Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Best Cheesesteaks in Philly

There is no one in the world who can legitimately judge a cheesesteak contest without being from Philly. And there are few from Philly who can more legitimately judge them than me.

That's a mighty big claim to make in this town, home of the most awesome and delicious sandwich on God's green earth. But notice that I didn't go overboard saying I was THE most qualified - just that few are MORE qualified than I am. Let's just say that I have enjoyed more than my share, and have enjoyed them at most all of the best joints.

So I certainly feel as qualified as anyone to put forth my choices for the best cheesesteaks in Philly over the past year of 2013. While I hate to rank my favorites, I'll do it just for argument sake, because nothing sparks a debate or argument like a good old-fashioned subjective ranking. Suffice it to say, every one of these is a personal favorite.

For a cheesesteak to reach my list, it needs to be three things. First, it has to be from within the city limits of Philadelphia, where by far the best cheesesteaks in the world are made, and where they originated. Second, it has to taste great. Pretty obvious, right? And third, I like it when a place or a sandwich has something unique that adds to the meal or overall experience.

As far as my own order, I am a "Wiz witout" guy. I like my cheesesteaks made with Cheese Whiz melted into them, and without fried onions. Every once in awhile, I'll go "Whiz wit", light on those fried onions. Once in a blue moon, maybe American cheese instead of the Whiz. I also like it slathered in ketchup. If I can get a great order of fries on the side, all the better. And a milkshake would be super, but a Coke is just as fine a side drink.

I am not making a comment on the texture, meat, cheese, condiments, etc in the particular sandwiches on my list. Leave that to alleged expert taste-tester foodie types. They ALL taste great. They are all within the city limits. They all bring something extra to the experience.

For instance, 'Wit or Witout' has the best fries of any of these places, and Steve's aren't far behind. That's always a nice bonus as a side dish. 'Chinks', recently changed to "Joe's Steaks & Soda Shop" due only to political correctness reasons, has the best milkshakes, with their 'Steak & Shake' combo a must-have.

Geno's and Pat's are legendary longtime rivals directly across the street from one another, have the South Philly outside eating experience, and Geno's has the bonus of being major law enforcement supporters. 'Johns Roast Pork' has that same outside eating in South Philly, and also has the bonus of awesome seeded rolls.

Campo's is the only Old City/downtown shop to make my list. They also have the bonus of being my very favorite cheesesteak experience: their other stand in Ashburn Alley at Citizens Bank Park. There are few things better than enjoying a delicious Campo's cheesesteak before a Phillies game at a stand-up bar looking out over the outfield on a gorgeous spring/summer day.

So here without further elaboration are the best cheesesteak joints in Philly for the year 2013. Remember, being at the bottom of this list doesn't mean you're the worst, or that you don't have a good sandwich. Just the opposite - you don't even get ON this list without being one of the best:

1. Campo's: 214 Market Street (Old City) & Citizens Bank Park (Ashburn Alley)
2. John's Roast Pork: 14 Snyder Avenue (South Philly, just east of I-95)
3. Geno's: 1219 S. 9th Street (South Philly, 9th betw Wharton/Federal)
4. Wit or Witout: 9970 Roosevelt Blvd (Red Lion Rd) & 7352 Frankford Avenue
5. Joe's: 6030 Torresdale Avenue (Tacony)
6. Pat's: 1237 E. Passyunk Avenue (South Philly, right across from Geno's)
7. Steve's: 2711 Comly Road & 7200 Bustleton Ave

Get out to any or all of these great cheesesteak joints during 2014 and enjoy the best sandwiches that your mouth has ever tasted. If you think a place deserves a spot on the 2014 list, let me know. I will be sure to give it a try in the coming year. I already have a few places lined up as candidates!


Matthew Veasey said...

FOR 2014, already been given a few spots to try: In NE Philly it's Gaetanos on Frankford Ave, The Fresh Works on Knights Rd, and Little Petes along State Rd. Down in South Philly it's Talk of the Town at Broad & Packer, and Philips on Passyunk betw 22nd/23rd. In Old City, Sonnys near the Liberty Bell.

Kevin P. Doran said...

I must be a snob wit my cheesesteaks or maybe it is because I grew up eating Dalesandro's (Delis for short ). I do not like cheese wiz on my steak. I do not need fries wit it. I like my steak chopped with the cheese melted into it. Make mine a mushroom cheese steak wit sauce and onions. Shouldn't have to say fried onions. The sauce goes on top of the steak not inside on the roll to make it mushy and fall apart. Never like Pat's. Genos is ok. Tony Lukes is better. And for something different but the same try the Grey Lodge on Frankford Ave near Harbison.