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Where to Find the BEST Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia – 5 BEST Spots

Where to Find the BEST Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia – 5 BEST Spots

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If you’re anything like us, then finding the best Philly cheesesteak in the city is high on your list of things to do when visiting Philadelphia

The City of Brotherly Love is famous for its food, and the Philly cheesesteak sandwich is hands down the top thing to eat here. Even if you’ve only got one day to explore Philadelphia, you have to eat a cheesesteak! But of course, not all Philly cheesesteaks are created equally, and we were excited to sample the best of the bunch. We went on a ton of Philadelphia food tours and also scouted out plenty of locations on our own.

While you can find a Philly cheesesteak pretty much anywhere in the city, there are some spots that you just can’t miss. That’s why we’ve rounded up our top 5 spots to get a Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia, including the original creator of the famous sandwich. 

Don’t have time to read the full article? Pat’s and Geno’s are the two classic spots to get a Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia. Bailey’s favorite, though, is Sonny’s in the Old City. If you want to combine sightseeing and cheesesteak tasting, you can do both on this 3-hour tour.

What is a Philly Cheesesteak?

Sonny’s cheese steak in Philadelphia
Sonny’s cheesesteak in Philadelphia
A close up of a cheese steak from Oh Brother Philly 
Yum!

A Philly cheesesteak is a fast food sandwich. It’s a long hoagie roll filled with thinly sliced beef, melted cheese, and sometimes fried onion. You can find different variations, but these are the classic components. 

According to legend, the Philly cheesesteak was first invented by the owners of a hotdog stand in the 1940s – and don’t worry, the OG Philly cheesesteak spot does feature on this list! 

The creation was an instant hit and took not only Philadelphia but the whole of the United States by storm. Nowadays, you can find Philly cheesesteaks all over the world, but there’s no better place to eat them than in Philly itself, of course. Plus, you have to eat, and considering the price of a cheesesteak, it’s one of the best cheap things to do in Philadelphia!

Related Read: If you’re a foodie and you’re also visiting New York City, you’ll love one of these fun food tours of NYC.

Where to Find the BEST Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia

1. Pat’s King of Steaks

Daniel out the front of Pats steaks during our segway food tour in Philadelphia, USA
Pat’s is the home of the Philly cheesesteak!
Daniel with a cheese steak from Pat’s King of Steaks 
Yum!

Pat’s King of Steaks is the original creator of the Philly cheesesteak, so paying this iconic spot a visit is a must for foodies. 

This place was founded in 1930 by Pat Olivieri, who owned a hotdog stand by the Italian Market in South Philly. The story goes that one day, Pat decided to mix it up at lunchtime and bought some chopped meat from a local butcher, cooked it over his grill, and put it on a roll with onions. He was spotted by a local cab driver who asked for a similar sandwich and then told Pat he should add his creation to the menu. 

The steak sandwich became popular, and in the 40s, Pat added cheese, and thus, the now-iconic Philly cheesesteak was born. 

The Olivieri family still owns the shop, and they have a well-known and mostly good-natured rivalry with Geno’s. Geno’s is another cheesesteak shop that opened across the road from Pat’s in the 1960s, hoping to capitalize off of their success. 

Pat’s King of Steaks is roughly a 10-minute drive from downtown Philly, and we loved visiting. There are lots of bright lights around and a buzzing atmosphere. Eating here is a whole experience, and you need to know how to order properly, or you’ll be sent to the back of the queue!

Thankfully, they have instructions on the walls and on their website. Basically, you need to know whether or not you want onions and which kind of cheese you want and be ready to pay in cash. Luckily, this place is open 24/7, so you can come here any time, and cheesesteak is known to be an excellent snack after a night out.

This is a historic spot, and it was really fun to visit, although we did find the cheesesteak to be quite greasy! Still, it’s very much a fast-food joint, so that’s to be expected. The cheesesteaks are full of flavor, and they definitely make a very satisfying cheat meal.  

2. Geno’s Steaks

Bailey stands out the front of Genos Steaks in Philadelphia, USA
Geno’s!
Bailey has a cheese steak from Genos in Philly
Yum!

Geno’s is Pat’s #1 rival – in fact, Pat’s vs. Geno’s is an ongoing debate among Philly locals, and everyone has their favorite! Although most locals will also tell you that these days the rivalry is hammed up for tourism purposes, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to compare the two cheesesteaks!

