The Philadelphia Cheesesteak

Posted on 01/16/2012


So I guess I have finally found something to blog about that I’m going to rant a bit about. The Philadelphia Cheesteak, well namely how its viewed inside and outside of Philly. If you don’t know already I’m a native of Philly and lived there for 21 years of my life before shipping myself off to Vancouver BC to be a Game Designer.

While living there I fell in love with the cheesesteak, like most Philadelphians do. So it grinds my gears when anybody who isn’t from there praises Geno’s for being the best Cheesesteak Philly has to offer. Urgh, just no!  Geno’s is a tourist trap (but has the marketing team of gods apparently). It’s ok, but its not the greatest. Mainly because they’re smaller than the usual cheeseteak, give less meat and are haphazardly put together. So lets compare Geno’s VS Jim’s ( a Philadelphia Cheesesteak chain, hailing from West Philly)

Geno's Cheesesteak

Jim's Cheesesteak

Jim's Cheesteak

I of course think that the one to the Right is better although Jim’s can be seen as the black equal to Geno’s just not as Tourist trappy (cause there are more than just one). I’ll explain. From my living in Philly for 21 years and having lived in different neighborhoods and having friends that live all over the city I’ve noticed that depending on what part of the city you buy your cheesesteak from there are various differences 1.) How you order it 2.) how its put together and 3.) how it’s served.

So in South Philly (where the cheesesteak originated) at Geno’s or Pat’s an order goes like this:

1.) Walk up to the window. Me: “I would like a Wiz wit (which means a cheesesteak with cheese wiz and fried onion)

2.) Go to the next window and pay (makes sense)

3.) Look in the window seeing the cheesesteak being made. The cook spatula’s cheese wiz on the bun (or puts provolone/american cheese on the bottom if that’s what you prefer). Use tongs to put finely sliced steak on to the bun.

4a) If its for here you’ll receive it in a paper box with some parchement paper and it open for you to add condiments if you want.

4b) if you order to go, they’ll just wrap it up in parchment paper and then you go your merry way.

OK that’s all fine and good, but I find it kind of sloppy and not much care is given to the steak. I know its designed for those long lines that come after people are partying on South Street. So let’s compare with if I order from Jim’s or Max’s In West and North Philly respectively  (Max’s is my fave in the city located off of Board and Erie)

1.) Walk up to the cook making the steaks (can be seen right in front of you) and say “I’d like a cheesesteak with salt, pepper, ketchup and fried onions”.

2.) There’ll be a pile of meet over on the side and the cook will grab a bunch (depending on the orders) and start to mince the meat into little bits. Once its thoroughly cooked he’ll place the slices of cheese on top of a nicely positioned line of meat so it can fit into the roll nicely. Then he’ll place the roll on top and use his spatula to flip the cheesesteak over and send it over to the fixin’ station. There somebody else will put the salt pepper and ketchup on the sandwhich.

3a) if it’s ordered for here they’ll take a big knife and place it down the middle (horizontally) and push the steak together so everything combines well. Then they’ll cut it in half and give it to you in a paper basket with parchment paper

3b.) If you order it to go they’ll cut it in the same fashion as mentioned above then its first wrapped in Aluminum foil and then wrapped in paper.

I guess because I grew up in West Philly for the early part of my life, I prefer the second one. But even if I go to South Philly I’ll go to Tony Luke’s over Geno’s. So Blogsosphere, what have been your experiences with Cheesesteaks in and out of Philly. Let me know in the comments below!

Til next post!

Chaz Bazz

Posted in: Life, My Thoughts, Randoms