Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Would You Like Hot Dog Fries With That?

Tony Luke’s
39 East Oregon Ave.
Philadelphia, PA
Visited July 20, 2010

Beer selection: None, except for the Tony Luke’s Sports Bar across the street

Food: Classic South Philly sandwiches

Generally, as I travel the back roads of America, I’m a “When in Rome” kind of diner.

Where else are you going to get better brisket than at smoke stained shack in Lockhart, Texas? Or better steaks than Johnny’s in Omaha? Or a better hot brown than the Brown Hotel in Louisville?

So when in Philadelphia, you want to go where the Philly cheese steak was invented, right?

Well, not exactly.

The good old Philly cheese steak is one of those rare examples of culinary specialty that has evolved into something better since the day is was invented.

I mean, let’s be honest, does a poor cut of chopped up beef smothered in Cheese Wiz really sound that great to you? Trust me, your local neighborhood sport bar serves up a much more appetizing specimen.

Well, you can still get the original, unevolved, ungilded version at the very spot in was invented at the corner of East Passyunk and 9th in South Philly at Pat’s. Or at Geno’s. Or at John’s.

And don’t get me wrong – I recommend everybody try it at one of those old standbys at least once, just to say you did it.

But I’ve been there, done that and used the T-Shirt to clean my grill.

When I come to Philadelphia and want the best sandwich in the city, I go to Tony Luke’s.

For one thing, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get to than those other three aforementioned institutions.

Tony Luke’s is located along a South Philly sidewalk literally underneath I-95, just a few miles from the sports complex and the airport.

So, if you are like me, in a hurry to get to the airport in order to stand in line for an hour to show your papers and have some federal bureaucrat conduct a full body cavity search on you in exchange for granting you the privilege to travel to another point in your own country, you fill up your stomach at a convenient, delicious place like Tony Luke’s.

The Philly cheese steak at Tony Luke’s is great. The veal cutlet sandwich is also excellent.

But it’s their Italian Roast Pork that puts Tony Luke’s on the map of legendary American sidewalk cuisine. It just may be one of the top 10 sandwiches in all of America.

Slow roasted, marinated, paper-thin sliced pork is piled on a long Italian sub roll. On top are thin slices of provolone. Underneath is a delicious layer of broccoli rabe.

Broccoli what?

Broccoli rabe. And yes, I used the word delicious and broccoli in the same sentence.

This isn’t the nasty microwave-steamed frozen broccoli your mother made you eat when you were a kid.

It doesn’t even look like broccoli. And it sure doesn’t taste like broccoli – at least not the kind my mother ever forced me to eat.

It’s a marinated, garlicky, spicy, green spread that perfectly compliments the slow roasted pork. In fact, it just might be one of the greatest sandwich condiments ever invented.

By the way, you can also get it with spinach rabe, which is almost as delicious.

Biting into a Tony Luke’s Roast Pork Italian Sandwich is an explosion of flavor -- a perfect blend of pork, cheese, bread, garlic and spice. You’ll never order another “wit Wiz” again.

But since this was the only meal I was going to eat today (airline peanuts don’t count as sustenance), I needed something else.

As I stood on the sidewalk waiting to place my order, I saw it. A little spot on the menu board advertising what has to be the pinnacle of junk food inventions.

Hot dog fries.

Yeah. It’s exactly what you think it is.

Thinly sliced up hot dogs breaded and deep fried. They look like ordinary fries from a distance. But one bite and you know these things beat the heck out of boring potatoes!

First of all, I’m a firm believer in the doctrine of frying, which states that ALL things taste even better when deep fried. Since the hot dog is already one of man’s greatest inventions (up there with beer, NASCAR and halter-tops), how much better could it get in the form of hot dog fries?

I’m here to testify – pretty darn good.

Who knew deep fried hot dog fries, broccoli and pork blended so perfectly? When in South Philly, they do.
Rating: Bought the Shirt

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