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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.