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confession time (phila)

i have a confession to make... while taking the train to work, i transfer from the el to the r5 through suburban station for better (simply brewed) coffee (juan valdez, but please do let me know if i'm missing out on anything i don't know of!) but on the way home, i transfer through market east for............ $0.85 garlic knots at villa pizza, which is near popeyes in the market east gallery. add a bit of the parmesan shake, as well as salt and garlic powder, and i'm set - they are oh so good and chewy and simple and all this deliciousness from SUCH an unexpected place. don't get me wrong: i wouldn't recommend anything else. but do yourself a favor and try those garlic knots if you're around and tell me i'm not crazy!

so i'm just curious, what are your un-chow-ly guilty pleasures? i'm in philadelphia but all pennsylvanias can feel free to bare it all. :)

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  1. I personally wouldn't call it un-chow-ly, but I can't resist the hot sausage at Johnny Hots on Delaware Ave across from the Penn Treaty Park in Penn's Landing. I haven't gotten there much since they moved up the street from Spring Garden, but in the 80's and 90's at their old location, I used to get them at least 3 times a week for lunch. It's a spicy beef sausage, kind of a cross between a hot dog and kielbasa, served on a nice Italian roll. I'm sure some chowhounders would turn up their nose at eating a processed meat but that would be their loss. It's a great sandwich and totally addictive. Highly recommended.

    1. I am not sure if this fits but recently the Fair food farmstand started carrying "Vrapple", a vegan scrapple. It is wonderful

      13 Replies
      1. re: Bigley9

        Hey Bigley, where's this Fair food farmstand? we are new to Philly but husband recently had (and loved) vegan scrapple at the Belgian Cafe....thanks!

        1. re: Pretzelhead

          It is in the Reading Terminal Market (between 11th and 12th, Market and Arch) The Fair Food Farmstand is a project of the White Dog Foundation and sells products from local small farms. The stand is close to Arch st, near Metropolitan Bakery/Blue Mountain Winery and the PA general store.

          1. re: Bigley9

            Very belated thank you! I didn't get to the Fair Food Farmstand until earlier this fall, but the vegan scrapple (high up in the refrigerated meats case!) was a big hit in my household.

            1. re: Pretzelhead

              What is in vegan scrapple?? I so want to know if I can eat it!

              1. re: crazyspice

                if i had to venture a guess, i'd go with a mix of leftover tofu crumbles, tvp and seitan all mixed into some spicy yummy mix... (and if i'm totally wrong, that still sounds like a fun thing to try in the kitchen sometime!) who knows though! i'm heading to the RTM tomorrow for thanksgiving dinner supplies so i'm going to keep an eye out for that!!

                1. re: rabidog

                  if your quest is successful, please report back.

                  1. re: crazyspice

                    It is sietan and cornmeal, not sure what else. Sarah, who manages the FF farmstand, makes it - it has gone into commercial production now, originally she made it herself. She just had new labels made and a nutritional analysis done, so if you get some today the new labels should all be there!

                    1. re: Bigley9

                      Is RTM the only location to offer it?

                      1. re: crazyspice

                        no, I have seen it at Essene at 4th and Bainbridge, and I know she supplies some restaurants. My guess is there are other places but I don't know them. If I think of it I will ask Sarah to join this post and let us know!

                        1. re: Bigley9

                          I am excited! I can get it at Willow Creek Orchards.

                          1. re: crazyspice

                            great! let me know what you think!

          2. Ohhhh yeah...those doughy, cushy rolls at Bertucci's, hot out of the oven. Must have with butter, tho, not olive oil.

            1. Aunt Annie's pretzel and lemonade. I make way better lemonade AND pretzels, but there is just something magical about having the two together. Phew what a load off.

              1. Four Seasons buffet for lunch. Honestly it's not bad. I visit about once a week. For a while they had this amazing fried tofu dish with black sesame seeds although it has been missing the last 2 weeks. It's on 16th and Chestnut.

                2 Replies
                1. re: saturninus

                  Strawberry frosted donuts every few months from Dunkin Donuts. I know it's gross.

