Philly is the City of (Bread)erly Love, apparently.
We here on The Inquirer’s Food team talk a lot about sandwiches, and we often hear from readers offering their favorites. On the eve of another National Sandwich Day, we’d like to share some of our collective go-tos.
But first, news from Lawnlove.com that, according to its research, Philadelphia is No. 7 among U.S. cities for sandwich lovers. (Why is a lawn-care company commissioning a deep-dive about sandwiches? It’s called marketing. Lawnlove can get much more publicity by talking about grub than it could about grubs.)
The upshot, says Lawnlove, is that while Philadelphia may not have the ubiquity of sandwiches that a city like San Francisco or Washington, D.C., has, we do have a trio of fine hometown creations — Italian hoagies, roast pork sandwiches, and cheesesteaks. “Three delicious bucket-list bites bring high quality to the City of (Bread)erly Love,” says the report.
City of (Bread)erly Love!
Lawnlove got some academic support for its report from Bryant Simon, a professor of history and director of the American Studies program at Temple University, who touted the Ethiopian-style cheesesteak from Gojjo in West Philadelphia, which gets a hit of berbere spices. He also called Philly’s roast pork sandwiches underrated.
In no particular order, here are 12 sandwich recommendations to get you started:
Matt Rivera and Pam Canepa’s bodega on a Pennsauken corner is stocked floor to ceiling with a supermarket’s assortment of groceries and a shop dog named Max. Head to the back counter to order hot food, including their version of the chopped cheese, a New York City specialty, essentially a chopped up cheeseburger on a long roll.
📍5051 Westfield Ave., Pennsauken, 📞 856-333-3302, 📷 @thebodega856
N.A. Poe’s concession inside Human Robot brewing in Kensington deals tasty sandwiches. His Hamilton stuffs chicken cutlet, bacon, hand-cut fries, Cooper Sharp, house ranch dressing, and scallions on a roll.
📍1710 N. Fifth St., Philadelphia, 📞 215-454-2654, 🌐 poesjoint.square.site 📷 @poessandwichjoint
Saad Alrayes puts a Middle Eastern spin on our favorite chicken sandwich from his sleek halal corner spot in West Philly. The maroosh includes grilled chicken with sautéed onions, creamy garlic sauce, tomato slices, parsley, and crunchy pickles on a toasted roll.
📍4500 Walnut St., Philadelphia, 📞 215-222-7223, 🌐 saadhalal.com
Huyen “Thai” Dinh’s Vietnamese American corner spot at 15th and South greets the day with a banh mi breakfast sandwich called the Op La — two runny eggs, bacon, sausage patties, house pickles, herbs, eggplant pate, and aioli on a baguette.
📍1500 South St.., Philadelphia, 📞 267-758-6008, 🌐 thebreakfastden.com 📷 @tbd.thebreakfastden
This is the classic Philly roast pork sandwich, done right: herbed porchetta, crispy pork cracklings, and pork jus. Porcos shares space with Chad Durkin’s Small Oven Pastry Shop, so the house-baked ciabatta roll puts it over the top.
📍2204 Washington Ave., Philadelphia, 📞 215-545-2939, 🌐 smallovenpastryshop.com, 📷 @porcosphilly
Fluffy eggs, creamy Cooper Sharp American, and crunchy arugula combine on potato bread for a sublime breakfast sandwich at Matthew Cahn’s original shop in Washington Square West. When tomatoes are in season in late summer, treat yourself to a sublime BLT.
📍248 S. 11th St., Philadelphia, 📞 267-930-8344, 🌐 middlechildphilly.com, 📷 @middlechildphiladelphia
Everything’s great at this rapidly expanding South Jersey sandwich chainlet, but we have a soft spot (must be the house-baked focaccia) for the Fresh Prince: shaved prime beef brisket, sautéed onions, and a Farmstead Cheddar mornay sauce.
📍43 Kings Hwy East, Haddonfield (856-651-7891); 1½ Crosswicks St., Bordentown (973-864-3210); 57 N. Main St., Medford (856-316-4676), 🌐 crumbsandwichjoint.com, 📷 @crumbsandwichjoint
Yes, roast pork is two-thirds of the shop’s name, and legions of fans attest to John Bucci’s sandwich-making prowess. We’d add that his cheesesteak, chopped on the griddle so it blends with the cheese, is a thing of beauty and needs recognition.
📍 14 E. Snyder Ave., Philadelphia, 📞 215-463-1951, 🌐 johnsroastpork.com
Cognoscenti including sandwich wizard Dominic “Hoagie Dom” Rocconi swear by this old-school South Philly Italian sandwich shop for cutlets, meatballs, roast pork, sausage, and hoagies. “If you don’t leave there smelling like sharp provolone and fried long hots, then you must’ve gone to the wrong spot,” he told us.
📍1311 W. Moyamensing Ave., 📞 215-468-4647, 🌐 facebook.com/LilNicksDeli, 📷 @lil_nicks_deli
Each item on every hoagie is sliced to order, says Cara Jo Castellino, of the corner store in Fishtown. Get a classic Italian or something more updated, like the Adronos (hot capicola and sopressata, peppercorn Asiago, and cherry peppers) or the Fig Pig (fig jam and prosciutto).
📍1255 E. Palmer St., 🌐 castellinos.square.site, 📷 @castellinosco
The big decision at Danny DiGiampietro’s South Philly pizzeria is what to get: pizza or a sandwich. The answer: Order both, and save some for later. As Hoagie Dom says: DiGiampietro pioneered the use of Cooper Sharp for his cheesesteak and “bakes his own absolutely ridiculous bread each morning.”
📍736 S. Ninth St., 📞 215-922-0000, 🌐 angelospizzeriasouthphiladelphia.com, 📷 @angelos_pizzeria_south_philly
A grilled swordfish sandwich with kimchi tartar sauce and Napa coleslaw? It’s one of the signatures at chef Yehuda Sichel’s corner shop a few blocks from Rittenhouse Square, where he bakes his own spongy milk bread buns to sop up the juices.
📍 32 S. 18th St., Philadelphia, 📞 215-922-0000, 🌐 hudaphl.com, 📷 @hudaphl
Want more recommendations? Check out my recent Instagram post and check out the articles below.
Philly is the City of (Bread)erly Love, apparently.