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Philly: What else besides cheesesteaks?

I'll be visiting philly for the weekend and will definitley be eating a few cheesesteaks. I was wondering if there are any local faves besides?

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  1. I'll be first to tell you about the roast pork sandwich. Thinly sliced roast pork, sharp provolone, and sauteed greens on a seeded roll. My favorite is DiNics in the Reading Terminal Market.
    Another great Philly treat is scrapple, a breakfast meat consisting of pork, cornmeal, spices, and who knows what else. It's ground and fried into patties. Makes a great sandwich!

    2 Replies
    1. re: jessicheese

      I concur with the roast pork from Dinic's, but I prefer it with the roasted peppers instead of the greens, but you can't go wrong either way. If you do go to the RTM, which you should, try the pretzels from the Amish stand ( I forget the name ). I would also recommend going to the Italian Market and checking out Claudio's for their fresh mozzarella and their homemade pesto. Then making your way to Sarcone's for a hoagie. If you like wings, check out Moriarty's. They give you the whole wing and it is an irish bar with tons of different beers. Best wings in the city IMHO. If you like Schnitzel, try Ludwig's Garten and get it Jaeger style. They have a bunch of different beers and if you sit at a table you can get a beer tower which is a beer equivalent to a four foot bong.

      1. re: jessicheese

        I second the roast pork at DiNics, and add that they also serve great broccoli rabe on their sandwiches too (but have never seen seeds on my roll! from there). Scrapple is great to try at least once...they have a good version (and good pancakes) at the Dutch Eating Place in the market (but not on Sunday). The market is a great place to explore and they also have very good soft pretzels (get them hot out of the oven) at Fisher's.

      2. Yeah, go for the roast pork! It's the food I miss most about Philly. San Francisco, my current home, has some good sandwiches, but nothing that competes with the Philly roast pork, IMHO...

        1. i think the entirety of the reading terminal market is something we should be known for.

          matter of fact, we sort of are... http://www.travelandleisure.com/afc/2...
          we're right up there for farmer's markets, and we should be! (well, food markets in general, i think) in addition to the reading terminal market, you can find misc awesome italian ingredients down in the italian market on 9th street in south philly. and with so many urban farms and community gardens and random corner farm stands, the produce is easily one of my favorite things here!! i was actually thinking about starting a thread on that but thought i would save it for spring of next year. :) anyway, i would say, come visit our markets - especially those two (italian and reading terminal). make it on a saturday if you can.

          also on my latest chow tour, which has been taking me through red-sauce italian places in south philly, i've made some discoveries that are probably unbeatable outside of italy itself! i recommend you do a search here of italian food in south philly. i haven't ventured out to enough places yet.

          we've also got some incredible foodie options down on washington ave, if you poll the board you'll find a lot of praise for that street... besides the italian market, you have a fun mix of vietnamese pho shops and mexican taquerias. all co-existing pleasantly (except geno) and cheaply. you can definitely get some tasty bites for your dollar on washington, stretching from probably 6th to 11th streets. i wish we were more well-known for that entire area - and not just the competing cheesesteak places across the street from one another!

          1. A good soft pretzel (some vendors sell them rock hard and dry as dog kibble, encased in cling wrap; avoid these) and a hoagie. Also possibly Breyer's vanilla ice cream.

            4 Replies
            1. re: wisteria1

              Did you mean Bassett's ice cream? In the Reading Terminal stand, they do a hot chocolate with a scoop of ice cream in it that's fantastic when it's cold out. Thank you.

              1. re: Bride of the Juggler

                Nope, meant Breyer's. Also local and, despite the lack of a cutesy stand in the Reading Terminal Market, the best vanilla ice cream.

                1. re: wisteria1

                  Breyers technically is no longer local. After the plant was closed in the area, the product is made in Alabama.

                2. re: Bride of the Juggler

                  YUM! As a kid I had a friend who's mom used to make us hot chocolate w/ a scoop of vanilla ice cream after we'd come in from ice skating. It heaven in a mug! Thanks for the memory. :-)

              2. If you've got a car, I'd recommend heading to Tony Luke's at Front and Oregon in South Philly. They have great cheesesteaks as well as my favorite roast pork sandwich in the city (Dinic's is good too, but not as good as TL's in my book). Get the roast pork Italian, which comes with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe. If you don't like pork, the chicken cutlet Italian is mighty tasty too. If you go with a friend, you can get a couple different things and share.

