May 2007

Pat's King of Steaks vs. Geno's Steaks

Cuisine: Cheesesteaks
April 29, 2007

Pat’s: 1237 East Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Geno’s: 1219 S 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Phone: 215-468-1546 (Pat’s), 215-389-0659 (Geno’s)

Cheesesteak with Onions and Provolone ($7)

Cheesesteak with Onions and Cheez Whiz ($7)

While there are definitely superior cheesesteaks to be eaten in Philadelphia (Try Donny’s at The Grill at Swarthmore College), it’s Pat and Geno who get the most press and accolades due to their hilarious rivalry and close proximity. From the outside, Geno runs a cleaner and more modern shop that somewhat resembles Times Square. Pat on the other hand, has a no-frills white storefront with faded red tables for customers to dine at. Geno is a bit more notorious than Pat because sometime last year he publicly demanded that all customers order in English because we live in America! I don’t know where Pat officially stands on the issue, but it’s most likely the opposite of Geno.

Yo quiero un cheesesteak con Cheez Whiz y cebollas, por favor.

My brother and I conducted a ‘steak by ‘steak comparison three years ago during Family Weekend and concluded that Pat made a better product, but that was ages ago. For kicks and giggles last weekend, the Astronomer and I set out to determine once and for all who makes a better cheesesteak–Pat or Geno.

Before I delve into the sandwiches, it must be noted that the customer service at both establishments is horrible. The men who work behind the counter are fat, mean, and intimidating. Small talk is non-existent; Pat, Geno, and their minions want you to pay and scram. The grill at Pat’s is also really disgusting (see evidence below).

The Astronomer and I headed to Pat’s first because he isn’t a known racist. The cheesesteak was made in 2.5 seconds, which was way too fast for the provolone to properly melt. Clearly made with indifference, our sandwich was handed to us unwrapped on some butcher paper. Every table at Pat’s was occupied so we sat on a ledge across the street. My first thought as I bit into the sandwich was, “eh.” My second and third thoughts were, “the onions are still a little raw” and “there isn’t much steak here.” On a positive note, the bread was good. Surprisingly, the meat was dry considering the copious amounts of grease on the grill. I can’t believe my brother and I gave Pat’s a thumbs up.

Soon after we finished the first, we crossed the street and placed our order at Geno’s substituting provolone with Cheez Whiz. Although it would have been best to compare apples to apples, I didn’t want to risk another cheesesteak without melted cheese. The folks at Geno’s were slacking because it took 10 whole seconds to produce our sandwich. Unlike Pat’s, our cheesesteak was handed to us wrapped-up in butcher paper. Once again, we headed to the ledge to chow. The major difference between the cheesesteaks is the meat. Pat chops his meat into bits, while Geno slices his thinly. My first thought as I bit into Geno’s sandwich was, “ooh, I really like Cheez Whiz.” My second and third thoughts were, “the onions are perfectly cooked” and “the bread is just like Pat’s.”

On this warm spring day, The Astronomer and I guiltily declared Geno the winner. As good liberals we should have let Pat win, but our tastebuds decided otherwise.

Geno's Steaks on Urbanspoon Geno’s Steaks

Pat's King of Steaks on Urbanspoon Pat’s King of Steaks

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28 thoughts on “Pat's King of Steaks vs. Geno's Steaks

  1. Interesting. I’ve only had my cheesteaks wit’ wiz, but my official taste test a couple years ago put Pat on top, mainly because the product was massive and sloppy–more meat than Geno’s, lots of whiz.

  2. I don’t think it’s a fair test- provolone sucks, so obviously it’s not going to be as good of a sandwich. i think you should go back to Pat’s, order a cheese wiz wit, and then realize why: there’s always a line, people drive hundreds of miles to go, and I’m obsessed.

  3. I am definately a Genos fan because pats philly was as bland as the faded red tables.

  4. A few weeks back, a friend and I conducted a similar taste test. We went for the true apples-to-apples comparison, each ordering a Provolone Wit, regular fries, and a soft drink. We then split the portions and got busy chowing down. The outcome: we both agreed that Geno’s had the better cheesesteak overall. The meat was juicier, the cheese more flavorful, and the bread fresher. However, there is a yin to this yang: the fries from Pat’s were much better than the pathetic soggy effort from Geno’s. So, if you have true cajones and a craving for culinary excellence, I’d recommend first picking up your cheesesteak from Geno’s and then walking over to Pat’s to grab your fries, or vice versa. Just be forewarned that there may be some fireworks at your second stop.

  5. I thought Pat and Geno’s were both good. But it was the Broccoli Rabe Cheese Steaks at Tony Luke’s that make me dream of my next trip to South Philly.

  6. Thank you, Loren, whoever you are. Tony Luke’s special cheese steak is the only acceptable one. In fact, it is delicious.

    Through my four years at Swarthmore, I was always confused by cheesesteaks. The concept is good, and I’m not a food snob, but god is cheese whiz disgusting. You’d think the product would have evolved. I think there’s a fine line between authenticity and adaptability. America’s come a long way since cheese whiz, so I don’t know why people still hold on to such strange ideals when it comes to their cheesesteaks. That said, I agree about Geno’s over Pat’s!

  7. “…I’m not a food snob…”

    Jon, you don’t seriously believe this, do you?!

