Cheesesteaks have been synonymous with the city of Philadelphia ever since Benjamin Franklin first signed his name along the bottom of the Declaration of Independence using the oily drippings of his cheesesteak quill in 1776. James Monroe then used his powdered wig to wipe up some of the extra dribbles. Right? Right. (Don’t @ me.)
OK, so that may not be the exact history of Philadelphia’s most famous culinary icon, but you’d be hard pressed to find a Philly native who doesn’t rank the cheesesteak as the city’s first sandwich. It’s not the only noteworthy creation in town to happen aboard an Amoroso roll though. Here are six other must-try sandwiches beyond the classic cheesesteak.
The Roast Pork
NPR’s food podcast “The Splendid Table” dedicated this week’s episode – number 657 – to a lesser-known Philly favorite, the roast pork sandwich. A combination of sautéed d broccoli rabe, provolone cheese and – you guessed it – roast pork, this unsung hero has been low key holding court on menus like DiNic’s in Reading Terminal Market for decades.
The Train Wreck
We are open today on Martin Luther King Day at both our @rdgterminalmkt & 30th St Station locations. Stop in at Beck's Cajun Cafe & enjoy one of the most tasty & creative sandwiches in Philadelphia! Beck's Train Wreck! What is Beck's Train Wreck? A hulking mass of steak, Andouille sausage, salami, American cheese, caramelized onions, mixed with our Creole Mayo & sandwiched between a crispy French baguette! If you have tried our Train Wreck, please tell us your thoughts & experience! Thx #PhillyFoodPorn #PhillyFood #foodie #foodies #PhillyFoodie #philadelphiafoodie #PhillyFoodFoReal #NomNom #Philly #NomNomNom #philadelphia #SwagFoodPhilly #Cajun #CajunFood #creole #PhillyFoodies #FoodChasers #igers #igers_philly #philadelphia_ig #igersphilly #PhillySupportsPhilly #foodstagram #LoveRTM #delicious #DeliciousFood #Tasty #TastyFood #EatDeliciously
If there is one complaint you can lob at the classic cheesesteak, it is one of chronic underseasoning at most of the city’s sandwich shops. That’s hardly the case at Beck’s Cajun Cafe, where the cheesesteak riff, The Train Wreck, packs a flavorful punch. Chopped Andouille sausage and salami join traditional beef, sautéed onions and gooey American cheese aboard a French baguette smeared with the shop’s namesake Creole mayo. Want to kick it up a notch? Add Beck’s 3 Devils hot sauce.
Paesano’s Philly Style makes a mean roast pork, don’t get me wrong. But it’s the eponymous sandwich here that gives the cheesesteak some serious competition. Beef brisket, horseradish, roasted tomatoes, pepperoncini, sharp provolone and a fried egg make themselves comfortable on top of a mayonnaise-smeared roll that you can justify eating nearly anytime of day.
The Foie Gras Cheesesteak
Leave it to East Coast hospitality royalty Stephen Starr to create an iteration of the Philly staple with a triple digit price tag at Barclay Prime. Decadent Wagyu ribeye replaces the usual sliced beef, and is paired with foie gras and truffle cheese whiz atop a sesame seed roll.
The Wiz Kid
If you’re adhering to a plant-based diet, then this vegan take on the cheesesteak is just the thing for you. Seitan, mushrooms, fried onions and “rutabaga wiz” sit pretty atop a familiar roll. In fact, this sandwich is so good that it makes, “wit’ meat or wit’ seitan” a legitimate question.
The Schmitter Sandwich
Some traditions on the Hill come with double meat. McNally's Tavern is a ripe 96 years young, stationed across from the Route 23 turnaround since 1921. The Schmitter came along in the 1960s – a custom sandwich for a Chestnut Hill Hospital employee with an affinity for Schmidt's Beer. Danya Henninger wrote a great profile of McNally's for Philly.com a couple years ago – check it out. #preservechestnuthill #chestnuthillpa #mcnallystavern #theschmitter #phillyfood #sandwiches #whyilovephilly #gophillies
Your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you, my friend. This cheesesteak riff at McNally’s Tavern in Chestnut Hill is shaped more like a UFO than a submarine, arriving on a round Kaiser roll. The usual suspects are found between the buns – steak and onions along with melted cheese – but are joined by grilled salami and tomatoes, and a schmear of signature Schmitter sauce.
The Chicken Cheesesteak
Don’t overthink it, people. Even a perfect combination of beef, melted cheese and bread can feel a little indulgent from time to time. Rather than reinvent the wheel, most sandwich shops in Philadelphia will let you sub out your steak for lighter chicken. Either order it prepared identical to its more famous beef cousin at Ishkabibbles, or add lettuce and tomato.