Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

What Does Philadelphia Have That New York Doesn't?


Kent Wang
 Share

Recommended Posts

Speaking as a New Yorker who travels to Philadelphia on occasion, and who gravitates towards what Philadelphia has that New York doesn't or what Philadelphia has that's better than New York, the following would be my list:

1. Reading Terminal Market. Whenever I go there, I bemoan the fact that New York doesn't have an equivalent. Chelsea Market doesn't do the trick.

2. Carman's. Sui generis. Just bear in mind that it has limited days and hours of operation, and that it's a place you kind of have to get to know. A lot of first-time customers find it a little disorienting, as it doesn't follow the standard customer-service model.

3. Cheesesteaks. Philadelphia has such a rich cheesesteak culture, no other city can compete for sheer breadth and depth of offerings.

4. Nanzhou Handdrawn Noodle House. A total dive that does the best I've had, though I actually think the shaved are better than the pulled.

5. Rangoon. They've got some amazing food there. I don't think anyplace in New York compares.

Which is not to say there aren't dozens of other terrific things to eat in Philadelphia. But if you're limiting it to a New York v. Philadelphia set of decision criteria, that's my list.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A German delicatessen, not a salumeria, Rieker's has, for starters, 4 different kinds of bratwurst as well as a wide variety of luncheon meats (like Berliner presskopf, red head cheese and souse), smoked treats (think cervelat, smoked kielbasa, landjagger), spreadable meats (including 4 kinds of liverwurst), and many roasts ready to eat or cook. Try, for example, the rouladen, "thin slice of beef is filled with seasoned ground beef, onion and bacon, and rolled. You brown it for ten minutes, add gravy, and then simmer it, covered, for thirty minutes before eating.") They also sell a variety of other goodies of which my favorite is a super sauerkraut. Much of what they offer is homemade.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fishcakes.

Most notably the hot dog-fish cake combo found at Johnny's Hots on Delaware Ave and Lenny's Hot Dogs on Street Rd in Bensalem. And it's really a good combo, not weird at all. The "Philly Surf n' Turf" as Holly calls it.

And the fish cake/macaroni & cheese/stewed tomatoes platter common to just Philly-area diners like the Aramingo Diner, Oregon Diner, Mayfair Diner and Tiffany's Diner. Only in Philly. Old school Philly meatless Friday meal.

And let's not forget, staying with seafood sorta:

Fried Oysters and Chicken salad for lunch at the Sansom Street Oyster House, the old Kelly's of Mole St, and the Union League (if you were lucky enough to get invited to lunch there by a member, that is). I last had that terrific combo at the old Sansom St Oyster House, not too long before it closed. Katie, please tell me that Chef Ling will bring that classic back to the menu on the soon-to-open (this Thursday, really??) Oyster House!

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steven - no love for Taconelli's?  :sad:

I do love Taconelli's but I'd put it in round two. If the mission is to go to Philadelphia for the stuff that's better than New York, the list is fairly short -- at least based on what I've experienced in Philadelphia thanks to guidance from several Philadelphia-based eG people. If it's more a question of going to Philadelphia to experience a variant of something both cities do well, then the list gets a lot longer and includes Taconelli's and a lot of the other suggestions that have been made on this topic.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steven - no love for Taconelli's?  :sad:

I do love Taconelli's but I'd put it in round two. If the mission is to go to Philadelphia for the stuff that's better than New York, the list is fairly short -- at least based on what I've experienced in Philadelphia thanks to guidance from several Philadelphia-based eG people. If it's more a question of going to Philadelphia to experience a variant of something both cities do well, then the list gets a lot longer and includes Taconelli's and a lot of the other suggestions that have been made on this topic.

By that criterion, should not Philadelphia's Italian pork sandwich with greens and aged provolone be on your list?

Also I'm not up on New York city subs or whatever they are called there. Are there any options that surpass Sarcone's Deli or Salumeria?

If either or both have yet to be experienced, I will be glad to show you what you are missing.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

By that criterion, should not Philadelphia's Italian pork sandwich with greens and aged provolone be on your list?

I'd say so. Although I put this in the larger category of "juicy hot meat sandwiches" along with the cheesesteak.

Also I'm not up on New York city subs or whatever they are called there.  Are there any options that surpass Sarcone's Deli or Salumeria?

