10 Ways to Spot a Fake Philly Cheesesteak

An American icon that’s often imitated but never duplicated, the Philly Cheesesteak appears on menus around the country… but that doesn’t mean you’re getting the authentic City of Brotherly Love experience. We sat down with one of the premier ‘steak slingers in all of Philly, Tony Luke’s, to find out how to spot a counterfeit.

Dan McKay/Thrillist

1. It’s called a “Philly” cheesesteak on the menu

 Residents of Philadelphia call what is arguably the number one sandwich in the world simply a “cheesesteak.” There’s no need to add the geographic moniker. It’s a cheesesteak. The fact that it originated and hails from Philly is a given.

2. It's not on a crusty Italian roll

It should be slightly crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. If you're getting a spongy, doughy piece of bread, then it's all kinds of wrong.

3. It's not made with grilled rib-eye steak

Meat that's chopped like this isn't the easiest to differentiate, but if your sandwich spot is hesitant to tell you what cut they're using, run far, far away.

4. It's listed with pickles peppers on the menu as standard

While there are definitely rules with cheesesteaks, there's always room to move around. Peppers and pickles are an option but should never be required in a proper cheesesteak experience. Same with onions. “Wit” or “wittout” fried onions are both perfectly fine choices.

Dan McKay/Thrillist

5. It’s got ketchup

Some people (bad people) like the stuff on their cheesesteak but the folks at Tony Luke’s wince a little at that.

6. The server gives you utensils

 It’s eaten by hand, never with knife and fork, ya animal.

7. It’s not juicier than a Tupac movie

The drip factor is big with a proper cheesesteak so get out your napkins and bibs and prepare to get greasy (but in a really good way).

Courtesy of Tony Luke's

8. It doesn’t have American cheese, Provolone or Cheez Whiz

Whiz didn’t show up on the culinary scene until the 1950s, but it’s solidified itself as a solid option in any authentic cheesesteak. Whatever your dairy choice, the melty melding of meat and cheese is key for authenticity... but that's not to say there aren't some cheese choices that are just not acceptable.

9. It has Swiss cheese

Plenty of places try to pull off this move, and it makes the fellas at Tony Luke's cry. And by "cry" we mean "willing to send over some nice gentleman to the offending restaurant for a word with the chef".

10. It’s something other than a sandwich

We shouldn’t have to say this, but just in case: These days cheesesteak has become a flavor, not just a delicious sandwich. You’ll find cheesesteak pizza, cheesesteak potato chips, cheesesteak pasta mixes & even cheesesteak flavored vodka, sausage, dog bones, and soup. Do yourself (and Tony Luke’s heart) a favor and stick with the sandwich.