Eating Ourselves Stupid in the USA – Philadelphia

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Last time I was in Philadelphia was way back in December 2003 and it was the same day that that the USA captured Saddam Hussein. We didn’t stop in Philly for long back in 2003 because it was snowing but I do recall losing the keys to our family’s RV. Lucky for us they weren’t lost in the snow and after a frantic search I ended up finding them in the kitchen sink, phew! This time around MS and I were overnighting in Philadelphia, a decision we later regretted because of Philly is actually a fantastic place to visit! Sadly I had only booked a one night stopover for the sole purpose of breaking up our drive to New York.  After spending the afternoon there we realised that Philly wasn’t just A) the home of Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches B) where Rocky famously ran up the stairs and C) the only place other than San Francisco that serves decent coffee. Philadelphia is also quite an up and coming destination in the USA and well worth spending a bit of time to explore!

Driving into Philly!

Driving into Philly!

For our one night in Philly I had booked a room on AirBnB at a place which also moonlighted as a yoga studio. The price was good and I am all for staying in places that are just a little bit unique – most of the time. When we arrived our host Valerie gave us a tour of what literally was a yoga studio and informed us that we would have to vacate between 6 and 8pm that evening to make way for her yoga class. In that time she would pack up the air mattress and bed side tables and then return it all to its original place for our return.  Yes I know it’s a little random but you seriously couldn’t beat the position of the yoga studio in terms of location – it was literally a 10 minute walk from the Rocky Stairs, fantastic restaurants and the Eastern State Penitentiary (a National Historic Landmark that was no longer in use). The only downside to the yoga studio was a bit of an unpleasant smell that I attributed to her two cats that proceeded to wander in and out until MS locked them out.  Also it turns out that sleeping on an air mattress pretty much guarantees you the worst nights sleep of your life!

Our humble abode/yoga studio for the evening

Our humble abode/yoga studio for the evening

First place we headed after dumping our bags was to the Rocky Stairs where it seems we weren’t the only people attempting to follow in Sylvester Stallone’s footsteps (literally). There was tonnes of tourists there doing exactly this as well as quite a few locals using the stairs for some HIIT.

Behold the Rocky Stairs

Behold the Rocky Stairs

As with most popular landmarks in US cities there was someone at the top offering to take photos of us. l’m not an idiot and I’m also not one to be conned by this type of ‘friendly and helpful’ photographer however I did want some photos of MS and I together for once.  When handing him my iPhone I was fully aware that I was going to be asked for some money at the end of it all.  What I didn’t know was that he would ask me for US$20. That’s nearly AU$30 to take a few pics with my own camera!!! When he finished and asked for the money I nearly fell down the stairs in shock – You’ve got to be kidding me?! Apparently the had been taking photos at the top of the stairs for nearly 20 years and in the end I gave him US$5 for his terrible photos and he moved onto some unsuspecting Chinese tourists.

View from the top

View from the top


The Rocky Statue

The Rocky Statue

Later on that evening, after a few rounds of shadow boxing, we were both feeling pretty hungry andI had carefully researched where to go for the famous Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich in Philadelphia. For those unaware of what a Cheesesteak is (do you live under a rock?!) well it’s a sandwich made from thinly sliced pieces of steak and melted cheese, served in a long roll. Despite there being plenty of places claiming to serve ‘the Best Philly Cheesesteak’ in all of Philly I thought it would be fitting to go to the place that started the Philly Cheesesteak movement – or so they say – “Pat’s King of Steaks”.  Located in South Philadelphia Pat’s Steaks is directly across the road from rival Philly Cheesesteak restaurant Geno’s Steaks.

Navigating those pesky 4 way stop signs

Navigating those pesky 4 way stop signs

After navigating the narrow streets and stopping to ask a friendly lolly pop lady just who had right of way at an ALL WAY STOP SIGN meant MS and I were lucky enough to find a park just across the road from the busy eatery.

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The man that served us at Pat’s was abrupt and spoke in a thick Jersey accent which I found to be not only amusing but pretty awesome! There’s a sign next to the counter that explains to newcomers like ourselves just how to order the Cheesesteak.  As a humorous reference to the Philadelphia accent ordering with the simple words ‘wit’ or ‘wit-out’ means with or without onions so ‘wit’ it.  We also added the wiz cheese instead of provolone after a recommendation from a friend of mine who had only a few weeks earlier visited Philly herself.

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Pat's is the place to be!

Pat’s is the place to be!

I tell you what the cheesesteaks certainly weren’t nutritionally sound but damn they were good! The thinly sliced rib eye steak was surprisingly tender and the artificial bright yellow wiz cheese suggestion from my friend was spot on! In fact I would go as far as to say that these were one of the best things we ate on our entire trip in the USA.  Plus going to Philadelphia and not having a cheesesteak is like going to New York and not going to see the Statue of Liberty (oops which we didn’t do btw). In the meantime a lunchtime line of people had gathered on the side walk with people waiting to order their own cheesesteaks and I could see Geno’s across the road was also just as busy. Whose cheeseteaks are better – Geno’s or Pat’s? We didn’t stick around to find out but in hindsight we probably should have ordered one from each and split them.

His and hers

His and hers

Philadelphia is a city rich in art, culture and history with a burgeoning food scene, great coffee and the world renowned Museum of Art but the search for the best Philly Cheesesteak in Philadelphia is reason enough for me to go back.

The wonders of NYC next xox

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Posted on July 11, 2015, in Cairns and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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