Philly Cheesesteak: The Classic American Comfort Food

Are you in the mood for some mouth-watering American comfort food? Look no further than the Philly Cheesesteak! This classic sandwich, filled with seasoned pieces of meat, gooey cheese, caramelized onions, and sautéed mushrooms, is a staple in many restaurants across the US. From its humble beginnings as a convenient snack for cab drivers in Philadelphia to its status as a beloved dish enjoyed worldwide, the Philly Cheesesteak never fails to satisfy. So read on for its origin story, traditional ingredients, and time-tested recipe that will make this dish a favorite in your household. Get ready to sink your teeth into the Philly Cheesesteak’s deliciousness!

What Is A Philly Cheesesteak?

A Philly Cheesesteak is a classic American comfort food that originated in Philadelphia in the 1930s. It consists of thinly sliced steak, usually ribeye or top round, cooked on a griddle and served on a hoagie roll with cheese and sautéed onions. The cheese options include Provolone, Cheez Whiz, and American cheese. The original Philly Cheesesteak was made by a hot dog vendor named Pat Olivieri, who decided to experiment with steak and onions while cooking on his grill. It quickly became popular among Philadelphians and grew into a cultural icon, with rival shops Pat’s and Geno’s Steaks competing for the title of the best cheesesteak in town.

What Is A Philly Cheesesteak

When making a Philly Cheesesteak, it is essential to use thinly sliced steak, shave it yourself, or ask a butcher to do it for you. Trim off any large pieces of fat, but some fat is good for tenderizing the meat. Cook the onions and peppers separately, then combine everything with the cheese to finish the dish. The choice of cheese is subjective and can vary from Provolone to Cheez Whiz, depending on personal preference. In the end, it’s all about creating a delicious sandwich that satisfies your craving for a hearty, savory meal.

A Philly Cheesesteak may seem like a simple sandwich, but it is more than just bread, meat, and cheese. It is a cultural icon representing Philadelphia’s spirit and the comfort of American food. According to The Stay At Home Chef, “If you’ve never had a Philly Cheesesteak, today’s your lucky day. This sandwich is so easy to assemble and will surely become a favorite!” Whether you prefer a classic Philly Cheesesteak or want to experiment with different variations, this sandwich will transport you to the heart of Philadelphia and satisfy your hunger with every bite.

The History Of The Philly Cheesesteak.

Philadelphia’s sandwich culture is renowned worldwide. The city boasts several iconic sandwiches, with the Philly Cheesesteak being at the forefront. This sandwich has seen several changes over time after its inception in the 1930s. The original cheesesteak consisted of grilled beef and onions in a toasted roll and did not have cheese.

According to legend, Pat and Harry Olivieri, two brothers who ran a hot dog stand near South Philadelphia’s Italian Market, created the original sandwich when they wanted to offer new sandwiches. The sandwich gained in popularity, and over time, cheese was added to the sandwich in the 1940s.

The sandwich’s popularity expanded across the United States and worldwide, with various restaurants offering unique twists on the cheesesteak. Several new sandwich varieties have emerged, such as roast pork sandwiches, chicken cutlets, pizza cheesesteaks, and hoagies, featuring all the classic cheesesteak ingredients (meat, cheese, cooked veggies, and cold toppings).

As the cheesesteak has evolved, new ingredients, such as green peppers, hot cherry peppers, long hot peppers, and banana peppers, have made their way into the sandwich, adding dynamic flavor to the grilled meat. Even the role, which holds it all together, has become a subject of much debate and claims.

Amid this debate, one thing is certain—the Philly Cheesesteak remains a classic American comfort food with cultural significance. “Philly people are defensive about the cheesesteak,” notes an article by Visit Philadelphia. “It’s kind of our battle cry.”

What Makes A Good Philly Cheesesteak?

