Forefathers vs. Philly's Famous: Philly Cheesesteak Challenge

Cheesesteak from Forefathers
Cheesesteak from Forefathers
Amy Edelen

The first version of the Philadelphia cheesesteak was invented in the 1930s by brothers Pat and Harry Olivieri, who owned a hot dog stand in South Philly. Since then, the popularity of the sandwich increased and has become a national favorite.

Philly cheesesteak sandwiches are made from thinly sliced rib eye beef and melted cheese (typically American or Cheese Whiz) on an Italian bread roll. Common toppings include onions, peppers and mushrooms.

We ventured to two local restaurants, Forefathers and Philly's Famous, to compare and contrast -- and pick a victor. ('Cue the theme song to Rocky.)

See also: Squash Blossom vs. Joe's Diner: Biscuits and Gravy Beatdown

In This Corner: Forefathers

The Setup: Forefathers, located in Tempe, has the look of a chain restaurant from the interior (think similar to Chipotle's); however, it is completely family owned. Tony and Mary Crump started the restaurant as a way to provide Valley area residents with authentic cheesesteaks. Customers can select a regular ($7.75) or large ($10.75) sized sandwich, which comes with your choice of chicken or steak, and four choices of cheese: provolone, Cheese Whiz, white American or mozzarella.

The Good: We selected the regular sized cheesesteak made with thinly sliced sirloin, American cheese, onions and green peppers. The sandwich was prepared quickly and had an ample portion of steak. Service was friendly here and the restaurant was very busy when we arrived during dinner time.

The Bad: The cheese-to-steak ratio was a little off and the sandwich was really messy; half of the steak ended up on our tray.


Cheesesteak from Philly's Famous
Cheesesteak from Philly's Famous
Amy Edelen

In The Other Corner: Philly's Famous

The Setup: Philly's Famous is a mom-and-pop restaurant owned by Mark and Rita Janbou, along with co-owner Mark Blaing. The Chandler restaurant is located at the intersection of Alma School and Ray Roads in a small strip mall. The restaurant offers many variations of the cheesesteak, in addition to hoagie and meatball sandwiches. Pictures of Philadelphia landmarks decorate the walls of the restaurant.

The Good: We ordered an original 8-inch Philly cheesesteak for $6.50. It was prepared quickly as well, and came with thinly sliced steak, sautéed onions, white american cheese plus the restaurant's signature red sauce. The cheese and steak mixed well; there wasn't too little or too much of either.

The Bad: Our only complaint is the steak could have benefited from more seasoning.

And The Winner Is...Philly's Famous! While we did enjoy the cheesesteak from Forefathers, the cheesesteak from Philly's Famous had a perfect steak-to-cheese ratio and wasn't too messy to eat.

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