Philly food and drink scene

Yes, Pat’s King of Steaks sells hot dogs (and they’re amazing)

The cheesesteak destination got its start as a frankfurter stand, so it makes sense

A Pat's hot dog with fishcake

A Pat's hot dog with fishcake

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Next time you step up to the counter at Pat’s King of Steaks for a wiz wit, consider a worthy alternative to the famous cheesesteak — and know that given a choice, third-gen Pat’s owner Frankie Olivieri would choose it over his shop’s namesake sandwich.

A hot dog. Yes, Pat’s sells hot dogs.

The specific menu item that has the lock on Olivieri’s heart (and potentially, his heart attack…) is what’s listed as a “Large Hot Dog.” Three deep-fried Hebrew National all-beef franks are tucked inside a standard Aversa hoagie roll, then — if you ask for it — topped with the regular “wit” helping of greasy-salty soft onions and a ladleful of orange Cheez Whiz.

“Put a cheesesteak and that side by side,” said Olivieri at a frankfurter tasting session Monday afternoon, “and I’ll choose the hot dogs, every time.”

Pat's owner Frankie Olivieri is a big hot dog fan

Pat's owner Frankie Olivieri is a big hot dog fan

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Sacrilege as it may seem, the man has a point.

Nearly everyone in attendance Monday agreed that the “hot dog wiz wit” beat out the cheesesteak wiz wit on flavor and general enjoyment. “It’s also easier to eat while walking around,” observed one of the tasters. “Less messy.”

Pat’s has sold hot dogs throughout its entire 87-year history. Which makes sense, because it was working the grill at his hot dog stand in 1930 that founder Pat Olivieri (Frankie’s great-uncle) first came up with the frizzled beef sandwich he’d eventually build a world-famous destination around. Cheesesteaks became the 9th and Passyunk shop’s concentration, but the franks never left the menu.

“I used to come in and get them growing up,” Olivieri said. “I’d slip them into the pile of onions so they’d steam up hot.” Nowadays they’re deep-fried to order, he explained, because it gives the exterior an appealing snap.

A 'Large Hot Dog' wiz wit, a regular dog with relish and mustard and a fishcake 'surf and turf' with onions

A 'Large Hot Dog' wiz wit, a regular dog with relish and mustard and a fishcake 'surf and turf' with onions

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Pat’s serves single dogs in a Martin’s Potato Roll for $3.50. As frankfurters go, they’re good, especially when topped with sharp dill relish and Gulden’s yellow mustard from the table next to the order window.

They’re even better with a fishcake tucked into the roll ($7). Made with potato-cod patties from an outfit up in North Jersey, these dogs form a classic Philly pairing known as a “poor man’s surf and turf.” (It’s thought to have originated at Levis Hot Dogs, which operated at Sixth and South from 1895 to 1992.)

Kids are the biggest audience for the hot dogs, Olivieri said, as well as he and his staff, who often turn to them as snacks.

The shop sells more dogs than you’d might expect, going through between 350 to 400 in an average week. But quantity-wise, they have nothing on the signature sandwich.

On a busy Saturday, Pat’s can sell upwards of 6,000 cheesesteaks, outnumbering hot dogs more than 100 to one.

Want some more? Explore other Philly food and drink scene stories.

Mornings in the know

Sign up for Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter for a daily roundup of Philadelphia’s most pressing news, top interesting stories, fun tidbits, and relevant events.

Thanks for reading another Billy Penn article!

We don’t have a paywall, and never will. Instead, we depend on readers like you to keep our newsroom jamming on stories about Philadelphia. If you like what you see, will you support our work?

Thanks for reading a Billy Penn story

We don’t have a paywall, and our daily newsletter is free. Instead, YOU are key to keeping our nonprofit newsroom running strong. If you like what you see, will you join as a member today?

This story was powered by readers

Readers like you make articles like this possible, so thanks for your support. Want to make sure we stick around? Become a sustainer with a recurring contribution!

Tell a friend about Billy Penn

Thanks for reading another article — and we’re grateful for your support! Want to help a friend start their day with Billy Penn? Send them to our newsletter signup page.