Philly’s Other (Better) Sandwich

The roast pork sandwich John's Roast Pork.
The roast pork sandwich John's Roast Pork. Jason Varney

Visitors to Philadelphia are often advised to sample a cheesesteak at either Pat’s King of Steaks or its neighboring rival Geno’s Steaks – this weekend, as the U.S. Open descends on the city, the lines will be long. Ignore these City of Brotherly Love staples. It’s not a steak sandwich you should be seeking, but another local (though hardly lo-cal) meat-filled creation: the roast pork sandwich.

There are many interpretations, but almost all use thin slices of pork (slow cooked in its juices), broccoli rabe or spinach (heavy on the garlic), and provolone cheese. The result is an intense flavor profile – savory, acidic, sharp – that’s earned raves from diehard foodies. The version created at John’s Roast Pork (pictured), a tiny shop situated in a nondescript industrial zone, won a James Beard Award for culinary excellence in 2006. The variant made at Tommy Dinic’s – located in the Reading Terminal Market, an urban palace of foodstuffs, itself worthy of an afternoon’s wandering – was recently judged by the Travel Channel as “the best sandwich in America.”

Still think a cheesesteak should be an essential part of the Philly experience? Fine. Do yourself a favor and head to Tony Luke’s.

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