Philly Cheesesteak is an American comfort food that has become a go-to meal for meat lovers all over the world. But what makes a good Philly Cheesesteak? We have researched and gathered some expert opinions, and here’s what we found out:

  • The bread: “The bread makes or breaks the Cheesesteak. It must be Amoroso’s Rolls, and the bread should be fresh and lightly toasted,” says Matt O’Neill, the executive chef at Maple & Ash in Chicago.
  • The meat: “Ribeye steak is the classic cut for the Philly Cheesesteak because of its tenderness, flavor, and juiciness,” according to Eater.
  • The cheese: “The cheese should always be melted and not too thickly applied. The classic choices are provolone, American, or Cheese Whiz,” says Bon Appétit.
  • The seasoning: “Salt, pepper, and onions are the trifecta of ingredients that make the meat shine in a Cheesesteak,” according to Serious Eats.
  • The technique: “The meat should be cooked on a flat-top grill to give it that crispy exterior and juicy interior,” says Chef Michael Schulson from the Schulson Collective.

The best Cheesesteaks are the ones that respect the tradition but also incorporate some creativity,” adds Chef Schulson.

So, there you have it, the key components of a good Philly Cheesesteak. If you want to enjoy this American classic, make sure to look for the right bread, meat, cheese, and seasoning, and don’t forget to cook it with love and respect for the tradition.

Where To Find The Best Philly Cheesesteak In Philadelphia?

Are you looking for the best Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia? Look no further!

Philadelphia is known for its cheesesteaks, and there are plenty of options to choose from. So, where should you go for an authentic Philly experience?

According to Visit Philadelphia, “Nearly every corner pizzeria or sandwich shop in nearly every Philadelphia neighborhood serves up the casual delicacy.” However, a few notable spots stand out from the rest.

One of the most famous spots is Pat’s King of Steaks, which was founded in 1930 and serves up classic cheesesteaks topped with Cheez Whiz or provolone cheese. Across the street is Geno’s Steaks, which has been serving up its own take on the classic since 1966.

If you’re looking for something a little different, Dalessandro’s Steaks & Hoagies in Roxborough is a great choice. Their cheesesteaks are made with super fresh ingredients and cooked to order, and they offer a variety of toppings to choose from.

For those who prefer a vegan or vegetarian option, Blackbird Pizzeria offers a vegan cheesesteak made with seitan and vegan cheese, while Govinda’s Vegetarian offers a vegetarian version made with tofu and vegetables.

Remember to order your cheesesteak like a local one no matter where you go. According to Guide to Philly, skip all unnecessary words and even some letters. For example, to order a steak with provolone cheese and no fried onions, say “Steak prov wit out.” And don’t forget to bring cash, as many cheesesteak spots are cash-only.

In summary, if you’re looking for the best Philly cheesesteak in Philadelphia, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether you prefer a classic cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz or a vegan version made with a seitan, you’re sure to find something that hits the spot.

Variations Of The Philly Cheesesteak

The Classic Philly Cheesesteak is made with thinly sliced beef, caramelized onions, and melted cheese on a hoagie roll. But did you know that there are variations to this beloved sandwich?

  • Some choose to add peppers to their sandwich, like green, red, or yellow bell peppers. John’s Roast Pork owner John Bucci says, “Many people add peppers for crunch and color.”
  • Others add different types of cheese like Cheez Whiz, Provolone, American, or even Pepper Jack. George’s Sandwich Shop owner George Zakkout says, “Some people like to mix provolone and American cheese for the best flavor.”
  • There are even vegetarian and vegan versions of the Philly Cheesesteak. Kayla’s BBQ owner Kayla Carter says, “For our vegan Philly Cheesesteak, we use seasoned and grilled seitan, caramelized onions, and vegan cheese.”
  • Some like to add extra toppings like mushrooms, jalapenos, or bacon. Geno’s Steaks owner Geno Vento says, “We have a ‘Philly Special,’ which has fried onions, chicken fingers, cheese, and mozzarella sticks all on one sandwich!”
  • The bread can also vary. Some may prefer a soft and chewy hoagie roll, while others may go for a crusty baguette or even a wrap.
  • In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. As Zakkout puts it, “You can’t go wrong with any variation of the Philly Cheesesteak; it’s all delicious.”

