Orange foods have been popping up all over Philly this month, thanks to the city's new obsession — Gritty, the Flyers' googly eyed, popcorn-dumping mascot. He's inspired everything from a short-lived doughnut at Dottie's Donuts to multiple cheesesteaks to — wait for it — a Dorito-flavored ice cream sandwich from Big Gay Ice Cream dusted in Doritos crumbs. (It gave one of my colleagues a stomachache, so you've been warned.)
Although some of the Gritty foods looked, well, questionable at best, I tried them all and ranked them in order of tastiness and "Grittiness," or how well the dish captures the essence of Gritty himself.
Mac Mart's "Gritty" mac and cheese was easily the most cohesive dish of the bunch, but let's be real — can you ever go wrong with mac and cheese? It features shoestring fries topped with the restaurant's signature seven cheese mac, buffalo sauce, buttermilk ranch, and Cheetos crunch. Unfortunately, they ran out of fries and Cheetos when I went to sample the Gritty mac, so Mac Mart suggested I go with the closest option: the "In the Buff" mac with buffalo sauce, chicken, buttermilk ranch, and potato chip crunch. It was a mess but it packed a flavor punch, just like our favorite orange mascot. If he ever decides to take a break from snacking on popcorn at the Wells Fargo Center, we'd recommend he check this dish out.
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, 104 S. 18th St., $9.75, 215-444-6144, macmartcart.com
This South Philly joint has added a Gritty twist to its popular brisket cheesesteak by topping it with Cooper sharp wiz, fried onions, lettuce, tomato, special sauce, and potato sticks on a long roll. The brisket was tender, the wiz tasted like real melted liquid cheese and didn't harden into lumps, and the potato sticks added texture that reminded me of Gritty's fur. I was especially impressed by the roll, which held everything together nicely without turning soggy. This was one mean, sloppy sandwich, like Gritty, and I'm willing to bet it'll taste even better after a couple of beers. It's a win in my book.
Noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, 1703 S. 11th St., $12.50, 267-831-2040, mikesbbqphilly.com
Cheesesteaks are quintessentially Philadelphia, and Joe's Steaks & and Soda Shop usually cooks up a pretty mean one. But its Gritty cheesesteak was not our favorite, simply because the "Gritty" ingredient — Cheetos — didn't add anything to the sandwich besides crunch and bright orange color. (It was made with traditional cheesesteak ingredients: steak, wiz, and raw onions.) But I immediately knew after one bite this was food Gritty would approve of because of how excessive it was. As for humans? Stick to regular cheesesteaks unless you absolutely love Cheetos.
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Wednesdays, 11 a.m. to midnight Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 1 W. Girard Ave., $9.25, 215-423-5637, joessteaks.com
The Naked Lunch counter is selling a Gritty quinoa bowl topped with spinach, black olives, feta cheese, sweet potatoes, shredded carrots, and roasted red pepper dressing. Upon first glance, it definitely captures the mascot's most recognizable physical features. Though tasty and healthy with a pleasingly gritty texture, I believe Gritty would enjoy dumping the bowl's contents on the heads of non-Flyers fans more than eating it. But if you're looking to celebrate him and eat clean at the same time, which is difficult given that most Gritty-themed food items are junk, this is a delicious option.
11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, 34 S. 11th St., $9.75, 215-709-0022, momsorganicmarket.com
This 13th Street bakery is selling Gritty cupcakes by advance order for $5 each. At first, the cupcakes — which are frosted meticulously to look like the mascot — were in the display case, but they sold out faster than staff members could make them. Luckily, when we dropped by, Sweet Box had an extra one from an order, and a staffer frosted it for me on the spot. Visually, it is stunning and the cutest Gritty food item in the mix. But the cupcake was unremarkable and the extra frosting from Gritty's beard and face made it overwhelming. But if you're looking to be a hit at your next Flyers party, orders have to be placed at least three days in advance. Call the bakery or email it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, 339 S. 13th St., $5, 215-237-4647, shopsweetbox.com
Easily the most outrageous of all the Gritty foods we sampled are "Gritty Pucksters" from Big Gay Ice Cream. The ice cream sandwiches are made from Doritos ice cream and two chocolate cookies, and is rolled in Doritos crumbs. I held out hope that it would blow my mind with its unconventional mix of flavors, but that hope quickly dissipated when I took a bite. The Doritos crumb dusting is the dominant flavor, making it a confusing dessert. I would recommend it only to people who like the aftertaste of processed cheese with their ice cream. But Big Gay Ice Cream gets points for creativity, and I'd love to see Gritty try one of these.