Hold Our Beer, Philly! San Diego Knows Cheesesteaks | Check Out Our Top 10 Favorite Cheesesteak Sandwiches In America's Finest City

August 14, 2019

Invented in Philadelphia, PA, in the early 20th century, the cheesesteak sandwich is now an American culinary staple. It's one of my favorite foods in existence. There is something about the combination of thinly sliced grilled steak, melted cheese, and maybe some veggies (peppers, onions, mushrooms) stuffed into a long hoagie roll that is warm comfort in food form. We've scoured San Diego and here are our 10 favorite cheesesteak sandwiches.

As a New Jersey native, I was raised on cheesesteak sandwiches and even manned a cheesesteak flat-top at a local pizzeria for a few years in high school and college. The sandwich is glorious, greasy deliciousness and there are many tasty versions out there in San Diego.

Although the history is debated, Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri are credited with inventing the sandwich in the early 1930s. The mythos is that Pat and Harry Olivieri originally owned a hot dog stand and one day decided to get creative with their own lunch and make themselves a new sandwich using chopped beef and grilled onions (originally no cheese) on one of their hot dog rolls. After an interested onlooker requested one of the sandwiches and suggested the duo quit the hot dog business and make cheesesteaks exclusively, the rest is history.

For the record, my go-to cheesesteak order is beef with provolone, the works (peppers, onions and mushrooms) and hot cherry peppers if they got'em, which they always should. I'll happily take American cheese once in awhile, but whiz is for tourists. If I was left to my own devices, I'd probably eat a few cheesesteaks every week. Check out the list of our 10 favorite cheesesteaks from all over America's Finest City and get out there and get one!

1. Calozzi's Cheesesteaks - Philadelphia-native Al Calozzi has already reached cheesesteak glory in Seattle and is now taking San Diego by storm. A no-frills spot, Calozzi's offers a menu of pretty much just cheesesteaks, but when you do one thing so well, why mess with it. Calozzi's cheesesteak sandwiches are huge and delicious, with probably the best meat-to-bread ratio of any sandwich in town. Tell him SanDiegoVille sent ya and enjoy the show, as Al is a longtime drummer and you can hear his spatulas clanking from a block away!

2. Giorgino's - A Golden Hill staple since 2007, this casual sandwich shop does it right, from breakfast sandwiches to burgers, but its the cheesesteaks that keep people talking. The eatery even serves cheesesteak fries and has a most-fantastic pork roll egg and cheese sandwich!

3. Alex's Brown Bag - A walk up window now located inside Ocean Beach's Mother's Saloon, Alex's Brown Bag makes an array of sandwiches, burgers, and their specialty - cheesesteaks. Owner Jim Mullen hails from the suburbs of Philadelphia, growing up on the most famous cheesesteaks in the world, and he does his hometown proud with his take on the classic sandwich.

4. Steak N Fries - Another Pacific Beach based eatery, Steak N Fries uses exceedingly fresh ingredients, from house cut ribeye to crisp vegetables to fluffy Amoroso rolls. We ordered a cheesesteak with peppers, onions, mushrooms and griddled cherry peppers and it passed the test. The owners are Philly natives to boot!

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5. Surf Rider Pizza Co. - First opened in Ocean Beach in 2010 by Hilary Rossi, Surf Rider Pizza Co. is now owned by The Patio Group and has expanded to Crown Point, Mission Beach and La Mesa. In addition to tasty NY-style pizza, the eatery makes excellent cheesesteaks, as well as a cheesesteak Stromboli that is not to be missed. Keep in mind, only the OB and La Mesa locations offer cheesesteaks.

6. Gaglione Brothers Famous Steaks & Subs - A San Diego destination since 2004, this authentic sandwich shop has two area locations run by three brothers and boasts an awesome pepper bar. Go for The Works cheesesteak, and be sure to get a side of jalapeno cheese fries. You won't be disappointed.

7. Bub's At The Beach - This neighborhood dive makes surprisingly bomb bar food, including some of the tastiest tots in town, and the Pittsburgh Steak sandwich may be the best of show. Be sure to get it "all the way" to get your necessary dose of grilled vegetables.

8. Philly Franks - San Diego's OG cheesesteak shop, Philly Franks is a family owned and operated establishment located in a strip mall in San Marcos that offers a simple menu of authentic East Coast-style hoagies and Philly cheesesteaks (there is even a vegetarian cheese'steak'). The eatery also sells Tasty Cakes and Wise potato chips.

9. Philadelphia Sandwich Company - Philly native Joe Creszenzo has been serving up some of San Diego's top cheesesteaks since 1979. Head by the family-owned eatery and pick up a Joe Special Cheesesteak. The pastrami sandwich is also delicious!

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10. Philly Steak Subs - This El Cajon Sandwich shop originally opened in the 1970s before being purchased by longtime restaurateur Elias Totah in 2002. The small, family-run operation serves a bunch of tasty sandwiches, but its the Philly cheesesteaks that are the specialty. We suggest the Philly Cheese Steak with the works (NO AVOCADO, I know we're in California, but that's no bueno).

Did we miss any amazing cheesesteaks?! If so, please let us know my emailing CheeseSteaks@SanDiegoVille.com!