At Peter Pan Bus Lines, our number one goal is to ensure our passengers have a safe and rewarding adventure. Sometimes, this requires a little fieldwork. Recently, we set out to Philadelphia to determine which local eatery has the best Philly cheesesteak in town!
As fate would have it, the two restaurants are located across from each other at the crossroads of E. Passyunk Avenue & 9th Street. Getting there is easy if you’re taking a Peter Pan coach—both spots are only a short 25-minute walk from the bus terminal.
The two rival restaurants each boast that they are the source of Philadelphia’s best cheesesteak sub. Geno’s makes their claim boldly on many of their signs, while Pat’s stakes a claim as the “originator and the inventor” of the cheesesteak. Along with the original cheesesteak, both locations offer a list of specialty sandwiches covering all the bases. From pizza steak and mushroom cheesesteak to extras like fish cakes and hot dogs, there’s something for everyone.
The main thing to know when you’re ordering is what you’re going to have on your cheesesteak. Onions are a classic topping, so the first thing your server will ask is “With or without?”. (Don’t worry, you’ll find this tip posted on the wall above their ordering window, helpful for ‘rookies’.)
Next, the all-important decision: what kind of cheese do you want to drown your steak in? There are three main options: American, Provolone, or Whiz.
We decided to try the quintessential combo of onions and cheese whiz at both Pat’s and Geno’s to determine which sandwich reigned supreme.
Pat’s King of Steaks
Since their claim to fame is creating the cheesesteak, we stopped at Pat’s King of Steaks to get started. Our sandwich arrived, brimming with onions and topped with a heavy dose of cheese whiz, making for the meltiest cheesesteak. We kept it simple: no peppers, no mayo—no distractions.
Although business was booming, service was quick and our food was handed to us right on Pat’s parchment paper mere seconds after it was ordered. No doggie bags were needed here, this sub was devoured on the spot. The bread roll was soft and warm, and the thinly sliced steak paired flawlessly with the sliced onions (which were perfectly cooked to be not too hard and not too soft). So far, so delicious.
Next, we headed across the intersection to Geno’s. The order was the same: a cheesesteak with whiz & onions. This one also arrived quickly and was handed to us wrapped in lovely branded paper, encasing the entire cheesesteak.
Unwrapping it, we found that Geno’s steak was perfectly cooked and sliced slightly thicker than that at Pat’s. Unfortunately, it also had a visibly lesser amount of cheez-whiz. The onions were minced into smaller pieces and they were only lightly cooked, giving a bit of a crunch to the sandwich. While the bread looked promising, it felt overcooked and left us chewing more than we should have just to get it down.
Which Cheesesteak Reigned Supreme?
All in all, Pat’s reigned supreme as the true king of Steaks in our test. The combination of soft bread, thinly sliced steak, perfectly cooked onions, and a heaping amount of cheez-wiz made Pat’s Philly cheesesteak the clear winner.
Both spots were worth the walk, and neither were too pricey, so if you’re ready to try both for yourself, we highly recommend it. Just remember to bring some green with you—both Pat’s and Geno’s are cash only! When speaking to locals, Geno’s was by far the fan favorite, so enthusiasts should definitely try our taste test for themselves. Other patrons suggested additional great locations where classic Philly cheesesteaks could be found, including Ishkabibbles and Molly Malloy’s.
Feeling hungry? Plan your next trip to Philadelphia with Peter Pan Bus Lines, and get your cheesesteak on!