If you're talking about Italian-style cold-cut sandwiches on a long Italian roll, I'd say that it's pretty well developed here, with a number of well-known places. It's the hot, saucy* sandwiches, IMO, where Philadelphia really has a clear advantage.

* Perhaps there is a better way of saying this than "juicy" or "saucy." Clearly NYC offers a very high level of hot meat sandwiches, but these are things such as pastrami and corned beef sandwiches, which strike me as categorically different from cheesesteaks and Italian pork sandwiches in Philly. Moisture seems to be one salient difference (a Katz's pastrami sandwich isn't going to shower your shirt with juice if you don't lean over when you bite it, whereas an Italian pork sandwich probably will) but I imagine that someone like you, Holly, could articulate this difference better than I can.

--

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I was in Austin there was a ton of Tex-Mex food, but not so much authentic Mexican.  I presume you're implying that's changed?  It's admittedly been a really long time since I was in Austin last...

That said, there really is a metric buttload of awesome Mexican food in Philly.

Kent, how mobile are you while you're visiting?  Will you have a rental or access to a car?  That will most certainly expand your horizons exponentially.

And you haven't mentioned your drinking preferences.  The happening beer scene in Philly has already been lauded, but there's great wine and delicious cocktails to be had here as well.  Any preferences there?

Yes, we have tons of Gringo-Mex restaurants catering to the gringo population but the line between "real" Tex-Mex and Northern Mexican is a thin one. Fajitas for example were invented in Texas and eaten by gringos and tejanos alike. But we do have plenty of restaurants that serve barbacoa, pork rind, tongue, etc. tacos and I am frequent patron of those establishments.

My friend has a car and can probably drive us out for dinner. Otherwise, I'm staying very central and on foot and public transit.

I love Belgian beer and cocktails. Don't know as much about wine, but am learning. I will be going to Death & Co. and Mayahuel in New York. I'd like to stop in at your bar too if I get a chance. I think I might be shortening my stay in Philly to spend some time in DC.

4. Nanzhou Handdrawn Noodle House. A total dive that does the best I've had, though I actually think the shaved are better than the pulled.

5. Rangoon. They've got some amazing food there. I don't think anyplace in New York compares.

Thanks. Those are on my list. It's especially good to hear back from New Yorkers such as yourself and Mr. Kinsey.

if you're into belgian beer www.monkscafe.com has one of ,if not the best, selection in the country.

I love Belgian beer. I went to Zot with some friends last time and really liked it. I usually check Beer Advocate's guide and they do list Monks Cafe as the top beer bar.

A German delicatessen, not a salumeria, Rieker's has, for starters, 4 different kinds of bratwurst as well as a wide variety of luncheon meats (like Berliner presskopf, red head cheese and souse), smoked treats (think cervelat, smoked kielbasa, landjagger), spreadable meats (including 4 kinds of liverwurst), and many roasts ready to eat or cook. Try, for example, the rouladen, "thin slice of beef is filled with seasoned ground beef, onion and bacon, and rolled. You brown it for ten minutes, add gravy, and then simmer it, covered, for thirty minutes before eating.") They also sell a variety of other goodies of which my favorite is a super  sauerkraut. Much of what they offer is homemade.

Great. Sounds like a lot of stuff that I can buy and take home and cook for my friends with whom I'm staying.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Moisture seems to be one salient difference (a Katz's pastrami sandwich isn't going to shower your shirt with juice if you don't lean over when you bite it, whereas an Italian pork sandwich probably will) but I imagine that someone like you, Holly, could articulate this difference better than I can.

First off, I am perfectly capable of splattering my shirt with the fallout from a Katz's pastrami sandwich.

I am not sure of better articulation, though I do not think of a cheesesteak or a pork sandwich in terms of the category "juicy, hot, meat sandwiches." I see them as two distinct sandwiches and both totally unrelated to a pastrami on rye or a diner hot roast beef sandwich. I might put Chicago's Italian Beef and Philadelphia's pork sandwich in the same family, but cheesesteaks are cheesesteaks and unique to themselves.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My friend has a car and can probably drive us out for dinner. Otherwise, I'm staying very central and on foot and public transit.

Re Reiker's:

Great. Sounds like a lot of stuff that I can buy and take home and cook for my friends with whom I'm staying.

