Cheese steak revisited, along with Philadelphia

I am heading to the Philadelphia area in a few days. 

"But Fadda! But Fadda!", I can hear the New Jerseyans saying even now.  "Why…"

I’ll be staying at Mater Ecclesiae in Berlin, NJ for a little over a week. 

Fr. Pasley is bringing in the B Team to cover for him while he recovers from some surgery.  I’ve been there before a couple times and Latin isn’t especially mysterious for me.

No Iggles or Phillies games now, but I hope to get to the fine museum again, see some people and some of the sights, perhaps even have Philly Blognic 2 (for the fun PB1 at Rittenhouse Square here and here and here).  Perhaps something before the beginning of Lent?  Dunno…. not up to me…Cheese Steaks

But…  there is something of vital importance to deal with.

Cheese steaks.

I want to revive a discussion we have had a long time ago.

We all know the great rivalry between Geno’s (I like his English policy) and Pat’s, but I think the sheer importance of this question deserves renewed deeper study.

Okay… lemme ask you Philadelphians and den jump oudda da way.

Best Cheese Steak?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Zosimas says:

    I would have to say that Jimmy’s is the best.

  2. FrCharles says:

    This friar says: ‘wiz wit.’

  3. sjg4080 says:

    Mushroom heart attack wiz wit’ from Pat’s…hands down.

  4. MikeM says:

    I prefer the places in the Roxborough neighborhood. Delasandros is one, and that used to be the best, but it hasn’t been quite as good lately, so now I prefer Chubby’s, which is right across the street. If you’re looking for a huge sandwich, then I like “The Bellyfiller” at Larry’s over by Saint Joe’s University.

  5. Kris says:

    Here’s the advice I got while in Philly: skip those two and just go to the place everybody says in the neighborhood where you are.

    I have to agree with what they said. Usually just as good or better, and no horrendous wait! Just make sure you go by and get a Water Ice to finish everything off — the chain Rita’s is pretty darn good.

  6. Denis Crnkovic says:

    Heresy alert! (Philadelphia heresy follows, but what can I say?) Get on the train, go to 70 miles west to Lancaster, and go to Speed’s Steak and Sub Shop where you can get the best “Philly” cheesesteak on the planet. Then stop in at St Anthony’s for the EF Mass. Very nice Gregorian chant on the third Sundays.

    And, Father, you need to work on your Phi-ade-phia accent. Lose most of the “l” phoneme. Phi-ade-phians drive Ose-mo-bills and have a very high dipthong for a long “o”. Why TV insist on making Phi-ade-phians sound like they’re from the Bronx is beyond me.


  7. MikeJ9919 says:

    Tony Luke’s ( Nothing better than this after a Phillies game. And although their cheesesteaks are fantastic, I actually think their pork sandwich and / or chicken cutlet is better. Try it with provolone and broccoli rabe.

  8. Norah says:

    I am an Australian and the first I knew about Philly Cheesesteaks was from the “Like Mother Like Daughter” blog. Leila Lawler (the mother) posted her recipe. I really must try it.

  9. JoyfulMom7 says:

    Father, I will be singing in Philadelphia on Saturday! Maybe I can work it out to come to Mater Ecclesiae on Sunday for Mass. Will you be there on Sunday?

  10. Joyful: I will be there, and I will have the Sunday Masses, as far as I know.

  11. newtrad says:

    Tony Lukes, major league yum! But being from Jersey now residing in California I have to give props to the White House Cheese Steaks in Atlantic City! Oh what I wouldn’t give….BTW, I was at Mater Ecclesiae in Sept when visiting NJ, what a great parish and Fr. Pasley was great!

  12. B.C.M. says:


  13. I agree with my Franciscan friend that it must be a whiz wit, and it must be from Pat’s. Jim’s on South Street is very good, too, but between Pat’s and Geno’s, it’s not even close. Pat’s blows them away. I respect the Tony Luke’s suggestion, but you go there when you want the best roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwich you’ve ever had. A fine enough cheesteak, but it’s not Pat’s.

