The traditional Philly hoagie, a mammoth, made-to-order sandwich stuffed with deli meats and cheese, has undergone many changes ever since its invention during the Great Depression. Now, fillings range from traditional ham and turkey to tuna, chicken cutlets, roasted vegetables, and even vegan varieties.
While the origin of the ubiquitous hoagie sandwich is often debated, the most popular legend is that an unemployed Philadelphian named Al DePalma went to Hog Island to find work on the shipyard during the Great Depression. When he saw workers on their lunch breaks eating giant sandwiches, his first thought was, "Those fellas look like a bunch of hogs." Instead of applying for a job, he decided to open up his own luncheonette and listed the sandwiches on his menu as "hoggies." But customers kept calling them "hoagies," so he eventually changed the name.
Get a traditional hoagie filled with deli meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and onions, and oregano-vinegar dressing at Sarcone’s, a chain of delis serving freshly baked seeded rolls. Try Sarcone’s Italian Market (hot capicola, turkey breast, roasted peppers, sharp provolone) or the Junk Yard Special (turkey, prosciutto, sautéed spinach, roasted peppers, mozzarella, and sharp provolone).
Get a bánh mì, a Vietnamese-style hoagie at Nhu Y, Viet Tofu, and Q.T. Vietnamese Sandwich in Bella Vista and Fu-Wah Mini Market in West Philly. The Vietnamese version is a sandwich on a baguette that is filled with grilled pork or sausage, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumbers, cilantro, chile peppers, pâté, mayonnaise, and fish sauce.
For a vegan hoagie, head to Society Hill’s Blackbird Pizzeria where the sandwich is filled with creamy chickpea salad and embellished with artichokes, lettuce, tomato, and onion and served on a Baker Street vegan roll. The South Philadelphia Tap Room also serves a lean vegan hoagie that is stuffed with grilled tempeh, marinated mushrooms, and tofu mayonnaise.