Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Los Gallos

951 Wolf Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 551-1245

I have heard the buzz about Los Gallos, but I hadn't happened upon an opportunity to stray too far from my local Mexican fix, Los Jalapeno's. Last weekend, I decided "enough is enough," and I made time for some lunchtime Mexican food, outside of the comfort of my own neighborhood. Good choice, if I do say so myself.

Although it isn't much to look at (I would be wary if it was), there is a small clean Mexican grocery store, and towards the rear, a counter at which to order. The owner is very friendly, and passionate about his food. It is kind of expensive for a Mexican spot in South Philly, but the price is worth the freshness and quality of ingredients. The chips and pico were above and beyond what I had expected. The salsa is light, fresh, loaded with citrus, and packed with avocado chunks. I was certainly glad I opted for this over the guacamole, as it was the best of both worlds. At $6, it was a bit pricey, but well worth it for the freshness of the dip.

I had to order a torta because I love a good sandwich (and they don't have burritos), and the Cubano was calling my name. For some reason, the red and green salsa's are served with the tortas but not the tacos. Either way, the salsas were spectacular. The green salsa reminded me of the avocado based sauce that every taco stand on the Baja serves with their fare. Delicious. The red was more of the smokey, spicy sauce that you would expect from a Mexican place.

The Cubano comes wrapped in wax paper, which is awfully helpful when trying to keep this beast of a sandwich together.

It was kind of expensive at $9. However for your money, it came packed with breaded fried beef, shredded pork, ham, refried beans, avocado, onions, creamy Mexican queso, jalapenos, lettuce, tomato and mayo. This sandwich is huge, even by my standards.

The bread on it is delicious. Light, crusty and exactly what is called for when assembling a torta of this caliber. It was perfectly put together, and all of the ingredients married in perfect harmony. Definitely the best torta I have had in Philadelphia. Which leads me to the al pastor tacos. At $6.50 (with queso) they were a great deal. Stuffed to the max, they contained perfectly smokey spicy pork, large chunks of fresh pineapple, chopped onion and cilantro. Garnished with radish, grilled jalapeno and lime wedges, these were some serious tacos. The tortillas were fresh, grilled and perfect, while the ingredients came together better than any other pastor tacos I have tasted South of Washington. Seriously. This place has it going on. For the time being (burritos aside), this is my favorite Mexican place in Philly. A tall order, to be sure, but one that Los Gallos fills quite nicely.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Reading Terminal Market
Philadelphia, PA 19107

Reading Terminal tends to get crowded. Really crowded. But as touristy as it may be, it has a spectacular selection of delicious foods. They even have one of the lightest, freshest hoagies around. Well Salumeria does, to be exact.

One side of the stand sells imported cheeses, olives, oils, and meats. The other side serves delicious made-to-order hoagies.

The first thing you will be asked is if you want house spread. Unless you are allergic to deliciousness (or dijon mustard), get it. You will then get your choice of a gamut of toppings. They brush the bottom of the bread with a healthy dose of their house Dijon Vinaigrette, add the lettuce first, and then start with the cheese. You have to ask for sharp prov ($.50 extra) and it's well worth it. They give you a thick layer of cheese to complement the meats they pre-slice that get slapped on from wax paper. Nothing too crazy, your usual ham, salami, and mortadella. The cold cuts are delicious and high quality (they should be, this place sells imported meats!).

You can get the usual: lettuce (on the bottom), tomato, onion; but they also offer pepper spread, roasted peppers, and artichokes. The artichokes and pepper spread are awesome on the Italian. I feel roasted peppers are kind of played out, but I just can't help myself when they are free. I would rather get them and pull them off if they are too much than pass up a free topping! They also throw on a sprinkle of Parmesan. Delicious.

One of the best parts about this sandwich is the bread. It is slightly crisp outside, but very light and airy. You can eat a whole sandwich and not feel like you are going to fall asleep. One of the others is the freshness of the ingredients. It's like a light salad on top of your salty, sharp Italian. I also get the same sandwich with turkey. It's a more healthy option, that retains all of the pluses of the Italian. They have my vote for best hoagie at RTM.

A hoagie artist at work.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

500º, redux

1504 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 568-5000

Although I previously, had a bad experience at 500º, I wanted to give them another try. I am certainly glad I did. I have been hearing about the weekly special burgers, and I knew the 9th street was the one I had to try. The 9th street was loaded with spicy tomatoes, pepperoni relish, pesto-mayo, and provolone.

This time, the burger was well cooked. I was happy with the medium char, and it was more than juicy enough. The bun was terrific, slightly crisp, airy and held together perfectly. Although the pepperoni relish was simply sliced pepperoni, it added a salty, spicy element, and the ripe tomato coupled with the tangy, herby, pesto mayo perfectly rounded out the burger. One of the best burgers I have had in a while.

The truffle fries were on point. Freshly fried, light and crispy. The truffle oil gave them the earthy essence that it should without being overpowering. Last time I was unaware that they had a spicy dipping sauce, so this time I had to investigate. I was happy with its light spice and creaminess. The house sauce is seen on the right below, it tasted like creamy horseradish sauce with some garlic flavor. The only overall drawback is the price. It was nearly $12 for a burger, fries and a drink. I must admit, however, if they are cranking it out this well, I am fine with paying that much every now and then for lunch. Well done (not literally), 500º, well done.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Michelfelder's Deli

901 Market St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 627-2288

Michelfelder's is just another deli in center city. Except for one little fact, it's in The Gallery. That's right, The Gallery. And the one other detail is that it's good. I wasn't expecting much when I heard that there was a good deli in The Gallery, but I am always up for a surprise.