    Hope to see you while you’re here.

  14. ejcmartin says:

    This is like asking where is the best place to get fish and chips in St. John’s.

  15. markomalley says:

    Whichever you decide upon, don’t ask for it with Swiss ;-)

  16. Tom in NY says:

    There’s an easier way than Norah’s recipe. Outside of Phila, get thin sliced beef round usually labeled “for braciole.” Fresh is good, frozen better – you’ll see why. I remember Pat’s will slice its beef round frozen on a deli slicer. “Cheese with” means cheese steak with onions. Saute the thin slices of beef, and add your onions as the beef shows its moisture. Mixing beef juice with onions and cheese makes the distinctive taste. As the beef becomes well done, the onions have “sweated”, and it’s time to add the cheese on top. As it melts, take your previously sliced long roll and place over the beef-cheese-onion on the grill. Flip with spatula. Better than Trimalchio’s dinner party.
    The Passyunk-Washington-So. 9th Street axis, to my memory, won’t add pepper strips, mushrooms or tomato sauce. If you must, heat them on the side. In this way, the beef-onion taste will still be strong, and the other elements won’t grab the beef juices.
    Long sandwich rolls in Atlantic City have a distinct and delightful taste which may help your cheese steak experience. St. Nicholas Tolentine is up Tennesee Ave. from the Boardwalk.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  17. Sedgwick says:

    Hello muddah, hello fadduh, here I am at…Muddah Eccles-ya!

  18. Joe S.R. says:

    I say skip both. I’ve been to both numerous times and they both were too greasy, as in grease pouring out. Jim’s is my usual place, but not the one on South street, the one on 62nd near Girard. Careful there though, it’s not the best neighborhood. There’s also Anthony’s Pizza on 11th near Chestnut street.

    If you had been coming a few days earlier, Fr. you probably could have visited my parish for our patronal feast day’s procession and Solemn High mass, for Our Lady of Lourdes.

  19. Girgadis says:

    John’s Roast Pork at Snyder and Weccacoe, a near- the – waterfront luncheonette
    type place. Their cheesesteak actually won a James Beard award for culinary
    excellence. FWIW, we live a stone’s throw from Pat’s and Geno’s and we’ve
    just never been impressed with either enough to sacrifice the calories.

    I hope you can make a trip to the Reading Terminal Market when you’re here and
    if you can, schedule that trip for the end of the week or on a Saturday when all
    of the Amish merchants are open. And knowing that you like Jewish deli, I would
    also suggest a trip to Famous Deli at 4th and Bainbridge, just a block south from
    Jim’s Steaks (another good cheesesteak joint) at 4th and South. If you can make it
    to the Italian Market (home of St. Paul Parish, the only parish in Philadelphia
    to offer a weekly Missa Cantata) please be sure to visit DiBruno’s House of Cheese.
    Good grief, I’ve made myself hungry just thinking about all the places you can visit
    while you’re here!

  20. RVisotski says:

    It has been almost 20 years since I worked in Phily, but it seems like just yesterday when I had my last, Stoxy’s Cheese steak. They were a smaller chain, with a few stores, but boy, were they good.

  21. Erik P says:

    Agreed, that Tony Luke’s is top notch, and I usually go for the roast pork with broccoli rabe.If you want the best cheesesteak right now, you’ll have to head to the northeast on Torresdale ave to a place called Chinks steaks. They recently won a cheesesteak competition hosted by a local sportsradio station.

    As for the best liturgy you’ll have to head down to South Philly to St. Paul’s for Weekly EF Missa Cantata’s. If you’re closer to the main line, Our Lady of Lourdes has a N.O. Latin Mass, I think weekly.

  22. Mike says:

    Try the Corned Beef sandwich at the NY deli at the Market Place in Philly. It is simply the best sandwich I have ever had!

