A few weeks ago, my assistant Sara and I flew into Philadelphia for business. I hadn’t planned on going to Atlantic City, but right around that time, I heard that El Dorado Resorts had bought Caesars Entertainment. 

I called up my Caesars host and he said nothing was going to change on their end. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s their line right now.

I asked him to comp me an evening at Caesars and his response was, ‘come on [in], bro’. I told him that I needed two rooms because I was on a business trip and my assistant needed her own room. 

‘No problem, bro.’

Yeah, my host calls me ‘bro’. 

Sara had never been to Philadelphia. She’s a big fan of Food Network, and almost every time Food Network mentions Philadelphia, there’s a good chance that the ‘rivalry’ between Geno’s and Pat’s Steaks comes up. I put ‘rivalry’ in quotations because I strongly suspect that it’s a marketing ploy designed to lure in tourists.

Tourist trap or not, we hopped in our rental car and took off for Pat’s and Geno’s.

For those not aware, Pat’s and Geno’s are two cheesesteak restaurants, proximately located within view of each other, which serve the same product: Philadelphia cheesesteaks. 

The two restaurants are within shouting distance of each other. Here is a view of Geno’s while I was standing at Pat’s…

This is the authentic stuff and it’s delicious. Most cheesesteaks served across the U.S. are heavily seasoned with a bunch of ingredients added to it. The real original cheesesteak, as invented by Pat’s in 1930 by namesake Pat Olivieri, is a simple sandwich that’s nothing more than bread, thinly cut steak, and cheese. 

There’s no seasoning or salt on the cheesesteak. Unless you add your own salt, cheesesteak, as originally invented, is somewhat bland. That’s not a bad thing; rather, just think of it as a blank canvas made of bread, steak, and cheese. Like beer to a first time drinker, real Philly cheesesteak takes a while to appreciate; but after your tastebuds acclimate, you’ll come to appreciate the simplicity and fatty deliciousness of the sandwich.

If you want more saltiness to your cheesesteak, get it with Cheese Whiz. Cheesesteak with Cheese Whiz sounds weird to those who have never had it but trust me, it’s a delicious combo.

The plan between Sara and I was that she would order a Geno’s cheesesteak while I ordered a Pat’s cheesesteak, and then we would each share half of each one.

Here is my Pat’s cheesesteak…

I placed my order with the grumpy cashier guy as a cheesesteak ‘wiz wit’, meaning Cheese Whiz with onions. If you like your cheesesteak on the salty side, order it with Cheese Whiz because, following the original cheesesteak recipe, neither Pat’s nor Geno’s salts or seasons their meat.

While I was placing my order, I kept an eye on Sara to make sure she was okay. That’s when I realized that I forget to tell Sara to order her sandwich with Cheese Whiz. I thought, ‘no way does a cheesesteak noob order theirs with Cheese Whiz!’

I got my order before Sara even placed her order. Sara was still busy asking the cashier lady about how to order and what everything on the menu meant. After I got my order, I walked over to Geno’s and joined Sara. Sure enough, it wasn’t Cheese Whiz, but some sort of white cheese.

Here is Sara’s Geno’s cheesesteak. Notice that the meat is sliced neater than at Pat’s…

Here are the Pat’s and Geno’s cheesesteaks side by side…

Geno’s on top and Pat’s on bottom

After the split…

I preferred the Pat’s version over the Geno’s version. Because of the way the meat is slice and presented at Geno’s, it dried out faster than Pat’s. I think the Cheese Whiz would have helped Geno’s, but we were too stuffed to order a Geno’s with Cheese Whiz. Science would have to wait.

This is just heavenly

After we finished our cheesesteaks, we got in our car and Sara drove the rest of the way to Atlantic City. From Philly to Atlantic City is about a 55-minute drive, assuming no traffic. I love Philly, but they really have to do something about the trash along the freeways, especially on the on-ramps. I tried not to mention it, but the trash on the freeways was one of the first things Sara mentioned.

Are we there yet? Yes, we are!

After we arrived in Atlantic City, Sara went to work prepping for the next day’s meeting. At the time, I was interested in a franchise that was expanding into the Philadelphia market.

A lot of entrepreneurs who own franchises don’t actually run the franchises themselves; rather, they contract with a reputable management company to run those franchises. Many of the better-known franchises will not allow the license holder to actually operate the restaurant, for fear of compromising brand standards. In cases where the license holder lacks experience but has adequate capital, management companies fill that gap.

I was there to meet and interview a management company who would run the franchise for me. 

As Sara was working on reports, I went to Bally’s and sure enough, the craps game were 10x max odds. They’re no longer 100x. At one time, Bally’s and Wild Wild West had 100x odds.

Around dinner time, Sara came down for dinner. I got a comp from the Bally’s pit for food to their noodle house.

