Pat's or Geno's. Which is better?
That's the question many have asked and to find out, I set the GPS that guided me through a maze of narrow one way streets in not the best of neighborhoods. God was watching over me because He not only got me there safely but as I arrived, a car pulled out of a parking space on the left. I figured I had no chance to get the spot because there were four cars in front of me. Nope, they continued on and I pulled in, not more than 75 ft away from Pat's.
The queue wound not around the block as it should have but extended into the middle of the street as you can see above. As it was, it took about 15 minutes before I got my order in. The cashier was brusque with the people yelling "Next!" not knowing the ordering protocol. I told the cashier "one wiz wit" and he seemed a little less brusque (comparitively) with me than the other tourists.
So I got the literally hot package in my hand and was searching for a seat only to head back to the car.
This cheesesteak was tongue burning hot like a sandwich nuked too long.
The wit gives it a definitively strong oniony flavor. If you love onions, you'll love this. If you hate onions, forgo wit.
The Cheese Whiz gives it an American flavor and in hindsight I should have had it wit provolone as I always seek to have something a little different. The steak is the real deal, not minute steak. It had some chew to it but was tender enough with little fight. I grabbed a piece without cheese adhering to it and it was flavorless. The steak was more steamed than grilled, lacking char. It was mass produced for the mad rush of tourists rather made with love for you as an only customer.
If there was anything outstanding about this cheesesteak, it was the roll. It was soft, chewy, and had some fight and substance to it able to remain intact despite the grease.
Pat's may be considered the original and the standard but it doesn't live up to the hype. And judging by the tourists that I observed downing a Pat's, it didn't appear that special to them either. I'm glad I tried it so I could cross it off my bucket list it but it was just another in a line of cheesesteaks I've had. If truth be known, I had a cheesesteak a few days later at a no name place about an hour west of Philly that was better.
Less than 100 meters away and staring Pat's in the face is Geno's.
After eating at Pat's, I passed on Geno's as I felt I didn't need to to make an assessment. Considering how close their offerings are from what I've read, it wouldn't have made a difference. Pat's didn't trip my trigger and Geno's wouldn't have either.
To answer the question posed at the start. Which is better? By the masses standing in line at each at the time I visited, Pat's would be the winner.
Pat's King of Steaks
1237 East Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19147