Monday, July 5, 2010


A cheesesteak could be a mere speck in the infinite food universe, so where do we begin the search for the best in the place where it all began?

It all started in Philadelphia – hence, the moniker Philadelphia or Philly cheesesteak.

The cheesesteak even has its own history. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania says it was “developed” in the early 1930s “by combining frizzled beef, onions and cheese in a small loaf of bread.”

Philadelphians Pat and Harry Olivieri are often credited as the creators of the cheesesteak.

Pat opened his own restaurant near the Italian Market (which we discovered, had such a remarkable resemblance to our own Divisoria) – Pat’s King of Steaks, where we decided to focus our search for the “best” cheesesteak.

Pat’s has a storied rivalry with Geno’s Steak, which just happens to sit across the street at the intersection of 9th St. and Passyunk Avenue.

Over time, many variations have emerged. Choice of rib-eye or top round; American cheese, Provolone or Chiz Whiz, to spread mayonnaise or not, and perhaps the most controversial – to add ketchup or not.

To find the best-tasting food, a sage once declared, just follow the longest queue.

But how do you decide when the lines are equally long, spilling into the narrow street where passing cars, perhaps out of deference to culinary history, often drive to a crawl, sparing patrons the hazards of being run-over.

So which has the best cheesesteak?

In the birthplace of cheesesteak, the choices are too many. Time was short and alas, the appetite was willing but the stomach is full.

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