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.
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.
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.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.