Jim. Pat. Geno.
To the uninitiated these are just simple male names. Innocent. Unoffensive. Plain. But to the cheesesteak cognoscenti, these names mean war.
Last week brought us to the epicenter of this ages long battle that pits brother against brother, mothers against fathers and spans generations. We were in Philly and determined to figure this conundrum out for ourselves.
Yours truly and Lindsay at the start of something great.
Across this great nation, from Timonium to Honolulu are places that either mimic the Philly Cheesesteak or develop their own variation. Some are good, others are not, but to understand how all of this comes together, one must journey to Mecca-delphia and experience its' roots.
It was with this in mind that myself, Lindsay and Matt ventured to the City of Brotherly Love.
For the first-time visitor, one only need remember: "south" - as in South Street and South Philly. Our first stop on this tour was down South Street, a funky and hip retail/bar district, to Jim's. It's different than the other two because you go inside, ensconsed from the weather outside - and when you've froze your butt off eating steaks in the dead of winter in South Philly, you can appreciate this seemingly minor aberration.
The basic Philly Cheesesteak fries beef on a griddle, adds sauteed onions and slops it all in a baked roll that's been sliced down the middle and lathered with Cheese Whiz (hence the term: Whiz With - meaning Cheese Whiz with onions).
The Jim's of South Street Cheesesteak.
Motownphilly's Geno's Steak.
Pat's The King of Steaks. With a name like that how can you go wrong? We opted for the full meal with cheese fries and sodas.
So which is the best? That's up for you to decide. After years of trying both Pat's and Geno's, I found myself to favor Pat's. So does Matt. Lindsay thought that the bread was better at Pat's and the meat at Geno's.
Go figure. Try them all.
Just remember that none of them have patience for amateurs. Just walk up with a bit of cocky confidence and say "Whiz With" - even if you don't know what that means.
You'll have a great time.
And let me know which is your favorite.