I’m going to confess that I’ve been to the Bally’s noodle house before. To be frank, I thought it was atrocious the last time I ate there, but I wanted to give it another chance. So we went back and I ordered the exact same dish I ordered last time. This pork steak dish…

It looks good on the outside, but yep, once again the port steak was overcooked, and once again, I sent it back to the kitchen. Sara didn’t like the restaurant at all, and I ended up taking her to Johnny Rocket’s, located inside of Bally’s. Hey, I gave the noodle house two chances. I can safely say that the food at the Bally’s noodle house is terrible.

After dinner, knowing that I would be waking up early, I went to play blackjack for a little bit. Craps can get my adrenaline running, so I stayed away. If I ever want to stay awake, craps is more effective than drinking a double espresso.

Double down!

After playing blackjack for about an hour, I went over to the Wild Wild West portion of the casino. Wild Wild West is a themed part of the Bally’s casino complex that is attached to both Bally’s and Caesars. If you want to know more about Wild Wild West, Bally’s and Caesars, I wrote a review on those casinos a few months ago. My review and walkthrough with pics is here.

If you’ve never been to Wild Wild West, it’s loud in there. 

As I walking around Wild Wild West, I saw the $5 table and told myself that I would only play for about an hour. So I bought in for $200, with the promise to myself that I wouldn’t stay past 10 p.m. After staying true to my promise to pack it up at 10 p.m., I went up to my room and tried to fall asleep.

Big mistake.

I had left on a point of 10 winner, and the sound of the dealer calling, ’10, winner’ was on autoplay in my head. Because of the adrenaline of the last roll and the beat of the ear-bleeding music still in my head, I tossed and turned in bed until 5 a.m.

In the morning, after about two hours of sleep, Sara drove us to Philly while I slept in the passenger seat. 

Our meeting didn’t go too well. Let’s just say that my proposed operators came unprepared. We were originally scheduled to have toured the area of business and then have a second meeting over dinner that evening; however, based on how poorly the initial meeting went, I canceled the dinner meeting.

Knowing that we didn’t have a dinner appointment later that evening and that our flight wasn’t until the next day, Sara and I drove back to AC. While we were driving back to AC, I called up my host again and asked for the same setup. He was reluctant this time to give me two rooms. Sara didn’t play at all yesterday, and I played for like two or three hours total. I assured him that I would play and after speaking to his boss, I got the two-room comp on the condition that they would evaluate the second room after we left. 

Fine.

I’m usually not a fan of the ‘we’ll evaluate your play after the trip’ pitch, but in this case, we had no choice. 

We arrived back at Caesars and started gambling right away. Sara preferred gambling at Caesars. She didn’t like Ballys, and Wild Wild West was too loud.

I made a deal with Sara that if she let me record a game for RoadGambler.com, I would give her money to gamble with. 

Heck, when you can gamble with your boss’ money, why would you ever say no. 

Stay tuned for craps at Caesars Atlantic City.

Posted in: Casino, Casino Food, Travel

12 thoughts on “From Cheesesteak to Pork Steak: RoadGambler’s Atlantic City Diversion”

  • The late great Anthony Bourdain had a Camden NJ cheesesteak spot called Donkey’s on his Parts Unknown show…..he claimed their cheesesteak was better than the ones u can get in Philly …its served on a poppyseed bun but its def. not worth the detour…..

    • It’s not hard to beat the ‘original’ cheesesteaks…for those who don’t regularly eat Pats or Geno’s.

      At first, I’ll admit that I didn’t like Pats nor Geno’s. The first time I tried either, I found it to be way too bland. But I found it odd that the locals were there. That told me it wasn’t just a tourist trap. Sure enough, after a few meals, I started to like it.

      Like I said in the article, it’s an acquired taste, like beer. That’s really the best way I can explain it. Sara couldn’t understand the appeal behind Pat’s or Geno’s, but we’ll have it again next time we are in Philly.

      Thanks for the recommendation for Donkey’s. I pass through Camden on the way to AC. I’ll brave it next time and stop by. I’m a bit skeptical because I’m quite familiar with Camden, but now you have my interest.

  • RG,

    I’m glad you enjoyed your cheesesteak experience. 🙂

    I live about an hour and a half north of Philly. I wholeheartedly agree with you on the trash thing. All you need to do is compare the airports. I am sure that Las Vegas and Atlanta and Tampa and Orlando get the same if not more traffic through there than Philly. Yet, every time I go through Philly’s airport, I feel like I need to be disinfected; it seems dirty and grimy in there. By comparison, the other airports are spotless. I don’t get the difference or the “other people will clean it up” mentality, in Philly or Newark for that matter.

    My favorite restaurant to go to in Atlantic City is Harry’s Oyster Bar, which is in front of Bally’s, facing the beach. They are not affiliated with Bally’s, so you would probably not get a comp there, but the food and service have been excellent every time we have gone there.

