It’s called a hoagie. Many cities stake a claim to the sandwich served on a long Italian roll with cheese, meat, veggies, oil and vinegar, with impostors like New York City’s “hero” or Boston’s “grinder” claiming their sandwiches as the true, original version of the ubiquitous meat-and-bread combo. Philadelphians recognize these imitators for what they are – pretenders to the Northeast sandwich throne on which the hoagie reigns supreme.
While native Philadelphians adamantly agree that the hoagie is the ultimate American sandwich, there are some internal disagreements on where you can find Philly’s best hoagie. If you ask ten different people in Philly where you can find the best hoagie, you’ll probably get ten different, and equally passionate, answers. To make things easier, we’ve gone on the search for Philly’s best hoagie and posted our results below. Needless to say, Subway didn’t make the cut:
Primo Hoagies (multiple locations, but 2043 Chestnut Street is closest to the Independent Hotel) – A chain with locations across Philly and the surrounding area, they’re one of the few chains that uses real, crusty, seeded Italian bread. The sandwiches are bare bones and perfect for people who just want to focus on the meat – they don’t come with lettuce or tomato unless specifically requested. Try one of their many Italian hoagie variants or a “Diablo,” a hot and spicy hoagie made with Primo’s signature blend of spices.
Sarcone’s Deli (734 S. 9th Street) – A legend in South Philadelphia’s famous Italian Market, Sarcone’s bakery supplies fresh bread to restaurants, delis and corner stores around the city (including Little Nonna’s, located below The Independent). If you want to go right to the source for your hoagie, Sarcone’s is the place to go. The Old-Fashioned Italian hoagie at Sarcone’s is about as authentic as you can get.
Paesano’s (1017 S. 9th Street or 152 W. Girard Avenue) –With sandwiches like the Liveracce (seared beef liver, salami, sautéed onions, iceberg lettuce, roasted tomatoes, garlic mayo, hot sauce and gorgonzola) and the Daddy Wad (an Italian Hoagie with Sweet & Hot Peppers, Sharp provolone, Tomato, Onion, Hot Copa, Pickles & Arugula), Paesano’s hoagies are anything but traditional and old-fashioned. A must if you’re near their locations at the Italian Market or in Northern Liberties.
Cosmi’s Deli (1501 S. 8th Street) – Serving monster hoagies with the perfect ratio of meat to veggies, Cosmi’s is a South Philly favorite. Small, out of the way, and unassuming, you would never guess that this place is a hoagie mecca. Order the Godfather – a hefty Italian hoagie with mozzarella, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, olives and balsamic vinegar.
Pastificio (1528 Packer Avenue) – Like your sandwiches hot and spicy? Pastificio’s Inferno hoagies are right up your alley. This South Philly Italian specialty store, located across from Chickie’s and Pete’s near Philadelphia’s stadium complex, serves seriously hot sandwiches like the Chicken Cutlet Inferno, made with hot pepper cheese and friend long hots. Also try any hoagie made with Pastificio’s mozzarella, which is made fresh and in-house.
Koch’s Deli (4309 Locust Street) – The loan West Philly option on our list, Koch’s mixes hoagies with classic Jewish deli food. Come with an appetite and try the Jewish Hoagie, an enormous monster of a sandwich loaded with corned beef, pastrami, spiced beef that’s only available at Koch’s, kosher salami, American cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and banana peppers on an Amoroso roll. If you’re in town to visit Penn or Drexel, Koch’s is conveniently located right down the street in University City.