Steak and cheese, arguably two of my favourite foods, come together in bread with onions and mushrooms to create the classic Philly Cheesesteak! But where to go for these all American delicacies? Well, America probably, and you might want to hit up the sandwiches city namesake of Philadelphia! But even after narrowing it down this far, who gets the nod from this particular pair of culinary nomads?
Following our trusty local guide David, we reached a crossroads. Not a metaphorical one, but a literal crossroads where diagonally opposite each other were two of the very best joints for Philly Cheesesteak in the world. My thoughts were racing, do they get on? How did they end up so close to each other? Which one is the best? WHICH ONE DO WE CHOOSE?
Perhaps if it was the fear of missing out on the best Philly Cheesesteak. Perhaps it was a mixture of bravery and stupidity, but there seemed to be only one real option: we had to try both. What came to pass was one of the best lunches of all our travels, and in our opinion there was a winner…
First up was Pat’s King of Steaks, and we sought guidance from our trusty guide: “whatever you order, make it quick they don’t mess about”. After assessing the menu from a safe distance, we approached the small window where we would place our order. Glimpsing in, we could see a bucket full of thinly sliced red pieces of meat sitting next to a grill a couple of metres long absolutely swamped with delicious meat, steam and smoke rising from the flat grill. I was excited.
“Yo man, what’ll it be?”
“I’ll take the provolone cheese and mushroom steak sandwich please mate”
A quick nod from the big guy and the order was complete. Much like a McDonalds drive through without a car, we walked to the next window to order a coke and pay. And then it arrived, a foot long piece of bread, meat, cheese, onions and mushrooms.
Moving away from the window, it was time to customise this cheesesteak with the incredible buffet of sauces and spices before sitting down and getting stuck in. So how was it? The meat was tender and soft, the sandwich juicy with the juices of the mushrooms, steak and cheese all coming together with the chilli sauce. It was awesome, and in five minutes it was gone (along with a litre of Dr Pepper to cool the spices!).
Round one complete of our cheesesteak adventure, and with a slight case of meat sweats, we crossed the road to the competition at Geno’s.
Feeling like pros by this point, we rocked up to the window and placed our order, this time with cheese and onions and extra chilli sauce. Again in the background we could hear the unmistakable sizzle of the steak, and the various shades of red meat on the cooking grill. I was so glad I had resisted the urge to have a Philly Cheesesteak anywhere else in the world until now.
Grabbing a table, and a bottle of water this time, we got stuck in. This time it was different, without the mushrooms it was less juicy but more meaty, the onions and chilli sauce oozing out as I battled to keep it all together. The bread was crispier than the last, and again it was delicious.
So two footlong Philly Cheesesteaks down, which was the winner? It was tight, very tight. I feel like we need to go again to verify the result, but squeezing into the winning position was Pat’s King of Steaks, arguably the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten. And I’ve eaten a lot of sandwiches.