                1. To be honest, there isn't much besides a great cheesteak other then a great roast pork sandwich. Years ago you could get a great roast beef sandwich at Nicks at 20th and Jackson, but folks dont seem to respond to that anymore. If you want to combine the BEST cheesesteaks with the BEST roast pork sandwiches, then the answer is simple: go to John's roast pork. If there are two of you order one of each and share. There are no silly questions like cheeze wit or wit out. There is only a cheese steak sandwich that will fill you up enough for 3 days and then the tastes of the roast pork, provolone and greens that will bring tears to your eyes as you become aware of the tastes all coming together. There has never been another taste sensation quite like that. To compare, go to Barclay Prime and order their strip steak with sauce...eat it slowly and then compare and you will know that John's tastes meld together in magical ways.
                  Finally, for the sake of the sanity of the entire city, I beg, beg, beg you to NOT go to Genos or Pats.....they do not represent the best the city has to offer. If, however, you do decide to go as most tourists do, please do not report back. Trust me, the reports back are never helpful.
                  One more note: Tell me the neighborhood, and I will tell you where to go.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: OlderPhiladelphian

                    you might wana get out more. philly has LOTS of great food offerings beyond roast pork and cheesesteaks. what a mistake to miss chinatown, sweet lucys bbq, vietnam, amada and countless other places that do philadelphia proud..

                    1. re: spinach

                      But what you are describing aren't "unique Philly" foods. They are just really good restaurants in Philadelphia.


                      1. re: Chinon00

                        i posted the reply i did because i think it's high time philly GETS known for something other than the stuff we currently have a claim to fame for. when i moved here, i knew about the cheesesteak, pretzels, tastycakes and water ice - and i wasn't terribly thrilled about living in a place known for low-brow snack foods. at the time i didn't know about the excellent markets and the vast selection of BYOs that have come to be the main reason i love philadelphia, and things i'd love to have us known for! oh, and then there's gelato! has anyone EVER found gelato better than capogiro's in any other city?

                        1. re: rabidog

                          I understand and agree with what you're saying however that's a whole other argument.

                        2. re: Chinon00

                          Aren't scrapple, hoagies and tastycakes also considered local standards?

                    2. this conversation seems limited to sandwiches. Was that your intention? I mean, sandwiches are good and all, but this city has a LOT more to offer than two sandwiches (both of which are awesome if you go to the right places btw).

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Boognish

                        That's why I had thought to mention scrapple. I also like the mention of the roast beef. I'm always facinated how different regions of the country serve completely different versions of hot roast beef.

                        Shoofly pie might also be considered a local thing. I'd never heard of it before moving to this area.

                        The soft pretzel is also unique in these parts. The shape and texture is a lot different than you'll find in other places.

                        1. re: jessicheese

                          Check out La Colombe for coffee. On 19th between Walnut and Sansom. A restaurant Loie is next store and I know this is not unique to Philly, but they have a two-course brunch on Sunday's that is $25 and you get all of the mimosa's and bloody mary's you can drink.

                      2. Check out the food trucks in University City. There's a ton on 38th around Walnut (I especially like the Korean food at Koja) and even more on Spruce around 37th. Generally really good food, dirt cheap. There's a few similar things in NYC, but not nearly to that scale. (I wrote a column for my college paper about them if you want more detail: http://emmmilyeats.blogspot.com/2007/...)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Emmmily

                          While I certainly enjoy the u. city food trucks for cheap hot lunches, I probably wouldn't recommend them to an out of town visitor who isn't necessarily in the area, with the possible exception of my favorites, tacos from Tacos Don Memo and felafel wraps from Rami's.

                          Regarding your column - you shouldn't have skipped Hemo's; their unique sauces set them apart from "standard cheesesteak & sandwich places". And I'm curious about Frite American Crepe at Spruce & 38th, according to your column. Do you remember which corner it was on? I wonder how it compares to Crepe Walk, near Spruce and 36th.

                        2. Soft pretzels. Best in the land.

                          1. It's not Philly city I don't think (though Bookbinder's markets their version nationally) but a Philly-metro Delaware Valley standard is Snapping Turtle soup.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: FrankJBN

                              Snapper soup with sherry....delicious and very warming.