If you want to experience the fiercest rivalry in Philadelphia cheese steaks then go to the intersection of 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia. Here two of the oldest cheese steak emporia ply their trade – Geno’s and Pat’s. Pat Olivieri is said to have first invented the Philadelphia Cheese steak in 1930.
So what exactly is a Philadelphia Cheese steak? Good question. There’s no real mystery, the answer is pretty much in the name. The only way it could be clearer if it was called a Cheese steak bread. The only surprise is that the steak is minced up and fried with onions. But that’s not much of a surprise. You get to choose the cheese, which is generally a choice between Provolone and Cheese Whiz. If you’re visiting and not a Cheese Whiz aficionado I’d stick to Provolone. The Whiz is an acquired taste.
The two cafes are open 24/7 and do a swift trade. There is no hanging around and nothing effete like waiters. You queue for your food by the side of a hole in the wall out of which come barked instructions. Locals need no more than three words to order what they want – One whiz wit gets you a cheese steak coated in Cheese Whiz with onions. Take the wrapped hoagie you are handed, add a pepper or two and some ketchup and you’re ready to roll. Enjoy.