Philadelphia, PA - One of Philly's greatest food rivalry is between two South Philly cheese-steak joints that may rival the The Liberty Bell for iconic status: Pat's or Geno's? Who makes the best cheesesteaks.
Lots of places have signature foods: Chicago has 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 cheese steak 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 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.
So lets 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.
The cheesesteak made its official debut in 1930. Pat Olivieri was a South Philadelphia hot dog vendor who one day decided to put some beef from the butcher on his grill. A taxicab driver noticed the alluring aroma and asked for his own steak sandwich. The next day, as the story goes, 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 title of best cheesesteak in town, with Geno’s founder, Joe Vento, claiming it was he, not Olivieri, who first added cheese to the cheesesteak.
The difference both use the same bread, 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 tourist trap for a bite to eat, it all comes down to the meat "Chopped or Sliced" follow your stomach or just get one of each.
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