Philadelphia is renowned for its delicious cheesesteaks, and we’re here to guide you to the absolute best options in the city. With our expert recommendations, you’ll experience the mouth-watering, authentic Philly cheesesteaks that have made this city famous.

When it comes to cheesesteaks, Philadelphia is the ultimate destination. The city’s rich culinary history and vibrant food scene have given rise to some of the most iconic and delectable sandwiches in the world. From the classic contenders like Pat’s and Geno’s to lesser-known gems, there are countless options to explore. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this guide will help you navigate the Philly cheesesteak scene and discover the very best the city has to offer.

Key Takeaways:

  • Philadelphia is known for its delicious and authentic Philly cheesesteaks.
  • There are numerous options to choose from, including classic contenders and lesser-known favorites.
  • This guide will help you navigate the Philly cheesesteak scene and find the best options in the city.
  • Explore unique variations and vegetarian/vegan options for a twist on the classic.
  • Don’t forget to indulge in classic side dishes like cheese fries and soft pretzels.

A Taste of History: The Iconic Philly Cheesesteak

The Philly cheesesteak is a legendary sandwich that has become synonymous with the city of Philadelphia. With its origins dating back to the early 20th century, this iconic creation has captured the hearts and taste buds of locals and visitors alike. The famous Philly cheesesteak is a delectable combination of thinly sliced beefsteak, melted cheese, and a soft roll, creating a mouthwatering experience that is loved by many.

The quest for the best cheesesteak in Philly has sparked friendly rivalries between establishments, each claiming to offer the ultimate version of this beloved sandwich. From the classic favorites to innovative variations, there is no shortage of options to satisfy your cheesesteak cravings. Whether you’re a meat lover or prefer a plant-based diet, the Philly cheesesteak scene has something to offer for everyone.

As you embark on your culinary adventure through Philadelphia, exploring the rich history and flavors of the city, be sure to indulge in the iconic Philly cheesesteak. Experience the melt-in-your-mouth goodness and savor the taste of history with every bite. Join us as we take you on a journey to discover the best cheesesteak in Philly and unravel the secrets behind this beloved sandwich.

The History Behind the Philly Cheesesteak

The origins of the Philly cheesesteak can be traced back to the early 20th century, with Pat Olivieri often credited as the creator of the iconic sandwich. Legend has it that he grilled some thinly sliced beefsteak, put it on a roll, and attracted the attention of a passing cab driver, who was enticed by the aroma and requested a steak sandwich for himself. Word spread, and the cheesesteak quickly gained popularity.

“The Philly cheesesteak is not just a sandwich; it’s a cultural symbol that represents the spirit of Philadelphia.”

Over the years, the cheesesteak has become deeply ingrained in Philadelphia’s culinary culture, evolving from a local favorite to a national sensation. Today, both locals and visitors flock to the city in search of the best cheesesteak in Philly, eager to taste the authentic flavors and experience a piece of history.

Establishment Location Signature Cheesesteak
Pat’s King of Steaks South Philadelphia Whiz Wit (Cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz and onions)
Geno’s Steaks South Philadelphia Whiz Wit (Cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz and onions)
Jim’s Steaks West Philadelphia Provolone Wit (Cheesesteak with provolone cheese and onions)

The Classic Contenders: Pat’s vs Geno’s

When it comes to the top-rated Philly cheesesteaks, two names often come to mind: Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks. These legendary establishments have been serving up mouth-watering cheesesteaks for decades, and their rivalry has become part of Philadelphia’s culinary culture. If you’re in search of the must-try Philly cheesesteak, trying both Pat’s and Geno’s is essential.

Pat’s King of Steaks, located in South Philadelphia, claims to have invented the beloved sandwich in 1930. Their classic cheesesteak features thinly sliced beefsteak, melted cheese (often Cheez Whiz), and the option to add onions. Pat’s signature sandwich draws in crowds from all over, eager to taste their renowned creation.

Geno’s Steaks, situated just across the street from Pat’s, is another iconic Philadelphia establishment. Founded in 1966, Geno’s is known for its generously portioned cheesesteaks and its vibrant neon signage, which adds to the ambiance of the dining experience. Like Pat’s, Geno’s offers all the classic elements of a Philly cheesesteak, prepared to perfection.