Reiker's is in the vast and mysterious Northeast Philadelphia - a definite car trip, though Sandy could probably get you there by bus.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And thus Holly spake. And all people that were there in those times called it good. Some sandwiches were lauded higher than others still, but always people remembered to take their individual qualities unto themselves. And peace reigned over all the land for a time.

Off-topic I know, but in case anybody hasn't seen this excellent blog:

http://unbreaded.com/2009/05/11/the-kibitz...strami-pickles/

I nominate Holly for Executive Editor position immediately. Retroactive to the creation of the blog.

--

matt o'hara

finding philly

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Predictably, I will second, third and fourth the Reading Terminal Market suggestions.

The best items to get there, which are either not to be found in Manhattan or different in construction, quality or style:

Roast Pork sandwich, with greens (either rabe or spinach) and aged provolone at Tommy DiNic's.

Salumeria's hoagie. You can find a good sub in NYC, too, but if you order Salumeria's with house dressing and marinated artichokes, along with the more traditional fixings, you have a unique sandwich. I go for the proscuitto, but anything with Italian style cold cuts works.

Pretzels from Miller's Twists. Sure, NY has pretzels, and when I was a kid living in North Jersey and we took the St. George Ferry to Brooklyn or Manhattan, I loved what I called "pretzel bagels" from the vendors. But the hot pretzels slathered with butter at Miller's are beyond compare.

Check out the Pennsylvania Dutch cold cuts at L. Halteman's or Hatville Deli. You'll have to search hard to find souse in Yorkville these days. You might be able to find Lebanon bologna somewhere in NY, but it's easy here. Same goes for jellied tongue. As a general rule I prefer the quality at Halteman's, but Hatfield has a couple of worthwhile items.

Also as noted earlier, scrapple. Enjoy it for breakfast at either the Dutch Eating Place or the Down Home Diner.

You can get excellent ice cream in New York. But you'd have trouble finding Bassetts. What can be better than a dish of rum raisin from an outfit that's been in business continuously since 1861?

I'm not a big fan of the Pennsylvania Dutch style of sweet baked goods, but you can try for yourself at Beiler's.

Some other Philadelphia treats:

Tripe sandwich from George's in the 9th Street Italian market. I suspect you can get an Italian-style tripe sandwich somewhere in Manhattan, more likely Brooklyn or Queens, but you sure don't hear about that much.

(Speaking of tripe, is there anywhere in town that still serves true pepperpot soup? The one at City Tavern is beef-based.)

Snapper soup. I hope the new version of the Oyster House on Sansom Street has it. In the meantime, Snockey's does. Of course there are oysters and assorted plain fried fish and seafood at Snockey's, which you can also find in NY. But you won't find a place with the old-time fish house feel of Snockeys. There hasn't been any place like that in Manhattan since they gentrified Sweets and Whites out of business at South Street.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The new Oyster House does indeed have both Snapper Soup and Fried Oysters with Chicken Salad on the menu. I haven't had a chance to try them yet, but I certainly hope to rectify that soon!

Both of those would qualify as very Philly, probably uniquely Philly foods.

And I guess that's where the line gets blurry: there are a few things that you can ONLY find done right in Philly, like a cheesesteak or a Roast Pork Italian, or scrapple. But then there are other things that are especially good here, that have a unique local spin, such as the afore-mentioned soft pretzels in the Reading Terminal from Miller's Twists (formerly Fisher's.) They're really not the same thing as soft pretzels elsewhere. You could probably make a similar argument for hoagies: sure plenty of places make a sandwich on a long roll, but a Hoagie from Salumeria or Sarcone's or a handful of other places here has a certain local character. A hoagie is not the same as a sub sandwich, just like a Po Boy is not the same as either, there's a distinctive local spin. It's in the roll, in the particular array and proportions of ingredients, how it's dressed, etc.

Then there are just things that are very good here. if you concentrate only on fully unique-to-philly things, you'll miss out on some very good food. Ice cream from Bassetts, or Gelato from Capogiro isn't unique, it's just rockin good. We've got really good homey Italian food. I've had Burmese food in DC and in San Francisco, but even if I didn't think Philly's Rangoon is better (which I do) it's something really good here that you shouldn't miss, just because you could conceivably get it somewhere else.

Osteria makes pretty incredible pizzas and pastas and roast pork, and plenty more. Sure, you might be able to find something similar in NY, or many other cities, but it's a really enjoyable dining experience, one that I try to bring out-of-town visitors to.

