Where to find the best Philly cheesesteaks in Philadelphia
There are lots of great reasons to visit beautiful Philadelphia on the USA's eastern seaboard, not least of all the ubiquitous but delicious Philly cheesesteak. Google this gastronomical masterpiece and you'll find whole websites dedicated to rating the best options. Adam Ford checks in which his humble recommendation...
One of the best things about travelling is feasting on local specialties and I’ve tried some doozies in different places. We’re talking fried tarantulas in Cambodia, water bugs in Thailand, Mopani worms in Zimbabwe, guinea pig in Peru, and haggis and deep-fried Mars Bars in Scotland (the latter was quite a challenge, trust me!).
During a recent visit to fabulous Philadelphia — the second biggest city on the USA’s eastern seaboard — I discovered a local delicacy worth writing home about. It’s called a Philly cheesesteak, and it’s quite seriously heaven in a bun! Coming up is my recommendation for where to find the best Philly cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, but first, here’s a bit about the city itself.
Philadelphia has much to recommend it as a travel destination. It’s a very historic city, and the first port of call for most visitors is the Independence National Historic Park — which is located in the old town centre of this former US capital (Philadelphia served as the capital of the USA from 1790 to 1800, during the construction of Washington DC).
There are several significant sites to see in the park, including Independence Hall — the colonial building where the Declaration of Independence from the British (drafted by Thomas Jefferson) was signed by the original thirteen states on July 4, 1776. Independence Day has been celebrated on July 4 ever since.
The Independence National Historic Park is also where I was fortunate enough to encounter the Philly cheesesteak for the first time.
The concept sounds simple enough: fried ground beef, onions and melted cheese on a soft white bun — but not all cheesesteaks are created equal, as it turns out. Go online and you will find a plethora of sites rating the best options in Philadelphia, and grading them on key performance indicators such as ‘drip factor’ and the like. Pat’s King of Steaks often gets glowing reviews (and lays claim to actually inventing the cheesesteak back in 1930).
I obtained my cheesy piece of paradise from a food van on the corner of 16th and Chestnut. The van bore the title: ‘Mom’s’, along with a banner proclaiming ‘Voted Best of Philly Cheese Steaks’. I’m not sure when, or by whom, this accolade was bestowed on Mom, but the sandwich I received was absolutely sensational. I’m no aficionado in these matters obviously, but I‘d happily give this Philly cheesesteak a ’10’. It was magnificent!
I’m guessing that too many Philly cheesesteaks wouldn’t be good for the waistline, so those watching their holiday weight should pay a visit to the nearby Philadelphia Museum of Art — home to what has become known as the ‘Rocky Steps’. This was the location from the Rocky film franchise for Rocky Balboa’s famous training run up the 72 steps leading to the museum. There’s a statue in his honour and usually a few horizontally challenged tourists like me taking the opportunity to burn off their cheesy indulgence.
Do you have any tips for where to find the best Philly cheesesteaks in Philadelphia? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.