With all these variations, there’s no excuse not to try this iconic sandwich. As Pat’s King of Steaks owner Frank Olivieri Jr. says, “If you haven’t tried a Philly Cheesesteak yet, you’re missing out on one of the best sandwiches in the world.”

How To Make A Philly Cheesesteak At Home?

Philly Cheesesteak is a classic American comfort food that everyone loves to indulge in. This sandwich is surprisingly easy to make at home, and with a little effort, you can have a delicious meal in no time! Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make a Philly Cheesesteak at home:


  • 1 pound ribeye or top round steak, thinly sliced
  • One large onion, sliced
  • Four hoagie rolls
  • Four slices of provolone cheese
  • Two tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper to season


1. Season the thinly sliced steak with salt and pepper on both sides.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

3. Add the sliced onion and sauté until soft and caramelized, for around 5-7 minutes. Remove and set aside.

4. Add the sliced steak into the pan and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side.

5. Use a spatula to chop up the steak into small pieces about the size of the hoagie roll.

6. Add back the cooked onions (if using) and any other desired additions, such as sauteed bell peppers or mushrooms.

7. Reduce the heat to low and top the chopped steak with provolone cheese. Let it melt before transferring it to a hoagie roll.

8. Serve hot, and enjoy!

Pro tip: Partially freeze the steak before slicing to make it easier to cut thin slices. Also, you can use Cheese Whiz or American cheese instead of Provolone if you prefer.

“Making a Philly Cheesesteak at home is a no-brainer! This recipe is a combination of perfectly seasoned steak, gooey cheese, and savory caramelized onions stuffed in a buttered hoagie roll. The trick is thinly slicing the steak and caramelizing the onions to enhance the flavors. With this guide, you’ll be able to enjoy the authentic taste of this classic American comfort food in your home!”

The Cultural Significance Of The Philly Cheesesteak.

The Philly Cheesesteak is more than just a sandwich; it’s a cultural icon. This comfort food staple has been a beloved part of Philadelphia’s culture for almost a century and has since spread across the country and around the world. Here are some of the ways that the Philly Cheesesteak has made its mark on American culture:

  • The Philly Cheesesteak has become a symbol of Philadelphia. It’s mentioned in popular media like movies, TV shows, and music. Iconic Philly cheesesteaks restaurants like Pat’s and Geno’s have become tourist destinations for visitors to the city.
  • The Philly Cheesesteak has become a point of pride for Philadelphians. It’s part of the city’s identity and is often included in discussions of what makes Philadelphia unique.
  • The Philly Cheesesteak has influenced the culinary world. As more and more people have tasted and fallen in love with this iconic sandwich, new variations and twists on the classic recipe have emerged. Cheesesteak pizza, cheesesteak egg rolls, and even cheesesteak mac and cheese are just a few examples of the creative ways that chefs and home cooks have reimagined this classic dish.
  • The Philly Cheesesteak is a unifier. Despite its reputation as a greasy, indulgent comfort food, the Philly Cheesesteak has a way of bringing people together. Whether it’s a group of friends sharing a sandwich after a night out, or a family gathering to celebrate a special occasion, the Philly Cheesesteak is a dish that brings people together and creates memories.

As Philly native and musician Questlove once said, “A cheesesteak is a great equalizer.” Whether you’re a local, visitor, foodie, or casual Eater, the Philly Cheesesteak has something to offer everyone. It’s a cultural touchstone representing the best Philadelphia and American cuisine.

Fun Facts And Trivia About This American Comfort-food Staple.

