Sunday, February 19, 2006

Pats + Geno's Wiz Wit = Crazy Delicious!

Last night, after I had a fabulous three course meal with some visiting family and went out dancing with some friends, we decided to attempt the Pat & Geno's Challenge. Well, we really set out to get a cheesesteak at one of the two most famous cheesesteak places in Philly. They are in the middle of nowhere and yet right across the street from each other, so you really just cab down there and pick one. I had been to both, but not in years (I dropped in during two different business trips from back in my past life), Helene had never been to either. We opted for Geno's because our cab dropped us slightly closer to its line and it was 10 degrees out. Keep in mind there's no indoor seating or anything, but we figured we could warm up with the cheesesteaks seconds faster by picking based on proximity.

The line at these places moves so quickly it's like blink and you'll miss it. They make the soup nazi seem normal with their ordering rules: you just say the kind of cheese you want and either 'wit' or 'witout' to indicate if you want grilled onions. Hot tip on cheese: I would suggest the traditional 'wiz', rather than the snobbier 'provie' for provolone. The problem with provolone is it doesn't always melt and you really want the cheese to melt. Cheese Wiz has no such issues.

There were people in tuxes. There were Jersey girls in miniskirts (10 degrees, people) and tube tops getting heckled by the guys in line to "Go back to Jersey!" There's a sign in Geno's window that says, "You're in America-- order in English," which strikes me as ironic given "Wiz wit" does not resemble any English I was raised to speak.

We happily sat down with our cheesesteaks (fair disclaimer, there were four of us and we each went halfsies). We were almost done when Helene started whining that she was still hungry, and the momentum quickly changed this from a food run to a challenge. So across the street to Pat's we went and repeated the ritual. I've discussed this with several people who claim to have completed the 'challenge,' and beyond far too much detail on their gastrointestinal distress, they've also shared that they feel there's no difference between the two places. I disagree (on both fronts, actually, I feel great!); Geno's is clearly superior. They win on the only two metrics in which they could differ, since I believe they have the same bread supplier and Cheese Wiz=Cheese Wiz=Cheese Wiz. Geno's meat is far more flavorful, and Geno's onions are more fully cooked.

So come to Philly, people! I am now a Cheesesteak wizard.


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