Every year thousands of hungry people make their way to Passayunk Avenue in South Philadelphia to get a taste of the city’s most popular food item: the Philly cheesesteak.
For more than 70 years, Pat’s King of Steaks has occupied this area, serving up countless orders of their famous cheesesteak to Philadelphians and tourists alike.
Established by Pat Olivieri in 1930, Pat’s reigned for years as the leading cheesesteak spot in South Philly.
Then along came Joe Vento, an ambitious cheesesteak lover who decided to open a cheesesteak business of his own. He named his restaurant Geno’s Steaks and strategically built it on the same street as the already thriving Pat’s.
Geno’s opened in 1966 and has since gained the same popularity as the restaurant it set out to compete with.
Now, the success of these two businesses has raised one very confounding question: Which place serves the better cheesesteak?
For those new to Philly who are unfamiliar with the anatomy of a cheesesteak, the sandwich consists of an Italian roll containing sliced steak topped with melted cheese, as well as any other toppings you’d like.
Travel outside the Philly area and you’ll be hard pressed to find a place that even serves cheesesteaks. They’re a staple of the Philly food tradition, and Pat’s and Geno’s serve up what many believe are the best ones in the city. After sampling cheesesteaks from both places, it is hard to decide which place is preferable.
Both are family-operated and located in the same homey South Philly environment. Both serve a variety of sandwiches, sides and drinks, and most importantly, they both have equally delicious cheesesteaks.
Despite its competition across the street, Pat’s is still the one name in the city synonymous with great cheesesteaks, and the main hotspot for tourists seeking a taste of Philly.
The crowd outside of Pat’s on a typical weekend is no joke; the line stretches around the whole perimeter of the restaurant, and customers may wait nearly an hour to be served. But the wait is well worth it. Along with their signature cheesesteaks, the menu also includes items like hotdogs and roast pork sandwiches.
Like Pat’s, Geno’s has outdoor seating where you can enjoy your mouth-watering meal. The food is so good in fact, that many celebrities stop by regularly for a taste of these famed cheesesteaks. A barrage of photos cover the exterior of Geno’s and displays a range of big-name celebrities from Britney Spears to Bill Clinton, who have visited there.
Not only is the food great at Geno’s but the wait is usually short, which gives it a definite edge over Pat’s and its seemingly never-ending line.
Both Pat’s and Geno’s menu prices are comparable. A meal including soda, french fries and a cheesesteak is about $9. When it comes to choosing the better place, every Philly cheesesteak eater has their personal preference.
Christopher Campuzano, a customer from Lansdowne, Pa., is one of many Geno’s fans. “I’ve eaten at both places, and I prefer Geno’s,” Campuzano said, “I like the way Geno’s is set up and the way they make their cheesesteaks.”
Pat’s and Geno’s are so similar, though, that either place is worth a visit. Nevertheless, should you find yourself standing mid-street between Pat’s and Geno’s, torn between which place to choose, go for Geno’s. You’ll get quick service with minimal waiting time and one of the finest cheesesteaks in all of Philly.
Gina Sicilia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org