The Philadelphia Steak and Cheese

Traditional fare from Philadelphia, this sandwich varies as greatly as New York pizza from place to place. I personally have never been to that city; my experience comes from a number of shops over the years in other locations that claimed to be true Philly sandwich shops. This recipe is vaguely representative of practices at my local Italian Place and Great Steak restaurants except that I prefer to grill the bun lightly for strength.


  fresh bun
  thin-sliced beef, good grade (not tough and stringy for sure)
  caramelized onions
  tomatoes sliced into wedges
  peppers (bell, etc.)
  Provolone cheese


1. Cut and lightly grill bun to give it more strength.

2. Sautée beef to taste. This is tricky because the beef will be well done by the time you’ve mixed in all the other ingredients.

3. The onions were caramelized ahead of time (or the beef would clearly be shoe leather), add them in with the rest of the vegetable ingredients.

4. Sweat the cheese on top of all the rest. One way is simply to cover with a high lid or stainless steel bowl. Remove everything from grill and lay out on bun. Serve immediately.


Innumerable. Consider marinating the meat. Consider an up-scale, $100 sandwich from a Philly hotel restaurant I glimpsed on Mark DeCarlo’s Taste of America that assembles lightly sautéed beef and lobster pieces in a truffle butter sauce with caramelized onions and a special cheese combination.

For those increasingly plentiful Americans who loathe vegetables, leave them off and add cream cheese.