And for folks that haven't been down there recently, the Italian Market has transformed completely in the last couple of years. Heck, it's really different from a few months ago! There's another Taqueria open every week it seems, most of them catering largely to new Mexican residents. I know that might not be of interest to a visiting Texan, but if there's a neighborhood in NY with an authentic Mexican restaurant every few doors for several blocks, offering goat tacos and tacos de canasta and tacos de cabeza, and tacos al pastor carved fresh off a rotating trompo, I'd like to visit it to compare.

So sure, you can get tacos elsewhere, but it has become a very interesting, very Philly thing, to go wander 9th street and pop in for a quick, cheap, delicious taco, or torta, or a plate of grilled-stuff.

Zahav has been mentioned a few times, and that's another interesting example. Of course you can get Israeli food in NY, but this place is doing an interesting modern spin on it, and most importantly, it's delicious. I don;t think you'll find anything quite like it anywhere.

Concentrating exclusively on unique things will cause you to miss some really great things. It's like not going to Katz's in NY because you can get a pastrami sandwich anywhere. Sure you can, but not like that!

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

just a follow up to philidinings post; i think it would be a shame to miss the italian market.

if you are staying with friends you could pick up a seriously good meal for reasonable cost. fresh pasta from superior ravioli or talluto's (sp?), sausages from sonny d'angelos, cheese from dibruno's, bread from sarcones, produce from any street vendor or anastasia's, the possibilites are endless. d'angelos also has unusal meats like ostrich, kangaroo, whole rabbit, etc. this would be about as authentic a philly experince as anyone could have.

while there get a panini from dibruno pronto, check out fante's cookware shop, good people watching too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Similarly, NYC can't hold a candle to a city like Houston when it comes to Vietnamese food. But whether or not it can hold a candle to Philadelphia when it comes to Vietnamese food? Probably. Same thing with some of those other categories. If Philadelphia has a couple of great Malaysian restaurants, NYC also has around the same number of Malaysian restaurants at right around the same level. But, again, 2 great Malaysian restaurants out of a total of around 30 does not seem like "a lot" to someone who lives in NYC. It seems likely that neither NYC nor Philadelphia can be counted as a "great city" for Vietnamese or Malaysian food.

Are you saying this having eaten the Vietnamese food in Philly, or are you just assuming? I've eaten Vietnamese in both cities extensively, and in my mind (and supported by most local Vietnamese I know), Philadelphia is leaps and bounds better. Philly can't compare in scale to the Vietnamese dining scenes in Houston or Orlando, but the restaurants that it does have tend to be very competent.

New York, to be perfectly honest, has embarrassingly poor Vietnamese for a city of its size, even including all the boroughs. Not only does Philly do it better on the East Coast, so do DC and Boston. Even this recent NYC banh mi fad has done little to contribute quality authentic Vietnamese food options, but the fact that they've suddenly become all the rage highlights how low the bar had previously been set.

---

al wang

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another can't miss for me: the whole roast suckling pig at Amada. I can't say for certain you can't find pig of this quality in New York, but:

- It's the best I've personally had, bar none.

- The price is very reasonable.

- I ordered this recently with a table-full of New Yorkers, and the consensus was they'd gladly make the trek down to Philly for this experience again.

---

al wang

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Al's right, that suckling pig is awesome, and quite a deal. It needs to be arranged in advance, but not too far out - I forget, a couple of days?

And thanks for the perspective on Philly vs NY Vietnamese. I don't personally have enough experience to say whether Philly's Vietnamese restaurants tend to be qualitatively better than New York's, but I do know that it's pretty easy to get good Vietnamese food here, therefore, it's become a fairly typical Philly thing to eat Vietnamese. The Bahn Mi hasn't muscled-out the hoagie or cheesesteak as our iconic sandwich yet, but in a couple of years? You never know...

Oh, and I agree with Bill, a stroll through the Italian Market shopping for dinner is pretty great. And don't skip Claudio's, either the main cheese shop or the fresh mozzarella store next door.

One tip - anywhere in the market - don't touch the vegetables. A guy could get killed for touching the vegetables. Yes, they're going to slip a couple of bruised pieces in with the good ones. Get over it. The prices are so cheap, who cares? Trim the lame ones up and put them in soup.

