How To Order A Philly Cheesesteak Like A Local

After a recent visit back to my hometown, the city of brotherly love Philadelphia, I realized I’d been too long away from the city and needed to be refreshed on some of the basic city activities like standing in line for 6-hours to get a small cup of Rita’s water ice on the first day of spring – and even worse, forgetting how to order a Philly cheesesteak.

In Philly cheese steak is one word. Locals ordered them from their neighborhood shops. However, when tourists want to sample Philly’s finest generally seek out the two most popular and recognized places: Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s located in South Philadelphia directly across the street from one another. They are highly competitive.

There are two types of cheese steak consumers; those who love Pat’s and those who are loyal to Geno’s. Ordering a cheese steak is a skill and an art in itself. The lines are long, the folks are hungry and you must know in advance what you want or things can get ugly very quickly. I’ve taken the liberty to help you by creating a cheat-sheet guaranteed to get you through the lines without physical violence.

Step one: Pick your place: Geno’s is located on 1219 South 9th Street. Pat’s King of Steaks is located 1237 E. Passyunk Avenue.

Step two: Decide what you want on your cheesesteak. No need to look at the menu. You are there to purchase a cheesesteak – if you want a burger and fries, go to Burger King.

Step three: Abbreviated phrases help. Learn them, memorize them.

For example:

Whiz: Whiz is the thick, orange, cheese sauce. Whiz-wit is a cheese steak with fried onions, whiz-wit- out – no onions. Locals shops rarely order whiz. They stick with American and provolone.

American/Provolone wit:  A better choice of cheeses at any steak shop and what most of the native Philadelphians prefer. Swiss is not an option.

SPKM:  Salt  pepper, ketchup and mayo. Yes, mayonnaise is the delicious high cholesterol glue that holds the cheese steak together.

Hots or sweets:  Hot peppers or sweet banana peppers

Everything:  Self explanatory. Be prepared to enjoy a multitude of flavors in every bite.

Dessert:  Once your cheesesteak has been euphorically consumed, dessert is a must. Tastykake pies are my favorite. Originally a Philadelphia locally baked product they are now starting to distribute them all over the country.  My favorites apple or lemon would be an appropriate choice.  Wash it all down with a Frank’s Black Cherry Wishniak and you’ve got the best of Philadelphia’s cheesesteak experience.

Now that you know how to order this delicacy, go gorge yourself on this 1000 plus calorie delight and worry about the gym later, hell . . . you’re on vacation in the city of cheesesteaks!

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  1. I expect you to bring one of these Philly cheesesteak delights to work to share wit provolone and sweet banana peppers. Forget the chocolate! PS. Bring the tums! See you soon.

    • I promise to smuggle one or two across the Philly border next time I’m in the city of brotherly love – just for you Robert! 😉

  2. I don’t know much but after reading this, I know I definitely want a Philly Cheesesteak and before I read this, I didn’t even know what that was!

    • Bill, my husband said think of it as a cornish pastie with truck load of condiments slathered all over it. 🙂

    • You don’t know what you’re missing Mike until you’ve had an authentic Philly Cheesesteak. The primer is needed because nothing spoils a eating experience than having a sweaty cook trying to smack you with a greasy spatula for holding up the line.

  3. I could feel my arteries clogging as I read this! 😉

    Seriously, though, a good Philadelphia cheesesteak is a little bit of Heaven on earth. Good old-fashioned mouth watering, messy food!

    • LOL, Kathy, I’m with you on that! It’s not good unless it’s dripping down your arm and you need a dozen napkins to mop it up!

      • The only time I ever had a real, honest-to-goodness Philly cheesesteak was back in the 80s, on a day trip to Philadelphia and Valley Forge. I still remember how good it was, after all these years.

        I don’t think I’d want to repeat the experience now, though. My doctor has put me on cholesterol medication. Even one-half of one of those heavenly, juicy, cheese-laden sandwiches would defeat the whole purpose of the pill! 😉

        It’s one of the disadvantages of growing older.

    • I’m a Pat’s gal too when I’m in the city but love the neighborhood’s Little Italy, Larry’s near Saint Joes and Jim’s steaks. During my visit two weeks ago I consumed 5 and enjoyed every calorie laden one of them!!