Philly Cheesesteak: The Classic American Comfort Food is famous worldwide, but there’s still much to learn about this beloved sandwich. Here are some fun facts and trivia that will surprise even the biggest cheesesteak fans:

  • Pat Olivieri, the founder of Pat’s King of Steaks, offered $10,000 to anyone who could prove he was using horsemeat during the Depression when meat was in short supply. He put the cash in a glass jar to show he was serious.
  • Cheesesteaks come with all types of fillers, including chicken, vegan, and even fish cheesesteaks, which are popular in North Philly.
  • The Eagles helped make a football-field-length cheesesteak on a single roll. The year was 1998, and the sandwich was 7 inches long, weighed 1,790 pounds, and measured just a few inches longer than a football field.
  • Cheese Whiz is the classic topping for cheesesteaks, and according to the seminal tome on Philly cuisine, food-service-grade Cheez Whiz used by restaurants has more real cheese than the jarred stuff sold at supermarkets.
  • Fancy a cheesesteak with a touch of class? The most expensive cheesesteak in Philly is $140 and comes with champagne. The signature cheesesteak is made with wagyu ribeye, foie gras, onions, and truffled cheese Whiz, on a fresh baked sesame roll served with a ½ bottle of champagne.
  • Not in Philly? Don’t worry! Some of Philly’s most famous steaks, including Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks, all ship across the country through Goldbelly.
  • Cheesesteaks have been around for nearly a century and are still as popular as ever. From the original grilled beef and onions in a toasted roll to chicken cheesesteaks and hoagie cheesesteaks, there’s a cheesesteak for every taste and occasion.

As they say, “with or without” (with or without onions). Enjoy your next Philly Cheesesteak, and impress your friends with these fun facts!


Q: What is a Philly Cheesesteak?

A: The Philly Cheesesteak is a classic American comfort food made up of thinly sliced, fried ribeye steak, cheese, onions, and a hoagie roll.

Q: Where did the Philly Cheesesteak originate?

A: The Philly Cheesesteak originated in South Philadelphia at Pat’s Steaks, a 70-year-old cultural icon.

Q: What cheese options are available for a Philly Cheesesteak?

A: The original Philly Cheesesteak was served without cheese, but later Provolone was added, followed by Cheese Whiz and sliced American cheese. The choice of cheese is up to the individual.

Q: What is the best meat cut for a Philly Cheesesteak?

A: The best meat cut for a Philly Cheesesteak is ribeye or top round. It is important to thinly slice the meat and avoid tough cuts like chuck steak.

Q: Should onions be included in a Philly Cheesesteak?

A: while authentic Cheesesteaks are served with onions, the choice is entirely up to the individual.

Q: How do you prepare a Philly Cheesesteak?

A: Thinly slice and season the steak with salt and pepper. Saute onions in a skillet, then add the steak slices and chop them up using a spatula. Add in any other desired additions like peppers, mushrooms, and cheese. Reduce heat and let the cheese melt before transferring the mixture to a hoagie roll.

Q: How should leftover Philly Cheesesteak be stored?

A: Any leftover filling can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat, microwave single-serving portions in 30-second increments until warmed through.


In conclusion, the Philly cheesesteak is a classic American comfort food that has been enjoyed for over nine decades. From its humble beginnings as a convenient snack for cab drivers in Philadelphia, it has now become a beloved dish that can be found in restaurants all around the world. The sandwich is traditionally made of seasoned pieces of meat, gooey cheese slices, and optionally caramelized onions and sautéed mushrooms, all stuffed in a buttered hoagie roll. The pride of Philadelphia is a dish representing the heart and soul of the city.

As a versatile sandwich, the Philly cheesesteak can easily be modified to suit various dietary preferences, whether you’re a meat lover or a vegetarian. It is also a dish that can be customized to those with dietary restrictions.

One thing that makes the Philly cheesesteak stand out is its simplicity. With only a few key ingredients, it packs a powerful punch of flavor and texture. The combination of protein, dairy, and carbs makes it a satisfying meal that hits all the right notes.

If you’re looking to make a Philly cheesesteak at home, there are many recipes available online that are easy to follow. One popular recipe calls for shaved steak, sautéed onions and mushrooms, and provolone cheese; all served on a fresh roll with a touch of mayonnaise.

As author Peter Capelli once said, “There is nothing quite like the first bite of a Philly cheesesteak.” Whether you’re a local or a tourist, the Philly cheesesteak is a must-try dish that represents Philadelphia’s rich history and tradition.

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