The reason Pat’s and Geno’s have such a longstanding rivalry is because Pat’s King of Steaks is the original Philly cheesesteak shop. Geno’s was founded by Joey Vento, who was clearly a pretty bold kind of guy because he saw how popular Pat’s was and decided to open up a rival shop selling the exact same sandwich right across the road. 

Needless to say, this didn’t go down too well with Pat’s, and the rivalry was born. 

In 1971, Joey Vento had a son, Geno, and changed the name of his shop accordingly. The rivalry continued, and at one point the owners went on Dr. Phil to try and improve relations. We can’t really say whether it worked or not.

Nowadays, there are Philly cheesesteak spots all over Philadelphia, but Geno’s remains Pat’s biggest competition. However, the rivalry is pretty good-natured these days. In fact, it boosts business for both spots!

Just like Pat’s, Geno’s is all about bright lights and billboards – you really can’t miss it. In terms of the sandwiches, we found that Geno’s cheesesteaks had more meat inside than Pat’s and were a little less greasy, but Pat’s had more flavor. And just like Pat’s, Geno’s is open 24/7.

Since the two cheesesteak shops are right opposite one another, our advice is to buy a sandwich from each and compare them bite-for-bite. I mean, you might as well when you’re here! We got one from each and shared. They were huge, so we definitely didn’t need a side of fries. 

3. Sonny’s Famous Steaks

Sonny’s cheese steak in Philadelphia
Sonny’s Famous Steaks in Philadelphia
Bailey eats a cheese steak in Philadelphia USA
I was very excited to try this one!
  • Types of cheesesteaks available: Steak, cheesesteak, bacon cheesesteak, loaded cheesesteak, pizza steak, pepperoni cheesesteak 
  • Price range: $10.75 – $14.50 USD 
  • Location: Old City 
  • Open: Daily from 11 am – 10 pm

Sonny’s offers a bit more of a fancy cheesesteak experience than Pat’s and Geno’s. That said, the visit is more relaxed because there aren’t strict instructions on how to order. Sonny’s does still get busy, though. You’ll often see lines around the block, but it moves very quickly, and you’ll usually get your cheesesteak in 15 minutes max. 

The shop is in the heart of the Old City, so it’s more accessible on foot than the two cheesesteak spots we’ve already talked about. In fact, Sonny’s is only a 5-minute walk from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, so it’s in a super convenient location. 

What we really liked about Sonny’s was the fact they have a bigger selection of cheeses, and you can also choose between chicken and beef cheesesteak, so you don’t have to miss out if you don’t eat beef. 

In fact, Bailey’s favorite cheesesteak was at Sonny’s. She chose blue cheese instead of American cheese or Cheese Whiz, which are the classic options. You can also have provolone or mozzarella cheese if you prefer! 

Sonny’s may not be quite as famous as Pat’s and Geno’s, but it’s very well known. We thought it really stood out for its high-quality meat. If you have two days to spend in Philly, you could even do your own taste test by visiting all three!

4. Oh Brother Philly

Oh Brother Philly cheese steak in Philadelphia
They stuff them full!
Daniel bites into a cheese steak in Oh Brother Philly 
Ready to dig in!
  • Types of cheesesteaks available: Steak, cheesesteak, French onion cheesesteak, Mediterranean, Mushroom Truffle, Sriracha 
  • Price range: $12 – $17 USD 
  • Location: Old City – near Penns Landing
  • Open: Sunday to Thursday 11 am – 11 pm, Friday/Saturday 11 am – 3 am

Oh Brother Philly was another of our favorite spots. Like Sonny’s, it offers fancier Philly cheesesteaks with options like Mediterranean, French onion, and mushroom truffle cheesesteaks. If you’re hitting a lot of different Philly cheesesteak spots in the city, then it’s definitely nice to shake it up and try a new twist on the classic sandwich! 

Another thing that we liked about Oh Brother Philly was that it has a nice seating area inside where you can enjoy your cheesesteak. They have quite a lot of other menu items like brisket sandwiches, burgers, chicken tenders, and loaded fries. But when we went, everyone in the restaurant was ordering cheesesteaks. When in Philly, right?

Just like Pat’s and Geno’s are opposite one another, Oh Brother Philly is just down the road from Sonny’s. They don’t have the same kind of rivalry, but we found they were both very strong contenders for the best Philly cheesesteaks in Philadelphia.

