I think we can all agree that the best cheesesteaks are found in the city of Brotherly Love – Philadelphia, PA… Better knowns as Philly. The sandwich itself even has Philly in the name! The big names that everyone has heard of is Pat’s, Geno’s and Jim’s. I set out to evaluate the competition, to see if anyone of these Philly icons makes a better cheesesteak than the others. The cheesesteak fight was on. I visited Geno’s, Pat’s and Jim’s. I also took a poll of just about everyone that would speak to me on the streets of Philly to get local feedback.
I started out asking, “who’s better, Pat’s or Geno’s?” Some liked Pat’s others liked Geno’s. The rivalry between the two is fun and the locals really get into it and take it pretty seriously. Pat’s and Geno’s sit across the street from one another making the rivalry more intense. I started asking the who’s better question and while people love Pat’s and Geno’s they are not the only game in town. A lot of people told me other lesser known sandwich shops, likes Jim’s and Campo’s.
Only spending a week in Philly, I didn’t have time to try them all, but I was able to hit up the big three – Pat’s, Geno’s and Jim’s.
Here’s the break down in the order that I visited them –
Geno’s – Cheesesteak with Onions & Wiz
Geno’s, offers the most flash and pop from a visual perspective of the building. Bright colors and neon signs. I ordered a cheesesteak with onions and wiz. From the time I ordered the sandwich to when I received it, it was lightning fast. The second I had finished paying for the sandwich it was done and in my hand ready to eat. Geno’s steak was the most different from the three locations. They sliced the meat and cooked the whole slices without chopping the steak. Wiz and onions were added to the cheesesteak, it was wrapped in flashy paper and handed to me. The flavor of the steak was great and the bread was perfectly chewy and fresh. It was by far the best looking bread of the group. The average cheesesteak at Gino’s is $9.00
Pat’s – Cheesesteak with Onions & American Cheese
Pat’s is located directly across from Geno’s. Pat’s building looks a little old compared to Gino’s. The building has been in operation since 1930, many years before Geno’s got into the business. At Pat’s, I ordered steak with American cheese and onions. (I should have gone with the wiz!). The bread was very different at Pat’s. It was softer and less dense. The cheesesteak was good, but I found the steak to be a little dry. (maybe if I added wiz that would not have been the case). The speed of service was equal to Geno’s. The pricing was the same.
Jim’s Cheesesteak with Onions & Wiz
Jim’s Steaks is located in a different area, away from Pat’s and Geno’s. Jim’s is located on South street. South street is a very lively area, great for people watching. I was told that the lines at Jim’s can extend out the door and around the corner. This could be an issue if you are in a rush. The service here was the slowest out of the three, but not unreasonable. What I enjoyed about Jim’s is that you order your sandwich downstairs and then there is a seating area upstairs that overlooks South street. The steak was chopped very fine. More fine than even Pat’s, but the meat was incredibly moist! The bread was similar to Pat’s, but less dry. I got my cheesesteak with onions and wiz, it was delicious. The cost of a cheesesteak at Jim’s is about $8.00, a little less than the other guys.
Are you anxiously awaiting for me to declare a winner of this cheesesteak fight? First let me say, if you are in Philly, it’s hard to find a bad cheesesteak. The same isn’t true in most other parts of the country. For example, cheesesteak’s in Houston are pretty terrible, because the bread is just not that good.
The break down –
Geno’s was pretty good, they had the best meat and their bread was very good. They come in at number 2. Pat’s was my least favorite. I found the meat and bread to be a little dry. I found the best overall combination at Jim’s, my favorite of the three. The meat was chopped fine, but very moist. The bread was perfectly soft and chewy.
The bottom line, Philly is a great food town with lots of great cheesesteaks to choose from, I think you’re going to have to come to Philly and find your favorite. The good news is, I have laid the ground work for your mission. Go forth and report back on your findings.
Note – I think it’s pretty clear how I like my cheesesteak, wiz and onions. There are lots of other combinations to choose from. You could try Provolone cheese or add marinara sauce to make a pizza steak. You could even add mushrooms. Yum!
Something to keep in mind – none of these places accept credit cards. Cash only!
Our food adventure in Southern Florida continues. Yesterday Kate and I were able to sneak out during Greg’s nap time. Thank you Grammy and Papa! We hopped in the car and headed south. For two hours we were free! It was like our pre-children days. It felt like we were moving at the speed of light. No child to strap into a car seat, wow. When traveling with kids, nothing is fast.
For lunch, Sonny’s Famous Steak Hogies was in our sights. During our research leading up to our Florida trip we stumbled upon Sonny’s while looking at a Dinners, Drive-ins and Dives fan page, where they list all of the locations Guy Fieri has visited. Kate and I both love steak sandwiches, Sonny’s makes their own bread, and the reviews seemed to be pretty good – They made the list. We’ve visited several restaurants after seeing them featured on the Food Network. After watching Bobby Flay challenge Flip Happy Crepes and Los Barrios to Thowdown’s we had to try them. Both were very good, with Flip Happy Crepes being exceptional. (See Flip Happy Post here). We once tried a taco joint that Bon Appetit claimed made the best taco’s in America… We were not impressed. Kate’s family is from Philly, so we know a good cheesesteak when we taste one. So how did Sonny’s stack up?
When we arrived Sonny’s was busy (usually a sign of a good place to eat), but we were able to get a table quickly. We ordered two sandwiches to split. The 90 – steak and onions, which we added american cheese to and a meatball parmesan, served with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese (which we substituted for provolone cheese).
The steak and cheese hoagie, was by far the best I have had outside of Philly. The bread was great, made daily at Sonny’s, it was the perfect foundation. Chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside. The steak was juicy, the texture was perfect and the sweet onions rounded it out nicely… It was darn good.
The meatball parmesan was an authentic Italian meatball sandwich. The meatballs were flavorful and tender. The marinara sauce perfectly tangy and smooth. The meatball parmesan was very good, but the steak and cheese made me want to do back flips in the parking lot. The service was fast and friendly. John, Sonny’s son got a kick out us traveling all the way from Houston to try his steak sandwiches.
Guy Fieri – You got Sonny’s right! A taste of Philly in Southern Florida.
A Cheesesteak with Wiz – A Philly Classic (Ordered by the lovely lady at the next table).