Growing up in Philadelphia, along with the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, I was always familiar with the city’s famous cheesesteak sandwiches. During school, an enjoyable tradition was to go for lunch with friends to South Philly. We’d gather at our favorite spot where the tasty specialty was served, Pat’s King of Steaks.
Today, even though most now live far away from Philly, on visits we make sure we go to Pat’s at least once. There we renew memories and once again enjoy the cheesesteaks. Of course, there are other cheesesteak restaurants that qualify to be on the same list as Pat’s.
Pat’s King of Steaks (1237 E. Passyunk Av., Philadelpha PA 19147 patskingofsteaks.com) Since 1930, Pat’s has served the delicious specialty to politicians, movie stars, sports heroes and thousands of hungry citizens. When we students bought our cheesesteaks in the 1940s, they were 25 cents, plus a nickel each for fries and a soda. Now, depending on how many extras you pile on, the cost is from $7.50, plus another $5.50 for fries and soda. However, even at today’s prices, lunch at Pat’s King of Steaks is a delicious bargain.
Geno’s Steaks (1219 S. 9th St., Philadelphia PA 19147 genosteaks.com) This rival of Pat’s has been selling competitive cheesesteaks since 1966. Across a large South Philly intersection from each other, signs blazing 24 hours a day, the scene could be out of a “Rocky” film.
With prices and quality just about the same, customers will always argue about which serves the best. We’ve been to both frequently over the years, and still can’t make up our minds. Next time we’re in Philly, we’ll have to continue our research at both Geno’s and Pat’s.
Campo’s Deli (214 Market St., Philadelphia PA 19106 camposdeli.com) Campo’s has the advantage of being in Philly’s Old City, near the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, attracting tourists and convention attendees. When we visited several months ago, we enjoyed our cheesesteaks near a table of Japanese businessmen. By their laughter and happy chatter, they apparently enjoyed their lunches as much as we did. Prices at Campo’s were about the same as at Geno’s and Pat’s.
Steaks on South (308 South St., Philadelphia PA 19147 steaksonsouth.com) It’s located on one of the city’s busiest shopping streets just a few blocks below the historic district. Less publicized than Geno’s and Pat’s, the eatery attracts more of the neighborhood crowd than tourists. Steak on South’s motto, taken from Philadelphia’s Latin name is, “We serve everyone with brotherly love”.
Tony Luke’s (39 E. Oregon Av., Philadelphia PA 19148 tonylukes.com) More ambitious than its South Philly competitors, Tony Luke’s has opened many branches. Some include Harrah’s Casino Hotel in Chester PA, the Borgata Casino Hotel in Atlantic City and two Philadelphia pro sports stadiums. Tony Luke’s also now has a shop in the Kingdom of Bahrain, and plans are for more in the U.S. and Middle East.
The original shop is within minutes of the Philly International Airport. For those going for flights or waiting between connections, Tony Luke’s makes a good place for a quick cheese steak sandwich lunch. Prices are about the same as at other South Philly shops.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Freddy Sherman is a world traveler and editor of the travel blog travel4people.com. You can follow him on Twitter @thefredsherman.