country's tastiest. And we can't say that we disagree. It's not as simple as giving the cheesesteak a crown. Oh no, this breaded meal comes with specific protocols, a long history and deep rivalries.
Luckily, we have an in-house Philadelphia expert who gave us her take on where to find the best cheesesteaks in Philly.
6. Chubby's Steaks
Chubby's is not as well-known to outsiders as nearby Dalessandro's, but trust the locals and give it a try. The lines are never as long as they are at more famous cheesesteak joints, and they take cards as well as cash (a big perk in the cheesesteak world).
Besides convenience, Chubby's delivers on the most important thing: a quality steak. No soggy hoagie rolls or difficult-to-chew steaks to be found here.
5. Mama's Pizzeria
Opened in 1958, Mama's Pizzeria has been owned by the same family for more than 60 years. And when a place manages to stay afloat for that long in the city where every restaurant serves steaks, you know they're doing something right.
What people love the most about this joint is its gigantic 10-inch signature sandwich, which will keep you full for the entire day. This delicious culinary miracle holds more than a pound of meat and cheese! Of course, if that's too much for you, you can always order the 6-inch roll and enjoy a cheesesteak recipe that's been mastered over decades.
4. Steve's Prince of Steaks
We like Steve Iliescu's balance between confidence and humbleness. He didn't name himself the king of steaks out of respect for another restaurant that will come up later (if you know, you know). But he's not afraid to be despondent and claim that his are the best sandwiches in the city.
Now boasting several locations, Steve's first opened in 1980 in Northeast Philly. Some claim that this is still the best one to visit for a mean cheesesteak made with good ingredients, fresh rolls and rib-eye steak.
3. Dalessandro's Steaks and Hoagies
One of the legacy cheesesteak institutions in Philly, Dalessandro's has been open since 1960. It's famous for its sauteed onions, which are left to simmer for hours to achieve a perfect sweetness without being overly burnt. Fresh ingredients are delivered multiple times a day, so customers know that the long line is very much worth it.
If you want a twist on the traditional Philly cheesesteak, this is definitely the place to add peppers — a move that can be controversial in a city filled with steak purists. Roasted in-house with patience and care, Dalessandro's peppers prove to be a good addition to the sandwich when done right.
2. Geno's Steaks
Incoming hate comments from Geno's fans in three, two, one...
The rivalry between Pat's and Geno's is akin to that of the Montagues and the Capulets. Sitting right across the street from each other, the two have been fighting over who makes the best cheesesteak in Philly ever since Geno's opened in 1966. We predict that it will continue for centuries — or until their descendants fall in love from a balcony after a party.
In the meantime, we'll add fire to the rivalry by proclaiming Geno's as the runner-up of the Philly cheesesteak flavor pageant. But don't get us wrong, you should absolutely drop by for a visit and try its unique way of making the steak in thicker strips and chopping them on the grill rather than pre-chopping them.
Does it make a difference? We'll let you decide.
1. Pat's King of Steaks
Drumroll, please... The king of steaks is indeed Pat's King of Steaks. We stand by our controversial decision for many reasons.
First of all, Pat's is the original viral cheesesteak place. Yes, chopped steak on a sandwich was a thing before Pat Olivieri started selling them from his hot dog stand, but it was he who made it what it is today. In doing so, he virtually changed Philadelphia's food culture. Plus, the restaurant has been open since the 1930s, a whole three decades before Geno's and Dalessandro's. And as any millennial will tell gen z, those 30 years come with the wisdom of practice and experience.
The Olivieri family still owns Pat's and continues to be faithful to the recipes that have made them a Philadelphia institution.
Philly Cheesesteak Recipe
A good traditional cheesesteak only needs four ingredients: a good hoagie roll, chopped steak, cheese and (this is optional but recommended) onions.
This Philly cheesesteak recipe from Natasha's Kitchen gets the classic sandwich just right.