Philadelphia civilization began along the waterfront. The Delaware River helped grow and sustain the city over the years. Right along the waterfront is where some of Philadelphia’s best cheesesteak shops are located, which are, arguably, also necessary for the growth and civilization of the hungry masses. Here are five cheesesteak shops along the waterfront of Columbus Boulevard.
Owner Joseph (Joe) Beren said he likes to fatten up his cheesesteaks.
“We sell about 40 cheesesteaks a day,” Beren said. “On the waterfront, you can’t get any better.”
Beren and his team are dedicated to making sure each of their cheesesteaks is made every morning with freshly cut Angus beef. The restaurant also won “Best Cheesesteak 2014” by the South Philly Review.
The roast pork at John’s Roast Pork has won multiple awards. Neighborhood resident Stephen Grivo, 30, has been eating here for 15 years.
“Everything is so good,” Grivo said. “I’ve never had a bad sandwich here. All the cheesesteaks are just amazing.”
The owner, John Bucci, uses sweet Spanish onions, 12 ounces of steak, and salt and pepper. Add sharp provolone cheese, mayonnaise or ketchup, and this steak ends up a soul-healthy food for any Philadelphian.
Shank’s (above) makes for a hearty meal and a great view of the Delaware River. Shank’s originally opened in the Italian Market 52 years ago, but in the last six years it has called the waterfront home.
“The beef that we use is top round certified Angus beef. That’s something that not a lot of people use for their steaks,” assistant manager Ed Brennan said. “On the weekends, we sell about 100 to 150 steaks, and on the weekdays about 100 a day. The fact that we’ve been around for over 50 years says something. Not a lot of places can say that.”
For an all-around DIY day, come to Rocco’s (above), where one can build a custom cheesesteak sandwich and shop for project supplies, as the sandwich shop is located right inside a Home Depot. Rocco’s has been open for eight years and is known for its sausages, though it sells about 100 to 150 cheesesteaks a day.
“We’ve got different types of sauces, toppings for no extra charge, and we got the original cheesesteaks,” manager Jose Miranda said of what makes Rocco’s hoagies special. “We make it fresh right in front of you.”
With a tagline, “The real taste of South Philly,” Tony Luke’s manager Darryl Thomas said all of the ingredients in the cheesesteaks are real, too, meaning the food isn’t processed and is always delivered fresh to the customers.
“The way we cook our cheesesteaks makes us special,” Thomas said. “Everything is made fresh … Nothing here is pre-cooked.”
– Text and images by Esther Katro and Mary Smith