The Best Cheesesteaks In Philly
Here are the 22 best cheesesteaks in Philly.
When anyone thinks of food in Philly, the first thing that probably comes to their mind is a row of chopped beef slathered on a long roll that’s dripping with cheese. We get territorial about cheesesteaks—we argue over cheeses and the best rolls, 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, but we’re looking for long and crackly bread, shreds of steak that have been chopped to a point where the beef has taken on a new form entirely, perfectly grilled onion cubes, and melty cheese. The way we order a cheesesteak is a rite of passage or something that’s been passed down generationally like a family recipe.
Throughout time, the cheesesteak has had a chicken makeover (which some people prefer), has been made into a hoagie with lettuce and tomatoes, and has been topped with marinara for a pizza-style switch-up. But we all know that whether it’s game day, a weekend where you don’t have any plans, or just a day when you want a filling lunch, a simple steak can’t be beat. Since this is the city’s most important sandwich, we took our time to try every spot in Philly until we found the best ones. Read on to find a list of our favorites that you need to put on your cheesesteak bingo card.
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 bite of the shredded steak and melted cooper sharp that’s layered into warm, toasty, and crackly seeded rolls. The Bella Vista cash-only spot may be more packed than the crowds outside of Walmart during Black Friday, but since they serve the best cheesesteak (and some of the best pizza) in town, it’s all worth the wait.
The Best Pizza Places In Philadelphia
Max's Cheese Steaks
Max’s isn’t hard to miss. They have a massive and bold neon sign out front, the scent of sizzling beef and onions hits you as soon as you walk in, and when you pick up half of their 12-foot long steaks, the provolone cheese is so gooey that the strands will make 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’ll 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.
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Dalessandro’s Steaks and Hoagies
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 cuts of beef are 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.
This blend of melted provolone, soft onions, and ⅛-inch-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.
Jim's South St.
Some people think that between Geno’s and Pat’s, Passyunk Ave. is the place to go for a cheesesteak. But with South Street having spots like Ishkabibble's, Woodrow's, and Jim’s, this is the real cheesesteak Rodeo Drive in Philly. This place is a retro and cash-only spot filled with metallic chairs, neon signs, and a counter-service ordering system that will have you talking to a stranger about whether the perfect sandwich combination is american and onions or provolone, pickles, and peppers. We’d love to write a love letter (or at least a Black Thought-esque verse) to the sandwich here that's served on a long cushiony roll that perfectly balances the strips of beef and crispy textures from the long cubes of onions. Like a few other spots nearby, there’s always a wait to get your hands on a cheesesteak, but once your mouth is rimmed with oily juices from the beef and melted cheese, you’ll know the long wait is worth it.
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, but no matter where you eat this thing, you’ll experience the fantastic combo of juicy slabs of beef and semi-charred onions that get a little pop from the peppery mayo.
Larry’s has a few spots in the city, but the Bala location is the one we seek out for their long booths where we can catch a St. Joe’s game and simultaneously be surrounded by framed Allen Iverson posters and the glorious smells of grilled onions and beef. They have a few steaks here, but their best option is the Belly Buster. It’s long enough that they serve it to you on two round paper plates and a tray, and it comes packed with steak, fried onions, and salty american cheese. The bread is crisp on the outside, but you can see bubbly air pockets in the roll right after you take your first bite, and the ribeye basically melts in your mouth.
John's Roast Pork
Anytime somebody tells us they haven't seen Uncut Gems yet, we’re jealous that they'll get to experience Kevin Garnett's incredible acting performance for the first time. The only thing that can 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 your beef up like you’re watching a knife infomercial, and the sesame seeds on the edge of the crackly edges of bread only add to the 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 they are cash-only.
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 it’s a roast pork hybrid, the regular steak is still the best. That’s because of how toasty the bread gets, the way the blend of onions, cheese, and super thinly-sliced beef becomes a true showcase of gooey cheddar. Since they have plenty of local beers in bottles and on tap, it’s like they know the best duo—outside of water ice on a sunny day—is an ice-cold beer and a cheesesteak.
This throwback Roxborough spot is full of things like shiny barstools that could fit in on the set of Happy Days, homemade and bottled ginger ales and sodas, and cheesesteaks wrapped in foil and black-and-white paper big enough to keep you full even beyond dinner. When you finally unravel one, the clouds of heat coming off the bubbling provolone, warm ketchup, and cuts of beef are so satisfying that you can hear your inner child cheering immediately.
photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO
Joe's Steaks + Soda Shop
Like a few other places on this list, stepping into Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop is like walking onto the set of Grease. On a casual weeknight, this Northeast Philly place with a throwback jukebox and antique-looking barstools is the go-to spot for a cheesesteak that will have cheesy lava pouring out of it after just a single bite. And, just like the famous musical, the oniony bites full of provolone, thick slabs of beef, and mayo (which makes the sandwich super creamy) may have you randomly breaking out into song as you enjoy it.
Felton Mini Market
The beauty of corner stores can't be overstated. They’re places that mystically always have what you need and won’t charge you much more than a single SEPTA ride. Plus, they’re actually one of the best places to get a cheesesteak. At Felton Mini Market in West Philly, for about $5.50, you can get a cheesesteak platter that comes with a sandwich that you can top with anything from sweet peppers and onions, along with a side of golden fries. The beef is chopped to perfection and they don’t short-change you with the cheese. Every inch of the sandwich is drenched in american like it’s wearing a buttery and tangy coat.
Paganos Steaks and Hoagies
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 these juicy cuts of steak that get a tangy boost from a zigzag of ketchup. Packed to the brim with melted provolone, which is what we go for when we order it here, this is a cheesesteak that necessitates you eating some beef with a fork in order to physically be able to take your first bite.
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 even before you bring it to your mouth. They even have an extra cheesy cheesesteak because they understand our daily 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.
Ah yes, the most expensive cheesesteak in town. For $140, you can sit in this Rittenhouse steakhouse and have a sandwich full of slabs 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 cheesesteaks you could’ve bought with the money you spent on this one.
Sister Muhammad's Kitchen
This Germantown spot has every cheesesteak from chicken, lamb, and black bean vegetarian, and while they’re all good across the board, stick with the regular cheesesteak. It's only $6.50, has huge cuts of beef, the american cheese melts into each inch of the cheesesteak like a dairy-based wet t-shirt, and it all comes on a crispy and flaky roll that crackles in each bite but is still soft enough and chewy.
We’re sure if the Founding Fathers had a chance to bite into a cheesesteak from this South Philly sandwich spot, they would’ve added a “right to go to Gooey Looie’s every day” clause in one of those parchment scrolls. It’s one of those places where the sandwich is bursting with so much cooper sharp cheese that you can see the indents of the mounds of beef through the wrapper. It’s also a casual corner store that you can walk into every day and not have to deal with the hassle of a long line when trying to order. The Works here comes dressed up with pickles, onions, and peppers, and it’s the only way you should order it.
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 quality and thick steak.
Sonny's Famous Steaks
Sonny’s in Old City is a place that you can walk into for a casual lunch and eat a cheesesteak with thick cuts of ribeye that come layered on their long rolls. The cheese options are american, whiz, mozzarella, and even blue, but you should go with 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.
Oh Brother Philly
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 the sketchy behavior 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
Saad's Halal Restaurant
At Saad's Halal, 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.
Shizz's Steaks and Hoagies
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 Steaks and Hoagies 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 could be your full dinner. The large is big enough that you may have some leftovers for breakfast the next day, which (like finding Waldo in that color maze) will always make us happy.