Moving to Philly for college from anywhere else in the country can leave you feeling like you need to learn a whole new language just to order a sandwich, but don't worry because by the end of this article you will feel like you've been living in Philly since way before it became home to the Super Bowl Champs! This article shares the most important Philly food slang so that you can order your cheesesteak with the confidence of not looking like a tourist. 

Part 1: Sandwiches


The first and most important rule of Philly Food Slang 101: do not ever call a hoagie anything other than a hoagie, unless you want to be judged on the spot and told to go back to wherever you came from. A hoagie is called a sub in many other parts of the country, but not in Philly- and especially not at Wawa (not just your normal gas station) where during the summer Hoagiefest lasts for over two months. In case you're still confused at what a hoagie is, it consists of a good roll filled with meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and oil, or really whatever your heart desires. The roll is the most important part of the hoagie and is preferably from a local Philly bakery. After eating Philly rolls for a while you might not be able to go back to whatever you ate before moving here. 


That brings me to my second point of another Philly sandwich -the Cheesesteak- which is not considered a hoagie, despite being made up of a roll filled with sliced meat and cheese. The cheesesteak is what Philly is best known for in addition to being the founding place of our country and the home of Rocky, but we're here to talk food.

The cheesesteak ordering process is where you it really shows if you are a local or visiting tourist. This is probably the hardest of all Philly food slang to master. When ordering a cheesesteak you have to first specify the type of cheese, I personally go with American, but to get the full experience order "whiz". The second part is if you would like to add fried onion on, you say "wit" if not, you say "witout". So, "whiz wit" will give you a cheesesteak topped with cheese whiz- the orange cheese you have likely seen served on nachos in elementary school and fried onions. Or you could order what I do, "American witout" and be served a cheesesteak with american cheese and no fried onion. If the options all sound good to you, bring a friend to show off your new ordering skills off to and split one "whiz-wit" and one "american-witout" or whatever other combo you want. 

There are way too many great cheesesteak places in the city for me to tell you the best. A personal favorite of mine is Dalessandro's in Roxborough, but plenty of other good and great cheesesteaks can be found much closer to Drexel's campus. Check out the many, many guides online to find your favorite-- just remember how to order properly!

Roast Pork Sandwiches

Our final Philly sandwich is the Roasted Pork sandwich, which is kinda like the cheesesteak's slightly less well-known cousin. Another amazing sandwich that is served on a good Philly roll stuffed with meat and many times cheese and veggies. My favorite place to get my roasted pork sandwich fix is DiNic's Roast Pork in Reading Terminal Market, I order mine with provolone. Don't worry it is much simpler to order than a cheesesteak, you don't have to remember any specific Philly slang to do so. 

Part 2: Carbs that are NOT sandwiches

Soft Pretzels

Another Philly famous food that is only done well within the greater Philadelphia area; the soft pretzel. There's no specific Philly food slang that goes with ordering these carbo-loaded delicacies, just know that there are few things better in life than a hot soft pretzel. 

Tomato Pie

Unless you are from the Philadelphia area, you might think that I am talking about pizza when I say tomato pie- but this is different. Tomato pie is square and consists of tomato sauce on top of a thicker dough and sprinkled with a bit of parmesan cheese. The best tomato pie you can get is from Corropolese Italian Bakery. All I've got to say is don't knock it til you try it.


Jimmies are the best topping you can put onto soft serve ice-cream. They are long, oval, soft sprinkles that come in rainbow or chocolate. Next time you go out to for some ice-cream make sure to get those rainbow jimmies on top.

Water Ice

Water ice, or wooder-ice depending on how thick of a Philly accent the speaker has, is a Philly specialty. Called Italian ice in some other regions of the country, water ice is a refreshing treat during the hot and humid summer months. Rita's always has a wide variety of flavors that you are bound to be find one that you like, but to get the real Philly water ice experience head to John's Water Ice in South Philly. 

Part 3: Breakfast Meats

Pork Roll

Pork Roll is called Taylor Ham in most parts of North Jersey, but in Philly it is Pork Roll and if you say otherwise you can head back to Giants territory while us Eagles fans keep all the pork roll to ourselves. Pork Roll is one of the many breakfast meat options that you can add to your egg sandwich at the many food trucks and diners around Drexel's campus or Philly in general. It is similar to Canadian bacon but way better. Next time you're trying to mix up your breakfast sandwich order, try it with Pork Roll instead of bacon. 


Scrapple is another Philly specific breakfast meat. It is similar to a hot dog where you do not really want to know what it is made of. It is pork and served as a rectangle cut of meat normally with eggs or any other type of food you would find in a diner. Scrapple has a loyal fan base, but also many nay-sayers. If you want to call yourself a true Philadelphia- try some scrapple. But nobody will judge you if you also choose that just knowing about the mysterious meat is enough for you.

With all of this knowledge, you can now impress anyone that you meet with your Philly food slang and sound like a Philly native when ordering anything from a cheesesteak to some wooder-ice or ice-cream with jimmies.