So, I try to visit Boston every so often now that my good friend Kaitlynn lives there. And, Boston is great, but funds were running low, so we decided to meet halfway: Philadelphia. Neither of us had ever been to Philadelphia, so adventure!
First stop? Cheesesteaks, obvi.
There are two notable cheesesteak places in Philly that all the tourists flock to: Pat's King of Steaks and Geno's Steaks. There are also a dozen others that people in Philly will SWEAR are the ACTUAL best cheesesteak places. But, I only have so much room in my belly for cheesesteak, so I wanted to start off with the ~iconic~ places.
Pat's King of Steaks is the originator and inventor of the cheesesteak sandwich. One day in 1930, Pat Olivieri, a hot dog vendor, put some some beef from the butcher on his grill. A taxi driver apparently noticed the delicious smell and asked for his own steak sandwich.
The next day, as the story goes, rumor of the delicious lunch had spread, and cabbies around the city came to Olivieri demanding steak sandwiches. Soon after, Olivieri opened up a shop at the southern end of South Philly's Italian Market, Pat’s King of Steaks, to sell his new creation. Eventually, according to legend, he added cheese to the recipe. This restaurant is still owned and operated by the Olivieri family today.
So - what exactly is a cheesesteak? Well, it's a long, crusty roll that is filled with thinly sliced sautéed ribeye beef and melted cheese. The most common one is Cheez Wiz, but there is also American and provolone. Also, you can denote whether you want it with or without onions. And, some other toppings are available at a cart nearby, like peppers.
So, we got in line to order our cheesesteaks, which apparently has very specific instructions. There are three main components:
1. How many cheesesteaks you want
2. What type of cheese (Cheez Whiz, Provolone or American)
3. If you want onions
So, [Quantity] + [Cheese] + [With or without onion]. One American with, Two whiz without, etc. It's basically three words so you can move through the line quickly. Got it? Hopefully, because if not, you could be sent to the back of the line.
I ordered "one whiz with," so I got a cheesesteak with Cheez Wiz and onions. The long bun was filled with nicely browned, griddle-chopped steak. The Cheez Wiz melts on top of this steaming sandwich, and the sweet, crunchy bits of onion are - to me - what makes this sandwich.
This typically isn't my kind of sandwich, but this was tasty. The meat was tender, the cheese just coated the entire thing, and the onions added some crunch and sweet. Pretty good. Now, onto their competition...