Yesterday I found myself in Philadelphia. While there, I made a special trip to investigate one of the all-time food rivalries: Pat's vs. Geno's Cheesesteaks. On a prior trip to the City of Brotherly Love, someone told me about the two most popular cheesesteak places in the city, which happen to be right across the street from each other.
My wife and I decided to split up and each grab a cheesesteak from one of the restaurants, meet up in neutral territory, and do a taste test. The first thing we noticed was that each of these restaurants had an incredibly long line. In fact, Geno's line spilled right out into the street. Then, as we got closer, we realized that there was a language that has been developed for the sole purpose of ordering cheesesteaks: wit, whiz, provo, etc... One my last trip to Phili, I got a whiz wit from Jim's Steaks on South Street. This time, I decided to stick with provo wit's as the sodium cheese whiz pretty much hijacked the entire sandwich experience.
Prior to tasting the cheesesteaks, I was hoping I would like Pat's better than Geno's. Pat's is the original cheesesteak restaurant. Additionally, Pat's has only an understated blue sign vs. Geno's Vegas-ish neon carnival.
The first thing we realized when we got the steaks was that they were essentially identical. The bread looked the same, as did the meat, cheese and onions. Only after a few bites from each cheesesteak were we able to discern between the two. While there was definitely more meat in Pat's, the meat from Geno's (at least in ours) was significantly more tender. Therefore, even though I wanted to like Pat's, I had to give it to Geno's.
Truth be told, if there's one thing I learned about Phili Cheesesteaks, it's that they're pretty much underwhelming. They definitely could fill the role of solid, comfort food lunch, but they're definitely not packed with flavor and the meat is pretty stringy (even Geno's more tender cheesesteak). From what I heard, the Vietnamese place around the corner is significantly better than both...