Thursday, May 31, 2012

Guest Post: Oregon Express

2700 S Marvine St
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 468-8811

Below is a guest post from Theresa at the Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine.

South Philadelphia is best known for being the area where cheesesteaks originated. What most people don't know is that nestled within the old brick facades are many hidden dining gems.

Take for example Oregon Express...unless you are from the surrounding neighborhood you would probably not even notice this small store front.  And what a pity that is as they serve some yummy food; their specialty being breakfast.

There is nothing fancy about Oregon Express. Space is limited and most of their business is takeout. But for those that want to sit back and enjoy the rotating clientele there are 4 indoor tables and 2 out.

The food is all made to order in the tiny kitchen off to the side and you can expect it to be good. Sandwiches come in two sizes and are very inexpensive.  Coffee is fixed for you per your request and amazingly it comes out great every time.

When I'm in the city you can pretty much guarantee I will have a least one breakfast at Oregon Express. My favorite sandwich (shown above) Eggs, Cheese, & Scrapple.  Yes, I'm a scrapple lover...but that's for another post.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ballpark Hot Dog: Harry the K's

Citizen's Bank Park
Left Field

Citizen's Bank Park is an amazing place to watch a ball game. The food is also decent, and the beer is expensive. About what you would expect. Now, don't come to the game thinking that the Schmitter that you eat there is anything like the real one. You would be better off making them at home. That being said, it is plenty good after a few cold domestics, and will help keep you from getting a bit too buzzed. But when I saw Hawk Krall's post on the Texas Tommy being served at Harry the K's, I knew it was worth a shot.

From where I was sitting in right field, Harry the K's was beckoning, and I made my move as soon as the game got depressing. You know, in the second inning or so. Well, actually I went during the stretch because it was 5-0 and I was about out of beer.

None of the other dogs seemed to excite me as much as the potential for one wrapped in bacon, topped with chili and American cheese sauce. Oh, and an order of cheese fries.

There will likely be a couple-of-minutes' wait between ordering and receiving. You can use this time to take in the view.

They also have a full bar, in case you are watching any of the 2012 season games.

Nothing says baseball like a 24oz Miller Lite, some fries and a hot dog.

I think that Aramark and myself differ on the term "bacon wrapped", but luckily there was still bacon in some fashion.

The Texas Tommy is served with a split dog, on half a hoagie roll, with a strip of bacon down the middle, pretty damn tasty (and salty) white American cheese sauce, and chili. If they put 1% of effort into this, it would be a solid dog. However, they slap it together, as can be expected (but shouldn't be) of Aramark employees. Using a fry to even things out helped - literally spreading the ingredients. And as a bonus you can dip the fries in the greasy chili run off after you eat it. It's not bad, actually for $6.50 at the park it's one of the better options. But just remember, this ain't Hot Diggity.

The fries were probably quite tasty when they were pulled out of the fryer an hour before I received them. They had potential (and $2 cheese sauce), but these shits were stale. $8? You must be joking.

I will definitely be back, and I will definitely be mixing bourbon and hot dogs when I do. But I would skip the fries, as they have likely been sitting longer than the opposing pitcher at the top of the inning.

Monday, May 21, 2012

320 Market Cafe

713 South Chester Road
Swarthmore, PA 19081
(610) 328-7211

This is a great little HEALTHY spot in Delaware County that offers made to order sandwiches, as well as gourmet packaged goods. They actually have two stores: one in Media, one in Swarthmore.

The selection of fresh produce is great, and perfect for a quick stop on your way home (if you worked out this way). In a land of hoagies and cheesesteaks, 320 Market offers something a bit more unique, and a bit more health-oriented.

I went with the turkey and cheese "Caldo," a combination that included homemade turkey, lettuce, tomato, spicy balsamic roasted vegetables, sharp provolone, local goat cheese and extra virgin olive oil on a baguette. This was a more thoughtful approach to the type of pre-made sandwiches offered at some of the bigger health-oriented stores.

I have to be honest, I was not expecting there to be so many vegetables on this thing. It was like a roasted veggie salad on top of my turkey sandwich. However, I was looking for an alternative to my usual hoagie or cheesesteak binge when I am in the area, and this fit the bill quite nicely. It probably helped that the veggies were roasted with balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes. This gave them a surprising amount of heat and a nice tang, which kicked the flavor of the sandwich up. Extra tang was provided by the combination of local goat cheese and the pungent bite of sharp provolone. This is a pretty great variation on the usual turkey sandwich, all held together with crusty seeded bread.

