25 Essential Hoagie Shops

In a city of endless hoagie choices, these are the spots you can always count on.


Hoagie construction at Northeast favorite Fink’s / Photography by Michael Persico

Maybe there’s some tiny spot down on Wolf Street that we missed, or a Delco shop you went to as a kid after Little League. But in a city of endless hoagie choices, these are the spots you can always count on.


Lil’ Nick’s
Ignore the facade, focus on the hoagies

Lil’ Nick’s isn’t pretty. There’s almost nowhere to sit, and somehow, there are even fewer places to stand. The black-and-white menus have been reprinted so many times that it’s impossible to tell what the image on the front even is. (Sushi? Cinnamon rolls? Lifesavers?) Of course, absolutely none of that matters. Grab your paper bag, walk down the block to Marconi Plaza, and indulge in one of the city’s greatest pleasures, the Italian Inferno: hot capicola, spicy soppressata and sharp provolone. Lil’ Nick’s is a pure encapsulation of South Philly — it ain’t too pretty, but it’s still perfect. South Philly.

Provolone pioneers

The Tacony institution hocks hoagies that come on crusty seeded rolls, with sliced-to-order Italian meats and the standard lettuce, tomato and onion. But they’re not like anything else in town. On the signature hoagie, provolone is chopped, not sliced, and instead of oil-and-vin, there’s Fink’s secret olive spread. It makes for a one-of-a-kind sandwich worth going out of your way for. When you visit, throw in a half-pound of the homemade cherry pepper shooters, as an act of self-love. Northeast Philly.


Fink’s in Tacony

An irreplaceable neighborhood institution

Yes, sometimes they don’t answer the phone. Yes, sometimes instead of a husky voice at the counter, you’ll be greeted by a Verizon operator informing you that the number you’ve tried to reach is no longer in service. And sometimes, like in 2020, murky financial issues shutter the doors. But when the sesame seeds align and you get through? There’s no place like it. It’s tempting to always get the South Philly Italian, though we recommend scanning up the menu to the ham and cheese. Ham and cheese, you say, how pedestrian. Well, at Cosmi’s, they bake the ham in-house, and it’s so popular that they sell it by the pound for Christmas dinners. So yeah, get the ham and cheese. East Passyunk.

Mt. Airy Deli
No-frills shop that does a bit of everything

The beauty of living in Hoagie Town is walking into an unassuming neighborhood deli and walking out with a sandwich that would be the best sandwich in any other city. At Mt. Airy Deli, tucked away at the foot of an overpass for SEPTA’s Chestnut Hill Line, that’s the spice-dusted Italian. But even the turkey, usually relegated to a lesser hoagie tier, is sliced gossamer-thin, for optimal surface area and superior flavor. Mount Airy.


Mt. Airy Deli co-owner Jarrod Thomas

Fancy-pants sandwiches with a killer wine list

Each ingredient in the vegan hoagie at Martha gets equal consideration: the thin slices of chili-fermented radish, the meaty eggplant marinated in tamari, the pastrami-roasted beets, the ribbons of zucchini spiced with fennel pollen, the zesty pesto house-made with long hots. The umami-packed sandwich is a meat-free representation of the Italian version, but really, just like the cool-but-welcoming neighborhood bar, it’s its own flawless thing. Kensington.

Ro-Lynn Deli
A packed-out lunchtime haunt

Between the laundromat and the Boost Mobile store, you’ll find a stack of Liscio’s boxes — 16 cartons high sometimes, waiting every day to be refilled with hoagie rolls. Pass by Hoagiehenge and into the deli, and you’ll be greeted by the first meat slicer, which inexplicably sits right next to the cash registers. Such is life at Ro-Lynn, which has dedicated every square inch of floor, wall, counter, cooler and even ceiling to making the best damn Italian food in Delco. Their signature Godfather hoagie (on a Liscio’s seeded, of course) starts with a meat-prov base beneath the veggie layer. Topping that is the Delco meat roll — a second layer of meat plopped on top of the lettuce, tomato, onions and long hots. Like the shop itself, it’s overflowing. Brookhaven.

