Whenever I’m traveling up north, I usually try to turn my road trip into some foodie fun. And one of my favorite spots has been Philadelphia which is conveniently located off of I-95 with tons of great food! Several years back I managed to hit up John’s Roast Pork which was stellar, despite a substantial wait. On my latest trip to NYC, it was Tony Luke’s for lunch on my way back to NC. Here’s what to expect if you drop in!
First of all, Tony Luke’s Original is SUPER convenient off the highway, sitting in the shadow of the I-95 overpass which I parked under. You can’t miss the sprawling storefront: bright red signage, red awning poles, and a big cartoon image of baby Ben Franklin. Tony Luke’s covers a broad array of hoagies and while I’m certainly excited for the cheesesteaks, I’m ordering up my fave chicken cutlet sandwich for good measure ($12 range)! It takes about 15 minutes and I’m handed over two, tightly wrapped rolls in Tony Luke’s wax paper. I hop back into my car for the ride back to Raleigh and it’s time to eat.
Since I’m on the road, I have to wait until I’m on the highway and in the clear to start my lunch. These sandwiches are hefty with quite a bit of weight and mass! I start with my Pizza Steak which is a cheesesteak with mozz and light marinara sauce (gravy). The rolls are nicely baked and slightly crusty with a soft interior. As I bite into the pizza steak, it gets messy pretty quickly! The steak is nicely grilled but not super caramelized and presented more as slices vs chopped steak. The sandwich is well constructed with cheese in every bite, yum! But the winner out of the two is the chicken cutlet in parm style. Same deal, mozzarella cheese, gravy on two hefty, fried chicken filets. It’s a mouthful and a half, very classic and pleasing in flavor. I manage a couple of bites before I put the hoagie down to save for later, after I get off the road.
While I’m a fan of Tony Luke’s, I still have to give a nod to John’s Roast Pork which is right up the road. These sandwiches were satisfying and excellent but didn’t take it to the next level quite like John’s did. But if we had anything this good in the NC Triangle, I’d be there pretty often! While the sandwich game in the Triangle is rapidly improving, it’s still hard to get this quality level of hoagie in Raleigh and Durham. (Note: PrimoHoagies a small Philly chain has recently opened in North Hills, Raleigh) And I’d have to say I preferred the chicken cutlet hoagie to Tony Luke’s classic cheesesteak. Take it for what you will as a non-native Philadelphian, buon appetito!