Pat’s King of Steaks
The original and still among the best
Pat’s claim to fame is that its founder, Pat Olivieri, invented the steak sandwich in 1930. Since then, Pat’s has grown from a little stand at the southern end of South Philly’s Italian Market to one of the most famous cheesesteak shops in the world, albeit still in the same location (and still the only location).
Countless celebrities, politicians, musicians and athletes flock to Pat’s anytime they’re in Philadelphia. And if you want to taste a famous Philly cheesesteak, it’s easy to see why.
Pat’s is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but no matter when you go, you will always find someone ahead of you in line. There’s no need to worry, however, as the line always moves fast.
Just be sure that you know how to order properly by the time you get to front of line (see right). Employees and patrons frown on unnecessary delays caused by last minute indecisiveness.
Who Made the First Cheesesteak?
While Pat Olivieri definitely invented the steak sandwich in 1930, it’s less clear who made the first cheese steak. Cheese actually wasn’t added to the sandwich until years later. Some say that Pat’s neighbor and fierce rival, Geno’s Steaks, was actually the first to add cheese to their steak sandwiches when it opened in 1966.
Then, the story goes, Pat’s responded by introducing cheez wiz, which has since become the preferred cheese of choice on South Philadelphia cheesesteaks.
How To Order a Philly Cheesesteak
When ordering a cheesesteak, the idea is to let the cashier know a.) that you would like a cheesesteak, b.) what type of cheese you want, and c.) whether or not you want fried onions. And you have to be as concise as possible while doing so.
Locals have become so adept at this practice that they basically have it down to three words: saying “one wiz with” to the person behind the counter means that you would like one cheesesteak [denoted by the “one”] with Cheeze Wiz as your choice of cheese [denoted by the “wiz”] and with fried onions [denoted by the “with”].
Similarly, saying “one provolone without” would secure you a single cheesesteak [one] made with provolone cheese [provolone] and without fried onions [without].
Ok. Got it? Now go ahead and test out your ordering prowess for real.
A Walking Tour of the Italian Market
Want an idea for a great morning activity during your stay in town? Go on a walking tour of South Philadelphia’s famous Italian Market. Start at the corner of Ninth and Fitzwater Streets and simply walk down Ninth Street through the Italian Market, stopping at the various cheese shops, butchers, fishmongers and produce stands along the way. Take in the sights, sounds and smells.
What’s the final destination? By the time you get to southern end of the Market, it should be approaching lunch time and your appetite should be tweaked, which is perfect because you’ll be at intersection of Ninth and Passyunk, otherwise known as the home of Pat’s and Geno’s.
While it might not be an easy decision, you can always go the diplomatic way and try both.