Serious Eats founder Ed Levine came to Philly on a cheesesteak hunt and, along with associate editor Niki Achitoff-Gray, made careful study of more than 30 sandwiches — ultimately landing on four worthy of inclusion on their list of Philly's best:
· John's Roast Pork
· Sonny's Famous Steaks
· Campo's Deli
* Cheesesteaks are listed here in the order published in the article. They are not ranked.
The most interesting inclusion on the list may be Sonny's, as the Old City shop also topped GQ critic Alan Richman's ten-best list earlier this year. Richman seemed to prefer Sonny's largely because they were nicer to him than other shops; Serious Eats credits their "ridiculously savory cheesesteaks" that achieved "probably the best" overall balance they found on their search. Still, Sonny's tourist-friendly location seems to remain popular mostly with visitors to the city, while Dalessandro's Roxborough shop tends to be a favored choice of locals.
The article does not offer a full list of sandwiches sampled, which makes it that much harder to judge — but that information may have been held back out of politeness, given Levine and Achitoff-Gray's other major finding:
Finding a truly great cheesesteak in Philly is hard. Like, alarmingly hard.
The main culprit, they say, is the beef.
While the texture and beefiness of our steaks were markedly different from vendor to vendor, not one sandwich contained beef that, on its own, we'd call "delicious." Even cooked fresh to-order, the meat was consistently unseasoned, bland, and often dry.
Later, they again raise the point that they found the meat to be well-seasoned "at a whopping nowhere places." (Truly, a little salt wouldn't hurt.) The authors also decide that Cheez Whiz is the best cheese option for a steak, thanks to its "salty tang" and ability to "envelop each piece of meat in a layer of fatty flavor."
For more curiously appetizing insights, check out the full in-depth article.