The Philly cheesesteak – soft bread filled with an indulgent mix of beef and gooey cheese – is a longstanding food favourite in Philadelphia. Here’s where to find the very best of themNungwi Village
The cheesesteak – thin slices of beef cooked on a griddle and stuffed into a long, soft hoagie roll smeared with cheese (preferably a nuclear radiation-resistant processed brand known as Cheez Whiz) – clings to the sophisticated Philadelphia dining scene like an embarrassing ex-lover. While you’re much likelier to witness natives devouring roast pork-and-broccoli rabe, here are a few of the best places to sample an authentic cheesesteak.
John’s Roast Pork
You wouldn’t expect a place named for roast pork sandwiches to also make great cheesesteaks, but this cinderblock bunker serves the best in the city, sliced superthin and veiled in gooey cheese. Do like the longshoremen from the nearby docks and get there early: John’s closes at 3pm in the week and 4pm on Saturdays. You can phone ahead and they’ll have your sandwich ready. The roast pork, predictably, is also amazing.
• 14 East Snyder Ave, +1 215 463 1951, johnsroastpork.com. $8.50
Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop
The old guard grumbled when Joe Groh, owner of this luncheonette in the blue-collar Tacony neighbourhood since 1999, replaced its long-time name (Chink’s Steaks) with something more politically correct. Fortunately, nothing has changed about its cheesesteak, satisfying diners since ’49.
• 6030 Torresdale Ave, joessteaks.com. $6.50
Square pizzas baked in cast-iron pans are the main attractions at this family owned pizzeria, which relocated from north-east to South Philly two years ago. But chef Bobby Saritsoglu does so much more, including a beefy cheesesteak sandwiched between planks of house-made garlic bread.
• 901 South 10th St, santuccispizza.com. $8
Purists would scoff at calling the Paesano – the signature item at chef Peter McAndrews’s new-school Italian sandwich shop of the same name – a cheesesteak. Braised brisket subs in for seared rib-eye, provolone for the typical Wiz or American cheese, while additions of horseradish mayo, hot peppers, roasted tomatoes and a fried egg are considered downright blasphemous. Their loss. McAndrews’s Paesano delivers the same deadly delicious doses of beef and cheese.
• Italian Market, South Philly; 152 West Girard Avenue, North Philly, paesanosphillystyle.com. $8
American Sardine Bar
Scott Schroeder, chef of this arriviste hangout in up-and-coming Point Breeze, serves his “Pittsburgh” cheesesteak crowned with salt- and-pepper fries and vinegary coleslaw, as is the custom at Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But the heart of this late-night favourite is the beef, dry-aged rib-eye from New York butcher-to-the-stars Pat LaFrieda.
• 1800 Federal Street, americansardinebar.com. $13
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