“With messy food, or foods with a lot of sauce, you do ‘The Hunch.’ I learned it in Philly, watching the dudes in suits eat cheesesteaks. You keep your elbows above your hands because if you don’t, the grease runs down your sleeve to your elbow.” – Guy Fieri
With the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Superbowl (OMG. OMG. OMG), the timing is perfect to run the results of my “SuperBowl of Philly Cheesesteaks” Showdown. In the run up to Christmas, we visited Philly to see our family. With a rare free morning, I decided that I would try Pat’s versus Gino’s in a head to head competition. If you want to skip to the winner, scroll to the bottom. I welcome your feedback on which you prefer and why!! No doubt I’ll also hear about Jim’s on South Street and Tony Luke’s, but seriously how many cheesesteaks can a girl eat in one day? (I wonder what the answer is to that?)
Background – So my husband is from the Philly area, and early on in our relationship I’d heard about the mythical Philly Cheesesteak. We actually met in Singapore where there were, believe it or not, a couple Philly cheesesteak restaurants. I thought it would be a fun date to go and do something he might be interested in. To my surprise, he refused. He said something about being so disgusted with what people call a Philly cheesesteak outside Philly that he swore off any cheesesteak that was not served within the small geography bounded by the Schuylkill River to the West and the famous Delaware River to the East! Strangely enough, he also swore off meat and has now become a pescatarian for the last three years – but refuses to give up the right to eat Philly cheesesteaks, so he technically considers himself a “Philly Pescatarian.” Let’s just say, the man lovesssssss his cheesesteaks. So much so, he actually fed Philly cheesesteaks for our kids first solid food to make sure they got off to the right start after cheerios and baby food mush. But not to digress too much, let’s just say that this guy cares about cheesesteaks.
So, anyway…, I’m an independent woman, and wanted to make up my own mind about which has the best Philly cheesesteak in town, and thus the taste test. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that my husband is a third-generation Pat’s, King of Steaks lover, but his opinion bore no influence in my own decision – in fact, I went into the competition kinda wanting to like Geno’s better…
PRO TIP # 1: Bring cash!!
PRO TIP # 2: Before I report on the day, you gotta understand the Philly cheesesteak Lingo. You don’t want to look like total amateur hour when you walk up to the window.
Say you want a Philadelphia cheesesteak with Cheese Whiz and fried onions, you can’t just say that. People around behind you will burst out laughing and start friendly-heckling you (this is Philly afterall, remember how the fans threw snowballs at Santa? Awesome ESPN short video)
So you just say: One Whiz Wit. (wit = with; in a Philly accent).
And if you didn’t want the fried onions: One Whiz Wit-out.
For more help, here’s more (simple) advice. So here goes:
I started off at Geno’s.
Even visited Jim’s.
And the Rooism winner for the best Philly Cheesesteak is……… Pat’s, King of Steaks. I thought their sandwich was just better. And I’ll explain more below. Oh, and, btw, I got 2 types of sandwiches: the classic “one whiz wit’out” and “one whiz wit’out + mushrooms”.
- Bread: I thought Geno’s sandwich was flat. Like it was sad about something. The bread was bent in the middle for some reason..?
- Cheese: In comparison to Pat’s, Geno’s amount of cheese on the sandwich left me wanting more.. 😦
- Steak: I thought they tasted kinda the same. The way they stack their slices might make a difference in the overall appearance of the sandwich – Geno’s looked flattened – like with a rolling pin, while Pat’s appeared ‘perkier’, ‘happier’, ‘fuller’ and more ‘alive’
- Restaurant appearance: I thought Geno’s was cleaner, and appeared newer and more updated than Pat’s, which was a little shabby, but home-y. Which (Pat’s) I personally, preferred. It was less jarring than Geno’s. Besides, I would give more points on the food vs restaurant appearance (this isn’t some high end, 3-star restaurant, after all).
- Bonus: Pat’s has a more variety in their menu. Although Geno’s has the yummy Italian hoagie. This wasn’t as big a plus (for either of the two places) in my books, because if you’re a purist (or a tourist wanting to try out the ‘real deal’), you don’t want anything other than a ‘real’ cheesesteak anyway. In fact, my husband sighs every time I get mushrooms on mine. LOL
Btw, for fellow SF Bay Area locals, honorable mention goes to Amato’s. My husband found this place when driving down Saratoga Road on the way to Campbell. He saw a Ford Econoline custom Philadelphia Eagles van. Being a Eagles fan, he thinking the van was from a legit Philadelphian, when he noticed that it was parked in front of a Philly cheesesteak place. He literally locked up the brakes and made a hard turn into the parking lot. This place looked promising to a guy who is in the know. And Amato’s delivered!! It is legit and comes highly recommended. Truth be known, I might even like it more than Pat’s, but don’t tell my husband.
ps. My mouth is watering just thinking about cheesesteaks, so we are heading over to Amato’s for tonight’s dinner. Another PRO TIP: while you’re there, do yourself a favor and also order an Italian hoagie to go (with oil and vinegar on the side). These things are delivered straight from heaven.
Leggings: BCBG Mason Skinny Pant. These are soooooo comfy (I could live in them) and ‘thick’ material, unlike some brands. Similar by Eileen Fisher. Also great quality. With leggings you want good, solid coverage; and don’t want some cheapo ones that get too stretched out by the end of the day.
Full Sleeve Shirt: 14th & Union Long Sleeve Tee. Definitely a staple in my closet! Since I’m almost always cold, I own long sleeve tees in like 15 colors. Another great option is by OThread Co. On Amazon Prime- woot woot.
Graphic Tee: this one’s oooooold. Here’s a cute one by Lucky Brand, I would get if I were in the market. Of this one by Soprano. It doesn’t matter what you buy (or dig from your closet), just make sure it’s a size bigger than your ‘under’ shirt.
Watch: Garmin Forerunner 235. I loooooove my running watch.