                  1. re: saturninus

                    I like Four Seasons except 1. it always costs more than I expect and 2. no matter what I get, I have serious onion/garlic breath afterwards. But man, is that buffet pretty!

                  2. I actually haven't gotten one in a while, but I love cheap, blended margaritas - the ones that basically come out of slurpee machines.
                    i'm only so-so on good margaritas. i had one from copabanana, which was, enh, fine i guess. i'm told that's a good margarita. i don't know. but give me the chili's margarita any day, or at least any hot day.
                    lime only, please.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Bob Loblaw

                      White Castle Hamburgers...frozen if necessary.

                      1. re: lunc

                        Wait!! There are White Castle joints in Philly? Where are they?!

                        Bob - who on earth told you that the copa margaritas were "good margaritas??" I mean, they're certainly more than acceptable, but that assertion that they're "good margaritas" is plenty odd. But I do like the Chili's ones, too. :)

                        1. re: Ali

                          I'd heard it from a few people although i'm not sure what they knew about margaritas.
                          in any case, i know absolutely nothing about upscale margaritas. i just know what i like, and it's the cheapo slurpee ones!

                          1. re: Ali

                            who do you think makes a good one? They do use fresh lime juice and the tequila of your choice.

                      2. Vanilla frostys from Wendys and vanilla milkshakes from Chik-Fila even though I live fairly near Merrymead farm and could get yummy milkshakes from there, where I can see the cows the milk came from. >hangs head in shame<

                        1. Spicy chicken, red beans & rice at Popeyes. But, the funny thing is that we have changed the route we take to get to Ocean County to visit our daughter, just so we can grab Popeyes at a certain Turnpike stop, different from the way we used to go! You have no idea what a guilty pleasure that is.

                          1. I love bad pasta.... Don't get me wrong- I love good pasta, too, and can understand the difference. However, I grew up with a single mom who fed me Chef Boyardee, Ragu, and Kraft Mac and Cheese and find such comfort in overcooked pasta in subpar sauces. Cover it with some mozzarella and I'm going for seconds=)

                            I work near Villa Pizza and will totally be trying those garlic knots (alongside some watery baked ziti- lol)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jessicheese

                              You could wash down the garlic knots with some of those good little chocolate chip cookies from Tiffany's Bakery in the Gallery.

                            2. Olive Garden. My bf and I sneak in with our heads down about once a year and feast on salad, breadsticks with marianara, baked penne, and fettucini alfredo. Awesome.
                              And also Ruby Tuesdays salad bar.

                              3 Replies
                                1. re: hollyd

                                  Funny- just heard a story about a friend of the family. They are a chef in New York, and they've worked at restaurants such as Picholine. Apparently, when they come home, all they want is Olive Garden.

                                  1. re: hollyd

                                    I haven't been to Olive Garden in years, but I took my mother there last week for the soup, salad and breadsticks while we were shopping and was really surprised at how tasty the pasta fagioli was.

                                    but the breadsticks sucked

                                  2. It's been a year since I've been there, but in Suburban Station on the wall opposite Juan Valdez is this food place... ugh I forget the name but they have bagels and breakfast sandwiches and coffee and oh my I happen to love their coffee. I got it every morning last summer and they had this chocolate caramel nut flavored coffee and it was fab

                                    1. goodness, this thread is great to read! i can't tell you how many times i just said to myself and anyone who cares to listen within earshot of my front porch: OMG! me too!

                                      i can definitely enjoy an auntie anne's pretzel (though i sure hope that poster has tried the amish pretzels at reading terminal market!) and i have GOT to find this fair food farmstand (maybe tomorrow?). and elaine may very well be my twin, because i do the same exact thing... i have one coworker who ALWAYS wants to eat at bertucci's, and i'll indulge her because i love those rolls as well as the margherita pizza (dare you to find me a better pizza here!). she and i were both relocated to phila for work, both from the DC area originally where the bertucci's DID serve the rolls with butter! upon coming to phila we were given olive oil, which never sat right with us. so it's the first thing we say upon sitting down - bring on the butter, skip the olive oil!

