First, there "rules" to ordering. The main thing I've learned is you need to say "with" or "without" which refers to whether or not you want the fried onions on your cheese steak. Then, you can pick your cheese. To get an authentic cheese steak you must order it with cheez whiz. Yep that's right, not provolone, not swiss, but cheez whiz! After that, depending on where you are they might have other things like peppers and mushrooms that you can add.
So where can you get a cheese steak?
So if you haven't heard, there's a huge debate between Pat's and Geno's Cheese steaks. They are rivals located in south Philly, at 9th and Passyunk Ave, that literally face each other. They are both open 24 hours a day and you can't really miss them with their bright lights and usual long lines.
However, I've heard they're basically tourist traps and you can find much better tasting cheese steaks elsewhere in the city. You'll see carts on the corner that often sell cheese steaks, among other things.
Another place to check out is Jim's Steaks. It's located at 4th and South street. This has become J's favorite place to get a cheese steak. We went here several times throughout the summer and J will go there ever so often when he's craving a cheese steak. Sometimes the line is wrapped around the corner, but J says it's worth it. Their cheese steaks seem to be more on the greasy side, instead of the dry side. That's one of the differences you'll experience when trying Philly cheese steaks.
Steaks on South isn't too far down the streak from Jim's steaks at 3rd and South Street. I took my mom here when she visited and she had a chicken cheese steak that she loved. Jim's, Pat's and Geno's don't have chicken as an option, but some places do.
If you're not really into meat, like I am, there are a few options. I have gotten a delicious cheese "steak" at Reading Terminal Market. It had onions, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli rabe and cheese. I'm tempted to get one every week when I go to the market for groceries. There are so many food choices around, but a Philly cheese steak is something that everyone needs to try!