GQ food critic Alan Richman has come out with a top-ten list ranking Philly cheesesteaks, and it's... interesting. While many of the honorees come as no surprise, taking the number one spot is Sonny's Famous Steaks, whose Independence Hall-adjacent location has made it, fairly or no, more of a hit with tourists than the local population.
Surprised by the top pick? Two things:
· Richman's reasoning lends confounding weight to customer service, given that your average Philly native is unlikely to notice brusque service or even a mid-level scolding if a good sandwich is on the other end of it.
· There are some serious questions to be raised about methodology. Although Richman's expert panel ate "23 different cheesesteaks in one afternoon" (ambitious!), he says they ate all of those steaks "at ten spots generally considered the best in Philadelphia." As written, it seems this list would more properly be taken as a power ranking of the ten spots they visited, rather than the ten best steaks in the city. That distinction matters, because there are some notable absences (Dalessandro's, for one, and any number of places that could certainly compete if listmakers ever tried them), and because the best thing Richman can say about number eight is that it "meet[s] minimum cheesesteak standards." And there are two more steaks after that.
Even more interesting than the rankings, really, are the write-ups that back up the picks. There's local lore, an old-fashioned steak at Philip's, and a surprise turn of events wherein the five panelists "all learned to appreciate Cheez Whiz." All in all, it's worth a read, but you're wholeheartedly encouraged to come back here and yell about the results afterward.