There are some folks who take sandwiches for granted, but we’re willing to bet those folks aren’t chefs. Creating a well-crafted sandwich is all about finding balance, layering flavors and careful sourcing, a process identical to what happens when coming up with less pedestrian menu items. With this in mind, we tapped Philly’s best chefs to see what sandwiches struck the right tune. Here’s a look at our line-up of chef-approved, Philly-found sandwiches.
Roast Pork Banh Mi at Ba Le Bakery
This Washington Avenue grab-and-go was an overwhelming winner with chefs Ian Boothman of Cheu Noodle Bar, Erin O’Shea of Percy Street BBQ and Luke Palladino nominating its roast pork–filled Vietnamese hoagie (pictured below). Paladin constantly craves the sandwich, citing the well-balanced sweetness of the pork paired with fiery jalapeños and bright cilantro. O’Shea, however, says it’s all about that house-baked bread.
606 Washington Ave.; 215-389-4305
Roast Pork at John’s Roast Pork
This iconic South Philly spot was nominated by chefs Peter Woolsey of Bistro La Minette and Le Peg, Paul Martin of SOUTH Kitchen + Jazz Parlor and self-proclaimed sandwich artist Scott Schroeder of the newly opened Hungry Pigeon — not to mention Philly’s own Iron Chef, Jose Garces. “The sandwiches are borderline too sloppy, and the counter service is always entertaining,” says Martin, referring to the no-nonsense line and seasoned (and occasionally surly) staff. Woolsey shared some important insider intel: “Go there with a friend; get a cheesesteak (pictured below) and a roast pork sandwich, and go halvsies on each one. This is the most consistently good cheesesteak in Philadelphia. The roast pork ain’t too shabby either.”
14 E. Snyder Ave.; 215-463-1951
Torta de Lengua at Prima Pizza Taqueria Mexicana
Located in the Italian Market, this hybrid pizzeria-taco joint is an industry favorite for its late-night hours and mashed-up menu. Abe Fisher chef Yehuda Sichel’s go-to is a monster torta de lengua with slow-braised beef tongue on a telera roll with pickled jalapeños, refried beans, onions, mayo, avocado and (wait for it…) french fries. According to Sichel, this sandwich is hands-down dynamite.
1104 S. Ninth St.; 215-339-5000
Cheesesteak at Steve’s Prince of Steaks
Food trucker turned Revolution Taco restaurateur Michael Sultan went with a nostalgic pick from this chrome and tile Northeast institution. Sure, he’s got fond memories of growing up with the owner’s daughter. (“Every time I eat here, I get nostalgic for high school days,” says Sultan.) But it’s the well-constructed nature of this particular steak that’s worth the drive for Sultan. Unlike most places that chop their meat to death, Steve uses recognizable slices of rib-eye and a housemade cheese sauce that’s not from a can.
7200 Bustleton Ave.; 215-338-0985
Subs at White House Sub Shop
With restaurants in Philly and Atlantic City, chef Michael Schulson’s pick is a Springsteen-caliber Jersey classic: subs from White House. Schulson is a fan of anything on the menu; he says it's the bread that makes these overstuffed (don’t call ‘em) hoagies (pictured above). But bread and cold cuts aside, there’s something about White House’s signature pepper relish that really brings these sandwiches together.
2301 Arctic Ave., Atlantic City, NJ; 609-345-1564
Arista at Paesano’s
There might be a few locations of this new-school sandwich emporium, but for chef Marcie Turney of 13th Street fame, the Girard Avenue spot is where its at. She loves the suckling-pig hoagie (pictured above) with sharp provolone, broccoli rabe and long hots. “You have to go to this location where the sandwich master is an older fella wearing his white v-neck,” says Turney. But be warned: “He will he put you in your place if you try to rush the process.” Turney’s optimal time slot to grab her favorite sandwich is sometime during the late afternoon when you can easily snag a counter seat and watch as the staff pulls the suckling pigs straight out of the oven.