You can’t say “Philly” without adding “cheesesteak”. They will be forever joined at the hip. I recently talked to someone from Boston who wasn’t impressed by the cheesesteak that was recommended to her. So we’re going to present to you our list of the Top 5 Best Cheesesteak places in Philadelphia.
Before we get started, we have to give honorable mention to Pat’s and Geno’s steaks. The first thing that outsiders ask Philadelphians is, “Which do you like – Pat’s or Geno’s?” The correct answer is: NEITHER (sorry)! But we give honorable mention to these two icons because they bring tourists to the City. But for a “real” Philly cheesesteak, we recommend these:
Number 5 – Mt. Airy Deli
Mt. Airy Deli isn’t your traditional cheesesteak shop. In fact, it’s not a cheesesteak shop at all – it’s a deli.
Can a deli really deliver a quality Philly cheesesteak? You betcha! One of the things that make them so unique, is that – in addition to beef and chicken cheesesteaks – you can get a surf and turf cheesesteak! Beef, shrimp, cheese, fried onions…. You can see why Mt Airy Deli made our list.
Give them a call at (215) 242-9274 to place your order ahead of time so you can get into that steak without delay.
Number 4 – Paesanos Philly Style
What makes Paesanos Philly Style unique among our list is that it’s the only one with multiple locations. So you’re not locked down when you’re ready to get your grub on.
Once you’ve made the decision to go to 1017 S. 9th St in South Philly, at Temple University in North Philly at 2012 N. Broad St or in Northern Liberties at 148 W. Girard Ave, it’s time to pick your sandwich.
Sure, you can get a traditional cheesesteak. And you’ll love it. But where can you go and get a cheesesteak made with roasted lamb sausage?! Add sun-dried cherry mostarda (a sweet-n-spicy Italian condiment), Gorgonzola & roasted fennel. Yeah, it’s worth the trip.
Call ahead to avoid the lines. For South Philly, call (215) 440-0371. Near Temple University the digits are (267) 639-3159. Rolling thru Northern Liberties? Call (267) 886-9556.
Number 3 – Ishkabibble’s
Anytime someone drives an hour and a half from Baltimore to Philadelphia for a cheesesteak, you know it has to be good. Ishkabibble’s is that place.
Nestled on South St between 4th and 3rd streets (337 South Street), there is no “good” time to go to Ishkabibble’s. It’s always jumping. As with most good cheesesteak spots in Philly, there’s not a ton of room. But it’s worth the effort.
Every good cheesesteak spot is going to offer you variety of the steaks that you can order. If you aren’t a fan of beef, you can order a chicken cheesesteak. Using real chunks of chicken, you can get your chicken cheesesteak with all the same fixings available for a regular cheesesteak.
So if you’re in South Philly or nearby Center City, do yourself a favor and stop by Ishkabibble’s. To avoid the wait, give them a call at (215) 923-4337 so you can get your steak and go. If one of the few tables is available, take a seat and enjoy the atmosphere.
Number 2 – Dalessandro’s
Not far from Kelly Drive on Henry Ave and Wendover St, sits one of the best cheesesteak shops in Philly.
Dalessandros makes cheesesteaks like they’re supposed to be made. If they come recommended and it sounds like a tourist trap, don’t worry; they’re the real deal. It’s easy to see why when there’s a line outside on almost any given evening or Saturday afternoon.
To avoid the line, call ahead at (215) 482-5407 to place your order. Make sure you have cash as they don’t take credit or debit. If you forgot, don’t worry; there’s an ATM inside. If you are avoiding beef, you can get a chicken cheesesteak with all the fixings as a regular steak.
Number 1 – Paganos Steaks and Hoagies
Just kissing the edge of the City near Cheltenham Ave, Paganos has been a fixture of the neighborhood at 7617 Ogontz Ave. They don’t have a website, but you can call (215) 549-1646 to make sure your order is ready.
If the cheesesteak shop you go to uses what looks like “Steak-ums”, turn around and walk out. Paganos does things right. With a mountain of fresh meat on the griddle, the cook takes his spatula and sections off meat, chops it up adds fried onions (that’s right – Philadelphians use “fried onions” not “grilled onions”) then lays the cheese on top.
After laying the bread on top, he slides the spatula under the meat and flips the whole sandwich over to be handed off to the girls who add the condiments. Once finished, the sandwich is big enough to club a seal (although we don’t recommend doing that).
So, if you’re in the vicinity of Cheltenham Mall, head over to Pagano’s. If it’s a Saturday afternoon, prepare to wait. And if you’re really adventurous, tell them you want a cheesesteak hoagie.
Honorable Mention: Gooey Looie’s – We give them honorable mention for steaks, but keep on the watch for our Top 5 Hoagie Shops. Let’s just say, this won’t be the last you’ve heard about Gooey Looie’s.