I considered four factors when determining which of the many cheesesteaks I’ve eaten belong on this list:
- The Roll: We all have our own preferences. Some like softer rolls. I prefer them sturdy and don’t mind a crispy crust, although it’s not necessary. A chewy crust can also be nice. I also don’t want the roll to be too doughy.
- The Meat: I prefer the meat to be chopped into small to medium-sized pieces. There is only one shop on this list that doesn’t do that. Aside from being moist, it should also be generously seasoned, something that a lot of places fail to do.
- The Cheese: The cheese should be well proportioned to and blended in with the meat. I don’t want it to overwhelm the beef. Rather, it should lightly coat and compliment it.
- Overall Taste: I gave this factor a bit more weight than the other three. Ultimately, it’s what matters most.
In general, I prefer a cheesesteak in which the meat, cheese, and roll are all proportionate to each other over steaks with massive amounts of meat, cheese, or both. But there are exceptions to that rule, as you’re about to discover.
10. Guido’s Steaks (Bensalem, PA)
Guido’s was a fairly late addition to my list of steaks to try. I’m glad I got to them. The cheesesteak I had there was one of relatively few that I knew was very good the instant I took the first bite. It was bursting with flavor and very juicy.
While the roll wasn’t what I’d call crusty, its crust had a delightfully chewy quality. The chopped ribeye was well seasoned and mixed nicely with Cooper Sharp cheese and fried onions.
9. Curly’s Creations (Levittown, PA)
Curly’s has a huge online following and is very popular in the Philly region. In fact, such is their reputation that I’ve read multiple comments from people who travelled hours to try their steak.
They have a solid, but not elite seeded roll. Yet for whatever it may lack, the fact that it remains in one piece under the weight of so much chopped ribeye and melted Cooper Sharp cheese is itself an accomplishment.
Curly’s steaks are the most gooey of any I tried. Somehow, they manage to blend all of that cheese in well without overwhelming the extremely juicy and flavorful meat.
8. Lillo’s Tomato Pies (Hainesport, NJ)
Like those at Curly’s, Lillo’s steaks are hugely popular among the many thousands of Cheesesteak fanatics on Facebook and feature a pound of chopped ribeye and a whole lot of Cooper Sharp cheese.
They apply a garlic spread to their rolls before lightly toasting them. While I normally prefer untoasted rolls, that little bit of crunch with the added flavor from the spread makes for a fantastic combination. Although they put extra cheese on top of the meat, it is also well distributed throughout and didn’t overwhelm it in terms of flavor.
This was a super juicy and scrumptious cheesesteak.
7. Jaxx Steaks (South Philadelphia)
I picked this cheesesteak as my favorite in 2021, although I hadn’t tried most of the elite steaks yet at that point. It’s one of only two with Cheese Whiz that I selected, having also tried one there with American cheese and not liking it as much. They recently changed their name from Charlie’s Roast Pork to Jaxx Steaks, but nothing else was different when I returned a couple weeks ago.
Jaxx uses high-quality Carangi Bakery (South Philadelphia) seeded rolls and chops the meat to a medium-sized cut. What may have impressed me most about this one – other than its great overall flavor – was how well they blend in the Whiz with the beef and onions without going too crazy on the amount of cheese. Everything remains well proportioned. That’s not often the case with places that serve Whiz on steaks.
6. Cockadoodle Dan’s (Palmyra, NJ)
The single most impressive bite of any cheesesteak that I took over the past year was the first one at Cockadoodle Dan’s. It was like an instant explosion of juicy flavor in my mouth.
Their meat and cheese combination was as good as any I tried. Unfortunately, their seeded roll was only average at best. That’s the only thing that kept this one out of the top five.
5. Steve’s Prince of Steaks (Northeast Philadelphia)
Steve’s may be the most divisive steak shop in the cheesesteak-eating circles that I travel. It has both a large and loyal following and an equally vocal and possibly large number of detractors. I’m obviously with the former group.
