04 October 2009

Retro.spec: Philly Cheesesteak Tour '08

Retro.spec is a series of posts I post about past culinary experiences. In these posts I try to recount as much detail as possible, but will more often than not focus on the food and general likes and dislikes.

A co-worker of mine Skott and I had planned this trip for weeks. I did extensive research online and gotten a few recommendations from another co-worker who happened to be a philly native. The plan was this: First hit Geno's and then Pat's at 9th and Passyunk. Then swing over to Tony Luke's for both a cheesesteak and a roast pork italian. Following that we took a mid-day break and checked out the Philadelphia Museum of Art to let our overloaded stomachs digest. The second leg of the tour featured a trip to Steve's Price of Steaks, and finally rounding out the day by hitting Pagano's the recommendation from our Philly-native. To keep all sandwiches on even ground every order was "whiz wit" which, as most foodies know, is cheese whiz with fried onions. In reality you don't really have to abide by this retarded ritualistic ordering. People go up to the window and order in any manner they fancied and they got their food without any issue.

Unfortunately some of the pictures taken were post-toppings so you can't really get a good view of the heart of the sandwich, but nonetheless feast your eyes on some good old Philly food porn:

This is Geno's steak which happened to be Skott's favorite cheesesteak. Unfortunately when I saw a huge jug of sauce with a skull and crossbones on it, I eagerly coated my sandwich with it and regretted it upon the first bite. I learned that while Geno's may serve a great cheesesteak, unfortunately all I got to sample was a great ball of fiery death on a bun. Skott was highly amused.

If you really want to abide by all of the rules, Pat's spells it out for you literally right above the window:

Pat's steak. Yes I know, I got a little overzealous with the toppings. Overall we weren't impressed.

Ah yes, Tony Luke's. It is here I would have a sandwich epiphany.

There it is the RPI in all it's glory and luckily featured in a photo sans toppings. Actually now that I think about it, after I took my first bite I ate the toppings on the side, I didn't want to ruin the blissful harmony of flavors. This sandwich annihilated the cheesesteak in all forms. The Philly trifecta is most certainly not sliced beef, fried onions, and whiz, it is in fact sliced pork, broccoli rabe, and provolone. We both agreed that this was the best sandwich of the day. How the hell did the cheesesteak become world famous while most people outside of Philly have never heard of a roast pork italian? I guess Philadelphians wanted to keep the real treasure of Philly to themselves.

Tony Luke's cheesesteak. I have no idea how this tasted because I was too busy making sweet umami love to my RPI.

Here are a few random pics from our intermission at the Philadelphia Museum of Art:

Who doesn't love swords?

Flintlock pistols are uber radical. Steampunk for life.

I wish this picture were in focus. If I had one of these I would wear it to work every day. You never know when you might be thrust into a battle of epic proportions. One must always be prepared.

In my opinion Steve is too modest calling himself the Prince of Steaks. He could easily usurp Pat. It would be like William Wallace versus that Lightning Bolt LARPer on youtube. Yeah, that's right LARPer. Go look it up, it's hilarious. While you're at it check out the funniest 30 seconds on the internet.

The roll was perfection. It had the nice outter crust to contain the juices and the soft lovely center. But for me what made this great was the abundance of cheese, which can clearly be seen in the picture. My favorite cheesesteak of the day.

Pagano's. This was by far the least commercial establishment of the entire trip. It had a much more local feel. It's your right around the block cheesesteak joint. When they saw us taking pictures they questioned us extensively about our little tour. They found it hard to believe we had already put down four sandwiches that day. But I gots the goods to prove it. They let us photo them performing their craft to our hearts content:

My co-worker suggested I try the triple cheese which features american, provolone, and whiz. This was my kind of sandwich. I mean, why choose one when you could try all three? I couldn't wait to try this. I also felt that I needed something a bit out of the ordinary to rekindle my tastebuds this being our fifth sandwich of the day. This was the only place that applied additional toppings upon request. I said salt, pepper, and ketchup and they took it upon themselves to upend an entire bottle of Heinz onto our sandwich:

It may look wrong, but man was it so right. The sweet sticky ketchup combined with the three cheeses made this sandwich an excellent finale to our tour. Just look at all the sexy layers of yellow love goo:

No regrets. We had a great day and ate some amazing sandwiches. There is a lot of heart and soul in the cheesesteak biz, but I feel like after doing a thorough taste-testing of some of the best in Philly, I must conclude my post with this simple statement: The cheesesteak has been dethroned. Long live the roast pork italian.

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