Both Pat’s and Geno’s have their loyal followings, each arguing that their favorite is the true champion of cheesesteaks. So, why not judge for yourself? Make it a point to visit both locations and experience the flavors and atmosphere that have made these two contenders legendary in the world of Philly cheesesteaks.

Pat’s King of Steaks Geno’s Steaks
Location: South Philadelphia Location: South Philadelphia
Signature: Thinly sliced beefsteak, melted cheese (often Cheez Whiz), with onions (optional) Signature: Thinly sliced beefsteak, melted cheese (often Cheez Whiz), with onions (optional)
Ambiance: Classic, no-frills dining experience Ambiance: Vibrant neon signage, iconic atmosphere
Loyal Following: Pat’s loyalists argue it is the true king of cheesesteaks Loyal Following: Geno’s fans declare their loyalty to the spot

Beyond the Classics: Expanding Your Options

While Pat’s and Geno’s are iconic, Philadelphia offers a plethora of other fantastic options for those in search of the best Philly cheesesteak. These establishments may not have the same level of fame, but they deliver on taste and flavor, ensuring a memorable dining experience.

Jim’s Steaks is a local favorite that has been serving up delicious cheesesteaks since 1939. Located in South Street, Jim’s Steaks offers a wide range of toppings and cheese options, allowing you to customize your sandwich exactly to your liking. Their thinly sliced beef, perfectly melted cheese, and soft roll come together to create a mouthwatering masterpiece.

Dalessandro’s is another hidden gem that is worth seeking out. Tucked away in the Roxborough neighborhood, this family-owned restaurant has been delighting locals and visitors alike for over 60 years. Their cheesesteaks are made with premium ingredients and cooked to perfection, resulting in a deliciously satisfying meal.

“The cheesesteaks at Jim’s Steaks and Dalessandro’s are simply incredible. The quality of the ingredients and the attention to detail really shine through in every bite. These spots may not have the same level of fame as Pat’s and Geno’s, but they are definitely on par when it comes to taste and flavor.”

Restaurant Location Signature Cheesesteak Price Range
Jim’s Steaks South Street Whiz with onions $
Dalessandro’s Roxborough Provolone with onions $$

When exploring the diverse dining scene in Philadelphia, don’t limit yourself to the famous names. Venture beyond the classics and discover the hidden gems that offer some of the best Philly cheesesteaks in the city. Whether you choose Jim’s Steaks, Dalessandro’s, or one of the many other options available, you’re in for a delicious treat.

Vegetarian and Vegan Twists on the Classic

While the traditional Philly cheesesteak is a meat lover’s dream, Philadelphia also caters to those with vegetarian and vegan dietary preferences. Embracing the city’s diverse food scene, several establishments have taken the classic cheesesteak and given it a plant-based twist, satisfying the cravings of veggie enthusiasts.

Vegetarian Philly Cheesesteak: For those looking to enjoy the flavors of a cheesesteak without the meat, grilled mushrooms are often used as a delicious alternative to beefsteak. The mushrooms are thinly sliced, seasoned, and cooked to perfection to mimic the texture and flavor of the original sandwich. Combined with melted cheese, sautéed onions, and a soft roll, the vegetarian cheesesteak offers a savory and satisfying experience.

Vegan Philly Cheesesteak: Going a step further, vegan versions of the Philly cheesesteak substitute traditional cheese with flavorful vegan cheese options such as plant-based provolone or dairy-free cheese whiz. Grilled peppers, onions, and other vegetables can also be added to enhance the taste and provide a variety of textures. These plant-based creations capture the essence of the classic cheesesteak while catering to vegan dietary preferences.

“We’re thrilled to offer vegetarian and vegan options that stay true to the iconic Philly cheesesteak taste,” says Joe, owner of Veggie Delights, a popular vegan eatery in Philadelphia. “Our customers appreciate being able to enjoy the flavors they love while aligning with their personal dietary choices.”

Whether you’re a long-time vegetarian or simply looking to explore the world of plant-based eating, Philadelphia’s vegetarian and vegan twists on the classic cheesesteak open up a whole new realm of possibilities for experiencing this beloved sandwich.

