I spent this past weekend visiting a college friend who lives in Philly. I had visited her last in January, 2010 and it was ABSOLUTELY FREEZING. But on my personal, non-Disney bucket list, along with visiting Prague and Australia, was eating a cheesesteak from both Pat's and Genos. If you don't know the history of the Philadelphia cheesesteak titans, go Google it. Right now. We'll wait.
View of Pat's from Geno's. They are across the street!
Okay so my friend and I bought one cheesesteak each from the two purveyors and split them between us so we each had half of a sandwich from each of Pat's and Geno's. We got them "whiz wit" which means the paper-thin slices of steak on a bun, with Cheese Whiz (not Provolone or other cheese), and "wit" ("with" + Philly accent) onions. This is the most traditional, classic version of the cheesesteak.
It was so cold that the cheese was solidifying by the time it dripped from the sandwich onto the wrapper! We tentatively declared Pat's the winner because they chopped up the steak and cooked it with the onions which we felt was a better texture and imparted better flavor.
Fast forward to last weekend: The Philly Cheesesteak Challenge Redux. My friend is leaving Philly shortly so we had to get in one more Cheesesteak Challenge experience. This time it was HOT AS H3LL. I mean I basically got heatstroke by Sunday. We repeated our experiment in exactly the same way - half a "whiz wit" sandwich each from each stand. Except this time we started at Pat's and ended at Geno's (last time we did the reverse). We felt this was the most in keeping with the scientific method. We needed to keep the integrity of our experiment, obviously.
Detail of Pat's
This time, Geno's won! First, I give props to Geno's for its flashier decor. I prefer the fancier ambiance to the more "understated" Pat's environment (this is, perhaps, why I am a Deluxe hotel kinda girl?).
Geno's Flashier Wrapper
Next, I had issues with my sandwich from Pat/s. It was delicious to be sure. But unlike last time, they didn't chop my steak fully this time, so all the little pieces were still stuck to each other. This forced me to end up with a mouthful of steak in the beginning bites because I couldn't bite through the meat, and no meat at the end. I think an element of a great sandwich should be the even distribution of filling throughout the eating experience so I was not as huge a fan of this sandwich. Plus I dripped cheese on my dress (eating a cheesesteak in hot weather is a vastly different experience from doing the same in the cheese-solidifying freezing cold weather of January).
Despite Geno's NOT chopping up their steak, I could bite through the meat with ease which made eating MUCH easier. I thought their onions could be more cooked, but aside from that, the evenly spread composition of the sandwich at Geno's made it more enjoyable to eat. Both were delicious but Geno's had the edge this time. So what did we learn from this experiment? Absolutely nothing. But it was fun and yummy to complete!
The WINNER (this time)!