This post has been sitting in my drafts for FIVE months. I’m usually the kind of person that turns posts around within a couple weeks, max, but somehow this one just slipped under the radar. But, I couldn’t hold y’all back from cheese steaks forever, so finally, I have pulled together my professional analysis of two of the most famous cheese steaks in Philadelphia.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD CHEESE STEAK?
Before we get into this, let’s discuss what makes a good cheese steak. I’ll be honest, I’m not a cheese steak connoisseur. I would never order one at a restaurant. They are certainly not my preferred sandwich. But, when I was in Philly early last fall, it felt like an essentially Philadelphia experience to try out their city’s most famous dish.
So, what is a cheese steak and what makes one the best? Well, it’s a long, crusty sub roll filled with thinly sliced steak, cheese – the gold standard is Cheez Wiz, and sometimes onions and hot peppers. If you’re getting fancy, the cheese may be Provolone, but let’s stick to the Cheez Wiz. From my personal experience, what makes an excellent cheese steak is a roll that’s soft, chewy, but with a bit of crustiness to the exterior, meat that’s juicy…or greasy, and plenty of cheese. I prefer my other toppings on the light side, but the tanginess of the hot peppers does take it to the next level.
PAT’S KING OF STEAKS V GENO’S STEAKS
As outsiders to the Philly cheese steak scene, obviously I had to try both Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks. They are also conveniently located directly across the street from each other, which makes for an easy taste testing afternoon.
We started with Geno’s, and truth be told, this might have been my first ever official cheese steak. That means it could have been first time bias, but this was the best cheese steak I’d ever had! The hot peppers were plentiful, the cheese was gooey, and it was perfectly greasy. I wished I’d had this sandwich at 2 a.m. – but I was still more than happy with it at 3 p.m.
One cheese steak down, we walked across the street to Pat’s. The vibe felt a little more frenetic over here and it was difficult to grab a table which means two things. First, it took away from my ambiance. But second, it means it’s a hot spot to be on a Sunday afternoon. I took my first bite and it was…fine, but lacking a bit of the kick I found at Geno’s. We asked for our cheese steaks prepared exactly the same way at each, but something about the Pat’s cheese steak was underwhelming.
JUST TO THROW YOU OFF
Clearly the winner in my book was Geno’s, but just to throw you off, I’ll let you know that my cheese steak partner for the afternoon (yes, we split one at each place – we did not each eat two whole cheese steaks) preferred Pat’s hands down. So, where does that leave us? You’ll have to try them both for yourself.