The Upstate’s Best Cheesesteak

By / Photography By Brett Barest | August 03, 2017
Share to printerest Share to fb Share to twitter Share to mail Share to print

It took one edible staff member two decades of eating to find the region’s best Philly cheesesteak.

Ever since my first trip to Philadelphia in 1997, I have been on a quest to find one of two things: a restaurant Philly cheese steak that I can procure locally or, in lieu of that, a homemade version that can satiate my cravings.

For 20 years, option number one has proved impossible to find. I have been forced to hone my kitchen skills to be reasonably satisfied with option number two. A decent sub roll, properly sliced and chopped steak, perfectly diced onions, and who-cares-if-it’s-Kraft white American cheese got me pretty close to the real deal in my own kitchen. My 12-year-old son actually declared my version “the best sandwich on Earth.” That was good enough for me.

In fact his love for my homemade version of the Philly cheese steak was so committed that he complained when I took him “all the way to Easley” to try out something better. “It’s not going to be as good as yours and home is closer,” he complained. That is, until, the waiter at Inky’s brought him his lunch.

“You need to step your cheesesteak game up, Dad,” he said after the first bite, before he fell into silence and devoured his sandwich and then hovered over mine, waiting to pick up the scraps.

Truth be told, he was right. Inky’s in Easley is the real deal when it comes to authentic Philadelphia style steak sandwiches. The experience starts as soon as you walk in the door to the sound of metal spatulas masterfully chopping Angus steak on a flat grill in the kitchen. You see it on the menu – the Original Cheesesteak is as pure and simple as it is supposed to be, with only cheese and onions and no added nonsense like peppers, mushrooms or, God forbid, mayonnaise. It is all mixed perfectly together with the cheese melting through so it seems every individual piece of steak and onion was carefully dipped in its melty goodness. This is all served up on THE quintessential cheesesteak bread, Philadelphia’s hearth baked Amoroso’s hoagie rolls.

I am happy to admit that it all comes together better than anything I have been able to produce in my kitchen or find in anyone else’s. This is the steak sandwich that I remember devouring on the streets of Philadelphia 20 years ago. It is so simple and straightforward that it is a wonder that they are not available elsewhere. Inky’s is the lone oasis in the barren wasteland that is the Philly cheesesteak desert of Upstate South Carolina.

Inky’s also has a full line of classic hoagies, burgers, and, the ultimate in decadence, a “canoe” which is actually a deep fried calzone. I am sure they are all delicious, but there is no telling how long it will take me to find out for sure. I’m stuck on the menu’s first item, The Original. After 20 years of searching, who can blame me?

Visit for more information

Article from Edible Upcountry at
Build your own subscription bundle.
Pick 3 regions for $60
We will never share your e-mail with anyone.