Food & Drink

Philly’s 10 most underrated cheesesteaks

Published On 10/29/2014 Published On 10/29/2014
Thrillist

If there's one thing Philly has a lot of it's... um, problems... and cheesesteaks. In fact, we've got so many cheesesteaks that's it's hard to know which ones are any good, especially when the hoagies that top the “best of” lists from Visit Philly to GQ are usually the same few local favorites. That's why we've rounded up 10 underrated cheesesteaks you should totally try right now...

Flickr/Bryce Edwards

Mama's Pizzeria

Cala Cynwyd

The 'burbs have good cheesesteaks too, as evidenced by this sorta misnamed shop, where the chicken cheesesteak is way more popular than the actual pizza, and they've got enough history to give any Downtown one-syllable hoagie shop a run for its money.

Slack's Hoagie Shack - Newtown, PA

Slack's Hoagie Shack

Multiple Locations

Despite several franchises in key locations around Philly and DelCo, Slack’s is often omitted from top 10 lists, and it’s hard to know why considering they offer discounted specials throughout the week, as well as dozens of delicious hoagies, sandwiches, and deli options.

The Original Thunderbird Steakhouse

Thunderbird Steakhouse

Broomall

Another DelCo spot that also boasts good pizza and wings, the massive Thunderbird Special has been a local favorite since the shop opened in 1956. They're are best enjoyed with a milkshake on the side, or if you’re not feeling quite so fat, try the deli specials made on rye bread.

George's Sandwich Shop

George's Sandwich Shop

Bella Vista

Whether you opt for the indoor counter or the to-go window, this authentic Philly favorite is home to some of the most cherished local sandwiches. They're served on moist, soft bread, but despite that they get relatively little public acclaim. Until NOW!!

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Noir

Passyunk

So this off-menu item isn't technically a cheesesteak, but even French-Canadians love our signature sandwich, so try yours with a taste of Québécois in pot pie form. The pie’s flaky pastry canopy guarantees forkfuls of pan-grilled ribeye, caramelized onions, and mushrooms, all swimming in a house-made cheddar-prov-Asiago whiz.

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KAMI

University City

For a cheesesteak on the go, your underrated food truck of choice is KAMI -- a Korean lunch cart that does cheesesteaks with your choice of spicy chicken, pork, or bulgogi beef topped with melted cream cheese and/or provolone, then finished with homemade kimchi and a secret-recipe hot sauce.

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Barclay Prime

Rittenhouse Square

Somehow Philly’s patron saint of eats, Stephen Starr, and his cheesesteak at Barclay Prime have slipped from the radar. The ‘steak is served on a freshly baked sesame roll that's stuffed with foie gras & Wagyu ribeye and spooned with truffle whiz (yes, it’s a thing). And you thought the neon lights at Geno’s were fancy.

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Jake's Sandwich Board

Midtown Village

It's best known for overstuffed monthly specials involving PB&J milkshakes, but instead you should take on the Jake’s Five Pound Philly Challenge. Shell out $35 and you shall receive a 2ft, three pound sandwich, which also includes four soft pretzels, a box of Tastykakes, 24 mini Peanut Chews, and one cherry soda, just in case you forgot what city you were in. It’s all yours if you finish in less than 45 minutes.

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McGillin's Olde Ale House

Penn Center

What's better than a regular old(e) cheesesteak? An off-menu corned beef cheesesteak, which replaces the usual chipped ribeye with salt-cured Reuben-filler bundled with melted cheddar inside a hoagie roll.

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Joe's Steaks + Soda Shop

Tacony

If Joe’s Steaks has slipped from your awesome cheesesteak consciousness, it can only be because of it's relatively recent name change. But do not fear, the revamped and significantly less offensively named sandwich shop still offers the same hand-sliced ribeye and onions (plus fizzing egg creams and floats with house-made sodas) that it did when the place was called Chink's.

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1. Mama's Pizzeria 426 Belmont Ave, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

This burbs joint makes some great cheesesteaks. The name of the shop is a bit of a misnomer considering locals talk more about the beloved chicken cheesesteak than the actual pizza.

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2. Thunderbird Steakhouse 2323 West Chester Pike, Broomall, PA 19008

Another DelCo spot that also boasts good pizza and wings, the massive cheesesteaks have been a local favorite since the shop opened and rea best enjoyed with a milkshake.

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3. Noir 1909 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, 19148 (South Philadelphia)

"Montreal-influenced Italian cuisine" sounds really... confusing? But fret not, Noir makes it happen and shows you that this type of cuisine not only exists, but is awesome. No choice can be a bad one when paired with an artisan wine or craft beer -- so go on, take your parents to a nice Montrealian dinner for once.

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4. Barclay Prime 237 S 18th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (Rittenhouse)

On the ground floor of the old Barclay building -- which was once the most famous hotel in the city and the site of the Abscam sting from American Hustle -- Barclay Prime is a high-end steakhouse, where options range from the petite 8oz filet to the dinosaur-sized PA Pride 50oz tomahawk rib eye. The first thing you need to do here is order the foie gras cheesesteak, because no other place has it. If for some reason you're not into delicious goose fat, dig into some Kobe sliders or another choice cut of steak.

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5. Jake's Sandwich Board 122 S 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (Market East)

Jake's slings authentic hoagies and variations on classics (try the cranberry-mustard pork sandwich). They're also known for their involvement with Food Network's Outrageous Food, where diners can attempt to chow down a 2ft Philly cheesesteak. Sounds hard, right? Then maybe we shouldn't tell you that it's also topped with Tastykakes and Peanut Chews.

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6. McGillin's Olde Ale House 1310 Drury St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (Market East)

Imagine: the year was 1860, Lincoln was elected, and McGillin's Olde Ale House first opened. It's safe to say they place is doing something right, because generations of people can't be wrong. This is the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philly. They have since changed the beer taps, we promise.

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7. Joe's Steaks + Soda Shop 6030 Torresdale Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19135

No longer will you have to lie in polite company about your favorite South Philly cheesesteak spot and say it's Tony Luke's, because the longtime employee now running Torresdale Ave's legendary Chink's Steaks has remade the 64yr-old sandwich shop as Joe's Steaks + Soda Shop, paying homage to the sandwich institution by only continuing its offensively good traditions like hand-slicing ribeye and onions, and fizzing egg creams and floats to order with house-made sodas.

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8. Slacks Hoagie Shack 1019 Easton Rd (& Other Locations), Willow Grove, PA 19090

Despite several franchises in key locations around Philly and DelCo, Slack’s is often omitted from top 10 lists, and it’s hard to know why considering they offer discounted specials throughout the week, as well as dozens of delicious hoagies, sandwiches, and deli options.

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