The Best Cheesesteaks In PhillyThe 18 best cheesesteaks in the city.
When anyone thinks of food in Philly, the first thing that comes to mind is a mountain of chopped beef piled on a long roll that’s dripping with cheese. We get territorial about cheesesteaks—we argue over cheeses, roll density, and toppings, and when we pass a “Philly Steaks” shop in any other city, we scrutinize it like Olympic judges do gymnastics routines.
The perfect cheesesteak is different for everyone—and some can even get pretty wild. But when we’re looking for long, crackly fresh bread, steak that's been chopped into an entirely new form, perfectly fried onion, and melty cheese, these are the 18 best places to grab one.
The first bite into a cheesesteak from Angelo’s feels like stepping off the airplane at the beginning of a vacation. All the problems of daily life fade away after just one taste of the shredded steak and melted Cooper Sharp that’s layered into warm, toasty, and crackly seeded rolls. The Bella Vista cash-only spot is usually more packed than Walmart on Black Friday, but since they serve the best cheesesteak (and some of the best pizza) in town, it’s always worth the wait.
The Best Pizza In Philadelphia
Anytime somebody tells us they haven't seen My Cousin Vinny, we’re jealous that they still get to experience Marisa Tomei's incredible performance for the first time. The only thing that comes close to giving us the same “first-time” feeling, no matter how many times we have it, is a cheesesteak from John’s Roast Pork. At this South Philly spot, they masterfully dice the beef like they're filming a knife infomercial, while the sesame seeds on the crackly bread add to the juicy, flavorful mound of provolone and steak. Because there’s nowhere to sit inside, you can pick up a steak at the window like you’re at a drive-thru. Just know that they are cash-only.
photo credit: EMILY SCHINDLER
There are a few things that we always do when we find ourselves on Lincoln Drive: hit up the Wissahickon Trail and pick up a cheesesteak from this Roxborough spot (in that order). The bread here is long, soft, and chewy, and the beef is chopped into dense stringy shreds that are the perfect weight. The toppings here are free, so you should remix your steaks with crushed red pepper flakes or smother them in American and sharp provolone (our favorite). Plus, you can double up the cheese for an extra $4, which will kind of make your sandwich look like a mini fondue fountain surrounded by bread.
Cheesesteaks in this town are sacred, and choosing the place to spend your money on one can be a bigger show of trust than having your friend park your new car. It won’t be a wasted journey if you get one from this Dickinson Narrows' corner spot. They believe in big portions—you would probably only need one or two for a picnic or tailgate with a few of your friends—and they can be topped with things like grilled onions, peppers, and broccoli rabe. You may need a plate about the size of Captain America’s shield to eat one, but each sandwich is oozing with American cheese and full of thick quality steak.
photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO
Like a few other places on this list, stepping into Joe’s is like walking onto the set of Grease. On a casual weeknight, this throwback soda shop-themed spot is the go-to for a cheesesteak that will have cheesy lava pouring out of it after a single bite. Plus, the oniony bites full of provolone, thick slabs of beef, and slather of mayo (which makes the sandwich super creamy) may have you randomly breaking out into song as you enjoy it—just like in the musical.
photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO
When people think of stellar cheesesteaks, they don’t usually think of the Northeast. But if you stop by this casual Italian restaurant in a shopping center on Holme Ave., you’ll see a line of people waiting for one like it’s the hottest club in town. The signature here is the Don Cheech’s Steak—it’s the perfect combination of thick-sliced ribeye, melty Cooper Sharp, and fried onions on a seeded roll. We’re considering writing it a love letter (or at least a Megan Thee Stallion-esque verse). Although there may be a wait to get your hands on one, once you do, you’ll think the Northeast is the center of the universe.
If you’re grabbing a steak from Woodrow’s, order it the Woody way. That means you’ll get a long roll packed with thinly-sliced ribeye, spicy cherry pepper mayo, onions, and a creamy housemade truffle whiz that makes each bite more velvety than the next. It’s the kind of sandwich you’ll end up craving whenever you see anything that’s a shade of cheesy orange, or will just have you counting down to your next visit like it’s a NASA launch. They only have a few seats inside the South Street shop, but no matter where you eat this thing, you’ll experience the fantastic combo of juicy beef and semi-charred onions that get a little pop from the peppery mayo.
When Oh Brother Philly gets a little bit busy, we deeply consider doing an army crawl to weave through the line and see if anyone notices. It would be worth it just to get our hands on a cheesesteak from this Old City spot a little sooner. The toasted roll gives the sandwich a crispy edge, plus the amount of beef you get in one sandwich feels like it came from a whole ribeye. But we prefer it this way, especially considering it costs way less than something you'd get at a steakhouse.
photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo
It’s rare that we add a cheesesteak to our “best of” list, but this one quickly went straight to the top. South Philly's Nipotina makes a lot of great sandwiches, but it's The Eye that we just can't quit. It’s juicy with tender ribeye, but the toasted roll never gets soggy. The chopped onions have bite, and work perfectly with the rich, melted Cooper Sharp. You can customize it with about 100 different toppings, and we plan to try them all.