                                      funny story just now - i was talking to my girlfriend about my market east garlic knot guilty pleasure... up until a month ago, she used to work at PHL airport. we eventually put two and two together that the villa pizza in PHL A terminal is the same as the villa pizza at market east, and she agrees that the garlic knots are absolutely out of the world! she always made a point to order a garlic knot each time, too - she just couldn't pass them up. and after 11 years you think you know someone... who knew that we had the same knot love?! seriously you all really must try these garlic knots, indulge me please! and OK bluehensfan, i'll track down some cookies next time i get the urge in the gallery at market east. so i feel no carb guilts, i will vow to walk home instead of taking the el afterwards. :)

                                      final thought: just funny how this thread is mostly carbs and/or meat!
                                      though i would label them my favorite food, rare is the day that i CRAVE, as in absolutely must have, a tomato.

                                      1. Ali -- there are no White Castle restos in Philly and it is a tragedy of mammoth proportions. It is horrific. Those of us with a Whitey jones have to drive all of the way to NEW JERSEY to get our sliders' fix. Yes, you can buy the frozen pre-packaged White Castles in a box at Philadelphia grocery stores but ... come on. It's not the same. No sizzling onion bits on the griddle...no steamy buns...no old photos on the wall of the 5 cent burger sign. To be totally honest, I have to say that I can't totally jump for joy over New Jersey's sliders since they are hardly authentic: Garden State whiteys are squirted with KETCHUP. Unheard of. Now you got me all worked up and I need to book a flight to Midway airport to get the real thing.

                                        1. Speaking of fantastic garlic knots, Lazaro's Pizza on 18th and South has 'em. They're 3 for $1, are hot and doughy, and are not overly strong on the garlic and cheese mixture (as I sometimes find Villa's to be... courtesy of the PHL airport location!).

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: megansk

                                            fab!! i will make a mad dash possibly tomorrow if i can escape for lunch or a snack! i've been on a quest for garlic knots like some i had in NYC a few months back...

                                            the PHL airport ones are apparently much more 'intense' than the market east ones. those, i usually add seasoning to - salt, parm, garlic. :)

                                            1. re: rabidog

                                              Great garlic knots - Carlino's in Ardmore. My son ate his body weight in them, it's his new obsession.

                                          2. The glazed croissants from Giant supermarkets.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: nevets

                                              Garlic Knots from Trattoria Giammarco's on New Falls Road in Levittown. They are best right there, but also good carryout, which we do to add to our own homecooked dinners. Yes, I like the fresh garlic and olive oil, and fresh parmesan, on very tender rolls! Their restaurant is in the back behind the pizza carryout area. Most people don't know it is there yet...Also like sliders, and saw a White Castle when at the Indy 500 this weekend, but half of our party did not want to go. So we went to a Weber Grill instead. Darn. Runzas are another favorite, but can't get here either. Love a really great tomato, but is that really an un-chow-ly guilty pleasures? With fresh basil and pepper especially, yum.

                                              1. re: jkml

                                                yum, me too! i have fun with my tomatoes (considering they're all i eat all summer long, practically!) and sometimes will broil them with some freshly shaved parm & black pepper. i, too, toss a leaf from the basil plant on when it's done. simple and tasty!

                                                where are the best tomatoes to be found in phila? i'm on a market hunt weekend after next, methinks. i currently get all of mine from either iovine's or the amish at RTM, depending on whose look better.

                                                1. re: rabidog

                                                  rabidog, try livingoods at the terminal on Saturday, passyunk and south on Tuesday for excellent tomato sandwich ready tomatoes (they are currently selling their own hothouse/ground grown toms, the heirlooms and regular summer toms will be in soon.) They are likely at other farmers markets but not sure which ones (they were at the Eastern State pen market but I haven't been there yet this year). If they were at the Passyunk Ave & Tasker market, then I could get Mancuso's mozarella and you'd find me sitting on the curb, dripping with tomato juice and mozarella milk.

                                                  1. re: Bigley9

                                                    This was such a fun thread I wanted to jump start it again! Smucker's microwavable hot fudge sauce. In the summer I even add ice cream to it! OH, and soft serve chocoate ice cream in a cup from random non-chain places like the one across from pizza hut on main in Lansdale. Big Freeze? or maybe Deep Freeze?