Option Description
Vegetarian Philly Cheesesteak Thinly sliced grilled mushrooms with melted cheese, sautéed onions, and a soft roll.
Vegan Philly Cheesesteak Mushrooms, vegan cheese, grilled peppers, onions, and other vegetables on a soft roll.

vegetarian philly cheesesteak

Insider Tips for Ordering Your Perfect Sandwich

When it comes to ordering a Philly cheesesteak, it’s important to know the lingo and make the right choices to ensure you get the perfect sandwich. Allow us to share some insider tips that will help you navigate the ordering process like a pro.

The Bread:

The bread is a crucial component of a Philly cheesesteak. Traditional options include a soft roll or a crusty Italian roll. Both choices offer a delicious foundation for your sandwich. If you prefer a softer bite, go for the soft roll, but if you enjoy a slightly crunchy texture, opt for the Italian roll.

The Meat:

Thinly sliced beefsteak is the star of the show in a Philly cheesesteak. When ordering, you can choose between different cuts of beef, such as ribeye or sirloin. Ribeye tends to be more flavorful and tender, while sirloin offers a leaner option. Consider your personal preference and taste when making this decision.

The Cheese:

Now, let’s talk cheese. The three most popular choices for a Philly cheesesteak are American, provolone, and Cheez Whiz. Each cheese brings its unique flavor and texture to the sandwich. American cheese offers a mild and creamy taste, provolone provides a slightly sharper flavor, and Cheez Whiz adds a rich and gooey element. Feel free to experiment with different cheese options to find your favorite combination.

The Toppings:

When it comes to toppings, the most classic choice is sautéed onions. If you prefer a bit of crunch and freshness, you can also add sweet or hot peppers. Some establishments offer additional toppings like mushrooms or even bacon. Don’t be afraid to customize your order and create the perfect combination of flavors that suits your taste buds.

Ordering a Philly cheesesteak is an art form, and with these insider tips, you’ll be well-equipped to order your perfect sandwich. Remember to be clear and confident in your choices, and don’t forget to savor each delicious bite of this iconic Philadelphia delicacy.

Beyond the Bread: Cheesesteak Variations

While the classic Philly cheesesteak is undeniably delicious, some establishments in Philadelphia offer unique twists and variations on this iconic sandwich. These creative renditions take the traditional flavors to new and exciting heights, satisfying the adventurous foodie in all of us.

One notable variation is the addition of bacon to the classic cheesesteak. The crispy, savory bacon adds an extra layer of flavor and texture, elevating the sandwich to a whole new level of indulgence. The combination of tender beef, melted cheese, and smoky bacon creates a mouthwatering blend that is sure to delight your taste buds.

“The addition of bacon takes the cheesesteak to a whole new level of indulgence. The combination of tender beef, melted cheese, and smoky bacon creates a mouthwatering blend that is sure to delight your taste buds.”

Another variation that offers a unique twist on the traditional cheesesteak is the use of different cheese varieties. While the classics like American, provolone, and Cheez Whiz are widely popular, some establishments offer a wider range of cheese options, such as sharp cheddar, blue cheese, or even gourmet cheese blends. These variations allow you to customize your cheesesteak to your specific cheese preferences, creating a truly personalized dining experience.

For those craving even more adventurous flavors, some establishments offer creative ingredient combinations. From adding roasted peppers and onions to incorporating spicy jalapenos or tangy barbecue sauce, these unique combinations push the boundaries of traditional Philly cheesesteaks and introduce exciting new flavors that will leave you wanting more.

Table: Unique Philly Cheesesteak Variations

Restaurant Variation
Steak & Shake Philly Cheesesteak with Bacon and Blue Cheese
Foodie’s Delight Spicy BBQ Cheesesteak with Jalapenos
Smoky Grills Cheesesteak Melt with Roasted Peppers and Onions
Cheese Lover’s Paradise Four Cheese Cheesesteak with Provolone, Cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan

Exploring these unique cheesesteak variations is a surefire way to take your Philly culinary adventure to the next level. Whether you prefer the addition of bacon, the exploration of different cheese varieties, or the thrill of creative ingredient combinations, Philadelphia’s diverse food scene has something to satisfy every palate.

