50 Years of Best of Philly: Cheesesteaks

In honor of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Best of Philly this August, we’re taking a monthly look back. Up first: our iconic sandwich.

Fifty years of Best of Philly cheesesteaks / Photograph by Jason Varney

In honor of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Best of Philly this August, for every month of 2024, we’re taking a look back at some major categories and standout winners. Up first: our iconic sandwich.

Before Jim’s, Dalessandro’s, Geno’s or Tony Luke’s, there was Beato’s. In 1954, George Beato borrowed $500 from a friend and opened a little sandwich shop on the corner of 25th and Parrish in Fairmount. Twenty-one years later, the shop took home its first Best of Philly award for Best Cheesesteak — “The name means ‘the blessed,’ and the sandwiches are nothing but,” we wrote at the time. It was one of three BOP awards that Beato’s would win over the next five years. By 1990, the shop was gone.

More than two dozen different places have won our award for Best Cheesesteak, including some that have grilled and chopped meat and slapped it into rolls for generations. Then there are others, like Beato’s, that now exist only in the memories of our taste buds. And that’s, well, good, right? Some places burn bright and hot, and we catch those moments, then chase those flavors for the rest of our lives.

That’s what our list is about every year — capturing a moment in time and building a memory. May it be a tasty one.

Geno’s Steaks / Photograph by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia

By the Numbers


Most Best of Philly Cheesesteak victories, an honor shared by Jim’s (South Street) and Dalessandro’s


Clogged Arteries

In 2004, staff writer Rich Rys eats 50 cheesesteaks in 34 days; Cosmi’s in South Philly is declared the winner, the only steak awarded this coveted rating.


Cheesesteak awards given out in 1997: overall (Jim’s in West Philly), expense-account version (Morton’s), neighborhood winners (Leo’s Steak Shop in Folcroft and Apollo’s Pizza in East Falls), variation (the Schmitter at McNally’s in Germantown), and chicken (Sun Valley Pizza Co. in Narberth).

Pat’s, our first Best of Philly cheesesteak winner / Photograph by M. Edlow for Visit Philadelphia

BOP50 Timeline

Notable Best Cheesesteak wins and winners

Pat’s wins the first Best Of title (though back then, we called it “Best Steak Sandwich” and not Best Cheesesteak).

Pat’s wins the Worst Cheesesteak award. Rough year for Pat’s!

First technical “Best Cheesesteak” award goes to Beato’s, in Fairmount

First title for Dalessandro’s

Ishkabibble’s wins Best Alternative Cheesesteak for a tasty new concoction — the chicken cheesesteak.

Cheesesteak soup at the Pleasant Peasant is far better than it sounds.” We’ll take your, err, our word for it.

Chick’s Deli in Cherry Hill wins. “It may be sacrilege, but the best cheesesteaks are now coming from an unassuming little deli in South Jersey,” we wrote.

“If Steve’s Prince of Steaks had a South Philly location, there would no longer be a Pat’s-vs.-Geno’s feud, because both would, quite possibly, be run out of town.”

The Era of Eccentricity. Pittsburgh cheesesteaks piled with french fries, berbere-spiced jawns at Ethiopian restaurants, salmon cheesesteaks — the 2010s were nothing if not … experimental.

You’ll just have to wait until August to find out.


Published as “BOP 50: Cheesesteaks!” in the February 2024 issue of Philadelphia magazine.