While their roll didn’t make my Top 5, it’s one of the better seedless ones out there – with a fantastic chew. This is also the only steak on the list that doesn’t feature chopped meat, which I strongly prefer to unchopped in general. But the uncut slabs at Steve’s are much smaller than most pre-chopped slabs of ribeye used for steaks, at roughly 2”x3”. They are also slightly thicker than usual as well as being extremely tender, juicy, and flavorful.
When those little slabs of beef are piled on to that excellent roll with fried onions and Cheese Whiz, it all comes together for one of the best-tasting cheesesteak experiences on the planet.
4. Da Vinci’s Brick Oven Pizzeria (Feasterville, PA)
As was the case at Cockadoodle Dan’s, the meat, cheese, and fried onions at Da Vinci’s combine to make a fantastically juicy and flavorful impression. They are ranked higher because their seeded rolls – baked next door at Leonardo’s Italian Bakery – are much better.
This sandwich features a half-pound of chopped ribeye and is one of the better examples of achieving more with less when the ingredients are good and everything is perfectly proportioned and seasoned.
3. John’s Roast Pork (South Philadelphia)
John’s may be the most famous steak shop on this list. They attract lines every morning before opening. But it is no tourist trap. Both their cheesesteak and roast pork sandwich are among Philadelphia’s culinary highlights.
Like Jaxx Steaks, John’s uses Carangi Bakery seeded rolls, which are a sturdy foundation for this great and hefty sandwich.
This was another steak on which everything was beautifully proportioned. In fact, the American cheese was so well blended with the moist and tasty beef, that I questioned whether I might prefer regular American to Cooper Sharp for a while after eating this sandwich.
2. Goomba’s Pizzaria* (Colmar, PA)
My second visit to Goomba’s was just last week, so it’s extremely fresh in my mind. And what an incredible steak it was.
As I explained last week, they use a very high-quality seeded roll that is wider than most rolls of the same length. That enables it to hold 14 ounces of juicy, flavorful chopped ribeye and an abundance of beautifully blended Cooper Sharp cheese without seeming overstuffed. It was the best proportioned cheesesteak I’ve ever had with that much meat.
It was also a wonderfully gooey eating experience because of how well the moist meat and melted cheese were mixed.
1. Angelo’s Pizzeria (South Philadelphia)
To repeat what I said on my pizza list, Angelo’s is seemingly among the best at everything they make, whether it’s their top-ranked house-made seeded rolls, fantastic pizza, the raved-about hoagies that I’ve yet to try, and, of course, cheesesteaks.
That roll was one of the best I’ve had – period – regardless of whether it was part of a sandwich. They don’t use a massive amount of meat, but it’s extremely juicy, flavorful and proportionate to both the roll and the Cooper Sharp cheese that was perfectly mixed in with it throughout the steak.
I knew before I had even finished eating this sandwich that it would be difficult to beat out for the number one spot.
Five Honorable Mentions:
These steak shops received serious consideration for the Top 10, but fell just short. They all put out fantastic cheesesteaks that are well worth a drive:
Wolf’s Superior Sandwiches (Aston, PA) – By George (Philadelphia/Reading Terminal Market) – Lorenzo’s Steaks & Hoagies (West Chester, PA) – Delco’s Original Steaks (Chadds Ford, PA) – Joey’s Pizza (Thorndale, PA)
Tony’s of West Reading was not considered, as it’s outside of the Philadelphia region. Their cheesesteaks would have at least been a contender for the list if they were geographically eligible.
*That’s how Goomba’s spells Pizzeria.