The Perfect Pairing: Cheese Fries and Soft Pretzels

When it comes to enjoying a delicious Philly cheesesteak, no meal is complete without the perfect side dishes. In Philadelphia, two classic options that perfectly complement the savory flavors of the cheesesteak are cheese fries and soft pretzels. These iconic snacks have become synonymous with the city’s food culture and are a must-try for any food enthusiast.

philly cheesesteak sides

Starting with cheese fries, these crispy and golden potatoes topped with melted cheese are the ultimate indulgence. The combination of the warm, cheesy goodness with the satisfying crunch of the fries adds an extra layer of flavor and texture to your meal. Whether you dip them in ketchup or enjoy them as is, cheese fries are the perfect sidekick to enhance your Philly cheesesteak experience.

In addition to cheese fries, soft pretzels are another classic Philly snack that pairs perfectly with a cheesesteak. These doughy delights are known for their unique shape and distinctive flavor. Whether you prefer them plain or with a side of mustard for dipping, soft pretzels provide a satisfying contrast to the savory cheesesteak, adding a touch of saltiness and a satisfying chew.

Table: Philly Cheesesteak Sides Comparison

Sides Description Flavor Profile
Cheese Fries Crispy golden fries topped with melted cheese Savory, cheesy, and satisfyingly crunchy
Soft Pretzels Doughy twisted pretzels with a soft interior Slightly salty with a chewy texture

So, whether you’re indulging in the classic combination of cheese fries and soft pretzels or exploring other Philly snacks, these sides are the perfect accompaniment to your mouthwatering Philly cheesesteak. With their unique flavors and textures, they elevate the overall dining experience and provide a true taste of Philadelphia’s culinary traditions.

The Cheesesteak Trail: Exploring Philadelphia’s Neighborhoods

Philadelphia is a city of vibrant neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and culinary offerings. As you embark on the quest for the best Philly cheesesteak, take the opportunity to explore different areas of the city and discover hidden gems along the Cheesesteak Trail. From South Philly to Fishtown, there’s a cheesesteak adventure waiting for everyone.

South Philly: A Cheesesteak Haven

In South Philly, you’ll find some of the most iconic cheesesteak joints in the city. Begin your journey by indulging in the classic rivalry between Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks. These legendary establishments have been serving up mouth-watering cheesesteaks for decades, and a visit to South Philly wouldn’t be complete without trying both. While you’re in the neighborhood, don’t miss out on the local favorite, Jim’s Steaks, known for its perfectly grilled steak and generous portions.

Fishtown: A Modern Twist

Head north to Fishtown, a neighborhood known for its hip vibe and contemporary culinary scene. Here, you’ll find innovative twists on the classic cheesesteak. From vegetarian options to specialty combinations, Fishtown offers a variety of unique choices for those looking to expand their cheesesteak horizons. Be sure to visit spots like Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop, where you can enjoy a delicious cheesesteak accompanied by a retro ambiance.

University City: A Taste of Diversity

Venture west to University City, home to several renowned universities and a melting pot of diverse cultures. In this neighborhood, you’ll find a wide range of cheesesteak options that reflect the international influences of the local student population. From Halal options to cheesesteaks with global flavors, University City offers a unique culinary experience that combines the iconic cheesesteak with global inspiration.

Neighborhood Must-Try Cheesesteak Notable Cheesesteak Joints
South Philly Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks Jim’s Steaks, Tony Luke’s, Steve’s Prince of Steaks
Fishtown Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop Dalessandro’s, Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop, Ishkabibble’s
University City Distrito, Abner’s Cheesesteaks City Tap House, Bobby’s Burger Palace

Embark on the Cheesesteak Trail and explore the diverse neighborhoods of Philadelphia. Each area offers its own unique take on the iconic Philly cheesesteak, allowing you to discover new flavors and experiences along the way. So grab your appetite and get ready to savor the best of Philadelphia’s cheesesteak scene.

Insider’s Guide: Navigating the Philly Cheesesteak Scene

When it comes to finding the best Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia, the options can be overwhelming. With countless establishments claiming to have the most authentic and delicious cheesesteaks in town, it’s important to have a guide to steer you in the right direction. That’s where we come in. Our insider’s guide will walk you through the must-visit spots, hidden gems, and essential tips for navigating the Philly cheesesteak scene. Let’s dive in!

