Where To Get The Best Philly Cheesesteak
Here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your Philly Cheesesteak experience:
According to local legend, in 1933, Pat was just a guy with a hot dog stand. One day he was grilling up some chopped steak and onions for his own lunch when a cab driver and regular customer inquired about the delicious smell, asked to try the sandwich, and suggested Pat forget about hot dogs and start selling those chopped steak sandwiches. Pat soon took the cabbie’s advice, and by 1940, Pat’s restaurant was open on the same corner in South Philly. A couple decades later, in 1966, Joey Vento decided to make things interesting by opening up his own stand across the street and naming it Geno’s.
While history is fuzzy, many say Geno’s tries to take credit for the cheesesteak by claiming they were the first to add cheese to the sandwiches, but no one really knows what’s fact or fiction at this point.
Where to Go
With hundreds of places offering them up, the next logical question is “where should I go to get a cheesesteak?”
If you want a cheesesteak just for the bucket list or historical experience, then we recommend you join the tourists queuing up outside Pat’s and Geno’s. Just pick the shortest line; or if you’re there with a friend or family, order one from each, split them, and weigh in on the age old question: “Pat’s or Geno’s?”
Both are open 24 hours a day, only have outdoor seating, only accept cash, and require customers to order in code to keep the lines moving (more details below).
If tourist traps aren’t your thing, and you prefer to try one of “Philly’s Best Cheesesteaks”, here are three options often found at the top of review lists: Sonny’s Famous Steaks is located on Market Street in Old City, just a few blocks from the Liberty Bell.
Joe’s Steaks and Soda Shop is just a block away from the Girard Stop on the Market Frankford Line Subway, and the perfect place to grab a cheesesteak if you’re exploring trendy Fishtown. There are vegetarian and vegan options at this location as well as gluten free bread available to meet all dietary needs. Garage’s second location is right across the street- it is also BYOCS.
And if you’re looking for something really adventurous, consider trekking to Max’s Steaks in North Philly. While it’s in a shabbier part of town, which keeps it off most people’s radars, Max’s has received rave reviews from Philly native celebrities like Meek Mill and Kevin Hart. It also recently got a little extra attention when it was featured in a prominent scene in the newest Rocky film, Creed.
How To Order
No matter where you end up, you will most likely encounter a line. Cheesesteak places keep the lines moving quickly by asking guests to be ready with their order when they get to the register and to use a special code or shorthand when ordering. The goal is to order in as few words as possible. You really shouldn’t need more than three…
Wit or Witout
Traditionally, a Philly cheesesteak will come with fried onions, but it’s completely up to you. Begin your order by letting the server know your preference by stating “Wit” (with onions) or “Witout” (without onions).
Most places will let you select the type of cheese that ends up on your cheesesteak with the ridiculously over the top Cheese Whiz as the usual front runner. Once you’ve declared your onion preference, move on to naming the type of cheese you want: American, Provolone, Mozzarella, or Whiz.
The Order [Quantity] + [Onions] + [Cheese] + [Have Your Money Ready] = Philly Cheesesteak!
“One Wit American” = I would like one cheesesteak with onions and American cheese.
“Two Witout Whiz” = I would like two cheesesteaks without onions but with Cheese Whiz.
“One Wit Provolone, One Witout Mozzarella” = I would like one cheesesteak with onions and provolone and one without onions but with mozzarella.”
And that’s all there is to it. Now you’re ready to get out there and take on Philly (or at least a cheesesteak stand). Let us know where you end up by tagging @SlateAndHearth in your photos on social media.