Since the dawn of time in Philadelphia, there have been cheesesteaks. Quite literally the Philadelphia claim to fame, it is hard to stumble across a bad cheesesteak in the area.
If you walk down the street in Center City and ask, "What's the best place to get a cheesesteak in Philly," you will likely hear one of two answers: Pat's or Geno's. Before determining which establishment is deserving of the "Best Cheesesteak Award," we have to talk about both of them to see which will be the true victor.
Pat's King of Steaks
Pat's King of Steaks has been located at 1237 East Passyunk Avenue in Philadelphia since 1930. It currently has over 5,600 reviews on Google, averaging at 4.2 stars, and is open 24 hours a day.
The founder, Pat Olivieri, started his career in the food business as a small hot dog stand owner. One afternoon, he decided he did not want a hot dog for lunch and decided to chop up some steak and throw it into an Italian roll with some onions and cheese. Thus, the cheesesteak was born.
Olivieri founded Pat's King of Steaks in 1930 and it has grown exponentially since then, drawing in thousands of tourists and locals. The establishment is still run by the Olivieri family, and it will continue until the end of time.
The outside of the iconic, neon Geno's Steaks upload.wikimedia.org
Geno's Steaks is located at 1219 South 9th Street in Philadelphia. It has over 5,300 reviews on Google with an average of 3.9 stars (lower than Pat's), and also operates for 24 hours a day.
Geno's was founded in 1966 by Philadelphia native, Joey Vento. He named the cheesesteak joint after his son, Geno, and Geno actually works in the restaurant to this day. Geno's Steaks claims to have the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia, but now it is time to announce the true victor.
You may be wondering which cheesesteak joint I deem the best in Philadelphia. Well, the winner is... neither! You may feel like I have cheated you by baiting you into thinking one of these two establishments are the winner but do not fear! There is a true winner, it just is not Pat's King of Steaks or Geno's Steaks. These two cheesesteak joints are amazing in their own way, but they serve mainly as a tourist attraction. The true winner in my Philadelphia heart is Jim's Steaks.
Jim's Steaks is located in the heart of Southern Philadelphia at 400 South Street. It has nearly 5,000 reviews on Google with an average of a whopping 4.4 stars. Although it is not open 24 hours like its competitors, it operates until 1 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends. It functions both as a cheesesteak joint and music/Philadelphia history museum with two floors decorated in historic music and art from past decades.
Jim's is a five-time winner of the Philadelphia Magazine's "Best in Philly" award and has been bringing in locals since 1939. Even though it is not as infamous as Pat's and Geno's, the taste you get at Jim's is far better than what you will get at the competitors. It is by far the best cheesesteak I have ever had, and that is saying a lot coming from a native Philadelphian.
This may be an unpopular opinion, but as a native Philadelphian, I feel qualified to publicize this opinion and give Jim's Steaks the recognition it deserves. Even though it may not be as big and bright as its competitors, it wins the hearts of local Philadelphians everywhere. If you want to see which you think is best, try them all out! It is an amazing, stomach filling experience.