Origin date: December 12, 2009

The rumble from my tummy that is. Fore-warning: my camera konked out after the 3 pictures and thus the majority of these photos were taken on a cell phone. Stupid camera!!!

So, I promised a conclusion in the last entry about my journey to the heart of south Philly. A magical shangra-la of narrow, twisting streets, dark alleys and smart talkin’ folk. Out of the darkness on a frigidly cold night you come upon the grande maisons of Cheesesteak: Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks. The rivalry is long and legendary and my collegue and I ventured forth in our swanky Lincoln Towncar, through the streets in search of Cheesesteak magic.

Our first stop was at Pat’s King of Steaks. There was a large panel that displayed the correct way to order a cheesesteak. I ordered a Cheesesteak Wit Whiz, translation: with grilled onions and cheez whiz. That’s right folks, for an authentic Philadelphia Cheesesteak it should come slathered with neon orange Cheez Whiz.

Pat' King of Steaks

Here's the beef Despite my initial aversion to rubbery, neon, cheese food product being slathered on by something resembling a paint bucket and stirring stick, the sandwich was amazing….*drool*. It was freezing in Philadelphia that night and both restaurants only offer outdoor seating. It didn’t matter. The sandwich was steaming in my hands and once I had a bite, the cold was gone. It could have been 20 degrees below and a polar bear could have been eying me hungrily, I would have gone right on eating my precious sandwich.

mmm.... cheesesteak *drool*

I apologize for the photo quality, this was right before the camera went ka-put.

I got a few pointers from a Philadelphian I had met at a party right before I left about what to look for in a great Philly Cheesesteak. Thin sliced beef, Cheez Whiz, and it HAS to be on an Italian roll that is crisp on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. This sandwich was pretty much all of those things. My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. (Imagine Homer Simpson with donuts.)

The exterior is modest, with stainless steel paneling and worn, faded pictures of celebrities and politicians that have visited the hallowed ground. Picnic tables line the outside and looming in the distance is the neon monster.

working man's dinner

Having just destroyed a Pat’s Philly Cheesesteak, I was feeling a bit full. Well, duh – just look at the size of that thing! I was teetering on just leaving and not trying a Geno’s sandwich but my collegue would hear nothing of it. “We’re here,” he said “This is what you came for, when will you be here again?” Plus we had just had a really frustrating drive all over downtown Philadelphia trying the find these places. P.S. Mapquest blows goats.

We stood on the corner,staring at the Las Vegas Casino-looking monstrosity across the street and I said “You’re right! Thanks for not letting me give up in my dream!” and we trotted across the asphalt, bound for Geno’s Steaks.

Viva la Geno'swell-lit

We decided to split a Cheesesteak Wit Whiz so that we wouldn’t throw up in the Towncar later.

The menu at Geno’s was much smaller. Pat’s offered many variations of Cheesesteaks, including a Pizza Cheesesteak, Roast Pork and Hotdogs. Geno’s only had two options on their menu: Cheesesteaks and Steak sandwiches. We got our sandwich and sat down on the cold picnic tables that you see above. It was a lot colder on the Geno’s side of the intersection.

geno's goods

The sandwich was really good. And it was steaming happily in my hands, just as the other had.

So what was the verdict? How did each sandwich compare? You’ll have to wait until the next…..

Just kidding. I don’t think I could drag out this Philly cheesesteak thing much longer anyway!

Although the meat at Geno’s was more tender and had really good flavor, the sandwich was soggy. It dripped profusely while I tried to eat it (in a very ladylike fashion, I might add) and the bread began to fall apart at the seam because of all of the moisture.

Overall, I like Pat’s sandwich a little better. The bread was soft but had an initial crunch as you bit into it, the meat had good flavor and it wasn’t so wet that it turned the Cheez Whiz into soup that gathered in the bottom of your sandwich wrapper.

So there you have it folks, next time you’re in the city of brotherly love go for a Pat’s sandwich instead. Although I wouldn’t blame you for hitting both spots, they are legends after all. Oh, and don’t forget the good stuff:

end of the processed cheese rainbow