Philadelphia, PA - Pat's and Geno's cheesesteak debate is one of Philly's greatest food rivalry's between two South Philly cheesesteak joints that may rival The Liberty Bell for iconic status: Pat's or Geno's? Who makes the best cheesesteaks.
Philly Cheesesteak History
If you are reading this from out of town, you probably think Pat's and Geno's is one cheesesteak shop; but, they are actually two rivals located right across the street from one other. Pat's founder, Pat Olivieri, had the honor of creating the iconic cheesesteak in 1930, making Pat's the first cheesesteak in Philly.
Geno's launched their cheesesteak shop directly across the street 36 years later and claimed to have mastered the sandwich. Both Pat's and Geno's are opened 24/7 minus a few holidays, and yes, they are regarded as "tourist traps" by any local; however, the experience is part of the fun!
Pat's vs. Geno's Philly's Cheesesteak Debate
Lots of places have signature foods: Chicago has the deep-dish pizza, New England has clam chowder, Buffalo, N.Y., has hot wings, Maryland has crab cakes, and New Orleans has gumbo. But in Philadelphia, the cheesesteak stands as equal parts civic symbol, tourist attraction, and a cultural obsession.
And no place represents the true grit of this working-class town and speaks to the soul of the city better than the corner of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue in South Philly, the cheese-steak epicenter where Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks face off 24 hours a day.
What is a Cheesesteak
So let's take a step back and start with what's a cheesesteak? A cheesesteak is a long, crusty roll filled with thinly sliced sautéed ribeye beef and melted cheese. Generally, the cheese of choice is Cheez Whiz, but American and provolone are common substitutions. The art of cheesesteak preparation lies in the balance of flavors, textures, and what is often referred to as the “drip” factor. Other toppings may include fried onions, sautéed mushrooms, ketchup, and hot or sweet peppers.
Pats Vs. Geno's
The cheesesteak made its official debut in 1930. Pat Olivieri was a South Philadelphia hot dog vendor who decided to put some beef from the butcher on his grill one day. A taxicab driver noticed the alluring aroma and asked for his own steak sandwich. The next day, as the story goes, the rumor of the delicious lunch had spread, and cabbies around the city came to Olivieri demanding steak sandwiches. Soon after, Olivieri opened up a shop on 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue, Pat’s King of Steaks, to sell his new creation. Eventually, according to legend, he added cheese to the recipe.
Today, Pat’s grills are sizzling 24 hours a day, as are Geno’s, the rival shop across the street. For 40 years, the two shops have waged a friendly competition to win the best cheesesteak title in town, with Geno’s founder, Joe Vento, claiming it was he, not Olivieri, who first added cheese to the cheesesteak.
Which is better, Pat’s or Geno’s
So, what's the difference? Both use the same bread, the same yellow mess of cheese, onions, all the same; the sandwiches are fairly indistinguishable. But the real distinction is that steak. Pat's, follows tradition, chops its steak, while Geno's serves it sliced.
So if you must visit the 9th Street Tourist Trap in South Philly for a bite to eat, it all comes down to the meat "Chopped or Sliced" follow your stomach or get one of each.
Related Pat's Vs. Geno's Articles
Date Night at Genos Steaks - While the Philadelphia food scene is much more than just cheesesteaks, it seems to be what we’re known for. The most talked-about cheesesteak establishments are Pat's and Geno's– this post isn’t about which is better. Honestly, it all depends on how you like your meat cooked, what kind of cheese you like, how you like the texture of your roll... the list goes on and on. Every cheesesteak shop in Philadelphia has its own loyal customers, who have been coming back for years and swear by their allegiance.
The Ultimate Philly Cheesesteak Guide - Here in Philly, cheesesteaks are a civic icon, a tourist draw, and a cultural obsession. Often imitated around the world, the cheesesteak is rarely duplicated successfully outside of Philadelphia. So what is an authentic cheesesteak, and where did it come from? Here’s the lowdown on this region’s favorite sandwich.