  23. caite says:

    Best cheesesteaks
    White House in Atlantic City..just get on the Expressway from Berlin and you will be there in half an hour..ok, 40 minutes.

    Best Roast Pork
    Tony Lukes or DiNic’s in Philly…with provolone and greens

  24. Edward Kennedy says:

    Best steaks in Philly. I’ve done the cheese steak challenge and this one was the best. MikeM has posted some of my other favorites though. Pat’s and Geno’s are OK, good for after a game. Tony Lukes is great for the roast pork, broccoli rabe and provolone. That’s a must have.

  25. caite says:

    it is all about the roll…and Philly can not compete with AC when it comes to the bread.

  26. Edward Kennedy says:

    Caite, I agree completely. There is nothing like Formica bread. I’ll take a White House Special over any other sandwich any day of the week.

  27. Joe S.R. says:

    caite, I have to disagree! D’Ambrosio’s is the best bakery in the region!

  28. Joe S.R. says:

    Oh, and Amoroso’s is pretty good as well.

  29. dcs says:

    As for the best liturgy you’ll have to head down to South Philly to St. Paul’s for Weekly EF Missa Cantata’s.

    St. Paul’s is very nice but why would one go to St. Paul’s if one is staying at Mater Ecclesiae? Plus, if Fr. is celebrating the 11:00 am Mass at Mater Ecclesiae, he would have to bilocate in order to get to St. Paul’s for the 12:00 noon Missa Cantata.

    If you want the best cheesesteak right now, you’ll have to head to the northeast on Torresdale ave to a place called Chinks steaks.

    Chink’s has very good milkshakes but their steaks leave something to be desired. The roll is top-notch but the meat is a bit bland.

  30. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Pat’s. Absolutely Pat’s, without question.

    I love Tony Luke’s roast pork.

    I have both places programed in my GPS and visit both whenever I have reason to pass through Philly.

  31. Rob Cartusciello says:

    A far more important question is where the blognic will be. Snow be d-mned.

  32. Erik P says:


    I offered Chink’s as it was selected as the best by a panel of local chefs and cheesesteak “connoisseurs” not just one individuals opinion, giving it a little more merit, In my humble opinion.

    Also, I understand that Father is staying at Mater Ecclesia and is committed for Sunday morning. Again, I offered St. Paul’s not specifically to Father, but to anyone who might travel to Philadelphia anytime in the future, since this is a public forum. I thought that was obvious but apparently not.

  33. John 6:54 says:

    I’ve had Geno’s and it was okay, will hit Pat’s next go around.

  34. dcs says:

    Erik P, I am sorry that I misunderstood you. I did not realize you were using “you” in the general sense.

    Chink’s actually finished second in the contest to which you refer – John’s Roast Pork finished #1:

  35. Father DiMaria says:

    By far the best cheese steak in the city is available within my parish boundaries at D’Alessandro’s on Oregon Avenue between 7th and 89th Street in South Philadelphia. It never disappoints. Fr. Z, let me know when you arrive…it would be good to see you again after all these years.

  36. robtbrown says:

    I am an Australian and the first I knew about Philly Cheesesteaks was from the “Like Mother Like Daughter” blog. Leila Lawler (the mother) posted her recipe. I really must try it.
    Comment by Norah

    Whatever you do, keep the Vegemite away from the sandwich.

  37. Fr. DiMaria: That would be a pleasure. And we may have to have a steak wit’ at your neighborhood place.

  38. jesusthroughmary says:

    I’m in the John’s Roast Pork camp, although I’ve never had a D’Alessandro’s cheesesteak.

  39. Paula says:

    As a LaSalle College student in the 70’s, I would have to say the Explorer’s Den. Don’t know if it’s still around, though.

  40. Erik P says:


    Thanks for the link, that article is hilarious. When I was in high school I worked in a kitchen where the head chef was a product of George Perrier. He was incredibly demanding but his food was always top notch!