However, since Sonny’s and Oh Brother Philly are both in the Old City and thus are quite easy to walk to, you can always come back on different days to try both cheesesteaks.

5. Angelo’s Pizzeria

Angelo’s Pizzeria cheesesteak
Cheesesteak at Angelo’s Pizzeria
Angelo’s Pizzeria cheese steak from the side
How good does that look?
  • Types of cheesesteaks available: Beef, chicken, buffalo chicken, cheesesteak, pizza steak, Diavolo pizza cheesesteak 
  • Price range: $12 – $17 USD
  • Location: South Philly
  • Open: Wednesday to Sunday, 11 am – 7 pm

We know what you’re thinking – yes, this place is a pizzeria, but it’s also one of the most popular cheesesteak spots in Philadelphia. What we love about this place is that it’s not a tourist hotspot like Pat’s or Geno’s. Most of the people lining up outside are Philly locals! 

Angelo’s is well known for its tomato pie, which is also worth trying while you’re here, but their Philly cheesesteaks are so beloved that you can end up waiting over an hour for one. It’s so worth it, though! 

They use quality ribeye steak, and it’s served up on fresh, seeded bread. You can choose between Cooper Sharp, provolone, and American cheese, or there’s always the classic Cheese Whiz. They also sometimes offer specialty sandwiches that aren’t on the permanent menu, so it’s worth checking their Instagram page before you go to see if there’s anything special on offer. 

This is a true old-school sandwich shop. It’s cash-only and takeout-only, and no one gets special treatment. Even Bradley Cooper is said to have been spotted waiting in line, and he’s been photographed wearing an Angelo’s hoodie.

If you want good food and no frills, Angelo’s is a must. It’s famous for a reason! 

Related Read: If you’re planning to visit more East Coast cities, don’t take a trip to NYC without reading our comparison of the best New York City passes.

The Best Way to Try Cheesesteaks

Daniel bites into a cheese steak at Pat’s King of Steaks in Philadelphia, USA
Pat’s!
A cheese steak from Geno’s in Philadelphia, USA
Geno’s!

Uber

If you want to visit all of these Philly cheesesteak spots independently, then Uber is the way to go. 

You can take an Uber to the intersection of East Passyunk Avenue and 9th Street, where you’ll find both Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s, the famous rival cheesesteak shops. We recommend that you do what we did and compare them bite-for-bite! 

Sonny’s and Oh Brother Philly are also right down the street from one another in the Old City, so again it’s good to combine a trip to the two. You can do a bite-for-bite comparison if you want, but we liked sitting inside Oh Brother Philly, and they probably wouldn’t be too thrilled if you brought in another cheesesteak from one of their rivals. 

Then, you can Uber out to South Philly to try Angelo’s Pizzeria. It’s about a 10-minute ride from the Old City or 5 minutes from Pat’s and Geno’s.

You probably won’t have to visit them all on the same day. But if you do, Angelo’s has very long lines, so you’ll have time to digest your previous sandwiches if you’re starting to feel full!

Ultimately, I recommend spending a full 3 days in Philadelphia so you can try all the cheesesteak spots on this list!

Philadelphia Small-Group Night Tour + Cheesesteak

If you’re looking to combine sightseeing with taste-testing, then this 3-hour tour will be a blast. In fact, we think it’s one of the best tours in Philadelphia!

This combo tour promises to be super memorable because you get to visit one of the most legendary sandwich shops in the city and also see some of Philadelphia’s most famous sites at night! Most visitors do their Philadelphia sightseeing tours during the day, so you’ll have some spots practically all to yourself.

Your guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you to historic sites all throughout the city. From Independence Hall to Philadelphia’s Washington Monument, you’ll get to see some of the most famous spots in the city. This also includes the famous Liberty Bell, a national symbol of freedom and equality and an absolute must-visit in Philadelphia.

Of course, no tour of Philadelphia is complete without a Philly cheesesteak, so you’ll stop to grab one at the legendary Pat’s. Since Geno’s is right across from Pat’s, you can get a second cheesesteak to compare the two rivals if you want. However, that second cheesesteak will be your own expense.

These two cheesesteak spots aren’t in the center of the city, so we love that this tour provides transportation. (You can easily walk to most of the other spots from your hotel). The tour costs $114 USD per person, including roundtrip transportation from your hotel, guide, and Philly cheesesteak tasting. It begins at 6:30 pm and it’s one of the best Philadelphia by night tours available!

