Regional Spotlight: Philadelphia Cheesesteak

No history buff can say their adventures are complete without having visited Philadelphia. This historic town played a pivotal role in the formation of our nation. As the home of the Liberty Bell, the birthplace of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and the first major industrial city in America, the area has a rich past. The city even once served as the capitol of the United States while the capitol was built in Washington, DC.

While the history of the city may be rich and complex, nothing says “Philadelphia” quite like the simple, messy Philly cheesesteak. This iconic sandwich has made a name for itself across the nation and it has stayed true to its roots by becoming a street food staple.

Thinly sliced pieces of steak are covered in melted cheese piled inside a long crusty Italian bread roll, which can be toasted. Although it may sound odd, Cheese Whiz is popular choice of cheese on an authentic cheesesteak. But you can also have Mozzarella, Provolone or American if you prefer your cheese to not come from a can. While cheesesteak purists like to keep their sandwiches to just the basics, others prefer to add extra topping like fried onions, sautéed mushrooms, and hot or sweet peppers to kick the flavor up a notch. It is not surprising that this delicious and portable sandwich is as commonly found in food trucks and street vendors as it is in sit-down restaurants throughout the region.

The cheesesteak officially made a name for itself in 1930 when a South Philadelphia hot dog vendor sold a steak sandwich to a taxicab driver. News of the delicious sandwich made its way to other cabbies and soon the vendor, Pat Olivieri, was facing such high demand that he opened up his own shop, Pat’s King of Steaks, where he later added cheese to the sandwich. The restaurant is still open today, but faces much more competition in the cheesesteak market.

When you are in the city of brotherly love, visit all the historic sites, show your patriotism and take in all the hustle and bustle of the city, but don’t leave without showing your allegiance to the great Philly cheesesteak. With countless locations to choose from, the opportunity to sink your teeth into an authentic Philadelphia cheesesteak is not lacking.

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