The Philly cheesesteak, thinly sliced beefsteak and melted cheese on a hoagie roll, is a local institution in Philadelphia. Created in 1930 by Pat and Harry Olivieri, who owned a hotdog stand, the steak sandwich became popular after a local cab driver encouraged the Olivieri’s to ditch the hotdogs and focus on the sandwich. Pat eventually opened Pat's King of Steaks, which is still in business today. Though hundreds of eateries in Philadelphia serve cheesesteaks, we have chosen two notable contenders for best in the city.
An award-winning eatery, Tony Luke’s, established by Tony Lucidonio, Sr. and his sons, Tony Luke, Jr. and Nicky Lucidonio, features a mouthwatering cheesesteak, made with 100% hormone and steroid-free rib-eye steak, topped with American cheese, provolone or Kraft Cheez Whiz. Cooked to order, the cheesesteak is served on homemade bread and can be customized with a variety of toppings. Luke’s Philly cheesesteak has been one of the restaurant's most popular sandwiches since 1992. The sandwich can be paired perfectly with natural cut french fries, which can be seasoned with Chipotle BBQ, salt and vinegar, or Maryland crab seasoning. The original location on Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia, sells cheesesteaks from streetside windows that can be enjoyed at the outdoor picnic tables or purchased to go. Tony Luke’s now owns stores across the country, as well as in Bahrain and the Mid-Atlantic region.
Geno’s Steaks, directly across from Pat's King of Steaks, is a worthy competitor. Geno’s, which opens 24/7, serves quality thinly sliced rib-eye steak with fresh onions on homemade bread. Founded in 1966 by Joey Vento, the restaurant is now run by his son Geno Vento. Joey had learned to make the perfect Philly cheesesteak at his dad’s shop, Jim’s Steaks, in the 1940’s. The eatery was awarded Best of Philly for Best Takeout by Philadelphia Magazine in 2000, and has consistently been ranked among the best cheesesteak spots in the city. Other variations on the original cheesesteak at Geno's are the pizza steak,the mushroom steak and the pepper steak. To order, simply head to the window, say American, provolone or Cheese Whiz, a local favorite, whether you want onions or not, pay and pick up your order. Then order a drink at the next window.
Runner-Up: Sonny’s Famous Steaks, near the Liberty Bell, serves one of Philadelphia's best cheesesteaks. A fifties-style eatery with chrome-rimmed shared tables, Sonny’s serves freshly-sliced ribeye on soft Amoroso rolls, topped with provolone or Cheez Whiz. The secret at Sonny’s is to cook the steak without oil, in its own juices. Other variations include the bacon cheesesteak with applewood smoked bacon and cheese, the pizza steak with marinara sauce and mozzarella, and the pepperoni cheesesteak. Another plus at Sonny’s is the staff, which is friendly and more than happy to give you the inside scoop on making the perfect Philly cheesesteak.