Amid myriad options in the greater Philadelphia region, Anthony Bourdain once said Donkey's Place made his favorite cheesesteak.
Turns out the Camden, New Jersey, steak joint has had the time to perfect its version of the much-debated sandwich.
Donkey’s Place celebrated its 75th anniversary Tuesday. Camden officials honored the owner Robert Lucas Jr. by giving him a key to the city.
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The restaurant, which has three locations in the city, marked the occasion with a special celebration and ceremony in Roosevelt Plaza Park.
While the restaurant has gained more and more attention over the years, one thing that won’t change is its recipe.
“The cheesesteak recipe has stayed the same these 75 years,” Robert Lucas Jr., the owner of Donkey’s Place, said. “The international exposure keeps growing and with it the lines.”
Bourdain brought the restaurant that worldwide acclaim in 2015 when he cited it as the best place in the region to get a Philly cheesesteak in an episode of his show “Parts Unknown.” Locals, however, have known about Donkey's for years.
“I remember growing up as a kid we were always walking down Haddon Avenue to go get the steaks,” said Wanda Garcia, a long-time customer.
Camden’s Mayor Frank Moran also proclaimed July 31 “Donkey’s Day” to recognize the restaurant’s commitment to the community.
“[They] stayed here when everyone else left 40 years ago,” Moran said. “They stayed here and are flourishing.”
Donkey’s Place plans to remain in Camden for many years to come.
“We’re looking for another 75 years,” Lucas said. “Make it 150.”
As for the restaurant’s reputation for serving the best local cheesesteak, Lucas invited future visitors to try the acclaimed sandwich for themselves before deciding whether they’ve earned the title.
“They say the best cheesesteak in Philly is actually in New Jersey,” Lucas said. “You have to drive across the bridge and find out for yourself.”