Best Philly Cheesesteaks: Top 5 Iconic Sandwiches, According To Experts

Philadelphia is known for many things: the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the famous “Rocky” steps. But for foodies, one thing stands out above the rest – the Philly cheesesteak. This sandwich, made with thinly sliced beef, melted cheese, and onions, has been a staple in Philadelphia for over 80 years. However you prefer your own sandwich, there’s no denying that a good cheesesteak is one of the best things you can eat in Philly. But where can you find the best cheesesteaks in Philly? In this article, we’ll explore some of the top spots to grab this iconic sandwich.

The first cheesesteak is said to have come into existence in 1930 when a hot dog vendor named Pat Olivieri threw beef on his grill to make a sandwich. A cab driver asked for one, the sandwich became popular by demand, and the rest is history. Decades later, the Philly cheesesteak has gone through all sorts of variations but is now a staple of Philadelphia’s urban culture.

Visiting a new city means taking part in everything the area has to offer, especially the food. Food is an essential part of any travel experience. No wonder it’s been found that people who travel frequently are happier than those who rarely take vacations! In a study conducted by Washington State University, 500 people were surveyed to examine the impact of traveling on long-term emotional wellness. The findings show people who regularly take trips of at least 75 miles from their home are about seven percent happier than respondents who rarely travel.

If you’re ready to get out of town and experience take a bite of everything Philadelphia has to offer, we’ve got your covered on the research for the best cheesesteaks in Philly. We consulted ten expert websites and crafted our list based on the top recommendations across all sites. If you know the best cheesesteak in Philly and don’t see it on the list, add it in the comments below!

Pat's King of Steaks
(Photo by The Daring Gourmet)

The List: Best Cheesesteaks In Philly, Most Recommended By Experts

1. John’s Roast Pork

John’s is a staple in the city that has been known since the birth of the Philly cheesesteak in 1930. They’re known for notoriously long lines, but are worth the wait. The Infatuation writes “they masterfully dice your beef up like they’re filming a knife infomercial, while the sesame seeds on the edge of the crackly edges of bread only add to the flavorful mound of provolone and steak.”

This shop opens on the weekends to meet the demand and close when they run out of bread. Thrillist raves that John’s scoops out the center of their rolls to fit all the ingredients, giving customers a sandwich to remember. “The walls of his cinder block shack in deep South Philly are lined with awards and articles from people who agree.” 

“John’s is the rare treasure that does several specialties at the highest level. In fact, the Bucci family has long made some of the best cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches in the city, all wrapped up inside a crusty Carangi’s roll,” says The Philadelphia Inquirer. “What to order? You can’t miss with the classic flow of American with onions. But we also love the sharp provolone and spinach for its South Philly swagger.”

2. Pat’s King of Steaks

Since opening in 1930, Pat’s has competed with it’s rival Geno’s Steaks directly across the street. The Travel writes “Pat’s has since grown from a small stand feeding locals to one of the most famous cheesesteaks shops in the country, if not the world.”

Pat’s is not necessarily where locals go to have the best cheesesteak in Philly, but is worth a try for a tourist stop since it’s responsible for the birth of the infamous sandwich. “The restaurant has been open since the 1930s, a whole three decades before Geno’s and Dalessandro’s,” adds Far and Wide.

3. Cosmi’s Deli

Cosmi’s is also one of the oldest places to get a classic Philly cheesesteak in town. “Started by stone mason Cosimo Quattrone, a native of Italy that came to the states through Ellis Island in 1928, Cosmi’s Deli opened way back in 1932 as Cosmi’s Supermarket & Grocery Store,” says Philadelphia Weekly.

The menu gives visitors a variety of options to choose from, with toppings like fried onions, hot peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and more. Broad Street Hockey says “It has a good amount of cheese and onions and it was overall a very solid sandwich.” 

“They believe in big portions—you would probably only need one or two for a picnic or tailgate with a few of your friends—and they can be topped with things like grilled onions, peppers, and broccoli rabe,” writes The Infatuation. “You may need a plate about the size of Captain America’s shield to eat one, but each sandwich is oozing with American cheese and full of quality and thick steak.”


4. Ishkabibbile’s Eatery

“Since 1979, Ishkabibble’s on South Street has been serving up some fine steaks. They have a friendly cross-street rivalry with Jim’s,” says Guide to Philly. “But they focus on very different segments of the sandwich-loving population. At Ishkabibble’s, the focus is on the different, rather than the traditional.”

Despite having other creative sandwiches on the menu such as the chicken cheesesteak (made with chicken tenders), this location still delivers a soulful classic Philly cheesesteak. South Street explains “This blend of melted provolone, soft onions, and ⅛-inch-thick chunks of beef from this South Street spot is the perfect thing after a few slushies from nearby Fat Tuesday.”

You can even try a creative beverage if you’re feeling adventurous. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, “as much as the shop is known for its cheesesteaks, it’s also popular for its “Gremlin” drink, a concoction made up of lemonade and grape juice.”


5. Dalessandro’s Steaks & Hoagies

Dalessandro’s earned five stars from TimeOut, and even though the joint is cash only, the line moves fairly quickly. The quality of ingredients and cooking make for a mouthwatering sandwich. Hotel Slash mentions “At Dalessandro’s, the basic cheesesteak is a hoagie with shaved steak, onions and cheese sauce, with a huge choice of additional toppings.”

Steaks here are fresh and cooked to order. “The steaks here come out tender, but not soggy in grease (unlike some other places). They differentiate themselves by using large pieces of fried onion that you can really taste,” adds Guide to Philly.

“Dalessandro’s should be on the short list of every lover of steaks “with.” The onions are hand-sliced, then sauteed in an olive and vegetable oil blend and left to simmer on the grill in a mound for hours,” describes a reviewer at Thrillist. “The result is a glistening stew of sweetness, made even more delicious when leavened by Dalessandro’s almost equally famous house-roasted long hot peppers.”

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.


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About the Author

Elsa Lee

Elsa is a freelance journalist, copywriter, and marketer based out of the Los Angeles area. She has been writing for 7 years.

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  1. Wtf are you from Boston or something! That’s the most ignorant list of top cheesesteaks!

    1. Agreed. What a terrible list.
      Pats.? Laughable. Tourist trap more like it.
      Dels used to be good but it has gone done hill. The bread doesn’t hold up to the meat and it sogs right thru.
      Ishkabibbile’s belong on a list but it may not be the top 5.
      JOHNS does deserve the spot but seems like they are starting to drop some.

  2. Yup, people eat cheese steaks, but we old school folks never did, a steak wit was our order with hot peppers. Cheese steaks are a newbie phenomenon.

  3. I can’t for the life of me understand how you could leave out Joe’s Steaks from this list! As I am not from Philly, but travel there often, I can’t honestly say that they are thee number one place for the ultimate cheese steak sandwich, but I will say that the are at least a top three contender!!!!
    I don’t ever leave Philadelphia without a cheesesteak fix, and I almost always make sure it’s Joe’s. I have even on many occasions, taken one to go and driven it home to Newark, NJ because NOTHING here can compare to an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich!
    If anyone is reading this review, you need to NOT leave Philadelphia without checking out Joe’s Steaks for the best cheesesteak ever!!! Make sure you order it with WIZ!!!

  4. Any list with the tourist trap known as Pats is suspect. Probably the worst chessesteak in the city. Overpriced, flavorless, surly counter people.

    1. If I was coming to Philly, where should I go for an authentic Philly Cheese Steak??

  5. Pat’s should not be on the list. Out of towners go because its iconic. Many better places to go.

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