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Philadelphia's 11 Most Iconic Meat Dishes

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Here's a guide to Philadelphia's most iconic meat dishes. These are the Philly originals and longtime favorites that we keep going back to, the dishes that define our hometown to tourists and to generations of locals alike. Some of them are near-extinct, while others can be found on nearly every corner. Later in the week, we'll tackle a guide to the "new classics" — the dishes that reflect the city's ever-changing dining scene and newer traditions — but for now we've chosen to honor the old-school staples. Below, find our 11 picks for meaty dishes that tug at every Philadelphian's heartstrings.


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. The Cheesesteak: Pat's King of Steaks

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1237 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 339-9872
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It may be eye-rollingly obvious, but like it or not, the cheesesteak is Philly's most famous meaty meal. Is Pat's steak the best in Philly right now? Does it matter? This is where it all started, and we're talking icons here. (Looking for the best? Google's got a few million pages on that for you to check out.)

2. Roast Pork Sandwich: Paesano's Philly Style

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1017 South 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 440-0371
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By now, it's common knowledge that many locals favor the roast pork over the cheesesteak as Philly's signature sandwich. But where should you get it? John's Roast Pork is great, though we're partial to broccoli rabe (John's green of choice is spinach). DiNic's is a popular — and canonical — choice, and the Reading Terminal setting is iconic in its own right. But we just can't help it: The Arista at Paesano's is our very favorite, and the Italian Market location puts you within a stone's throw of plenty of other Philly icons. Our actual recommendation: try them all.

3. Scrapple: Brunics

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2000 S 17th St
Philadelphia, PA 19145
(215) 755-7645
Scrapple is inarguably iconic, but it presents a bit of a challenge to map. Our favorite scrapple is Habbersett's, cooked on cast iron at home. And there are some fancy versions around town are worth trying. But for a slab of scrapple, you just want a decent diner or lunch counter, and we'll defer to expert Holly Moore on this one. Brunic's serves up massive slabs of the variety meat, as a side or on a sandwich, but they're only open through lunch. At all other times or when in Center City, hit the go-to for diner grub in general: Little Pete's. [Photo: Holly Eats]

4. Pork Roll: Amis Trattoria

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412 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 732-2647
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Whether you call it pork roll or Taylor ham, this Philly staple is actually from Trenton. You'll find good pork roll sandwiches at any number of diners and lunch carts, but for a homegrown, handmade version, head to Amis for brunch and try Brad Spence's Jersey Cannonball. The ingredients are elevated, but all the soul of the pork-roll-and-egg sandwich is intact. [Photo: Brad Spence]

5. Italian Hoagie: Sarcone's Deli

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734 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 922-1717
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It's no surprise to anyone familiar with our city that so many of our signature meaty dishes are sandwiches. And while hoagies in general are a staple, the Italian hoagie — layered thickly with deli meats like capicola and salami, though a number of variations exist — is the reigning champ around here. Of course there are rivalries for the best, but Sarcone's provides a benchmark (not to mention famous bread). [Photo: Philly Phoodie]

6. Snapper Soup; Chicken Salad & Fried Oysters: Oyster House

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1516 Sansom St
Philadelphia, PA 19102
(215) 567-7683
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Turtle meat must have fallen out of favor somewhere along the line, because a good classic bowl of this Philly icon has gotten harder and harder to find. Oyster House's version is not quite canonical, but it's worth a try. (A little farther afield, the versions at Bucks County's Pineville Tavern and Upper Darby's Llanerch Diner have their fans.) But at lunchtime, Oyster House also serves up another hard-to-find Philly classic: The Philadelphia special, aka chicken salad and fried oysters. It's exactly what it sounds like, and you can get the fried oysters without the chicken salad if you want, but why not go for it? (Besides, this isn't seafood week!)

7. Pepper Pot Soup: City Tavern

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138 S 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 413-1443
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The trouble with this tripe-laden icon is that you can hardly find it anymore, unless someone in your family still makes it. Tourist haven City Tavern makes a well-liked version, though unlike the Philadelphia pepper pot many locals are familiar with (Campbell's made a version many grew up on, though it's been ouf of production for years), the Tavern's is based on a historical West Indies recipe that George Washington himself is said to have endorsed. There's plenty of salt-cured beef and pork to bulk it up, plus taro and complex spiciness. (But if it's tripe soup you're after, flaczki could be a new classic: as noted admirer Drew Lazor has noted in the past, the Polish tripe soup is pretty easy to find in Port Richmond, at spots like Krakus Market.)

8. Tripe Sandwich: George's Famous Roast Pork & Beef

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900 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
(215) 574-9878
There's no shortage of tripe at George's, at least, where you can get a sloppy sandwich packed with the stuff stewed in tomato sauce. It's a love-it-or-leave-it meat for sure, but the sandwich and the shop are Italian Market icons either way. [Photo: Midtown Lunch]

9. The Philly Combo: Johnny's Hots

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1234 N Delaware Ave
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 423-2280
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Also known as the Philly surf and turf, this fish cake-topped hot dog is another somewhat divisive Philly icon. (Eater Philly is firmly on the pro side, for the record.) It's not the only place in town still serving up the unusual combo, but it's one of our favorites and a great place to start. (Hot Diggity also serves a good one, and it's a little prettier to look at, if that's what you're after.) [Photo: Road Food]

10. Texas Tommy: Texas Weiners

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1426 Snyder Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19145
(215) 465-8635
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Another hot dog classic that deserves a mention here is the Texas Tommy — one of those icons we never even knew was iconic growing up with it a perennial standby on the cafeteria menu. Really just a hot dog with bacon and cheese (often Whiz, often American, and in various configurations), you can and should get one of these almost anywhere.

