A cheesesteak from Buddy’s Steaks.
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Waz Wu/Eater Portland

This country is blessed with plenty of iconic, regional dishes— Mission burritos, Carolina barbecue, Coney dogs — but the “Philly” in cheesesteak is the most mysteriously redundant. Chicago-style pizza tells us, “I am not New York pizza.” Cincinnati chili announces it is distinct from Texas style. However, there are no “Cleveland style” or “Baltimore style” cheesesteaks to compete with Philadelphia. So why does the “Philly” stubbornly attach itself to “cheesesteak” in our minds? Perhaps because the dish itself is so simple — shaved steak, melted cheese, and optional onions (“wit” or “witout”) on a white bread roll — we yearn to believe in some secret method known only to its brotherly love originators that can make a perfect cheesesteak so heavenly.

In any case, Portland is rich with cheesesteak options, both traditional and iconoclastic. Vegan standouts, lamb-reliant options, and pizza-inspired variants land on menus alongside Amoroso’s rolls filled with nothing but beef and Whiz, available for lunching or late-night needs. For more sandwiches, check out this map.

Note: Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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