So, the argument over who has the best cheese steak in the City of Philadelphia has been an ongoing debate for decades… at least since 1966 when Geno’s opened a cheese steak stand just across and up the street from Pat’s. You see, Pat’s had been handing over the belly blasters since 1930… so, they should be the best, right? Not so quickly, my friend.
The only way to decide between these two gastric disasters is to flip a coin and go back-to-back. Pat’s won the toss and got to lead off. I stepped to the counter after what seemed to be an unnecessary wait to order it “Whiz wit*” at Pat’s. Power it down and then head across the street for Round 2at Geno’s. I Must say that Pat’s led off without overly impressing with a décor that had a sort of Roach Motel motif which was aided by dim lighting. A stroll across the street on a warm evening in South Philly, resulted in another line before a second cheese steak was staring at me daring to be eaten. Geno’s took the lead by the second bite. I found myself laughing while waiting for a cab after downing the second sandwich and wondered who really cares which cheese steak is better between these two street dives. Ask just about any Philadelphian and they’ll rattle off two or three other places that have much better tasting cheese steaks that the legendary pair in the old neighborhood. It dawned on me that it didn’t really matter to me either… but for the record. On this one given night, my winner was Geno’s. No cravings to go back. No calls to my friends to tell them that I have just found the Holy Grail of cheese steaks. Maybe you had to grow up with them and developed a love for their tradition. The taste alone simply isn’t enough. I will tell you this… I’d trade a dozen cheese steaks for just one delicious Italian Beef “Hot and Wet”** from Portillo’s or Johnny’s, or Al’s or Mr Beef and a few more in our fair city. When I say “gimme a beef,” make no mistake it’s not a Philly Cheese Steak I’m asking for. Just sayin’
*By the Way, “Whiz wit” simply means a Cheese Steak topped with Cheese Whiz and onions as in “Whiz, Wit.”
**In Chicago Hot and Wet means Giardinara and Wet means dipped in the juice as in “Hot and Wet.”