Flying to Philly, looking for cheesesteak
September 18, 2008 10:35 PM   Subscribe

Flying into Philly next Tuesday around 530pm, then driving up to Bethlehem. I'd love to stop in Philly and grab a killer cheesesteak- but I'll have my family with me so I'd probably only be able to do this if its somewhat near the airport or on the way toward Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton.

Tell me where to go.
posted by Chuck Cheeze to Food & Drink (20 answers total)
You can't go wrong with the original: Pat's King of Steaks. Not far from the airport as well as in the general direction of Bethlehem.
posted by dreaming in stereo at 10:50 PM on September 18, 2008

There is in fact a cheesesteak place in the airport. I do not believe it is in any way killer, but if you can't get anywhere else... it may have to suffice. (I have eaten there and been satisfied, but I am hardly a connoisseur.)
posted by kindall at 10:54 PM on September 18, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks kindall but we can get some great ones at Matey's Crossroads in Bethlehem- i'd rather wait than get one in the airport ;-)
posted by Chuck Cheeze at 11:24 PM on September 18, 2008

Tony Lukes isn't so far from 95 (as in feet) and arguably one of the best. The neighborhood looks far shadier than it really is.

Just go to the one on the north side of the street. The one on the south side is more of a bar, and it'll take you a lot longer.

And don't stray too far from the window after you order. It's your fault if they have to say your name over the PA, and they'll hate you for it.


If it's early enough in the day, John's Roast Pork is damn good, but their hours are atrocious. Again, not so far from 95. The place looks like a kentucky meth lab, but their food is awesome.
posted by onedarkride at 4:10 AM on September 19, 2008

Ack, you won't be able to go to John's as they close at 3. Sorry about that.
posted by onedarkride at 4:11 AM on September 19, 2008

I'm partial to Zandy's in Allentown, should you have to settle for the Lehigh Valley. Walking into Zandy's is like stepping into a time warp to the early 60s, as that seems to be the last time fixtures or paint have been updated. But man, them's some good cheesesteaks over there.

(I was unimpressed with Matey's.)
posted by GamblingBlues at 4:21 AM on September 19, 2008

If I were going from PHL to ABE I would go South on I-95 to the Blue Route (476) which 'becomes' to NE Extension of the PA Tpk, though it's still called 476. Therefore, Pat's & Geno's (speak English!) are out of the way and in the wrong direction. Tony Luke's is great but similarly unhandy. You need a place in Delco, but it's not really my area.
posted by fixedgear at 4:37 AM on September 19, 2008

I suppose it all depends on what you mean by 'killer'. If you want to eat something that destroys your gastrointestinal tract for the next week, by all means go to Pat's or Geno's. Really, they suck. It's fun to bring visitors for the tourist aspect of it, but parking sucks and it's really a waste of time.

Tony Luke's is 'on the way' from the airport, depending on what you mean by 'on the way'. Hop on 95N, get off at Packer Ave (bear left, and don't get on the Walt Whitman Bridge). Make a right onto 7th street, then a right onto Oregon Ave. Drive a little bit back towards 95, Tony Luke's is right next to the highway. Park in the middle of the median for extra souf philly realism. Get the roast pork, not the cheesesteak, it's pretty good.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 5:26 AM on September 19, 2008

I wouldn't say that Tony Luke's is on the way, per se, but it is far from out of the way. And it's by far a better place to go than Pat's or Geno's, which are serviceable to this local only when drunk.
posted by sjuhawk31 at 6:01 AM on September 19, 2008

I can also vouch for the airport., but then I only had 45 mins before my connecting flight and had to go outside, smoke twenty cigarettes, lose my hat and have it returned to me in the same time frame.

In fact, cheese steak saved my hat. That's where the TSA guy I'd been having a nervous breakdown in front of over losing it caught up with me and handed it over.
posted by vbfg at 7:25 AM on September 19, 2008

If you don't mind going out of your way a bit, you can take 95 north to 73 (Cottman Ave) and stop at my personal favorite cheesesteak place in Philly, Steve's Prince of Steaks. They serve the meat as whole medallions instead of chopped up. I live in DC now and have honestly driven home to Philly just to get a cheesesteak. Yes it's out of the way, but oh so worth it.
posted by DrDreidel at 7:57 AM on September 19, 2008

Best answer: What I'm about to do is completely anathema, but, as fixedgear has noted, all the legendary spots are going to take you in the opposite direction of where you need to go. That's why I'm going to commit a total cheesesteak foul and recommend you hit the Jim's franchise on Baltimore Pike in Springfield (map). You can take the Route 1 exit east off 476 North and it will take you five minutes to get there and won't take you off your trajectory at all.

Now, let me say that eating at any cheesesteak franchise place, especially one that isn't even within city limits, is total bullshit and I would never make this recommendation except to accommodate the specifics of your request. This is only going to be a shadow of the awesomeness you would receive if you had the time and the bravery to venture in to 62nd and Callowhill Street in West Philly to the original Jim's.

And you should also know that anyone who says Pat's or Geno's is the best steak in Philly are filthy, filthy liars. They are trying to deceive you and rob you of the Jim's experience that you desperate need.
posted by The Straightener at 8:44 AM on September 19, 2008

I think Zambrano is more or less correct, but I do like Jim's better than Pat's and Geno's. I've never been to the original Tony Luke's, but when they briefly had a franchise on the Penn campus, I did like the roast pork with broccoli rabe there.

I'm usually good with the truck cheesesteaks. And really, you can't get anything decent outside of a 30 mile radius of center city. It makes me die a little to see Ryan Howard pitching for Subway's sad sad attempt at a cheesesteak.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 10:02 AM on September 19, 2008

Gotta disagree with Zambrano and backup my choice of Steve's. They use melted American instead of whiz. All cheesesteaks are not created equal!
posted by DrDreidel at 10:28 AM on September 19, 2008

Response by poster: Everyone thanks for your suggestions- I'll map these out and see what is within reach. Truthfully - after a 5 hour flight from SF with a 3 and 1 year old, we may just opt to drive straight and eat in Bethlehem at our destination- but I would love to have a plan if all are hungry and in a good mood.

By killer- I mean good tasting (I am sure they all are) and "authentic" - which I know is subjective. Keep in mind that all of these are going to be better than the feeble attempts we get here in northern CA.

@gamblingblues My dad grew up in Bethlehem so Matey's is kind of a long time favorite of his - but hopefully we can hit Zandy's while we are there.
posted by Chuck Cheeze at 10:54 AM on September 19, 2008

Honestly, any cheesesteak you get in the Philadelphia area is going to taste really, really good, especially if you're from the west coast and haven't had an authentic one. Order it with provolone; you can never go wrong with provolone.

Bonus points if you have stomach room for a soft pretzel, birch beer and some Tastykakes.
posted by zach braff's mixtape at 4:57 PM on September 19, 2008

Response by poster: @zbf I love all that stuff- we bring home lots of tastykakes every time we visit.
posted by Chuck Cheeze at 9:32 PM on September 19, 2008

Go to Pott's for a hot dog while you're in Bethlehem, too. Damn, I miss that place.
posted by onedarkride at 5:33 AM on September 20, 2008

seconding onedarkride on John's Roast Pork if you can swing it. It's the one thing I miss about living down that way!
posted by rinosaur at 5:42 AM on September 20, 2008

Response by poster: @onedarkride yep Pott's is a must!
posted by Chuck Cheeze at 11:59 AM on September 20, 2008

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