Last Updated on November 29, 2023 by Paige
Nothing inspires more heated debate in Philly than pondering the best cheesesteak. In a city as famous for its cheesy shaved-steak sandwiches as for its Revolutionary history, visitors are spoiled for choice. Guidebooks will steer you to Pat’s King of Steaks or Geno’s Steaks. But you’ll find fewer tourists at these five stupendous cheesesteak haunts.
Dalessandro’s Steaks and Hoagies (600 Wendover St.; 215-482-5407) Roxborough
Boasting five stars from TimeOut Philadelphia, this cash-only authentic cheesesteak shop is a favorite of locals. At Dalessandro’s, the basic cheesesteak is a hoagie with shaved steak, onions and cheese sauce, with a huge choice of additional toppings. One Yelp reviewer noted, “Dalessandro’s presents simple, humble steak sandwiches, without an over-excess of grease.”
This shop is located a bit north of city center, with Historic RittenhouseTown just a mile away in the beautiful Blue Bell Park. Even when sandwich-seekers cram into Dalessandro’s, the line moves fast. According to reviewers on Google, you’re unlikely to wait more than 10 minutes.
Jim’s Steaks (400 South St.; 215-928-1911) South Street District, Society Hill
On a hip street in Society Hill, Jim’s fans line up at this five-time winner of Philadelphia Magazine’s “Best of Philly” award. Expect quick service and delectable sandwiches, including the most popular shaved-steak hoagie served with your choice of cheese. Per a Google reviewer, this joint “shaves their meat super thin, which is a reason why the steaks have amazing flavor!”
Sonny’s Famous Steaks (228 Market St.; 215-629-5760) Old City
Perfect for a tourist on the go, Sonny’s is just three blocks from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Deemed the best cheesesteak shop in Philly by GQ Magazine, this place serves up perfect, traditional sandwiches: simple, hot, and super cheesy. First-timers might consider sticking with the Classic Philly Cheesesteak, served on fresh-baked bread with nothing but meat and cheese whiz.
Per one Yelp reviewer, “The cheesesteaks were spot on. The meat was cooked well but not tough, the cheese was nice and gooey, and the peppers added some sweetness.” And don’t forget the sides. Made-to-order mozzarella sticks, onion rings, French fries or bacon cheese fries also get raves.
Cleavers (108 S 18th St.; 215-515-3828) Penn Center
Looking for an authentic cheesesteak? In the heart of Philly, Cleavers offers everything from the classic rib-eye cheesesteak to more innovative options. Adore spicy foods? One TripAdvisor reviewer swears by Cleavers’ “Effin’ Hot Steak,” noting “the sriracha aioli and hot cherry pepper relish really made the steak. It was the perfect amount of spice.”
Meanwhile, one Yelper raved about “The Block” because “the additions of provolone, fried onions, portobello mushrooms, and green peppers are delicious and the beef was sooo juicy and tender!” The menu also features nearly a dozen chicken hoagies and three vegetarian sandwiches. Cleavers is near City Hall, the Franklin Institute and Rittenhouse Square.
Joe’s Steak + Soda Shop (1 W Girard Ave; 215-423-5637) Fishtown
This humble shop with the neon orange sign is famous for its kitschy 1950s flair. Located near the Underground Railroad Museum and “Please Touch” Museum, Joe’s is a convenient choice for families. Locals recommend the classic “perfect” cheesesteak and chicken cheesesteak. According to one Yelp reviewer, Joe’s has “lots of good quality steak cut in long strips that’s served on the best rolls. You can add many toppings and the mushrooms were freshly sliced and cooked to perfection.” There are also vegetarian options as well as a pickle bar in back to kick up the flavor.