In the week before I left for Philadelphia, I hungrily and eagerly anticipated having my first taste of a Philly cheesesteak in a long time. It is the occasional fattening and delicious local specialty like the Philly cheesesteak that inspires me to eat well, work out, and reject all unauthentic copies like the cheesesteaks they serve at Subway. I have to report that my experience at Geno's was excellent and the most uniquely Philadelphian dining experience you could have.
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.