    My wife and I were in AC about two weeks ago. We stayed for three nights, then enjoyed a concert. We were the typical tourists doing the beach and boardwalk stuff, then I played at night. I did the $5 craps table at the Wild West the one night (mid week). They closed the tables at 9:00 PM. I was stunned by that; it is almost like they are trying to drive it into the ground. It is hard to attract players if one is not open.

    I played at the Trop after that, following your strategy, but doing place bets (pressing up on each win) on 6 and 8. Being a low roller, I was not doing max odds. Anyway, my hand lasted 4 rolls. However, the two shooters before me and the newbie shooter after me had long rolls and I did quite well off of them. Otherwise, I played mostly blackjack during our time there. Most importantly, we both had fun.

    One restaurant we tried I truly enjoyed. It was the Cuba Libre in the Tropicana. The food and service were both excellent.

    I don’t mean to turn this into a review, but I hope that helps. I wish I could aim you at a Pennsylvania management company; unfortunately that is not my area of expertise. But I wish you well in finding one that will properly look after your interests.

    I finish by telling you that I am an experienced blackjack player, and I have been learning and experiencing craps more. I greatly appreciate all of the good stuff I have learned from your postings. Thank you again.

    • John,

      Thank you for the review.

      I really like the Caesars trio of casinos but sometimes the way they run things makes me go, ‘whaaat?’

      If I were to guess, the logic behind it is that they want to push players to Caesars. I don’t know. It could also be that who ever is in charge is not paying close attention to detail. There is ZERO reason why that noodle house should be as bad as it is. ZERO. It wasn’t an off-night, as I tried it more than once, and the quality and food was horrible both times.

      Despite those little things, I still like the Caesars trio complex. After all, no one is perfect.

      Thank you for your review and input!

      I don’t know if you remember, but back in late 2018, Bally’s was running a summer promo for $1 hot dogs. They had signs all over the casino for $1 hot dogs. I couldn’t find those $1 hot dogs anywhere, and when I asked casino personnel where I could find the $1 hot dogs, no one knew. If you make little promises, heck, follow through on them or don’t make the promises, even if it’s for something so small as a $1 hot dog. That just tells me that someone is not paying attention to the details of the casino.

      Oh, the trash…sigh…I had a pic of the trash, but there was no point in posting it. No one wants to look at trash.

      • If you go to a noodle house, maybe you should order their noodles. Lol. It’s like going to a steakhouse to order chicken.

        In jest of course. After all, you are the world famous road gambler.

        • Haha! It’s all good, my friend.

          I find that how an asian noodle house prepares their pork to be a test of their skill and quality. If the pork is good, I will wager that everything else is good. It’s one of my little foodie secrets. I can’t guarantee the same test with beef.

          Did you know that one of the surefire tests of an authentic and skilled sushi chef is their tomago?

          Tomago is the very simplistic egg sushi, and it’s something that was and is considered the test among authentic Japanese sushi chefs.

          I’m not kidding. Here…

          https://www.sushifaq.com/sushi-sashimi-info/sushi-item-profiles/tamago-sushi-tamagoyaki/

          Anytime I hear of a place charging $200 for a sushi dinner, my first question is always, ‘how’s the tomago?’

          If they don’t take their tomago seriously, you’re just paying for flare and marketing.

          • If you are feeling adventurous and want to try good Asian food, check out SK Seafood the next time you are in Vegas. It is off Spring Mountain. Order the clay pot curry beef brisket….one of my most tastiest authentic Cantonese dishes.. Go during lunch and it is under 10 bucks….I can’t speak for any other dishes as I ate that 3x during my last Vegas trip.

    • Harry’s Oyster Bar! I couldn’t remember the name of the place.

      I agree about Harry’s Oyster Bar. When I ate there, I took stairs down to the restaurant. The stairs are located in the walkway between WWW and Bally. It had a beach view. I’m pretty sure we’re talking about the same place. It was good and I recommend it, too.

      I’m pretty sure it was Harry’s because they didn’t take my comp, either.

  • Lawrence Roth says:

    With me living in Ohio and my son on Long Island, I’ve driven the 310 mile stretch of I-80 a handful of times and remarked to myself how much plastic waste is on the side of the road.

    • I’m not a native Pennsylvanian, so I’m always loathe to make disparaging comments about someone else’s house, but darn, something has to be done about the trash on the freeways/highways/interstates. I know inmate labor is controversial, but that might be one solution that will be of minimal cost to the tax payer.

      But who the heck is throwing the trash out there??? Makes me so sad.

  • Ha RG you write a great article love the way you explain what you are doing and how things are going. here in Florida we have a place called LaSpada’s the person that owns that used to work for Pat’s he has Amoroso rolls flown in Daily from Philly they say that it is close to Philly cheesesteak as you can possibly get anywhere in the world. can’t wait to see your next video had some pretty good luck in Caesar’s the last time I was there. Will be at the Mirage Sunday night will make sure I get my fill of craps next week good luck on your next trip.

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