(edited for clarity)

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One tip - anywhere in the market -  don't touch the vegetables. A guy could get killed for touching the vegetables.  Yes, they're going to slip a couple of bruised pieces in with the good ones.  Get over it. The prices are so cheap, who cares?  Trim the lame ones up and put them in soup.

Maybe they're easier on the ladies, but I pick out my own vegetables all the time. Or maybe it varies from stand to stand. Or week vs. weekend. Worth noting though that these are not pristine pretty farmer's market vegetables. For that, go to Reading or Headhouse. A $5 crate of mangoes or 6-for-$1 red peppers, that's the Italian Market sweet spot.

Definitely shop for dinner in the Italian Market, but don't wait til dinnertime to do it. Sarcone's Bakery closes when it runs out of bread. And you don't want to miss out on the burrata at the fresh-mozz shop part of Claudio's, which is another sell-em-til-they're-gone situation. If convenience is more important, shop at the Rittenhouse DiBruno's, which is much more like a Dean & Deluca. But if you want authentic straight-up in-your-face Philly, go to the Italian Market. Brunch at Sabrina's followed by a post-lunch shopping trip for dinner ingredients, plus an hour or so whiled away poking around the kitchen implements at Fante's, and maybe a couple tacos, well, I can think of worse ways to spend half a day.

(You can also walk from the Italian Market to the Pat's/Geno's corner if you really can't stand the thought of being in Philly without eating cheesesteaks.)

Cooking and writing and writing about cooking at the SIMMER blog

Pop culture commentary at Intrepid Media

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Steven - no love for Taconelli's?  :sad:

I do love Taconelli's but I'd put it in round two. If the mission is to go to Philadelphia for the stuff that's better than New York, the list is fairly short -- at least based on what I've experienced in Philadelphia thanks to guidance from several Philadelphia-based eG people. If it's more a question of going to Philadelphia to experience a variant of something both cities do well, then the list gets a lot longer and includes Taconelli's and a lot of the other suggestions that have been made on this topic.

I don't know whether you followed my aborted "Best of Philly Review Tour" of two years ago -- my attempt to revisit every (well, almost every; does Pizza Hut deserve a review visit?) winner of Philadelphia magazine's "Best Pizza" honor since they began handing the thing out, dragging other PhillieGulleteers in tow -- but in it, I explained the mileage-based rating system I've used ever since to evaluate pizzas.

I've had to do some explaining about the highest-rated pie on the list -- one at a pizzeria in Brooklyn's Borough Park (I think) section whose name escapes me (Rich, Katie, someone else who was on that trip help me); by definition, it was a 100-mile pie, for that's about how far we drove to eat it (adding the rough distance from midtown Manhattan to the pizzeria to the 90-mile distance from New York to Philly), but people ask me, "Yeah, but how would it rate really?"

That's in part because, that pie aside, I haven't eaten a pie I'd travel more than 50 miles to eat, Tacconelli's being that 50-mile pie.

Until the Lombardo pizza I had at Osteria last Friday. (Yep, finally made it there, no thanks to the Review Tour. And were it not for the generosity of the president of the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus, who treated our Artistic Director, his partner, and any Executive Board member who wanted to come along to dinner there after the AD won an award at a new arts festival, I wouldn't have made it there Friday either.) The fried egg, sweet sausage and tangy cheese-and-sauce combo was like no pizza I've eaten anywhere else yet -- the combo worked so beautifully I didn't mind at all that it made the crispy crust soggy in the middle.

To be fair, I'm not sure there really is a 100-mile pie anywhere in the country on an ordinary scale, though that Brooklyn pie did come close. But I'd say the Osteria pie is definitely worth a 70-mile trek.

My friend has a car and can probably drive us out for dinner. Otherwise, I'm staying very central and on foot and public transit.

Re Reiker's:

Great. Sounds like a lot of stuff that I can buy and take home and cook for my friends with whom I'm staying.

Reiker's is in the vast and mysterious Northeast Philadelphia - a definite car trip, though Sandy could probably get you there by bus.

My ears are burning?

Not only by bus, but by train:

Nearest SEPTA service: Bus Route 18 (Cedarbrook to Fox Chase) eastbound from Olney Transportation Center (Olney station, Broad Street Line) or Bus Route 24 (Frankford Transportation Center to Southampton) from Frankford Transportation Center, Market-Frankford Line, to Oxford Avenue, Rhawn Street, and Pine Road. Walk back the way you came one-half block down Oxford Avenue.

