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Tour Guides from Hell: Combchrist’s Guide to the Best Philly Cheesesteaks

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Combichrist guitarist Eric 13 grew up eating Philly Cheesesteaks, and during years of touring, has taught many band mates where to find the best ones. “A Philly cheesesteak is a culinary treat as good as filet mignon, or a bottle of wine,” says Eric. “But it’s also so easy and accessible like a good pizza.

“Anyone who visits Philly needs to try a cheesesteak, the guitarist continues. “Go to the art museum, run up the steps like Rocky, then go eat a cheesesteak.  It’s a fresh baked long roll with chopped meat and Cheez Whiz, often served with fried onions from the same grill top.” Sounds good to us!

But from which of Philly’s many purveyors of cheesesteak should you purchase your celebratory sandwich? We asked Eric for tips. Get his list of Philly’s finest cheesesteak-makers below!

Combichrist’s new album, One Fire, will be released June 7. You can check out the single, “Understand,” here, and pre-order the album here. The band is currently wrapping up a North American tour with Silver Snakes before heading to the UK and Europe! Get all of their upcoming live dates at the bottom of this post.

THE BASICS

PAT’S STEAKS on Passyunk Ave. in South Philly literally invented the cheesesteak sandwich.  It’s open 24/7, 365, and it’s an institution.  Everyone should try it at least once.  While it’s not my favorite place, you really can’t go wrong here. The best time to come is late night, after the bars close, or when the tour bus is headed out of town.   “Wiz Wit” means ‘a cheesesteak with Cheez Whiz and fried onions’.

Some try to debate the Cheez Whiz – just don’t.  It’s a thing. It’s the way it’s made, so just shut up and eat it.

GENO’S is the classic neon rival of Pat’s.  It’s directly across the street, and also open all day, all night, all year long.  The ridiculously gaudy neon signage is a perfect photo op.  It’s an all time classic spot, and most often visited when everything else closes.  They are also known for their classic cheese fries (with Whiz, of course).  There’s been some controversy with their ‘order in English’ rule, but it doesn’t affect the taste.  The quintessential Philly Cheesesteak.

JIM’S STEAKS on South Street is a long time favorite of many, and another fitting place to try your first cheesesteak.  Many bands play at the famous T.L.A. just a block away, so Jim’s is a perfect spot to visit.  Be careful on weekends because there will be a line around the corner, but it’s worth it.

NOTE: While you’re there, check out CRASH BANG BOOM across the street. It’s Philly’s original and best punk rock shop.

THE HEAVY HITTERS

SONNY’S FAMOUS STEAKS on Market Street might be the best cheesesteak in the city.  That’s’ a highly contested statement, there’s probably as many ‘best cheesesteaks’ as there is Philadelphia Eagles fans.  Regardless, this is an awesome sandwich.  Whenever we play at The Trocadero, we take the short walk over to Sonny’s.  Great rolls, high quality meat, and just the right touch.  With Cheez Whiz of course!  (Secret tip – American Cheese is also good.  Pro move – American AND whiz.)

SHANKS:  This South Philly spot is only one in the afternoon, but is easy to get to from the highway.  It’s a good stop if you’re blowing through town quickly.

JOHN’S ROAST PORK:  Don’t let the name fool you.  This spot on Snyder Ave. makes one of the absolute tastiest and perfect steaks I’ve ever had, maybe the best.  Yes, they are also famous for their Roast Pork sandwiches too.  Give that a try on your second visit.

JOE’S (formerly Chink’s):  This is the only North Philly join to make the top five, and it also might be the overall best.  The steak is perfect and their cheese fries are the perfect side.  They have handmade milkshakes that are worth a visit on their own.  That trio gives them a strong claim for the Iron Cheesesteak Throne.

THE REST

Those listed above are without doubt great places to have a Philly Cheesesteak, but certainly not the only ones.  There’s probably another 300 spots across the city that make on. Ishkabibble’s and Steve’s Prince of Steaks are great steaks as well.  You can cross the Ben Franklin Bridge into New Jersey and get some great ones at Gaetano’s, too.

In short, if you’re going to Philly – go get a cheesesteak!  And for the record, Wawa is an amazing store, they make great hoagies and are a Philly staple. But never get a Wawa Cheesesteak.  Go to one of the places above, or ask any Philly resident and they might name one of the other two-dozen great places.  Enjoy! Bon appétit!

Upcoming Combichrist Live Dates

North America
5/29 – Buffalo, NY @ Ironworks
5/31 – Flint, MI @ Machine Shop
6/1 – Grand Rapids, MI @ The Stache at The Intersection
6/2 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Citadel

UK/Europe
6/21 – Dessel, BE @ Graspop Metal Meeting
6/22 – Clisson, FR @ Hellfest
6/24 – Bristol, UK @ The Fleece
6/25 – Dublin, IE @ Voodoo Lounge
6/26 – Belfast, UK @ The Palm House
6/27 – Glasgow, UK @ Audio
6/28 – Manchester, UK @ Academy 3
6/29 – London, UK @ Electric Brixton
6/30 – Birmingham, UK @ The Mill
7/2 – Amstelveen, NL @ P60
7/3 – Ballenstedt, DE @ Rock Harz
7/4 – Saarbrücken, DE @ Garage
7/5 – Lyon, FR @ Ninkasi Kao
7/6 – Barcelona, ES @ Rockfest
7/7 – Madrid, ES @ Caracol
7/9 – Montepellier, FR @ Secret Place
7/10 – Zurich, CH @ Xtra
7/11 – Milano, IT @ Legend Club
7/12 – Ljubljana, SI @ Kino Siska
7/13 – Zagreb, CR @ Mocvara
7/14 – Vienna, AT @ Scene
7/17 – Sofia, BU @ Mixtape 5
7/18 – Brasov, RU @ Kruhnen Musik Halle
7/19 – Budapest, HU @ Dürer Kert
7/21 – Bratislava, SK @ Randal Club
7/23 – Posnan, PL @ Klub U Bazyla
7/24 – Warschau, PL @ Proxima
7/25 – Riga, LV @ Melna Piektdiena
7/26 – Tallinn, EE @ Tapper
7/27 – Helsinki, FI @ Virgin Oil
7/28 – Tampere, FI @ Klubi
7/30 – Stockholm, SE @ Fryshuset Klubben
7/31 – Oslo, NO @ John Dee
8/1 – Göteborg, SE @ Sticky Fingers
8/3 – Hamburg, DE @ Grünspan
8/4 – Oberhausen, DE @ Kulttempel
8/6 – Stuttgart, DE @ Wizemann
8/7 – Munich, DE @ Backstage
8/8 – Frankfurt, DE @ Batschkapp
8/9 – Nürnberg, DE @ Hirsch
8/10 – Jaromer, CZ @ Brutal Assault Festival
8/11 – Hildesheim-Drispenstedt, DE @ MeraLuna Festival
8/14 – Zebbug, MT @ The Garage

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