They use all Boar's Head meats and cheeses. I went for the smoked turkey with pepper jack and everything on it. I almost forgot I was in the underground mall, until after ordering, when there was a three inch roach on the ground (slowly dying at least). I mean, what do you expect, it's an underground mall in Philly. That aside, I was pretty excited to try these sandwiches. When it came out, they had hollowed the roll just like Subway! The meat was good, and the toppings generous. The bread was decent enough. All in all, not a bad hoagie.

Here is the Italian. Traditional meats, in a healthy portion.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nick's Charcoal Pit

1242 Snyder Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19148-5532
(215) 271-3750

With all of the new places popping up, and the old stand-by's keeping me well fed, I often forget about some of the little hole-in-the-wall spots that make (South) Philly great. Nick's Charcoal Pit is one of those places. I used to order the filet-mignon sandwich all the time, but I haven't had one in years.

Nick's is tiny inside, really it's a takeout and delivery kind of place, although in a pinch they have a table and small high bar.

It's nice to have a place in South Philly for sandwiches that goes beyond cheesesteaks on a flat-top. However, "charcoal pit" is a bit of a stretch, as they are actually propane grills that they cook on. Well seasoned propane grills, but propane nonetheless. Nick's offers a "Nick's special" sandwich with filet mignon, charbroiled with spinach and provolone. One nice thing is that they use Sarcone's rolls. As my dining mate mentioned, if they didn't use those rolls the sandwiches wouldn't be much. The steak is good, well done, and crispy on the edges. The sandwich would benefit from some more moisture. It wasn't dry, per se, but it was on the cusp. The steak is quality, and the simplicity of the ingredients is the key to the sandwich. It is a nice change of pace from the average steak sandwich.

I was disappointed, however, in the buffalo chicken sandwich. It was simply some chicken fingers with hot sauce, some blue cheese and provolone on the roll. This would have been just okay, but when you are the "Charcoal Pit" and your tag-line is "everything is cooked on a charcoal grill and made to order," you might want to mention on the menu that the chicken is indeed just regular old chicken fingers, not cooked on the (propane) grill and made to order. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. It was okay. The fact that I felt they misled me on this one was big letdown. I will definitely go back for my old standby, the filet, but steer clear of the breaded chicken.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mack's Pizza

10th and Oregon Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 755-7553

On a rainy Saturday in Philly this summer, I was thinking about the shore. Not necessarily the beach, but rather the food. The pizza, actually. Mack and Manco's to be exact. I am the first to admit that they don't have the best pizza ever. They do have great pizza though, and the memory of eating it growing up is what really makes me love it. I knew there was a Mack's in South Philly, and that they claim to be of the same boardwalk pizza family, but I have been putting-off going for some time now. Well, on this cloudy July weekend, I decided it was finally time to pay a visit.

I called ahead and ordered a large half cheese, half pepperoni. Mack happened to be working, which was a great bonus.

He makes the pizzas according to the original recipe, with a thin layer of sauce and cheese, in a swirl.

I loved how thin it was, and it certainly reminded me of the boardwalk pizza. However, it was definitely (both visually and physically) a bit greasy. The pepperoni was especially so. The pizza was good though. It was a nice change of pace. A large was $10 even, which is always a good thing. Cash only, as can be expected. You can see the rings of sauce and cheese, just like at the shore. The pizza was overall pretty good, and a nice deal. If you need a taste of the shore, don't put sand in your sandwich, just head to South Philly for a slice (which is a $1 for walks-ins, by the way).

The pizza didn't even fit in the box!

Have to love the homemade boxes.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chickie's Deli

1014 Federal St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 462-8040

Chickie's is a South Philly institution. They have won tons of awards for their veggie hoagie, which I am sure is great - but when I go out of my way for a sandwich, I am not heading there for the vegetarian option. The Chickie Special is prosciutto, sopressata, dry cured cappicola, sharp provolone, roasted peppers, lettuce, tomato and onion, all slapped into a Sarcone's roll. I got it with oil and mayo. When I got home, I couldn't wait to tear into it. I did wait, however, because the fried tomato special had piqued my interest first. I am glad I waited, because after tasting it originally, the flavors hadn't had a chance to mingle. The bread is so solid that it needs time to let the oil and mayo soften it up. Sarcone's bread is so good that it does not get soggy, not for quite a while, at least. A nice spell on the counter (about 3 hours) really made this Italian sing.

The meat is nothing but quality at Chickie's. All of the cured meats are fantastic. They slice them to order, and the sharp provolone is amazing. It's served in chunks, and has the aged bite that is sometimes lacking in the sliced sharp prov. Chickie's is similar to Sarcone's deli, except they use more meat. I am glad they use Sarcone's rolls however, as they are the best around - for hoagies that is. For cheesesteaks, I prefer something with a bit less chew.

On to the fried tomato sandwich, which, incidentally, I ate first. This one comes with fried tomatoes, bacon, roasted peppers and lettuce, I opted for American cheese, added turkey, and mayo. The tomato is thick, breaded and fried, the bacon is also thick & crispy and the cheese lends a moist creaminess to the sandwich. It is sort of like a BLT hoagie. I loved this sandwich, though it is a bit difficult to eat. The breading falls off of the tomato a bit, and the mayo makes the whole lot tend to slid out of the back of the roll. Nothing a sloppy hand can't take off with a quick push. These two sandwiches give a good contrast to the intricacies of Philadelphia hoagies. I highly recommend both.