Many people will argue that you have to have a cheese steak from Pat's or Geno's, but I disagree. While I've had my share from both places over the years, I find that there are a large number of other neighborhood steak shops in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey that do cheese steaks just as good and in many cases far better than either Pat's or Geno's. Case in point is the Pepper Mill in West Chester, PA. From the outside, the place is nothing special to look at. Inside, it isn't either. It's a bare-bones, typical steak shop with seating. The menu offers all maner of steaks, subs, and other sandwiches.
Mark and I decided to split a cheese steak with fried onions. I asked for hot and sweet peppers on the side since I knew that Mark didn't like them. We also added an order of cheese fries for good measure. Moody went with a mushroom cheese steak, while Catherine went with a pizza steak (cheese steak with sauce), sometimes called an "original Philly steak". All of the steaks were awesome. The bread was firm, the steak juicy and plentiful, nicely enhanced by the fried onions, and the cheese was distributed throughout evenly. Everything you want a cheese steak to be. Moody was so impressed he remarked that his blew away the cheese steaks we regularly get from the best place I've found in Arizona so far, Capriotti's.
The one factor that almost always makes cheese steaks produced outside of the Philadelphia region pale in comparison to their native cousins is the bread. The rolls local to the area just can't be replicated West of the Mississippi. Maybe it's the water, maybe it's altitude. Whatever it is, I have yet to have a cheese steak (say in Arizona) that is as good as one from the Tri-State area. Capriotti's comes close (of course they are an East coast franchise), but the bread in AZ is still not as good.