Say Cheesesteak!

During one of our first days in Philly, a woman taking our picture asked us to say "cheese." I barely restrained myself from saying "cheesesteak" instead. My wife was surprised that I didn't. I can't blame her. I relish every opportunity for a cheesy joke, and what can be cheesier than a cheesesteak joke in Philly?

Well, yesterday was less eventful than our weekend. We spent most of the day working. However, we did get to eat two very tasty meals. The food here has been great so far. We had already eaten in basket chairs at a swanky tapas lounge kind of place. We had already eaten Amish food at the local market, and we had already had ice cream at an old fashioned parlor. For lunch yesterday, we ate at White Dog Cafe. It strangely reminded us of Barnaby's in Houston (one of our favorite restaurants). It was a little more upscale than Barnaby's, but it too featured plenty of dog-kitsch. All of their food was locally grown and organic. My favorite part was that the bathrooms were not labeled by gender. Instead there was one for pointers, one for setters, one for Republicans, and one for Democrats. Seeing that none of these options was a great fit for me, I chose setter, even though the dog on the door had long eyelashes, which I assume means it was female.

For dinner, we trekked to South Philly to eat at Pat's, King of Steaks, the original home of the Philly Cheesesteak. We got to take the cool underground trolley part of the way. The part of South Philly where Pat's is located is exactly what you would expect it to be if you have some Rocky based stereotype. It is a tough, but not too rough, neighborhood. As we turned toward our destination, we even got to hear a young woman with a thick Italian accent cussing someone out. Pat's had tourists galore, and I can safely say that although we too were obviously tourists, we were a little more savvy than the rest. We ordered without a hitch. There is an artform, but for newbies, the instructions are pretty easy to follow. The lady behind us messed up by asking for Swiss (a major no-no) and instead received Whiz.

Let me just say that our cheesesteaks were delicious. We have had knockoffs before, but they don't quite compare to the original. Across the street from Pat's is Geno's, the place that claims to have perfected the cheesesteak. It is covered in neon lights, much flashier than Pat's. One of our hosts told us that Pat's was better. Just judging from the outside, I think we made the right choice. Also, Bill Clinton was one of the celebrities featured on Pat's wall of fame. If anyone knows his junkfood, I imagine Bill Clinton does. (For proof check out the old Phil Hartman SNL skits featuring Clinton campaigning at McDonald's.) That pretty much sums up our most stereotypical Philly experience. It was one of my favorite parts of the entire trip although I can never eat a knockoff cheesesteak again.

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