                                                    1. re: givemecarbs

                                                      Lately I've been having this Rita's banana water ice problem...

                                                      1. re: bluehensfan

                                                        i have a similar problem with mango and honeydew when i find it. :)

                                                        1. re: mazza3

                                                          I have the local Rita's make me up batches of the banana because they do not have it regularly...gross!

                                            2. Bernie's Pretzels - you never know where they will turn up - I always buy them when I see them.

                                              1. Waffle House. I agree with a lot of others here too. Auntie Anne's, White Castle, Popeye's (especially), but Waffle House is my new guilty pleasure. Story:
                                                Some roommates and I had to stop for food when driving from Syracuse to Cedar Point a year ago and we stopped at Waffle House. We weren't expecting much, in fact we were expecting bad things. Well the food was straight up delicious diner food and I have visited several since. I have yet to get a bad meal (I have sampled them from Ohio all the down through Georgia) and somehow they all seem to hire very friendly staff. Anyway, it's greasy, not remotely good for you, but oh so comforting.

                                                PS To those who label Popeye's unchowly, I would agree, but the truth is, for fried chicken, it really does not get a whole lot better (except for your grandma/aunt/mom, etc). And this is coming from someone who grew up in New Orleans and has recently moved back.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: gastrotect

                                                  I got one more. What my roommates and I dubbed "Dirty Chinese". Sometimes when you are hungover or getting ready to go out drinking or just feeling lazy, there is nothing better than Americanized takeout Chinese.

                                                  1. re: gastrotect

                                                    I have a hard time passing a Dairy Queen without wanting to stop for a Black 'n White shake.

                                                    1. re: bucksguy14

                                                      Popye's spicy chicken, mashed taters, A hoagie from WAWA if nothing else is open, Peanunt butter Kandy Kakes.

                                                      Or, back in the day when Jack in the Box was still around......in 1974, 2 tacos, 1 large cheeseburger, fries, onion rings, and a coke----for 3.50.

                                                      1. re: steelydad

                                                        I used to LOVE Jack in the box! Too bad they made so many people sick!

                                                      2. re: gastrotect

                                                        For me, hangover food is diner food. And for me, that means a great big, slightly overcooked (meaning firm, not wiggly) western omelette without onions and lots of greasy, salty hash browns (or whatever permutation of potato they offer). I like it so much I even eat it when *not* hungover. A handful of friends are all about the Monte Cristoo sandwich for hangovers.

                                                    2. The focus of the Pennsylvania board is on chow that's local to here. If you've got chain guilty pleasures, there are several threads on the Chains board that focus on that topic, and we'd ask that people please move that aspect of this discussion to the appropriate board -- it help keeps this one full of where to find those great, guilty treasures that are only available locally, and also makes it so that people across the country can suss out the great guilty treasures at their favorite chains, as well.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                        Philly Guilty Pleasures - definately egg sandwiches from Wawa, scrapple or pork roll at any Philly breakfast place, Chocolate Krimpets (when you can find them), and a soft pretzel from a street vendor.

                                                        1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                          Well when I think local guilty pleasure, I think Wawa. Yea, it's a chain, but it's so Philly at the same time. Nothing reminds of Philly (other than a cheesesteak) like a Wawa hoagie and Wawa Peach Tea.

                                                        2. ! I too love Johnny's hots, since I was a kid.. I used to go over to his hole-in-the-wall on Penn St. as my dad's business was near. He always treated me good, despite the fact that I was a little kid. Been to the new place, his son looks just like I remember Johnny looking like 40 years ago! Sadly, it is so very out of my travel area anymore that the visits are infrequent.
                                                          If your ever near Bridgeport (outside of Norristown) You NEED to go to Suzi-Jo's for some truly amazing Donuts. Real jelly filling (not that carp that they use at Dunkin) All varieties are incredible, you can't get the wrong donut!
                                                          I also LOVE chocolate water ice, the kind with the little chocolate boogers in it! Don't forget the very famous Philly "Goldenberg's Peanut Chews" though not made by the original family anymore, they're still pretty darn good!