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 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. See... What The History Of The Philadelphia Cheesesteak
Geno's launched their cheesesteak shop directly across the street 36 years later and claimed to have mastered the sandwich. Pat's and Geno's are open 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
Many 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 cultural obsession.
And no place represents the true grit of this working-class town and speaks to the city's soul better than the corner of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue in South Philly, the cheesesteak 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. Other toppings may include fried onions, sautéed mushrooms, ketchup, and hot or sweet peppers. The art of cheesesteak preparation lies in the balance of flavors, textures, and what is often referred to as the "drip" factor. Otts 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 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, and onions, all the same; the sandwiches are pretty indistinguishable. But the real distinction is that steak. Pat's, follows tradition and 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. Every cheesesteak shop in Philadelphia has its loyal customers, who have been coming back for years and swear by their allegiance. 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 want, how you like the texture of your roll... the list goes on and on.
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