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The temperature hovered in the mid-30s on Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia, and the wind was gusting at 22 mph, making the air feel like it was…well, like it was pumped directly from Bill O’Reilly‘s heart. It took an act of sheer will for me, a professed cold-weather wimp, to stand outside at Pat’s King of Steaks for a sandwich. I clearly wasn’t the only one willing to suffer sub-freezing temps for a cheesesteak:
The line across Ninth Street and E. Passyunk Ave was just as long, even if the man in front of me said that some of Pat’s regulars wouldn’t be caught dead crossing the street to Geno’s.
But the line moves quickly at Pat’s, and the place even provides reading material:
Once you reach the order window, though, you better know what you want—-cheesesteak wit, please—-or you might get one of these looks:
But when it was all said and done, the sandwich was worth all the hassles: the wait, the cold, and the desire to eat your lunch anywhere but inside your own vehicle with the heater blasting hot air in your face.
The soft, airy bun dusted ever so lightly with cornmeal. The pungent, slightly caramelized onions. The thinly sliced beef. The gloppy processed cheese. The cheesesteak is one of the great American sandwiches. I was reminded of that all over again at Pat’s.