When you ask most people not native to the area where to get a good cheesesteak in Philly, two iconic names usually pop up. Pat's and Geno's. As weird as this sounds, I've lived in Philly for about six months now, and up until last week, I had never been to either. Part of that you can chalk up to laziness (okay... more like 90%), but the remainder is because a lot of people have told me that both are somewhat disappointing. All hype and no substance... kind of meh. Anyway, the original plan was to bring a couple of my friends to Paesano's, home of massive sandwiches, but when we got there, we found that their 9th street location was closed for renovations... fail. Since it was Sunday and nothing else was open, I figured we could do worse than a couple of mediocre cheesesteaks. Besides, my friends are from NYC... what do they know about cheesesteaks anyway?
There it is. Pat's King of Steaks... apparently owned by parent company Pepsi. Really nothing special, just your average triangular wedge shaped steak sandwich shop with only external seating available.
Ah yes. The sign for noobs. I've heard horror stories about the guys there being assholes to people who fuck up the ordering process. Have no fear. I'm pretty sure my Korean friend didn't follow directions, and they didn't make him go to the back of the line. Also, it was 20 degrees outside, so there was virtually no line. Yes, my anecdotal evidence is all but worthless. Moving on.
$8.50 later and there it was. Ordered wit whiz of course, the way it should be. First impression... it's yellow. It's really yellow. Disturbingly so. I like my food to be colorful like any other food blogger, but I'm not sure I like eating radioactive cheese. Upside, I gain superhuman digestive powers. Downside, I get stomach cancer. I think the latter is more likely. Still, it was windy out (have I mentioned that it was 20 degrees?) so shoving hot beef and liquid cheese in my mouth seemed like a fantastic idea to stay warm.
Oh wait! That's not how it works. More pictures first. Sorry other people who went with me whose hands were probably freezing. Documenting the internals of Pat's cheesesteak is more important than the wellbeing of your hands. Now... after eating the sandwich and reflecting on the meal for several hours, here are some thoughts I wish to share. Pat's doesn't cut up their steak very well. This might be a product of laziness, or it might be a product of how busy they are, but honestly... it works out alright. At the very least, you know it's real meat as opposed to that frozen stuff some places serve. The meat is appropriately tender and juicy, but still has the occasional lump of fat (in the good way). These pockets of fat are like textural treasures, making the beef less boring to chew (i.e. not just cow mush). As for everything else? The cheese is surprisingly mellow given how radioactive it looks, and the bread is decidedly average. Basically you have a really nondescript sandwich with a reputation it doesn't live up to. But it's fine. It's not fantastic... it's not worth $8.50... but if you said you'd kidnap my dog if I didn't eat it (the cheesesteak, not my dog), I would gladly stomach it. Yep. That's the best way I can come up with describing it.