I never had a Philly cheese steak until a few weeks ago when, on a whim, I pilgrimmaged to Philadelphia. I set out for the famed intersection at which two of the oldest establishments are diagnally poised (was it Gino's and Pat's?)
It took hours of driving about, getting bad directions, miscued onto one-way streets, and altogether lost... until, at about 1:00 A.M., we spotted the desired intersection, lost in an otherwise dreary neighborhood, bedecked in a bewildering and blinding flood of neon. We chose one of the two joints (whichever) and set in for the craved-for steaks.
Our fellow customers: for the most part, drunks and hard luck types. The decor: filth and bright white neon. The steaks: sopping with grease, fatty, flavourless, characterless, grim. Net experience: horror. I thought, what's up with Philadelphia, is this their finest street grub?
Now, in fairness, there are probably MUCH better cheese steaks to be had all over Philly and I shouldn't judge the genre by this instance. But I did. What's more, I vowed never to eat another cheese steak, especially one from Philadelphia.
Then, a friend referred me to Philly Slim's and, surprisingly, I went forthwith. And was delighted. The meat is tender and tasty and just greasy enough to remind you that its street food, after all, without the face-slathering greasiness of cheap meat. The long roll was substantial without being either hard or spongy. I had a provolone steak (because provolone is the most food-like of the choices, the others being american and cheese whiz) with hot peppers and onions and a streak of self-applied hot sauce. The waffle fries were hot and good, especially when dipped into a little tub of barbecue sauce. Everything harmonized.
This place kicks the pants off Gino's (or was it Pat's?) as well as the other New York cheese steak joint (is it BB's?) in the village, where they serve drab little prefab affairs. I truly can't wait to return to Slim's.