At one point or another, all native Philadelphians have struggled with the difficult question, "Pat's or Geno's?" It's the age-old battle of the best Philly cheesesteak, and the two popular spots have always seemed to reign supreme. Sure, they're absolutely drool-worthy and both deserve their fantastic reputations, but many sandwich lovers might not know there's another top player in the game of sliced steak and Cheese Whiz, Tony Luke's.
Located in south Philadelphia, the original Tony Luke's is a six-time winner of Philadelphia Magazine's "Best of Philly" award and has been named one of "American's Best Restaurants" by Gourmet magazine. It has also been featured on various Food Network shows, including Throwdown! with Bobby Flay and Food Wars. This destination is so popular that it has grown into a 12-location franchise in places like Atlantic City, Baltimore, and halfway across the world in the Kingdom of Bahrain.
At the heart of the operation is owner Tony Luke Jr., who's a Renaissance man of sorts; he's a musician, music producer ,and actor, and he knows how to make a mean sandwich. Among Tony's most popular menu items are, of course, the rib-eye steak sandwiches, which come with a variety of topping options ranging from spinach and pickles to the classic cheesesteak Cheese Whiz. Simple combinations here always produce mouthwatering results, but if you're looking for the ultimate Philadelphia sandwich, go for the Papa Luke — sliced rib-eye smothered in cream cheese and finished with tomatoes.
However, there's one menu item at Tony Luke's that's slightly underrated and deserves time in the sandwich spotlight, the Chicken Cutlet Italian. Served with cheese and your choice of broccoli rabe or spinach, it strikes the perfect balance between comfort food and innovative sandwich-making. It's not difficult to pinpoint why Tony Luke's has mastered this dish, either. The chicken has just enough breading to give a slight crunch while offsetting the juicy cutlet, melted cheese adds a necessary salty element to the mix, and the hint of bitterness from sautéed greens doesn't overpower the sandwich. Although these between-the-bread ingredients are enough to garner attention alone, the deciding factor for a truly supreme sandwich lies in the bread. At Tony Luke's, all rolls are made fresh on location, so you can always expect to get a perfectly crusted loaf that complements those greasy and cheesy fillings.
With simple yet effective sandwich-making techniques, this food destination has earned its place among the best Philadelphia restaurants. The next time you're in town, don't leave without visiting Tony Luke's; it's a city staple that redefines the Philly sandwich.