Must Try Food

Philly’s Local Fares: Iconic Food You Shouldn’t Miss Out On

Philadelphia is a large metropolitan area in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is home to about seven million people and welcomes millions of local and foreign tourists every year. In the art scene, Philly is known as the city with the most outdoor sculptures and murals in the United States. Skyscrapers, urban parks, and historical landmarks dot the streets of Philadelphia. But there’s more to Philly than these amazing structures.

In the local food scene, Philly is known to be the home of such iconic staples as the cheesesteak, hoagie, water ice, soft pretzel, and the Philadelphia Pepper Pot. There are several other local dishes that you should try during your trip to Philadelphia, but the ones mentioned here are non-negotiable—a definite must-try!

Today, let’s try the cheesesteak and hoagie.

The Philly Cheesesteak

Cheesesteak is by far the most iconic food in Philly. It’s a sandwich made with a crusty roll, beef slices, and cheese. Looks simple, right? You’re probably thinking it’s something you can make yourself at home. But it’s the blending of the flavors that’s hard to duplicate. There have been a lot of attempts to duplicate the Philly cheesesteak, and none have been successful so far.

There are three types of cheeses that you can choose from: Chiz Whiz, American, and Provolone. The sandwich was invented by accident by a hotdog vendor back in 1930. Pat Olivieri decided one day to add some beef slices on his grill, and the aroma so enticed a taxi driver that he asked for a steak sandwich. Legend says that more cab drivers pulled up at his hotdog stand demanding the steak sandwich. Pat eventually put up a sandwich shop (Pat’s King of Steaks) to sell his now-famous steak sandwich. He later added cheese to add variety to the sandwich.

Pat’s King of Steaks still stands today and is still run by the Olivieri family. So head to Pat’s for the original cheesesteak.

There’s also a specific way to order the sandwich. Say you want one Chiz Whiz cheesesteak sandwich with fried onions. Instead of saying the entire phrase, simply say, “one whiz with” and the guy behind the counter will immediately know what you want. You want two sandwiches with Provolone cheese without the onions? Say, two Provolone without.”

The Hoagie

The hoagie is also a type of sandwich that was said to have Italian-American origins. The story goes that Italians were working at a WWI-era shipyard in Hog Island. The Italians used different varieties of sliced meat, cheeses, and lettuce and spread all of these on Italian bread. The sandwich came to be known as Hog Island sandwich, later shortened to “hoagie.”

Today, the hoagie can be served in a variety of ways. Cold cuts with roasted or fried long and thin medium-hot peppers (which locals refer to as “long-hot”), and pickled cherry peppers stuffed with Provolone cheese or prosciutto or both. Others add mayo into the mix, but if you want the authentic experience, skip the mayo and stick with olive oil.

Head to Primo Hoagies for the real deal.

Kindly stay tuned for Part 2 of this food post.