The great Philly cheese steak debate!

It’s been eight days since I left with the Campus Herald to attend the Associated Collegiate Press convention in Philadelphia and I’m just now getting around to blogging about it. This last segment of labs just about killed me, and I’m so glad it’s over. More on that later. For now, let’s talk about my favorite part of Philly – the cheese steaks!! Actually, to be fair, I didn’t have a single meal in Philly that I didn’t like. While I don’t see myself there for any extended period of time in the future, Philly sure knows a thing or two about sandwiches in general.

We got off the plane at 8:20 AM and I could already taste the cheese steak. But I didn’t want just any cheese steak – this was a one-time all-expenses-paid trip to the city of brotherly love. I wanted Pat’s. Or Geno’s. Or both.


Both it was. I ordered my cheese steaks after some coaching from our accompanying faculty member (are they still called chaperones when they’re taking a bunch of college students? I don’t know.) who grew up in the city: “One provolone witout!”

Both Pat’s and Geno’s had instructions posted for the out-of-towners who weren’t familiar with how to order. Pat’s instructions were clear and detailed,

Philly9while Geno’s kept it simpler. And quite possibly offensive.

Philly3Price-wise, the two were about the same with the sandwiches costing around $9 each and an additional $3-4 for fries and a drink.


Pat’s cheese steak on the left, Geno’s on the right.

I’m going to apologize here for the poor photography – my hands were shaking so badly from the cold and rainy weather. Perhaps indoor seating might give one of these fine entities an edge over the other in the future? Anyway, you can see that both cheese steaks look similar. I did have a preference for one over the other, but both had a great flavor. Pat’s steak was cut into small pieces which made it easier to chew through, and had the flavor of sautéed onions even though none were on my sandwich. Since I’m such a fan of bread, Pat’s was slightly disappointing in that most of the inside was scooped out. The crust had just the right amount of softness but firmness to hold together, but I missed the thicker inside of the roll.

Geno’s cheese steak had larger, slightly fattier pieces of steak that contributed greatly to the overall flavor. Though the meat took longer to chew, it had a better meat flavor and less of a greasy taste. The bread was again soft enough on the outside but had that chew that I look for in a fresh loaf of bread. The only disappointment was the provolone on top that never melted into the rest of the sandwich. There’s no question that it was extremely cold outside and that may have had a hand in keeping the cheese too cool, but what’s a cheese steak without melty cheese? (And I don’t mean that fake whiz cheese. No, thank you.)

So, in my book, Geno’s has the better cheese steak. I can definitely see why others prefer Pat’s – these are two very different sandwiches texture- and taste-wise. I also think that neither of these two cheese steaks were the best sandwiches that Philly had to offer. For those who aren’t overly fond of cheese steaks, Tommy Dinic’s Roast Pork and Beef inside Reading Terminal Market has some fabulous roast pork sandwiches. Open since 1954, they’re obviously doing something right!


The pork was so moist and tender, and the bread was baked on-site by the hour. Sitting inside on that cold afternoon didn’t hurt either.

We crammed so much in on this trip, I have tons more to talk about. Including the reason why I’m currently sitting here wearing a bulky walking boot on my right foot. But with another early morning approaching, that’s a story for another day. I’ll be bundling up tomorrow since it’s supposed to be 39 in the morning, but I’m still loving this New England weather!


  1. I feel like I just got back from Philadelphia myself. I can not quite taste. The Philly sandwich, but almost. It was so fun to read your review! Thanks!

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