Better than Ramen: The Ideal Cheesesteak

Every city has its dish. In Baltimore, it’s crab cakes; in Kansas City it’s BBQ. And, of course, in Philadelphia, we have the iconic Philadelphia cheesesteak.

Naturally, we can’t all just agree that this meat, onion, and dairy-filled concoction is delicious. I mean, seriously, how much better could it get? Eating just a third of one of these colossal hoagies is a full meal.

But no. We have to fight over which ideal sandwich is the most ideal. That battle is one fought between two Philly Cheesesteak vendors: Pat’s and Geno’s.

Being the self-sacrificing, truth-seeking journalist I am, I took it upon my taste buds to determine which of these two restaurants actually serves the better cheesesteak.

Geno’s and Pat’s follow precisely the same formula to create their culinary perfections. Both have an indoor kitchen where the sandwich is prepared. The line, seating, and ordering station are all outdoors. At the first window, cheesesteak connoisseurs and tourists alike pay $10 (tax included) for a cheesesteak with or without onions. There are three types of cheese available: American, provolone, or Cheese Whiz. After placing your order, you can proceed to the next window to order drinks or grease-soaked cheese fries. Or I guess regular fries….but this is America and we put cheese on everything. This set-up, while far from ideal during a PA winter, does get you your cheesesteak in about 47 seconds.

Pat’s and Geno’s both use white hoagie buns. They both shred their meat to the same consistency. The sandwiches are the same length, the same width, the same temperature. They’re so close to each other you can literally see Pat’s as you eat a cheesesteak at Geno’s–and vice versa.

Now, the part I know you’re all dying to read: which cheesesteak is actually better? Is it Pat’s or Geno’s? Finally, finally, due to this article, the age-old Philly Cheesesteak controversy will be solved…or will it?
My cheesesteak-tasting companion and I compared every facet of the sandwich: the leanness of the meat, the consistency and aesthetic appeal of the bread, the sweetness of the onion, the effectiveness of the napkins.

And….It’s a tie.

Geno’s and Pat’s have tried to hard to be just a little better than their competitor they’ve succeeded in creating practically identical products. And, to be honest, they both make incredible sandwiches.

Not satisfied? Go try it yourself. Let me know if you can tell the difference.

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