Part of the reason I came to school in Philly was because of its food scene. It was the foreign land of cheesesteaks and pretzels and old school Italian hoagies and I wanted in. Looking back I was beyond naive as to what Philly’s food scene is actually like. It’s innovative, kind of has this underdog attitude and is everything but uptight. It’s a place where you can have a 9 course tasting menu at one of the best Italian restaurants in the country and then walk a few blocks and eat at a hummus bar for lunch, stopping to inhale a falafel from a food cart and a donut from an ancient covered market on your way. And cheesesteaks are not the end all be all. In fact, Philly has another famous sandwich —roast pork.
Turns out the cheesesteak has competition; a guns blazing smoking hot meaty competitor. Hot roast pork plopped on a long roll with long hots, bitter greens and sharp provolone and appropriately drenched in steaming pork juice makes for one hell of a sandwich. The greens add a peppery bite and the cheese is only slightly melted and while you might think you don’t like your sandwich wet and dripping pork juice you are wrong. While you might be inundated with cheesesteaks on every corner, most spots that sell cheesesteaks also do roast pork sammies too.
My current favorite is George’s, hidden unassumingly in the Italian market. A humble window lets you peek inside and see hotel pans brimming with steaming meats, smoking sauces and gravies and stacked piles of sautéed greens. I consider this sandwich nearly perfect. The addition of chopped raw onions makes for a crunchy finish and the nixing of greens was hardly noticed. It’s wet and drippy in the best way possible and will be best enjoyed with a bib.
Next time you’re feeling like flaunting your Philly pride, put that cheesesteak aside and give the pork a chance.
George’s Sandwich Shop
Address: 900 South 9th St.
Hours: Tue-Fri, 9 am – 5:30 pm, Sat 9 am – 5 pm, Sun 9 am – 2pm