It doesn’t take much searching to find a solid hoagie in Philly: corner stores, buzzy bars and standby delis have been serving the goods for generations. At hoagie shops throughout the area, options range from classic Italian hoagies on seeded rolls to vegan-friendly hoagies on baked-that-day bread. Here’s a list of some of our favorite hoagies in Philadelphia:
Everyone covets a hoagie secret, that corner deli that locals know but never mention because they want it for themselves. Well, brothers Tommy and Mike Palestino made it 35 years before their South Philly corner, and particularly the fiery Inferno (an imported-meat Italian hoagie laced with fat-marbled “gabagool” and the extra kick of a long hot), came to our attention. As for where they get their rolls, that is still a secret.
Those who miss Salumeria from the Reading Terminal can find the elusive taste of its signature balsamic dressing once again at this artisan deli in South Kensington, launched by former Salumeria employee Matt Budenstein and PJ Hopkins of Brine Street Picklery. The must-order here, though, is the Mortabella, a mortadella, burrata, pistachio pesto creation that began as a collaboration with the city’s own Hoagie Dom and turned into a menu staple.
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Veteran delis like South Philly’s Pastificio Deli have been mentioned many times, but, if you want to taste the art of the hoagie in its purest, most earnest form, you can’t go wrong with a standby. Here, imported meats are carefully layered with sharp provolone and just the right amount of shredded veggies for a zesty signature with balance and bite.
This fun-loving Kensington gastropub has always been on the avant-hoagie-garde, its “vegan jawn” sparked by a brilliant “coppa” terrine of fermented carrots, the sweet smoke of Lancaster bologna tangling with pineapple mustard for Da Dutchie. There are plenty of options for vegetarians, vegans, and meat-eaters at this shop, and there’s plenty of wine and draft beer to wash it all down, too.
Yet another hot pizzeria to raise the hoagie standard by baking its own rolls, Angelo’s makes tasty sandwiches that are as much a draw as its pies. The shop serves prosciutto-forward options in addition to an olive oil-drizzled tuna hoagie and a three-cheese sandwich ideal for those who aren’t down with meat. The ordering rules are strict: call to order, pick-up and cash-only.
Cosmi’s fan base is wide, hitting high on many best-of lists, and includes Roots drummer Amir “Questlove” Thompson, who admitted to the Hollywood Reporter a few years ago that a stop at the deli for a honey-roasted turkey hoagie was his guilty pleasure. The shop makes both meat-driven and vegetarian hoagies with options including the Italian hoagie and chicken cutlet hoagie being very popular.
Dattilo’s Deli is a mainstay source in the Rhawnhurst neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia for hoagies, in-house mozzarella and fresh-made sausages — and its classic Italian hoagie is one of the city’s best. Or go for the deli’s “Main Event” with marinated artichokes and peppers at that Craig LaBan described as “practically an antipasto platter on a roll.”
“We literally slice every item on a hoagie to order, so it also takes time — at least five minutes — to make one,” says Cara Jo Castellino, whose self-named corner store in Fishtown is one of the high practitioners of mindful hoagie art. Castellino’s hoagies are essentially still old-soul sandwiches but with smart updated twists. The Adronos, named for the Sicilian god of fire, embodies spice in a combo of hot capicola and sopressata, peppercorn asiago, and cherry peppers. The Fig Pig plays sweet on salty with fig jam and prosciutto. No option, though, reflects the meticulously crafted anatomy of a Castellino’s hoagie quite like the classic Italian.
Philadelphia has a long tradition of great fried seafood sandwiches, especially in North Philly, where standbys like the Muslim fish hoagie at Sister Muhammad’s Kitchen in Germantown rank among the city’s most popular sandwiches.
Dan’s Fresh Meats
Venerable Dan’s Fresh Meats has long-anchored Frankford Avenue with one of the best sliced-to-order classics around. At Dan’s, they still build a hoagie by slicing Italian meats and cheeses directly onto the roll, with a fresh olive oil drizzle to finish. Simple and fresh, it satisfies in the most elemental Philly way.
📍2000 Frankford Ave., 🕑 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Mon.-Sat., 🚗 pick-up only
A zep is like a hoagie, but it’s not. It’s sort of like the South Philly hoagie’s Norristown cousin. And as with many Philly classics, the zep’s exact origin story is debated, but a few things about the zep are certain: You don’t mix meats on the sandwich (cooked Hatfield salami is standard, though the tuna fish salad is a sleeper hit); the onion and tomato are cut extra thick; there’s a nice zesty smear of hot pepper relish; and there’s absolutely never, ever any lettuce. There aren’t many zep-makers left in the area, but Eve’s Lunch in Norristown is a winner.
The space that now houses Antonio’s Deli has deep hoagie roots – it’s the former spot of Chickie’s Italian Deli, a South Philly sandwich shop that had a two-decade-long run. Antonio’s uses fresh Sarcone’s bread for its sandwiches, including its star eggplant-rich veggie hoagie.
Joshua Coston (a former Amtrak conductor) opened Gilben’s Bakery in East Mount Airy with his cousin Crystal Brown at the helm. Chef Coston’s menu of seafood po’ boys became a phenomenon on its own, in particular, the fantastic fried salmon and shrimp po’boy. While not exactly a hoagie, the crusty bread and flavor-packed filling make it a must-eat in our book.
This Center City sandwich shop serves a range of sandwiches, including two excellent hoagie options. Middle Child’s best hoagie – the Phoagie – is a vegan masterpiece of hoisin-roasted eggplant rounds layered with chili paste, crispy onions, and cilantro. It’s essentially a bowl of vegetarian pho on a bun. The “So Long Sal” is a more traditional Italian hoagie, and, with its artichoke spread, is a heartfelt tribute to the Reading Terminal’s bygone Salumeria.
Northeast Philly sandwich institution Fink’s Hoagies is loved for its original Italian hoagie, which comes schmeared with olive spread and topped with sharp provolone. The deli has both traditional hoagies, like tuna and turkey, and gourmet hoagies named for different parts of the Northeast, like the Tacony (roast beef, fresh asparagus, sharp provolone and balsamic vinegar) and the Holmesburg (prosciutto, roasted peppers, roasted garlic, sharp provolone, oil and vinegar, and seasonings).
When Craig LaBan craves a classic Italian hoagie, his first stop is often Lil’ Nick’s near 13th and Shunk, with its spicy meats, seeded roll, and well-built craftsmanship. The sandwiches with fresh cutlets, fried to order in pans behind the counter, are old-school good. Craig’s tip: Make it a deluxe with fresh “pro-shoot and mozz.”
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