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Philadelphia, PA

Philly CheesesteaksWant a great sandwich? Slice some medium-roasted eye of chuck very thin. Pros from nearby restaurants use thin-sliced rib-eye quick cooked on a hot grill with a little oil. Slap the hot meat on a fresh-baked Italian roll. Douse the concoction with heated Cheez Whiz and fried onions. In Philly you order this by saying, “Gimme a whiz-wit.” Don't forget to add hot cherry peppers. Now you've got the recipe for a Philly cheesesteak (yes, it's one word). And to Philadelphians, this sandwich is manna and ambrosia rolled into one.

flickr/Terry-Robinson
But where did it come from? It all started in 1932 at Pat's King of Steaks . Legend has it that Pat Olivieri, who started with a hot dog stand, soon grew tired of eating frankfurters. One day, for his own lunch, he threw some steak on a hot dog bun; a passing cab driver saw the creation and ordered a cheesesteak on the spot. A sandwich was born, no advertising required.

Now, how does one decide where to eat to find the best cheesesteak? In Philly, it's a topic of hot debate. Of course, the unofficial home of cheesesteaks is Pat's. This is the place for purists.

flickr/bigbirdz
But “upstart” Geno's Steaks , founded in the 1960s, does a rocking business, too. Both are located at the corner of Passyunk Avenue and 9th Street in the heart of South Philly. And both places are often packed, even if they are positioned just across the street from each other.

The deliberation over who serves the best cheesesteak—Pat's or Geno's—goes on every night, all night. But that doesn't stop the bustling crowds from packing it in after midnight, when the cheesesteak is a late-night tradition. Grab a seat outdoors and enjoy the locals. Even as the rooster crows, you'll find suburbanites and old couples munching alongside college kids and sports stars.

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Philadelphia, PA

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Travel Information

City Population

1,526,006

Elevation

39 ft.

Sales Tax

Pennsylvania's statewide sales tax is 6 percent. An additional 2 percent is collected by Philadelphia County, as is an 8.5 percent hotel tax.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

311

Hospitals

Aria Health (Torresdale Campus), (215) 612-4000; Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, (215) 662-4000; Methodist Hospital, (215) 952-9000; Pennsylvania Hospital, (215) 829-3000; Roxborough Memorial Hospital, (215) 483-9900; Temple University Hospital, (215) 707-2000.

Air Travel

Philadelphia International Airport

Rental Cars

Hertz, at the Philadelphia International Airport, (215) 492-7205 or (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.

Rail Service

Amtrak trains pull into both the main 30th Street Station terminal at 30th and Market streets and the North Philadelphia Station at N. Broad Street and W. Glenwood Avenue. If your destination is mid-city, disembark at 30th Street Station. Phone (800) 872-7245, or TTY (800) 523-6590.

Buses

The major bus terminal is Greyhound Lines Inc., (215) 931-4075, at 10th and Filbert streets. Peter Pan Bus Lines, (800) 343-9999, also serves the city. New Jersey Transit buses, (973) 275-5555, depart for southern New Jersey and shore points.

Taxis

Yellow Cab Co., (215) 333-8294, charges a $2.70 base rate plus $2.30 per mile. A fuel surcharge also may be added. One-way fares between the airport and central Philadelphia locations are a flat $49 fee.

Public Transportation

A system of buses, trolleys, subways and regional rails serves Philadelphia. Operated by the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), buses, trolleys and subways charge $2.50, plus $1 for a transfer; exact change is required. Senior citizens ride free. Regional rail fares vary by zone; phone (215) 580-7800 for fare information. RiverLink Ferry offers ferry service from Penn's Landing to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, N.J.

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