Baltimore’s culture and fashion has influenced cities well beyond its borders. One in particular, Philadelphia, has adopted many aspects of what gives our city its character. For instance, Philadelphia DJs are students of our club music sound, even going so far as to spin it into their own “Philly Club.”
As an arts and culture reporter at The Baltimore Banner, I will write about Baltimore’s music scene and its influence on cities such as Philadelphia. What you won’t see me writing about is anything supporting Philadelphia’s reputation for a good cheesesteak.
For reasons unknown to me, Philadelphia has become everybody’s go-to for cheesesteaks, despite how disappointing they taste. People stand in line for hours to get one. It makes no sense to me, since Baltimore hands-down has a better cheesesteak game.
There’s one major reason why. Philadelphia’s carryout restaurants often use Cheez Whiz on their subs, which makes the cheesesteak practically inedible. Pair that with the seldom-toasted bread, beef that tastes reheated, and lettuce that overshadows the whole sandwich, and you’ll regret even buying one.
Philadelphia’s cheesesteaks aren’t all underwhelming. Ishkabibble’s in South Philly serves up some of my favorite cheesesteaks that I’ve ever eaten. Celebrities like rapper Meek Mill have made Ishkabibble’s popular, and for good reason. The provolone cheese partnered with an abundance of steak makes their sub a must-try.
But if you want a real cheesesteak, come to Baltimore, which has some of the greatest — and most underrated — cheesesteaks in the world. The Baltimore cheesesteaks have the perfect amount of grease and the bread is toasted, unlike Philadelphia’s. They also use real cheese.
I have lots of favorite cheesesteak spots in Baltimore. Check them out and let’s help Baltimore win even more bragging rights over our nearby neighbors. Added bonus: you won’t have to wait an hour in line for a subpar cheesesteak.
Arguably the best cheesesteak in Baltimore and my personal favorite (right now). Stoko’s is very controversial when it comes to how good their chicken tastes, but their subs are undefeated thanks to their “hots,” a hot pepper mix, perfectly blended with the steak and cheese so that neither overshadows the other. It’s all sandwiched together on a perfectly toasted piece of bread. My preferred location, because they have several, is the Loch Raven Boulevard spot because the workers are generous with their portions.
How ironic is it that the place known for pizza has one of the best cheesesteaks in Baltimore? If this list was about the best pizzas in Baltimore, Pizza City in Windsor Mill gets the top spot. However, the cheesesteaks from Pizza City are at least worth mentioning on this list.
I was a relative latecomer to The Real Thing on York Road in Towson, but I’d heard a lot of positive things. Some even went as far as labeling it the “best cheesesteak in Baltimore.” I wouldn’t quite give it that title, but their subs are phenomenal. The portions are huge and they are perfectly seasoned.
“Ol’ reliable.” When you go to Greek Village for food in general, you know what to expect — and that’s a good thing. Although they mainly sell Italian food, I mostly visit to enjoy a great cheesesteak, which is always money well-spent. Greek Village was my preferred choice of cheesesteak growing up, mostly because it was conveniently located, but I still enjoy it even as an adult.
Maria D’s in Federal Hill is similar to Greek Village as it is also an Italian carryout that never disappoints you with the taste of their sub or how much you paid for it. I used to only order pizza from Maria D’s after leaving bars late at night but branched out to other parts of the menu after friends and I ate pepperoni pizza from there three weekends in a row. Maria D’s is a dark-horse candidate to a lot of Baltimoreans for their favorite cheesesteak in the city.
By far the unhealthiest of unhealthy cheesesteaks may just be the tastiest. Momo’s, located on Windsor Mill Road, is known for its fish, but I’m allergic to seafood and had to try something else when my friends decided to eat there. I was immediately sold on the traditional cheesesteak and decided to go back not too long after.
This time the cashier asked if I wanted to try the deep-fried cheesesteak instead. It is wrapped in some form of crispy fried dough, filled with whatever you request, and isn’t on the official menu — probably for good reason. This secret cheesesteak was only popularized by word-of-mouth, but those who are in the know can vouch for it. Just don’t eat it too often for obvious health reasons.