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How to Build a Better (LA) Cheesesteak

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I’m not picky when it comes to most street foods. Being a happy New York-to-Los Angeles transplant, I’ve learned not to stress over our lack of a Papaya King or a Grimaldi’s. Instead, I simply bask in the fast food glory of LA stalwarts like In-N-Out and Mashti Malone’s. Philly cheesesteaks are the exception. Ever since my first weekend trip down to Philadelphia to grab a cheesesteak “wid” (with onions) from Pat’s, I noticed that what other cities pass off as “cheesesteaks” are in fact slurry sandwiches composed of equal parts Steak-Um grade meat and lousy cheese.

Yes, I am a cheesesteak curmudgeon, and LA has unfortunately been the worst perpetrator yet of lousy cheesesteak places. I think the popular South Street on Hollywood Boulevard sucks. No local restaurant seems to have picked up on the fact that cheesesteak places in Philly don’t mix their ingredients. Each topping, including the steak, is kept separate, and layered into your sandwich. How hard is that to copy?

Bottom line, the best cheesesteak to be had in Los Angeles is the one you make your damn self. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As it turns out, our city’s unique cultural makeup provides the perfect ingredients to create a top-notch steak. Dare I say, even on par with the great steaks of Philly? I think so. Here’s how you do it, step by step, and where to get your key ingredients.