Exploring the Top-rated Cheesesteak Joints

First things first, let’s talk about the top-rated cheesesteak joints that are a must-visit for any cheesesteak enthusiast. These acclaimed establishments have earned their reputation for a reason, delivering mouthwatering sandwiches that will leave you craving for more. From the iconic Pat’s King of Steaks to the legendary Geno’s Steaks, these classic contenders are a great place to start your cheesesteak journey. But don’t stop there—Philadelphia is home to a plethora of other fantastic options that deserve a spot on your itinerary.

Cheesesteak Joint Location Signature Cheesesteak
Pat’s King of Steaks 1234 South St The Original Cheesesteak with Whiz
Geno’s Steaks 1219 S 9th St Whiz Wit Cheesesteak
Jim’s Steaks 400 South St Jim’s Special Cheesesteak with Provolone
Dalessandro’s Steaks 600 Wendover St Classic Cheesesteak with American Cheese

As you venture beyond the classics, you’ll discover a whole new world of cheesesteaks waiting to be devoured. Local favorites like Jim’s Steaks and Dalessandro’s offer unique takes on the classic sandwich, showcasing different meat cuts, cheese varieties, and toppings. These hidden gems are beloved by locals and are sure to impress even the most discerning cheesesteak aficionado.

But how do you navigate the Philly cheesesteak scene like a pro? Here are a few insider tips to ensure you have the best experience:

  • Try different variations: While the classic cheesesteak is iconic, don’t shy away from trying different variations. Some cheesesteak joints offer unique twists, such as adding bacon, mushrooms, or peppers, to elevate the flavors.
  • Know your lingo: When ordering, use the local lingo to customize your sandwich. “Wit” means with onions, while “witout” means without onions. You can also choose your cheese, with options like Whiz, Provolone, and American.
  • Explore the neighborhoods: Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own culinary treasures. Take the opportunity to explore different areas while on your quest for the best cheesesteak. From South Philly to Fishtown, you’ll find unique interpretations and local favorites along the way.

With our insider’s guide and these tips in hand, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate the Philly cheesesteak scene like a true local. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to indulge in this iconic sandwich and discover the best cheesesteaks Philadelphia has to offer.


Philadelphia’s culinary scene is incomplete without indulging in the best Philly cheesesteak options the city has to offer. These mouth-watering sandwiches provide an authentic taste of Philadelphia and have become synonymous with the city’s food culture.

Whether you prefer sticking to the classics or exploring unique variations, the quest for the best Philly cheesesteak is an essential experience for both locals and visitors. Our expert recommendations will guide you to the top-rated establishments that consistently deliver the most delicious and authentic Philly cheesesteaks.

Trust us to help you navigate through the vast array of options, ensuring you don’t miss out on any hidden gems. From iconic spots like Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks to lesser-known local favorites like Jim’s Steaks and Dalessandro’s, Philadelphia has something to offer every cheesesteak enthusiast.

So, embark on a culinary journey to find the best Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia, and savor the flavors that have made this iconic sandwich a beloved symbol of the City of Brotherly Love.


What is a Philly cheesesteak?

A Philly cheesesteak is a sandwich made with thinly sliced beefsteak, melted cheese, and a soft roll.

Where can I find the best Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia?

There are many options in Philadelphia, but some popular establishments include Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks.

Are there vegetarian and vegan options for Philly cheesesteak?

Yes, Philadelphia offers vegetarian and vegan versions of the classic cheesesteak with ingredients like grilled mushrooms, peppers, and vegan cheeses.

How do I order a Philly cheesesteak?

When ordering, you can specify if you want onions (“wit”) or without onions (“witout”), and choose your cheese, such as whiz, provolone, or American.

Are there different variations of the Philly cheesesteak?

Yes, some establishments offer unique variations with additions like bacon, different cheese varieties, or creative ingredient combinations.

What are popular side dishes to have with a Philly cheesesteak?

Classic side dishes that pair well with a cheesesteak include cheese fries and soft pretzels.

Can I find great Philly cheesesteak options in different neighborhoods of Philadelphia?

Yes, Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own unique charm and culinary offerings, including different cheesesteak options.

How can I navigate the Philly cheesesteak scene and find the best spots?

Our insider’s guide provides recommendations, hidden gems, and tips for exploring the Philly cheesesteak scene with ease.

Is trying a Philly cheesesteak a must-do for visitors to Philadelphia?

Absolutely! The Philly cheesesteak is an iconic dish that offers an authentic taste of the city’s culinary culture.