Next nearest but faster SEPTA service: R8 Fox Chase Regional Rail line to Fox Chase. Turn left onto Rhawn Street at the end of the platform, then left onto Oxford, and walk one half block down Oxford. Or make your way across the parking lot behind the station shelter to Oxford Avenue; you should emerge right next to Joseph's, home of another highly regarded Philly pizza. Turn right onto Oxford and walk up one half block.

Edited to add an aside: Did I tell any of you that someone inside SEPTA is doing his level best to get me hired there?

One tip - anywhere in the market -  don't touch the vegetables. A guy could get killed for touching the vegetables.  Yes, they're going to slip a couple of bruised pieces in with the good ones.  Get over it. The prices are so cheap, who cares?  Trim the lame ones up and put them in soup.

Maybe they're easier on the ladies, but I pick out my own vegetables all the time. Or maybe it varies from stand to stand. Or week vs. weekend. Worth noting though that these are not pristine pretty farmer's market vegetables. For that, go to Reading or Headhouse. A $5 crate of mangoes or 6-for-$1 red peppers, that's the Italian Market sweet spot.

It's not just the ladies, jm chen, though it may be just on the weekends. But it is the case that more 9th Street vendors will let you not only touch, but pick out, the produce you want. I attribute the change in attitude to two factors: one is the demographic changes in both the surrounding neighborhood and the people who shop the Italian Market (both populations have become more multiethnic, and both have a higher number of more affluent members than 9th Street's traditional clientele), and the other is the addition of Asian vendors who never had the no-touch policy to the street-stall mix, along with the one 9th Street produce stand that offers consistent quality (at a higher price): Scott & Judy at the market's north end, which usually does offer pristine, pretty farmers' market vegetables at prices comparable to those at the RTM.

(You can also walk from the Italian Market to the Pat's/Geno's corner if you really can't stand the thought of being in Philly without eating cheesesteaks.)

Indeed you can, but if you've got to have a cheesesteak, why not have the best? Neither of these places are that any more.

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've held off a bit on replying cause I wanted to think it through. As a somewhat on and off life long New Yorker, with 7 years of schooling between HS in Center City and College in West Philly, this seemed like an interesting question.

Back in the day, the consensus would have gone something like this:

1) Amoroso's bread. I'm not sure if this was urban legend or not, but the theory was that every little salt/pepper/ketchup stand carried these rolls, and that this is what made Philly Philly. Whatever the bread was, it's was good and we don't have it as good on the streets here in NY.

2) Monk's. The Monk's back bar selection was stuff of legends in the late 90's, as was the Monk's burger (caramelized leeks & blue cheese) and fries. The average keg description was something like "illegal in the US, but we snuck it in" or "first time ever on American soil", great great stuff. After only a couple years this place became too crowded to go at any point other than off-hours (luckily I graduated around this time). Haven't been more than once or twice in the past 8-9 years probably, no clue what it's like now, probably more trendy but I doubt it's not still very good.

3) Cheesesteaks. Obvious, but true. Definitely not Pat's/Gino's, but almost anywhere else.

4) "Roast Pork Italian", preferably from Tony Luke's (Oregon Ave.), made with brocolli rabe (not spinach). This to me was Philly's true underground "cheesesteak".

5) Tastycakes. Much more available here now, but Philly's original treat. Butterscotch crimpets.

To that I would now add:

1) Italian Market. To me there's nothing like hitting up 9th St. on a Saturday morning. The older and richer I've gotten, the more I've gravitated towards Di Bruno brothers on trips there, but the beauty is that the food at almost any price point is great.

2) Reading Terminal Market. There's a whole thread on this place.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That would be Di Fara Pizza, 1424 Avenue J, provider of truly exceptional pies on that winter Saturday.

We Philadelphians are fortunate that Trenton is much closer than 100 miles. And I've heard stories about a spot in New Haven, but that's even more OT than pizza.

I've had to do some explaining about the highest-rated pie on the list -- one at a pizzeria in Brooklyn's Borough Park (I think) section whose name escapes me (Rich, Katie, someone else who was on that trip help me); by definition, it was a 100-mile pie, for that's about how far we drove to eat it (adding the rough distance from midtown Manhattan to the pizzeria to the 90-mile distance from New York to Philly), but people ask me, "Yeah, but how would it rate really?"

Charlie, the Main Line Mummer

We must eat; we should eat well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...