Let's Do This

8:00 AM

On a Thursday

Philadelphia, PA

I have no idea what I'm doing. I've just moved to a new city and I'm honestly still trying to remember what my new zip code is.

Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly Love. 

I'm not sure where my place is in this city and I really don't even know where to start.

Food. I like food. Like, I REALLY like food. While Philadelphia has a lot of delicious culinary options, there's really one thing that comes to mind...

The Philly Cheesesteak.

The problem? I've never really had one. I mean, I think I've had one once and I know I've eaten a couple steak sandwiches in my time, but when it comes to the cheesesteak I really don't know what I'm talking about.

And that's where this gets fun.

I'm on a mission to devour as many cheesesteaks as I can and try to find a system to help organize my thoughts as I eat my way through the many iterations of one of Philadelphia's most well known culinary contributions.

First, I need to get some background on my subject matter. 

What is a Cheesesteak? 

According to the official Philadelphia Visitor and Travel Site,

"A cheesesteak is a long, crusty roll filled with thinly sliced sautéed ribeye beef and melted cheese. Generally, the cheese of choice is Cheez Whiz, but American and provolone are also common choices. The art of cheesesteak preparation lies in the balance of flavors, textures and what is often referred to as the “drip” factor. Other toppings may include fried onions, sautéed mushrooms, ketchup and hot or sweet peppers." - Visit Philadelphia

So to be able to create a comparable review, I'm going to keep a standard set of parameters for my ordering process. The plan is to order the standard, One Whiz Wit. This means that I expect to get one Cheesesteak with Cheese Whiz and with (wit) onions. This will allow me to create a set of standards to, not only rank them independently, but to be able to compare them against each other.

The ranking system will work as follows:

Every cheesesteak will be ranked in 7 different categories on a scale from 1 to 5. A cheesesteak can have a maximum score of 35 for a perfect, couldn't-stop-eating-it-even-if-I-wanted-to, Philly Cheesesteak experience.

The categories are:

  • Roll
  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Onions
  • Team Effort (how it all works together)
  • Service (at the establishment)
  • Overall Value

There will be additional comment categories that will not have a numeric value assigned to them. One where I will be recording location information, such as public transport accessibility, and another for other extra factors like the ambiance or general feeling of the location.

So, since I have no baseline cheesesteak knowledge, I'm going to let Philadelphia tell me where to start. I'm going through the Top 10 Spots for Authentic Philly Cheesesteaks from the Visit Philadelphia website. I'm not going in any particular order, except maybe by convenience, and I'll also use the Honorable Mentions on this page to continue my exploration. Eventually, I'll have the ability to branch off of these initial suggestions and confidently wander the streets of Philly as a full-fledged cheesesteak connoisseur.

And who knows? Maybe I'm just giving myself an excuse to eat as many Philly cheesesteaks as I possibly can and, if that's my worst-case scenario, I think it's totally going to be worth it.