  8. Cathy, I was just trying to see if Ajia has a website (because I need another part-time job (besides City Paper) in Philly this summer and kind of wanted to work there haha), and instead I was routed to your food blog. I ended up reading your Pats vs. Geno’s coverage, and here’s my two cents.
    Both Pat’s and Geno’s make a pretty horrible cheesesteak, at least relative to
    1) Sonny’s: best hand’s down
    2) Tony Luke’s (annoying, but good)
    3) Jim’s (touristy, but still far superior to P and G)
    4) Steaks on south (too small, but good)
    5) many other places in the suburbs that don’t really count I guess
    6) the vegan steak at that place on 7th street, can’t remember the name, which definitely doesn’t really count.

    If you look on my facebook profile, you can see a short movie about me doing the Jim’s / Lorenzo’s challenge

    Sweet blog,

  9. You’re an idiot geno isn’t a racist. He is just a true american trying to keep this country American. Pats is much better. You just liked genos caz it’s nicer

  10. I just conducted a similar taste test with my friend, and we both thought Pat’s was better. The main reason is that Pat’s just had more meat, which made the steak taste juicer and fuller. Geno’s tasted good as well, but the particular steak seemed skimpy on the meat.

    Maybe there is just more variability in Geno’s? Also, we waited about 10 minutes to eat the cheese steaks, so the provolone was definitely melted.

  11. screw south philly altogether. northeast philly is where its at!!!! steves prince of steaks all day!!!

  12. A day ago I went to geno’s and got a whiz wit. then I went to pats and got a whiz wit and I compared them in their different qualities. taste and the way they looked.

    pats had the cheese on top geno’s had the cheese on the bottom. pat’s got cheese on my face but geno’s cheese dripped out.Both cheeses were the same The meat on pat’s was chopped and the meat on geno’s was sliced. so sometimes I pulled sliced meat without bread or cheese where as at Pats that didn’t happen. The meat was more tender at Genos but i LIKED how at Pats in every bit i got everything. aLSO PAT’S HAD WAY MORE MEAT. I tasted the meat more and I liked how it filled me up more. geno’s the meat was not consistent throughout the sandwich. Pat’s meat was better. Geno’s bread was saltier than PATS MAYBE BECAUSE OF THE FACT THAT I TASTED THE BREAD MORE AT GENOS BECAUSE THE LACK OF MEAT. Pats rolls were softer. Pats bread was better. Genos had more onions so I liked genos onions better. Genos was warm while pats was hot so I liked that.

    Overall: Pats is better than Genos. More meat same price and better bread.

  13. Went to PHilly for the first time this past weekend. Made my way down to Geno’s and Pat’s to taste the famous cheesesteaks. To say that I was disappointed would be a huge understatement. Hype baby, all Hype. These sandwiches sucked!!! – Both were bland and the meat was a rubbery as as the sole of an old chuck taylor shoe. As I told my much disappointed wife and children, these were just the best of a very bad sandwich. The owners of these joints are laughing all the way to bank on the back of stupid tourists. In fact, I asked about 10 people on the street and they could not even tell me how to get there – trust me, they were not tourists – they were locals.

    To Geno and Pat, good on ya! You have the whole country duped.

    btw – the wit and without schtick is classic. What a wonderful marketing job. I only wish I could come up with a gimmick like this.

  14. The price now is $8.50 for both places

    Here’s an objective comparison:

    Less meat, meat slightly tender and more seasoning
    Cheese wiz thinner – more runny
    Bread is softer, I think they steam the bread but because it’s Italian bread, a little chewy after steaming
    Sandwich is presented tightly wrapped – easy to carry around. The wrapper is bigger and non-porous
    General appearance is cleaner and brighter

    More meat, less tender, not seasoned at all
    Thicker chess wiz
    Bread is more crunchy
    They give the sandwich to you un-wrapped in a much smaller piece of wrapper. The wrapper is porous – oil sip through makes eating messy.
    General appearance darker and less clean

  15. Okay. Completely bogus review.. Yes.. Apples to apples… You’re comparing a cheese steak with provolone to a cheese steak with wiz… You said it yourself.. Your first thought was “oh i like wiz”…. Obviously its tastier than provo on a cheese steak… Your review should have only been published with a like for like comparison… And the only thing anyone should really take out of this review is how they slice their meat… That’s all…

  16. I love Pats..I used to go to Genos all the time and then I ventured across the street one day just to try it and I was hooked..The rest of my family likes Genos better but I’m a Pats girl!!!

  17. If you order a cheesesteak with provologne in the first place you are an idiot. Pats wiz wit is much better and the bread is absolutely not the same. This is the dumbest comparison, by not comparing the same product, i have ever heard of. Genos is not bad at all but they are more worried about their buildings image than the product they are producing. Pats is the king of steaks for a reason!!!!!!!!!! They dont need the glamour or customer service to be the best. If thats what you are looking for in ordering a cheesesteak then you are an idiot as well!!!!!!

  18. People who aren’t from the big East Coast cities; New York, Boston, Philly, mistake the attitude of the servers for “rude”. They’re not rude, they’re frank , honest, fast, to-the-point. You want a backrub? Go to a effin’ massage parlor. If you needed a hand, these guys would jump in much quicker than some kale-eating millenial!

  19. One of Philly’s greatest food rivalry is between two South Philly cheese-steak joints that may rival the The Liberty Bell for iconic status: Pat’s or Geno’s? Who makes the best cheesesteaks.

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