visitor's take on 4 cheese steaks
from best to worst:
1. oscar's tavern - sansom. totally unexpected. . . . stopped for a beer and ended up with a steak. pretty darn perfect. greasy; hot; soft bread; did not scrimp on meat. all in all - just a nice tasty sandwich.
2. jim's - south street. of the folks i talked to, this was the #1 recommended. it was ok. meat was already piled up on the side of the grill and so the guy just stuffed it in the bread. the meat was a bit dried out from sitting there. so, it was nice and chopped (which is the consistency that i like) - but not greasy and did not saturate the bread with any oil, etc. this was good - but overall, just ok.
had to do it b/c i was a tourist (and never again):
3. pat's - this was basically extremely close to jim's. it was greasy. while they were making tons and tons of sandwiches - each serving of steak came off the grill because they were continuously cooking. BUT - it's worse than jim's because the bread was literally cold. it was like - nice middle, but cold outside. i also had mushrooms on this one and it seem like they used canned mushrooms - which is a turn off. not sure if i am right. overall - this was a good sandwich. now that i'm writing this - maybe it was better than jim's. . . .but that cold bread. it's just hard to decide. very close.
4. geno's - ok, this was truly the worst. first, i know it's not chow related, but their absurd signs and utter extremism is such an eye rolling turn off. i mean - ok, jerks, we get it - you hate everyone but yourself and your family. apart from that. the meat was gray and like kind of sliced on the thicker side which was not great given the quality. the sandwich tasted like basically nothing.
5. whatever the place is in the united terminal across from dunkin. got the cheese steak with the works. meat/topping was ok, bread was awful. no need to elaborate - airport food.
overall - super fun experience. i think that, as usual, regular old dives and local one-shop places have the best quality.
It seems that Pat's and Genos would go under if it weren't for the tourists. It's a shame that they are the go to places for visitors as many probably walk away from the experience thinking the Philadelphia cheesesteak is another on of those prized local faves they just don't get.
Actually, generations of South Philadelphians eat at Pat's. Far more locals than tourists eat there. It's in their DNA. Not the best cheesesteak, in Philadelphia but not deserving of the the bad rap that many give it. Geno's is fine, too, and the eat-off between the two places is a longstanding, fun Philadelphia local and visitor tradition.
Den, you couldn't be further from the truth. Head down to the Pat's/Geno's corner any night after a sporting event, concert and/or Friday/Saturday night and the places are packed with locals.
I cannot concur with Barry's recommendation of Tony Fluke's. Everyone told me I had to go there and I was completely underwhelmed time after time.
I'm sorry that the OP had an average experience at Jim's. Of the usual suspects mentioned, IMO they are by far the best.
Thanks for posting your experience!
I have not tried any food at Oscar's but I have seen the steaks and they looked decent. I'll need to check that out.
Yes, Pat's uses canned mushrooms, as do most steak places. They also use canned cheese :).
Next time you're in town may I suggest: Tony Luke's, John's Roast Pork, and Steve's Prince of Steaks? These spots are higher quality then Jim's, Geno's, and Pat's which are generally considered tourist places or late-night drunk food.