If you’re in Philadelphia, it would be a travesty to not experience an authentic Philly cheesesteak. Its thinly sliced pieces of cheese-covered beef, encased in a long crusty hoagie roll, have made Philly famous. With March 24 being National Cheesesteak Day, we thought it would be helpful to put together a guide to eating cheesesteaks here that includes not only tried and true favorites, but also vegan options and under-the-radar gems. So loosen your belt and get ready to pack on a pound or two — it's time to eat!
Pat’s King of Steaks
1237 E. Passyunk Ave.
The foodstuff dates back to 1930, when Pat Olivieri created the steak sandwich, which later morphed into the cheesesteak. Pat’s King of Steaks is still owned and operated by the Olivieri family, so it doesn’t get much more authentic than that. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they offer a plain steak sandwich, cheesesteak, pizza steak, pepper steak, mushroom steak and more from one of the most famous cheesesteak shops in the world.
1219 S. Ninth St.
Right across from Pat’s King of Steaks is Geno’s, founded in 1966 by Joey Vento, whose son, Geno, now oversees the family business. Like Pat’s, it’s open 24/7 and offers a range of cheesesteak options as well as hoagies and roast pork sandwiches. Their website boasts many celebrities that stopped by for a bite like Justin Timberlake, Elton John and Jessica Simpson.
400 South St.
Jim’s Steaks is nearly as old as Pat’s, founded in 1939 at its original West Philly location (431 N. 62nd St.), which is still open today. Its South Street location is probably the most iconic, open since 1976 at the heart of Philly’s most famous street. Jim’s has also expanded to the Northeast as well as Delaware County over the years.
121 S. 17th St.
So you’re in town for business and don’t have time for a cheesesteak expedition? Not to worry. Square 1682 in Center City has an upscale cheesesteak on the lunch menu that hits all the right notes. The Chef Bobby Surdam special features short rib with roasted peppers, onion jam and cheddar cheese sauce. It even comes with fries.
The Little Lion
243 Chestnut St.
Dying to have a Philly cheesesteak but on a trip with a few picky eaters? The Little Lion in Old City has an extensive menu of comfort food favorites to satisfy everyone in your entourage. Their rib-eye cheesesteak is covered with wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, horseradish cream and sharp cheddar and also comes with fries. Wash it down with one of their craft beers and you’ll be fueled for a day of sightseeing.
237 S. 18th St.
If you feel like having a really ritzy cheesesteak, it doesn’t get much more luxe than the $120 option at Barclay Prime in Rittenhouse. It comes with wagyu rib eye, foie gras and truffled cheese whiz served on a freshly baked sesame roll. You’ll even get half of a bottle of champagne with your meal, to help you wash down all that fancy truffled cheese whiz.
507 S. Sixth St.
No meat? No dairy? No problem. Blackbird Pizzeria near South Street routinely gets praised for having the best vegan cheesesteak in the city. Seared seitan is topped with rosemary and garlic grilled onions, green peppers, vegan whiz (yes, that’s a thing) and it comes served on an artisanal hoagie roll.
Hip City Veg
121 S. Broad St., 214 S. 40th St., 127 S. 18th St.
This Philly-based chain of fast, wholesome vegan fare is rapidly expanding, and it’s easy to see why. Its food is so good, even nonvegans love it. Their Philly steak sandwich (pulled “steak,” grilled onion, mushroom, lettuce, tomato on a long whole wheat roll) is a popular menu item. The only thing: Organic ketchup is used instead of Cheese Whiz, so technically it’s just a vegan steak sandwich. We’re not complaining, though!
530 South St.
If your friends want to get their cheesesteak fix at Jim’s, you can walk down a block to Tattooed Mom on South Street for their Philly vegan steak sandwich. The quirky bar/restaurant has personality for days and there are nonvegan/vegetarian options as well.
So where do you get your cheesesteaks? Tell us in the comments below and we just might check it out and add it to our list.