Pat's and Geno's were born to be rivals, slugging it out daily on the gritty end of 9th Street at Parsyunk at the southern edge of the Italian Markets. As for who was first and who serves the best cheeseteak, it's debatable, with varied opinions the faithful won't hesitate defending. When standing in the narrow intersection that separates the two establishments, one can all but imagine the feuds that have developed. The competition stares daily at each other through vendor windows, while close proximity even allows customers to greet and/or taunt each other between the two establishments.
Long before McDonald’s or glorified fast food, these restaurants were designed for rapid service, and for good cause. Traffic circling the block, and even double parking for making a quick haul, only complements the frenzied atmosphere. Sandwiches are ordered at one window, and further down is another for picking up cheese fries and drinks.
Pat's seems to blow their horn more when it comes to "bragging rights," based on annual awards some will swear are rigged. They even have a four-step How to properly order... placard that's supposed to be a spoof. But considering the no-nonsense disposition of employees, coupled with the final step suggesting if you don't get it right, going to the end of the line and trying again, don't be surprised to receive razzing in the process!
Both restaurants have an impressive collection of autographed photos lining outer walls from celebrities and other notables which have stopped by. But, in my opinion, and for reasons not even remembered, Geno's is still my pick for serving the better cheesesteak and where I've eaten four out of five times coming here.
A basic steak with grilled onions on a hoagie costs $5.75, or $6.25 with choice of American, Provolone, or Cheese Wiz. There's not nearly enough cheese fries at a cost of $3.50, and drinks are $1.50. Across from the pick-up windows are service bars with a variety of condiments, including sweet hot peppers. There's a limited amount of outdoor tables at both places. If it's really busy, customers munch shoulder-to-shoulder at stand-up counters.
Understand, dining at either of these places is solely about nostalgia and tradition. Cheesesteak sandwiches are personal favorites, and I've devoured some memorable ones far beyond Philly, undoubtedly hands-down better than either of these places. Decent, less-expensive sandwiches are available downtown from street vendors and at the Hard Rock Cafe on Market Street in The Gallery shopping complex, with a loaded cheesesteak platter for less than the $11.25 meal price at Geno's or Pat's.
Results 1-10of 10 Reviews
Yorba Linda, California
May 29, 2010
by Jose Kevo
June 14, 2005
From journal FREEDOM - An Escape Artist in Philly
August 28, 2005
People, please use your valuable cheesesteak dollars wisely. No Geno's, No Pat's. Drive by if you must drink in the atmosphere. But get your actual cheesesteak at Jim's, Tony Luke's (there's one at Citizen's Bank Park now if you're taking in a Phillies game), Chicks, or any number of neighborhood places that will gladly serve up a decent cheesesteak. For an authentic steak, go with whiz (Cheez Whiz) or provolone and grilled onions (never say "fried") if you want them. Mushrooms and green peppers are also acceptable (grilled also), if not entirely traditional. If the place sells beer (Jim's does! Yes, this is an endorsement), go with a Yeungling, Pennsylvania's oldest brewery.
YOU MAY RETURN (salivating) TO YOUR REGULAR ROUTINE.
From journal Dining in the Philadelphia Area
July 7, 2005
After trying the three top - Geno's, Jim's, and Pat's - Geno's is my third choice for the sandwich (their meat had a unique flavor compared to the others - is it onion powder?) and first choice for the colorful outside decor!
I recommend it for the experience.
From journal Philadelphia
new york city, New York
June 14, 2002
Should Geno's not satisfy, you can try its mortal competitor, Pat's, located across the street.
From journal Philly
January 25, 2001
From journal Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
August 2, 2011
From journal The Great Cheesesteak Challenge
January 7, 2003
Geno's beckons hungry tourists and longtime local customers with gaudy neon lights that leave no mystery to its claim to fame: The Best Steaks. Other neon signs along the wall tempt you with cheese fries and roast pork. You really don't even need a menu, but you must decide what kind of cheese you would like on your cheesesteak, and you can choose from provolone, American, or Cheez Whiz. You walk up to the order window to make your order and pay, and then proceed to the drinks and fries line. I chose the provolone cheesesteak and also enjoyed some cheese fries that were served in a cup. Even on a cold December afternoon, customers braved the outdoor seating. There is no indoor seating at Geno's, there are no outdoor heating lamps, and the bright neon lights unfortunately do not emit heat.
The cheesesteak was delicious, hot, and fresh. I was surprised that it was of manageable proportions, and I had no problem finishing it. This is because the roll is rather compact and not big and puffy like you might find at Subway, and the sandwich is not packed with anything but thin slices of cheesesteak and cheese. Geno's doesn't embellish its sandwiches with onions, mushrooms, or other nonessentials. I was less impressed with the cheese fries because it was so cold that the Cheez Whiz had congealed within a few minutes, leaving me with a cup of mushy fries.
Geno's is quite a bargain at about $5 per sandwich. In a world where you can find cheesesteaks in every mall, Subway, and school cafeteria, I was happy to be having the real thing at Geno's.
From journal Philadelphia: December 2002
September 28, 2006
From journal Home of the Cheesesteak
October 18, 2005
What trip would be complete without a gooey cheesesteak? Everyone's got an opinion on the best, and the rivalry between Geno's and Pat's King of Steaks, two catty-corner, 24-hour steak purveyors, is as heated as any in history. To be honest, I don't find much difference between them, though I'm a bit swayed by Pat's public napkin dispensers—this is some messy stuff. Be advised--these joints are the soup nazis of South Philly. Have your money ready, ask for sodas at the second window and whatever you do, order properly. A standard cheesesteak with onions is pronounced, "whiz wit." In other words, Cheese Whiz (the default cheese, which is nothing to laugh at) with onions. Oh, it'll all make sense once you get there. Head to S. Ninth Street and Passyunk Avenue, just south of the Italian Market.
With over 80 vendors hawking everything from fresh fruit and cheese to Peking duck and Amish apple tarts, Reading Terminal Market, in the Convention Center District off 12th and Arch streets, is a must for all. But plan your eating strategy wisely, as a stomach only has so much room. Tommy DeNic's stuffs a sandwich so well, cheesteaks should be shaking in their boots. Their roast pork with provolone is over-the-top tasty. Don't miss Beiler's Bakery--you'll kick yourself for not picking up a six-pack of sticky buns. Thinking I'd be back the next day, I eschewed items like the irresistible cakes at Braverman's and charming chocolates at Mueller's, molded into the shape of chicken drumsticks, the Liberty Bell, and E.T. (yes, the extraterrestrial). However, I was thwarted on my surefire route to sugar-induced coma by the market's lack of Sunday hours. Keep in mind, this is a Monday-through-Saturday place.
From journal Weekend Getaway to Philadelphia