  41. Not much blognic interest so far.

  42. dcs says:

    Thanks for the link, that article is hilarious. When I was in high school I worked in a kitchen where the head chef was a product of George Perrier. He was incredibly demanding but his food was always top notch!

    I don’t know if you had the opportunity to listen to the contest on the radio – you would have thought that Perrier was judging a chef competition or something like that. He was deadly serious! But for real hilarity you should hear him talk about the Eagles.

    Not much blognic interest so far.

    I’m sure it was overshadowed by the talk of cheesesteaks.

    For myself it’s purely a matter of worrying that someone will steal my parking spot at home. But I might be able to make it if it is held some place in Center City.

  43. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Father, my brother usually attends the Sunday Mass there in Berlin. In normal weather, I’d drive up from No VA to meet you – but I may still be digging out at that point. I hope my brother introduces himself to you with a cheesesteak recommendation.

    Here’s hoping all goes well and you can make it to your destinations safely.

    The request for cheesesteak opinions would start a fight on any other blog – good thing you have the log in rule for well-behaved folk. LOL

  44. jesusthroughmary says:

    For the record, I’d be interested in the blognic. You might want to create a separate post and ask for positive responses as comments.

  45. Rob Cartusciello says:

    I held off on the blognic talk so as to not jam up the thread. Lest there be any doubt, I am >really< interested in the blognic.

    Otherwise, please pass along the times of the Masses you will be saying.

  46. shin says:

    I’m not too far from there, in Manalapan NJ, takes about an hour and fifteen to get there. :)

    It’s one of the Latin masses I’ve been considering visiting or making a regular dedication to getting to.

    If there’s to be a get together well, I would be a fun thing.

  47. newtrad says:

    Edward and Caite-
    Thanks for supporting my nod to the White House! Formica’s bread is the bomb. My dad grew up there in Ducktown and raised me on their bread. To me they are the ONLY cheesesteaks. I eat them day old when my dad flies out, they’re that good!

  48. seminarian87 says:


    I live in Wilmington, DE and my family grew up in Philly…so Cheesteaks are no new thing to me. In fact, you can even find a quite decent one in Little Italy in Wilmington. But if you want to go to Philly…May I suggest Tony Lukes. Try the hellhole sandwich there….its not a cheesteak but its amazing…His roast pork with broccoli rabe and provolone is very good as well.

  49. seminarian87 says:

    For a Cheesteak Father you definitely want to go to Leo’s.

    Its a small ways from the city but right off 95…so its easy to get too. Ive been eating there for years.

    Leos is at: 1403 Chester Pike, Folcroft, PA

  50. jmgarciajr says:

    As someone who “did time” at Wharton, I vote Abner’s. My personal fave is the “pizza steak, wit'” and I could eat a cow’s worth right now, even if it IS equivalent to squirting silicone into my arteries.


  51. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    Puhleeze, a little slice of heaven is right around the corner from you, for some of the very best cheesesteaks anywhere. Jimmy’s Deli. 1550 New Brooklyn Erial Road Sicklerville, NJ 08081-9530 – (856) 435-3415

  52. devthakur says:

    Father, I’m disappointed to read your approving comment towards Geno’s “English-only policy.” That area of Philadelphia is becoming highly diverse, and the nature of Geno’s signs (and the timing) were clearly intended to take one side of the immigration debate.

    They are entitled to their opinion, but when I saw those signs, as a Catholic, son of immigrants, and as a friend to so many who have come from other countries, I found the signs very hurtful. I don’t care how good their steaks are, I will never go to Geno’s.

    In any case, the lines, the rushing, the insistence you order their way, the curt language on the signs … I’m not interested in either Pat’s or Geno’s. There are plenty of great places in Philly to get steaks where you are treated with courtesy and patience, and where you are free to do your best to communicate your order even if it’s not in English.

Comments are closed.