For a memorable night out in Philly (cheesesteak included!), book this combo tour online here.

Other Activities to do While You’re in Philadelphia

Bailey looks out the window of City Hall Tower in Philadelphia
Enjoying the view from the City Hall Tower
Two cocktails at Sassafras in Philadelphia, USA
Two cocktails at Sassafras in Philadelphia, USA

Eating Philly cheesesteaks is great and all, but it’s not the only thing you should do in the City of Brotherly Love! There are plenty of fun activities in Philadelphia. So, if you’re looking to fill that itinerary, check out some of my favorite options below.

  • Go for cocktails – Philly is home to awesome cocktail bars like the Ranstead Room, which is a candlelit speakeasy serving craft cocktails. Andra Hem is a Swedish-style cocktail bar with super unique ingredients, and South 2nd Street is good for bar hopping (head to Sassafras!). Or, join this small group cocktail tour which takes you to 4-5 bars that you’d probably never find by yourself.
  • See Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens – Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is, indeed, magical! This open-air gallery on South Street is known for its mosaics, which remind me a bit of Gaudi. It’s a great example of local art and the perfect destination to snap Instagram-worthy photos. You can also book this art tour that visits the Magic Gardens along with the city’s top murals.
  • Take an evening ghost tour – If you like dark history, try this Dark Philly Adult Night Tour, which is one of our favorite Philadelphia history tours! It delves into Philadelphia’s creepier past as you visit lots of historic places – including the city’s original red light district, execution sites, and haunted spots. Along the way, you’ll hear tales about the city’s vampires, ghosts, and pirates … oh my!
  • Ride on a hop-on, hop-off bus – To see all the city’s top sights, check out this hop-on, hop-off bus. It has a super comprehensive route and takes you to a ton of places, including Reading Terminal Market, City Hall, Rittenhouse Square, Love Park, Chinatown, and tons more! You get guided commentary but can still explore at your own pace.
  • Go up the City Hall Tower – Not everyone knows you can go up to the very top of the City Hall Tower, where you’ll get epic 360-degree views! You do need to book this tour well in advance as there are only a few spaces available per day. It only costs $15 USD per person and lasts for about 30 minutes, so it’s easy to fit into a busy sightseeing itinerary. 

Where to Stay in Philadelphia, USA

Element Philadelphia Downtown room with a view
Photo credit: Element Philadelphia Downtown

Philadelphia is a big city, and deciding where to stay can be overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve narrowed it down to our top choices for each budget range. So keep reading to find the best accommodations for you!

The Rittenhouse Hotel – $$$

The Rittenhouse Hotel is a centrally located, award-winning accommodation. It has that old-school Philadelphia feel with modern amenities. They offer a gym, an indoor heated pool, a sun terrace, and a fabulous restaurant. You can also enjoy British tea and cocktails in their tea room, which is connected to a gorgeous garden.

Prices range from $350 – $1,000 USD depending on the type of room and your dates. You can check prices and availability online here.

Element Philadelphia Downtown – $$

The Element Philadelphia Downtown is just a block from City Hall. It has a fitness center, an on-site restaurant, a shared lounge, and free bikes. The place has modern, well-equipped rooms, friendly staff, and a decent continental breakfast. Request a room higher up for an awesome city view.

This place is a great value for money, with prices starting as low as $160 USD when you book in advance.

Apple Hostels of Philadelphia – $

Apple Hostels of Philadelphia is my favorite budget accommodation in Philadelphia. It’s located in the Old City. This hostel has it all, including a shared kitchen, laundry, pool table, foosball, Xbox, computers/iPads, guitars, and a TV area. You won’t have any trouble socializing, and they even offer free drinks and dinner sometimes. It’s clean, comfortable, and has a great vibe.

Shared rooms start at $34 USD, and private rooms begin at $85 USD. You can book your stay on Booking.com or through Hostelworld.

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie at th American Revolution Museum in Philadelphia, USA
Thanks for reading!

When in Philadelphia, you have to try a Philly cheesesteak at least once! While you can find the iconic food all over the city, you should definitely check out a couple (or even all 5) of these top spots. There’s a reason why the simple dish was an instant hit, and we loved taste-testing this famous sandwich all over the city.

Are you traveling to other cities in the United States? Be sure to check out our blogs all about the USA. We’ve also written about many other destinations across the world. Start planning with one of the guides below.

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