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1. The Cheesesteak: Pat's King of Steaks

1237 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19147
It may be eye-rollingly obvious, but like it or not, the cheesesteak is Philly's most famous meaty meal. Is Pat's steak the best in Philly right now? Does it matter? This is where it all started, and we're talking icons here. (Looking for the best? Google's got a few million pages on that for you to check out.)
1237 E Passyunk Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19147

2. Roast Pork Sandwich: Paesano's Philly Style

1017 South 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
By now, it's common knowledge that many locals favor the roast pork over the cheesesteak as Philly's signature sandwich. But where should you get it? John's Roast Pork is great, though we're partial to broccoli rabe (John's green of choice is spinach). DiNic's is a popular — and canonical — choice, and the Reading Terminal setting is iconic in its own right. But we just can't help it: The Arista at Paesano's is our very favorite, and the Italian Market location puts you within a stone's throw of plenty of other Philly icons. Our actual recommendation: try them all.
1017 South 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

3. Scrapple: Brunics

2000 S 17th St, Philadelphia, PA 19145
Scrapple is inarguably iconic, but it presents a bit of a challenge to map. Our favorite scrapple is Habbersett's, cooked on cast iron at home. And there are some fancy versions around town are worth trying. But for a slab of scrapple, you just want a decent diner or lunch counter, and we'll defer to expert Holly Moore on this one. Brunic's serves up massive slabs of the variety meat, as a side or on a sandwich, but they're only open through lunch. At all other times or when in Center City, hit the go-to for diner grub in general: Little Pete's. [Photo: Holly Eats]
2000 S 17th St
Philadelphia, PA 19145

4. Pork Roll: Amis Trattoria

412 S 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Whether you call it pork roll or Taylor ham, this Philly staple is actually from Trenton. You'll find good pork roll sandwiches at any number of diners and lunch carts, but for a homegrown, handmade version, head to Amis for brunch and try Brad Spence's Jersey Cannonball. The ingredients are elevated, but all the soul of the pork-roll-and-egg sandwich is intact. [Photo: Brad Spence]
412 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

5. Italian Hoagie: Sarcone's Deli

734 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
It's no surprise to anyone familiar with our city that so many of our signature meaty dishes are sandwiches. And while hoagies in general are a staple, the Italian hoagie — layered thickly with deli meats like capicola and salami, though a number of variations exist — is the reigning champ around here. Of course there are rivalries for the best, but Sarcone's provides a benchmark (not to mention famous bread). [Photo: Philly Phoodie]
734 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

6. Snapper Soup; Chicken Salad & Fried Oysters: Oyster House

1516 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19102
Turtle meat must have fallen out of favor somewhere along the line, because a good classic bowl of this Philly icon has gotten harder and harder to find. Oyster House's version is not quite canonical, but it's worth a try. (A little farther afield, the versions at Bucks County's Pineville Tavern and Upper Darby's Llanerch Diner have their fans.) But at lunchtime, Oyster House also serves up another hard-to-find Philly classic: The Philadelphia special, aka chicken salad and fried oysters. It's exactly what it sounds like, and you can get the fried oysters without the chicken salad if you want, but why not go for it? (Besides, this isn't seafood week!)
1516 Sansom St
Philadelphia, PA 19102

7. Pepper Pot Soup: City Tavern

138 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
The trouble with this tripe-laden icon is that you can hardly find it anymore, unless someone in your family still makes it. Tourist haven City Tavern makes a well-liked version, though unlike the Philadelphia pepper pot many locals are familiar with (Campbell's made a version many grew up on, though it's been ouf of production for years), the Tavern's is based on a historical West Indies recipe that George Washington himself is said to have endorsed. There's plenty of salt-cured beef and pork to bulk it up, plus taro and complex spiciness. (But if it's tripe soup you're after, flaczki could be a new classic: as noted admirer Drew Lazor has noted in the past, the Polish tripe soup is pretty easy to find in Port Richmond, at spots like Krakus Market.)
138 S 2nd St
Philadelphia, PA 19106

8. Tripe Sandwich: George's Famous Roast Pork & Beef

900 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
There's no shortage of tripe at George's, at least, where you can get a sloppy sandwich packed with the stuff stewed in tomato sauce. It's a love-it-or-leave-it meat for sure, but the sandwich and the shop are Italian Market icons either way. [Photo: Midtown Lunch]
900 S 9th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

9. The Philly Combo: Johnny's Hots

1234 N Delaware Ave, Philadelphia, PA
Also known as the Philly surf and turf, this fish cake-topped hot dog is another somewhat divisive Philly icon. (Eater Philly is firmly on the pro side, for the record.) It's not the only place in town still serving up the unusual combo, but it's one of our favorites and a great place to start. (Hot Diggity also serves a good one, and it's a little prettier to look at, if that's what you're after.) [Photo: Road Food]
1234 N Delaware Ave
Philadelphia, PA

10. Texas Tommy: Texas Weiners

1426 Snyder Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19145
Another hot dog classic that deserves a mention here is the Texas Tommy — one of those icons we never even knew was iconic growing up with it a perennial standby on the cafeteria menu. Really just a hot dog with bacon and cheese (often Whiz, often American, and in various configurations), you can and should get one of these almost anywhere.
1426 Snyder Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19145

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