Jaxx Steaks in Dickinson Narrows offers you something not every spot on this list does: a place where you can sit back, eat a cheesesteak, have a few drinks, and stare at some Philly-themed chalk art on its walls. While they do have a few steak options here, including one that’s topped with broccoli rabe like a roast pork hybrid, the regular steak is still the best. That’s because of how toasty the bread gets, and the way the blend of onions and super thinly-sliced beef perfectly complements the gooey cheddar. Since they have plenty of local beers in both bottles and on tap, it’s like they know the best duo—outside of water ice and a sunny day—is an ice-cold beer and a cheesesteak.
Max’s isn’t hard to miss. They have a massive bold neon sign out front, the scent of sizzling beef and onions luring you inside, and when you pick up half of the foot long steak sandwich, the gooey provolone makes a waterfall as you bring it to your mouth. A cheesesteak at the North Philly spot will run you $11, and while they have a few options like pepper steaks, chicken, and mushroom, there’s nothing better than one loaded with onions and tangy pickles. The Italian roll is long and fluffy, but it’s firm enough to hold the juicy cuts of steak—which you get so much of that when you first open the sandwich, you’ll just have to assume the bread is somewhere in the pile. They also happen to be open until 1am on weekdays and 2am on the weekends, so they can be your go-to move after a night at Lou & Choo's or Clock Bar.
This West Oak Lane spot has been the place in the area to go for a beefy cheesesteak since they opened in 1959. The long Italian roll is suffocated by such a large mound of meat that if your mouth had its own inner monologue, it would probably say something like “we need a bigger jaw.” This also makes one cheesesteak perfect for two people, if you like a person enough to share the juicy steak that gets a tangy boost from a zigzag of ketchup.
Ah yes, the most expensive cheesesteak in town. For $140, you can sit in this sleek Rittenhouse steakhouse and have a sandwich full of wagyu ribeye, foie gras, onions, and a tangy truffled cheese whiz. The elements of the cheesesteak work—the bread is buttery while the steak is tender—and it comes with a bottle of champagne which is great for the table when you order it as a starter. The bubbly offsets the truffle flavor, and it also helps you forget about the number of normal cheesesteaks you could’ve bought with the money you spent on this one.
We remember when we heard about a french toast breakfast sandwich for the first time and thought, “Why didn’t anyone think of this glorious combo before?” That’s how we feel every time we get a cheesesteak from Gilben’s Bakery. Every cheesesteak at the West Oak Lane spot comes packed into a long garlic roll that you smell long before you bring it to your mouth. They even have an extra cheesy cheesesteak because they understand our innate desire to smother things in American cheese. The extra cheese does make the sandwich a little heavier, especially if you also add on ketchup like we do, so it’s best to slice it and enjoy it in portions unless you want to eat the equivalent of cheesesteak hash when it inevitably falls apart. But even if that’s the case, you’ll just have a mound of cheesy beef and sauteed onions that’s still delicious.
This blend of melted provolone, soft onions, and thick chunks of beef from this South Street spot is the perfect thing after a few slushies from nearby Fat Tuesday. One of the few spots in the city that has more chicken options than beef, Ishkabibble's cheesesteaks can either be topped with American, provolone, or whiz, and go great with their half lemonade, half grape Gremlin drink. Whenever you stop by, you’re guaranteed to get a steak that’s on a long crackly roll and is the perfect squishy texture from all of the residual steak juices.
Sonny’s is the best place in Old City for a great cheesesteak. It comes with thick pieces of ribeye that come layered on their long rolls, and they have have lots of cheese options, like American, whiz, mozzarella, and even blue. We're partial to the provolone so you can get that extra sharp flavor. Plus, we’re pretty sure a cheesesteak with blue cheese crumbles is the quickest way to get a “Are You Even From Here” trophy.
photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo
At Saad's Halal in West Philly, make sure you pay attention to the people making your sandwich. If you’re waiting in line or sitting at booth, you’ll have a front-row seat to folks in the kitchen creating something as beautiful as another Sixers championship trophy. From the way the diced onions give the sandwich an extra crunch to the tanginess of the pickles and extra provolone cheese, watching it all come together is a process that would make a food version of SportsCenter’s Top 10. What you end up with is a steak that’s packed with so much meat that if it wasn’t for the tight wrapping, the bread would be permanently open-faced.
With so many cheesesteak spots in the city, in some neighborhoods, it may feel like a game of Where’s Waldo when trying to point out the best of the best. North Philly’s Shizz’s isn’t surrounded by a bunch of places serving steaks, so it’s the area’s best place to get a sandwich with sizzling onions and big chunks of beef. They sell steaks here that come in both snackable sizes (which are $5 and measure about the length of your hand) and larger ones for $9 that's big enough for a meal. The large is so big, in fact, that you may have some leftovers for breakfast the next day, which, like finding Waldo in that color maze, will always make us happy.