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Restaurant Spotlight: Getting to know Philly’s Best

Restaurant Spotlight: Getting to know Philly’s Best

Getting to know Philly’s Best

Passion and Nostalgia for Philadelphia Drives the American Dream

Moving to a different city can leave you craving for the flavors of home. If you have a hankering for your hometown favorite, you have two options find a least objectionable alternative or take a trip back home. But there is another option, open your own restaurant. This is the case with Philly’s Best . 

A bit of disclosure on this article. I am a long time fan of Philly’s Best Cheesesteaks. This is not a strict “Restaurant Review”, but rather a love letter to the restaurant.  I was invited to chat and break some bread together with the owners, the following is my report. All thoughts are purely my own, although tainted by years of eating their yummy cheesesteaks. 😉
Philly's Best Owners

Owners of Philly’s Best, Bob and Andrea Levey, moved to Orange County from Philadelphia. Passion for authentic Philly food is what inspired them to open Philly’s best and it is also the secret sauce that has made them successful.

Owners of Philly’s Best,  Bob and Andrea Levey, moved to Southern California from Philadelphia and found themselves experiencing homesickness for the flavors of Philly.  In the true American Dream, they turned this itch of nostalgia into a business.. What started as a single store operation in Fountain Valley in 1992, has grown to a 22 store operation. They have plans to have a total of 50 stores open in  the coming years.

For anyone who has been living in Southern California during the 90’s and 2000’s you have undoubtedly tried a Philly cheesesteak at least once. For folks from Philadelphia, Philly’s best can be a refuge to cure your homesickness and enjoy a small bite of Philly.

Philly's Dreaming of Philly

Philly’s Best is often a refuge for displaced Philadelphia natives who are feeling a little homesick.

Owner Bob Levey explained to me that when he opened the original stores in California he had a hard time getting legit ingredients to make a really authentic cheesesteak. He explained how he had to, “bring back supplies with him each time he visited family in Philly.”  Times have changed they now airmail their bread straight from Amoroso bakery in Philadelphia and have found the right butcher to create the perfect thin slicing off the steak that is cooked to order in true Philly style.


Making Cheesesteaks to Order at Phily's Best

Making Cheesesteaks to order at Philly’s Best

My Food Recommendations at Philly’s Best


Cheesesteaks are the heart of this restaurant chain. There are two basic formats of a cheesesteak, cheesesteak with onions and “cheesesteak without onions. In Philly they use the shorthand “cheesesteak with”…they already know you are referring to onions. I personally prefer the Philly’s Best which includes sweet pepper and mushrooms, which is called the “Philly’s Best.” There are plenty of derivatives on the cheesesteak including a vegetarian option.

Philly's Best Cheesesteak

“Cheese Steak Without” – that’s how they order cheesesteak without onions in Philly.

I asked my buddy for Philly how these cheesesteaks match up to the ones at home, he said the flavor is spot on. Although he added the caveat that he adds extra meat, so it piles over the roll. “That’s how I ate  it as a kid and it is a birthright.”

Philly's Best Cheesesteak with Onions and Peppers

Philly’s Best Cheesesteak with Onions and Peppers

Chicken and Cheese sandwich

The Chicken and Cheese sandwich is another version available at Philly’s best. It is made with thin sliced chicken, white American cheese  and served on the Amoroso rolls. I tried this sandwich last time I visited and really liked it.

 The Philly Italian Hoagie

The Philly Italian Hoagie is made with Capacolla, provolone, Genoa salami, mortadella, lettuce, onion, oil, and  vinegar. This picture is from their website, I forgot to take a picture the day I visited.


Turkey Breast Hoagie

My wife’s favorite sandwich at Philly’s Best is the Turkey Breast Hoagie, made with thin sliced turkey breast, lettuce, mayo. Be sure to add white American cheese and ask for extra oregano. Trust me.

Philly's Best Cheesesteak Fries

The turkey breast hoagie at Philly’s Best, be sure to ask for white American cheese and extra oregano.