The turkey and fontinella panini was another winner. Boasting avocado, bacon, lettuce and tomato, this grilled sandwich was an interesting take on the classic panini. Mostly notably, the crustless bread was something you don't see on every panini. The fresh, ripe tomato and perfectly ripe avocado were the biggest surprises. It's early in the season, and most places just throw down whatever is in the cooler. These must have been kept in the rotation until they were just ripe. Well played.

The cumin chicken wrap was less of a star. Lacking the "pop" of the other two items, this one touted grilled chicken, cumin black bean spread, lettuce, tomato, and avocado. Not bad, just more ordinary.

In the land of the Italian delis, 320 Market Cafe puts out some interesting and fresh combinations. Certainly a solid lunch spot, and given the dearth of healthy options, coupled with the 'under $10 price-point' selections in this area, it is worth seeking out.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lennies Hoagies

6141 Ridge Ave
Philadelphia (Roxborough), PA 19128
(215) 487-1200

I will be the first person to complain about Manayunk not actually being Philly. The people who live there do not live in the same city as me. I'm not saying it's not nice there, quite the opposite, but it's more of a college bro-town than the cultural melting pot that is our fair city. All this aside, I have been meaning to try a couple of places up that way, now that Dalessandro's has gone downhill, and I heard great things about Lennies. For the record, I have also heard it called Lennies Home Plate, Lennies Original South Philly Hoagies, and seen it spelled Lenny's. I am 99% sure I have it right though. Also, thanks to a concerned reader for pointing out that Lennies is actually in Roxborough.

They have a GIANT menu at Lennies. Probably 70 kinds of sandwiches. They also offer them in major league and minor league sizes. I was told that the minor league was plenty, and I wasn't going to have a chance to eat the rest of a major, so I opted for the smaller.

There are literally extra menu items everywhere in this place.

They also sell sports memorabilia, sort of.

Here is a look into the kitchen, where the magic happens.

They had a pretty decent soda selection, with lemon up and Stewart's root beer.

They also sell this little gem.

When I got my sandwich, I realized I had made a huge mistake. My dining partner walked past the skill crane.

And plopped this down.

"What the hell is in there", I asked him. "A Major League", he replied, all too happy with himself.

How much did it cost? $11. Mine was $8.

Of course, my Godfather, Part One, was nothing to sneeze at. But how the hell am I supposed to be happy when I see that BEAST of a sandwich that I neglected to order. So anyway, my Godfather came with sharp provolone, genoa salami, dry cured capicola & soppressata. One of the best parts is the Carangi bakery rolls. Those things are some of my favorite hoagie rolls of all time. Mayo and oil, plenty of seasoning and heaping ingredients made for an Italian that was well above average.

My friend went with the chicken cordon blue and ranch fries (why do my friends always order the weirdest shit?).

I would skip the fries next time, and just go with a Major League Italian. He asked to be anonymous, whether it was because of his strange choices or the guilt associated with eating half of a hoagie the size of a baseball bat, I am not sure.

Overall, Lennies was a grand slam. Great bread, great meats, careful preparation, and giant hoagies. I often say I am going to be back at places soon, but I may or may not be currently on my way out the door for a giant Lennies sandwich as we speak.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Johnny's Hots

1234 North Delaware Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(215) 423-2280

Johnny's Hots stands out like a red beacon on North Delaware Ave, across from Penn Treaty Park. Famous for its greasy breakfast, hot sausages, and Philly surf and turf (a hotdog and fishcake combo), they are decidedly not a health food spot.

The menu is pretty basic, they offer the above mentioned items, plus cheesesteaks and a few other old school staples.

I was originally planning on the hot sausage-fishcake combo, but something went awry in the ordering process and I ended up with the hot dog-fishcake-fishcake combo.

This sandwich comes with split, grilled dogs, fried fishcakes, and pepper hash, a Philly tradition. It is pretty decent, but unfortunately does not stand up to my new favorite, over at Hot Diggity. It is nice to see the traditional surf and turf kept alive, but it lacked some of the finesse of my reigning favorite. A lot of bread and it was tough to include all of the components in most bites.

I also tried the bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich. Served on a kaiser roll, this was a hearty breakfast.

The bacon was plentiful, crispy, and delicious. The eggs were good, and the cheese was prevalent. I added hot peppers and hot sauce, as I love the pickled, spicy flavor in conjunction with eggs and salty bacon. This was a pretty good breakfast sandwich, and will most likely hold you over for a late lunch.

I like this place because it's a tradition, but it's definitely not my favorite place to eat. I have yet to try their hot sausage and cheesesteak, which will give me a more accurate view of my overall opinion.