For those of you who missed them on my post from the other day and are curious about which sandwich shops and restaurants I visited over the past year for steaks, I’m again including the links for all of my cheesesteak posts:
Angelo’s Pizzeria (Philadelphia)
Anna’s Sandwich Shop (Folsom, PA)
Avenue Steaks (Philadelphia)
Big Al’s Eatery (Media, PA)
Brynn Bradley (Woodbury, NJ)
By George (Philadelphia)
Cafe Carmela (first visit) (Philadelphia)
Cafe Carmela (second visit) (Philadelphia)
Centrella’s Deli & Italian Market (Havertown, PA)
Cocco’s Pizza (Primos, PA)
Cockadoodle Dan’s (Palmyra, NJ)
Collegeville Italian Bakery (first visit) (Collegeville, PA)
Collegeville Italian Bakery (second visit) (Collegeville, PA)
Curly’s Creations (first visit) (Levittown, PA)
Curly’s Creations (second visit) (Levittown, PA)
Da Vinci’s Brick Oven Pizzeria (first visit) Feasterville, PA)
Da Vinci’s Brick Oven Pizzeria (second visit) (Feasterville, PA)
Da Vinci’s Brick Oven Pizzeria (third visit) (Feasterville, PA)
Delco’s Original Steaks & Hoagies (Chadds Ford, PA)
Delco Steaks (first visit) (Broomall, PA)
Delco Steaks (second visit) (Folsom, PA)
Delco Steaks (third visit) (Folsom, PA)
Delco Steaks (fourth visit) (Folsom, PA)
Dino’s Pizza (Warminster, PA)
Donkey’s Place (Camden, NJ)
Farm & Fisherman (Horsham, PA)
Goomba’s Pizza (first visit) (Colmar, PA)
Goomba’s Pizza (second visit) (Colmar, PA)
Guido’s Steaks (Bensalem, PA)
Heritage Hoagies (Huntingdon Valley, PA)
Jack’s Place (Philadelphia)
Jaxx Steaks Taproom (first visit) (formerly Charlie’s Roast Pork; Philadelphia)
Jaxx Steaks Taproom (second visit) (formerly Charlie’s Roast Pork; Philadelphia)
Jaxx Steaks Taproom (third visit) (formerly Charlie’s Roast Pork; Philadelphia)
Joey’s Pizza (Thorndale, PA)
Johnny Paisano’s (first visit) (Springfield, PA)
Johnny Paisano’s (second visit) (Springfield, PA)
Johnny Paisano’s (third visit) (Springfield, PA)
John’s Roast Pork (Philadelphia)
Joseph’s Pizza (Philadelphia)
LaSpada’s Original Steaks & Hoagies (Milmont Park, PA)
Lillo’s Tomato Pies (Hainesport, NJ)
Lorenzo’s Steaks & Hoagies (West Chester, PA)
Mama’s Meatballs (Pennsauken Twp., NJ)
Mama’s Pizzeria (Bala Cynwyd, PA)
Meatheadz (Lawrence Twp., NJ)
Michael’s Sandwich Shop (Woodlyn, PA)
Oh Brother (Philadelphia)
Old School Burgers (Willow Grove, PA)
The Original Thunderbird (Broomall, PA)
Pat’s King of Steaks (Philadelphia)
Phil & Jim’s (Brookhaven, PA)
Pompei’s State Street Sandwiches (Media, PA)
Raceway Bagels (Berlin, NJ)
The Rook (Philadelphia)
Rock’s Italian Deli (Rockledge, PA)
Semolina Pizza (Southampton, PA)
Sofie’s Steaks (Morton, PA)
Steve’s Prince of Steaks (Philadelphia)
Stoli’s Steaks (Philadelphia)
Tonelli’s Pizza Pub (Horsham, PA)
Tony’s (West Reading, PA)
Walt’s Pizza & Grille (Clifton Heights, PA)
Wolf’s Superior Sandwiches (Aston, PA)
I ate several additional steaks that I never got around to writing about. In all but one case – Silvio’s Deli of Hatboro, which I will be posting on soon – that’s because those steaks were very disappointing. Rather than trashing the shops that sold them here, I decided to bypass posting about them altogether. They may have just had a bad day. I didn’t give Pat’s the benefit of that same doubt only because I felt they were too famous to ignore.
For those of you who missed them, here are links to a couple other lists I compiled based on my experiences while out eating cheesesteaks during the past year, as well as one for the back story of how I got started on this project and what my plans are for the blog moving forward. The last one also includes the reasons why a couple of the most famous cheesesteak shops weren’t included in my survey.