What: This simple, savory, built-to-order sandwich—similar to a grinder or hero, the subs of New Jersey, or the po’boys of New Orleans—is commonly filled with cold Italian meats and cheeses, plus lettuce, tomato, and onion (and hot peppers, if you prefer). The backstory of its name isn’t clear, but it seems to have stemmed from “hoggies,” possibly in reference to Italian immigrants in the Hog Island area of Philadelphia (and the sandwiches they’d eat).
Where: Housed in a former butcher shop, family-owned Cosmi’s Deli (1501 South 8th St., map) in South Philly is just a regular old local’s sandwich shop—but one that makes award-winning hoagies of high-quality meats on delicious, locally baked bread.
When: Mon-Sat, 10am-9pm; Sun, 11am-7pm
Order: A traditional Italian ($6.95-$8.95; DiLusso salami, mortadella, hot capicola, mild provolone, lightly dressed in oil and vinegar) or the South Philly Italian ($7.50-$9.50; same, with addition of prosciutto) is a good way to go, but this is personal preference, folks. Get anything from homemade baked ham to low-fat turkey breast to honey BBQ chicken in your sandwich here. (Incidentally, Cosmi’s cheesesteaks have also won awards.) For most sandwiches, you have the choice of a “hoagie roll” or a slightly harder “seeded bread” (the pricier option, but recommended) from two local bakeries: Carangi’s and Sarcone’s.
Alternatively: In South Philly, Sarcone’s Deli (734 South 9th St., map) is another great option; hoagies are made with their own fresh-baked Italian bread (the bakery is a few doors down; if you pass it in the morning, try a slice of the amazing square tomato pie). Closer to Center City, there’s Primo Hoagies (multiple locations, including 2043 Chestnut St., map) or Salumeria in Reading Terminal Market (51 North 12th St., map), which we hear makes a terrific Italian hoagie (get the mustardy house dressing and artichokes!).