Taylor Pork Roll Sandwich

One of the lesser known sandwiches for the West Coast crowd is the Taylor Pork Roll Sandwich, which is very popular in on the East Coast. It is made by packing pork into a cylindrical sack, where it cures into shape. At Philly’s Best they slice it up and grilled it with cheese and serve it as a sandwich. It tastes like salty ham, although when combined with the cheese and bread, it is really delicious.

The Taylor Pork Roll is a true taste of the East Coast. Definitely worth a try if you like ham.

The Taylor Pork Roll is a true taste of the East Coast. Definitely worth a try if you like ham.

Cheese Steak fries

The Cheese Steak fries as a must try if you are feeling gluttonous. This dish is simple,  Cheesesteak is  served over crispy fries. The result is a little bit of happiness and a swollen gut.


Philly's Best Cheesesteak Fries

Philly’s Best Steak Fries


Other goodies from Philly

Wise chips are also popular on the East Coast and virtually unheard of in California, unless you are in a Philly’s Best. My Mother-in-law, from New York, regularly talks about eating Wise Chips as a child.

Philly's Best Wise Chips

Wise Chips

PA Dutch Birch Beer might remind you of root beer, although it is made with birch tree sap.  I love birch beer.

Philly's Best Pennsylvania Dutch Soda

Pennsylvania style sodas at Philly’s Best

TastyKake is snack brand that any child on the East Coast knows very well. It is similar to how every kid on the West Coast knows the flavors of Hostess. TasyKakes are made in Philly and offer many different flavors, although my favorites include the Kimpets and the Candy Cakes.  

Philly's Best Tasti Cakes

Tastykake is a must try indulgence, try the Krimpet or Peanut Nutter Candy Cake

My Final Thoughts

The first thing I will say is that I did not know Philly’s Best was actually owned by folks from Philly until my visit. Not being an expert of all things Philly, it was great to hear the stories of food in Philly and their inspiration for the Philly’s Best Chain. If you are from Philadelphia let me know if you like their cheesesteaks in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you. 

Philly's Best Owners with Tom Doing the Rocky Pose

Tom with Philly’s Best Owners doing the Rocky pose.

Philly's Best on Urbanspoon

About Tom Holmberg

Tom grew up in a cultural diverse neighborhood and a culturally diverse family, so he has learned to appreciate all types of food. "I am not a Chef, nor do I play one on T.V., but I have learned to appreciate food from years of eating and cooking." Tom also spent 10 years in the restaurant industry in various roles, from Prep Cook to server.


  1. that all looks really good

  2. That all looks gorgeous (and very, very calorie laden!)

  3. This is great! Everything looks super yummy! There is nothing like a philly cheesesteak! :-)

  4. Everything looks so delicious! I can definitely go for that Taylor pork roll sandwich.

  5. Love Philly cheesesteaks – will definitely check this out. Thanks!

  6. You always have the best looking photos and the great reviews. Thanks for sharing it with all of us

  7. I am sure it all tastes yummy! Although I don’t eat meat or bread :-)

  8. Awesome place to be! I am craving for those chips and cheese.

  9. Awesome place to be! I am craving for those chips and cheese.

  10. You have a great blog here. These sandwiches look mouth watering!

  11. that’s Amoroso on the rolls. with an O at the end, not an A.
    a sub standard roll ruins a cheesesteak and Amoroso makes the best.
    i went almost 30 years without a decent cheesesteak till i found Philly’s Best.
    I’ve probably eaten every available “philly cheese steak” in Southern California and not ONE can compare to Philly’s Best. I think they’re actually better than some you can get… in PHILLY.

  12. Julie @ Girl on the Move

    I moved to Orange County almost two years ago from Philadelphia and I have to say a couple of things…
    1) I agree with Frank that the cheesesteaks at Philly’s Best are better than some of the cheesesteaks I’ve eaten in Philly
    2) There is nothing quite like going to the Irvine Philly’s Best on a Sunday in the Fall where you can watch Eagles games! The atmosphere is great and if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to “bleed green”…you’ll find out sitting in a booth on Sunday morning!

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