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13 crazy cheesesteaks in one awesome weekend

Published On 05/02/2013 Published On 05/02/2013

The land that introduced the world to Pat's, Geno's, and the concept of standing in line all night for a cheesesteak is in the midst of a whizzed-beef renaissance so massive that hitting every spatula-swinger will take you forever. Which is why we distilled the best of the bunch into one meat-packed weekend. Start fasting immediately: Stop 1: Like anyone else in their right mind, you're in NE Philly for one reason only: cheesesteak. Start at the original Steve's Prince of Steaks on Bustleton Ave and keep this Food Network "best kept secret" quiet by downing their double-meat double-Whiz as fast as you can. Stop 2: Congratulations, you've earned a beer! Choose from 45 drafts and bottles inside stadium crab-fries purveyor Chickie's & Pete's original Robbins Ave locale, and pair your brew with a hoagie roll piled so high with cheese sauce-slathered buttered-up lobster-steak, it's no wonder the three bars here're stacked two stories up. Stop 3: Make your way to newly civilized NoLibs where no ordinary cheesesteak'll do and PYT delivers with their "Wiz Wit", a cheddar burger topped with a mound of sliced top round steak, Cheez Whiz, and a housemade roasted garlic-caramelized onion special sauce all sandwiched into a Philly Pretzel Factory pretzel bun. Stop 4: Before you cross into Old City, hit up Del Rossi's Cheesesteak Co. The latest venture from the guys behind Mike's Steaks offers 100+ under-$10 alcohol soaker-uppers til 2a, including signature steaks you can pile with eight different cheeses and 12 toppings including housemade chili and three kinds of peppers. Stop 5: Old City's Campo's Deli ships its 'steaks worldwide now, but saddle up to the original 1947 lunch counter and you can face down a freshly made jalapeno-cheddar and Buffalo-hot-sauced Heater, the spicy cheesesteak served at every Phillies and Flyers home game. Stop 6: Jake's Sandwich Board in Midtown Village's best known for its overstuffed monthly specials like a hash brown-sandwiched Turducken and peanut butter-and-jelly milkshakes, but save all your appetite to take on Jake's 5 Pound Philly Challenge. $34.95 gets you a 2ft, 3lb sandwich like the Prov- and fried onions-slathered slow-roasted brisket Mensch, which is served up with four soft pretzels, one box of Tastykakes, 24 mini Peanut Chews, and one Champ Cherry soda, yours free if you finish it in under 45mins. Stop 7: Now you deserve something more civilized, so burn off a bodega's worth of food on your six-block walk to Stephen Starr's Barclay Prime steakhouse for a freshly baked sesame roll stuffed with foie gras and Wagyu ribeye spooned with truffle Whiz and paired with a half-bottle of Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut. Then quietly sing Drake's "You Fancy, Huh" to yourself. Stop 8: You've now crawled past the halfway point and are a cheesesteak pro, so it only makes sense for you to hit Pat's King of Steaks. Pass on the mushroom pepper pizzasteak and score the original, done the same way since 1930 -- just remember, they don't care how fancy you are. It's cash only. Stop 9: Now ignore the hate (but not the traffic -- look both ways!) as you turn your back on Pat's for Geno's Steaks where they've been dishing out a ribeye slap-fight with their Italian Market rivals 24/7 since 1966. Stop 10: Since your stomach definitely doesn't hurt at this point, head a few blocks down South Philly's E Passyunk Ave restaurant row to French-Canadian comfort food-erie Noir and break into their cheesesteak pot pie's flaky pastry canopy for forkfuls of pan-grilled ribeye, caramelized onions, and mushrooms, all swimming in a housemade cheddar-Prov-Asiago Whiz. Stop 11: Arrive early at John's Roast Pork, a way-South Philly 1930s lunch shack which only serves until 3p, or, more likely, whenever it feels like, making its Steak Milano, grilled tomatoes over 120z of seasoned beef, a daily limited-time offer. Stop 12: There's no rushing to the original Tony Luke's, which serves its cheesesteak hoagie, piled with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, and cheddar, from 6a daily til 2a on weekends. Stop 13: Before you head home weeping in pain, score some street meat from KAMI, a Korean lunch cart parked at nearby Drexel and dishing out 'steaks meated-out with your choice of spicy chicken, pork, or bulgogi beef and topped with melted cream cheese and/or Prov, and finished with homemade kimchi and secret-recipe hot sauce. Then go home, and weep in pain.

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1. Steve's Prince of Steaks 41 S 16th St, Philadelphia, PA (Rittenhouse)

Stop in for award-winning double-meat ribeye jawns, bacon-cheese Texas Tommy dogs, and Italian hoagies. A rewarding late-night snack always awaits the viciously hungry passerby.

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2. Chickie's & Pete's 1526 Packer Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19145 (South Philadelphia)

This solid sports bar's got eight locations, all boasting an extensive menu with the works. Fret not health junkies, there is a separate gluten-free menu too.

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3. PYT 1050 N Hancock St, Philadelphia, PA 19123 (Nolibs)

It's hard to go wrong with consuming a half-pound of red-sauced meatball flattened between two fried lasagna patties. If you don't catch that, you can always back it up with a summery Jamaican jerk chicken burger bundled between fried plantains.

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4. Del Rossi's Cheesesteak Co 538 N 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19123 (Nolibs)

This can't-miss hoagie joint brings deliciously delusional (but totally logical at 2a) combinations together. (Remember mom's pepperoni burger pies?! Wait, no, us either.) The menu is chock full o' grub under $10... which makes this place just awesome.

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5. Campo's Deli 214 Market St, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Old City)

Serves authentic Philadelphia food in the heart of the hustle and bustle. Specializes in two authentic Philadelphia sandwiches -- Philly cheesesteaks and hoagies.

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6. 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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7. 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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8. Pat's King of Steaks 1237 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Pat's is the self-proclaimed originator of the much-loved Philly cheesesteak, a claim that produces some artery-clogging competition with its across-the-street rival, Geno's. You may just have to eat a sandwich (or five) to see which team you're on. Whatever you do, do it old-school with some whiz.

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9. Geno's Steaks 1219 South 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Not messing around since 1966, Geno's shills out some of the best cheesesteaks in town with a quick-moving line. Guests are, um, encouraged to know what kind of cheese they want before they order. Success doesn't leave much room for idle minds.

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10. Tony Luke's 39 E Oregon Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19148 (South Philadelphia)

This City of Brotherly Love mainstay specializes in classic Italian sandwiches and the only Philadelphia classic that matters -- the cheesesteak. Bite into one of their specialty jawns (the roast pork Italian should do) and tell your friends... unless your friends are fans of Pat's. Or Geno's. Or...

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11. John's Roast Pork 14 Snyder Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19148 (Pennsport)

Throwing down in the Philly cheesesteak arena is John's, local purveyor of delicious hot roast pork sandwiches. Arrive before 3pm to indulge in the cheesy, meaty wonders of this popular lunch shack. John's Roast Pork stands out in a city known for its sandwiches, and we are convinced that they serve up some of the best sandwiches of all time.

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