The cornucopian counter at Ro-Lynn.

Move over, mortadella, there’s a shrimp sheriff in town

When we were compiling this list, the first thing we did was poll our staff. Marinucci’s nomination wasn’t a surprise — it’s hard to maintain three locations across the Northeast without being good — but the staffer’s choice of sandwich was. “Their shrimp salad hoagie was a staple of my childhood,” said the Mayfair native. Shrimp … salad … on a hoagie. The universe is a vast and wondrous place, we mused. And one that, now that we’ve tried it ourselves, must make room for Marinucci’s shrimp salad hoagie. Northeast Philly and Port Richmond.

With a name like that, all are welcome

At a New Year’s Day party one year, we casually grabbed a hunk off a hoagie tray and took a bite. As our eyes rolled back, we muttered, “Oh my God, where is this from?” The host’s response was equal parts disgust and embarrassment: “You’ve never been to Mi-Pal’s?” We remedied that soon after and saw our sandwich sliced to order, the meats piled atop a crumbled mound of sharp provolone. And the next time we needed a hoagie tray, we knew there was only one choice. South Philly.

Grindcore House
A hoagie at a vegan coffeehouse — please just trust us

A crusty vegan coffee shop is probably the last place you’d expect to find a killer hoagie, but that’s what makes Grindcore’s Italiano so confoundingly delicious. We tried it once on a whim — “This can’t actually be good,” we said — and loved it so much that it made us feel uneasy inside. A bit unmoored. A bit … excited? Piled high with vegan ham, salami and pepperoni made by West Chester’s Love Again Local, the Italiano will make you reexamine everything you thought a good hoagie consisted of. West Philly and Pennsport.

Sangillo’s Farm Fresh Produce & Deli
The spot to feed a family of four with one hoagie

Yes, a great hoagie needs great bread. And a great hoagie needs great cold cuts and cheeses. But you can have great bread and great cold cuts and cheeses and sloppily slap them together, haphazardly tossing condiments hither and yon, and that does not a great hoagie make. Construction and method are hugely important, and this Delco spot is staffed with hoagie engineers who meticulously craft your sandwich just so. Our fave: a two-foot-long Uncle Tony Italian with long hots and actually sharp (reaaallllly sharp) provolone. Drexel Hill.

T&F Farmers’ Pride
An Upper Roxborough gem where you can say a prayer to St. Nick

Drive as far out of the city as you can go while still being in the city. There, you’ll find T&F Farmers’ Pride, making sandwiches like the Beast in the East, with four kinds of meat, sharp cheddar, and candied jalapeños, or the Philly Special, piled with the holy trinity of Italian meats (prosciutto, Genoa, hot soppressata, amen). The vaguely bucolic surroundings will be confusing — until the taste centers you back in Philly. Roxborough.

Honeysuckle Provisions
New kid on the block, with cheffy bona fides

There are plenty of places in this city to get cheffy hoagies. (Hell, some of them are on this list.) But there’s only one where the star is the humble turnip. Husband-and-wife team Omar Tate and Cybille St. Aude-Tate’s self-described Afro-centric grocery and cafe limits the hoagie menu to two options, which narrows choice but not flavor. One bite into their roasted turnip hoagie, topped with herby dressing and Cooper sharp cheese and packed into a soft benne-seed roll, and you’ll forget about turkey until next Thanksgiving. University City.

DiCostanza’s Sandwich
Humongous hoagies with some old-school handiwork

Augie DiCostanza is the third generation of DiCostanzas to own this spot that’s one of the last Real Delis before you cross into Delaware. He served his first customer at age eight, standing on a box to reach the counter and make the sandwich, and those decades of experience show. Step up to the counter any time of day and you’ll spot Augie hand-slicing bright, glistening tomatoes to order. How he finds decent tomatoes in the middle of winter is anyone’s guess, but here, they shine — they’re so in demand that he charges a couple bucks extra if you want them on your cheesesteak. Boothwyn.

The Old-Fashioned hoagie at Penna’s

Penna’s Italian Market and Deli
A gleaming new arrival that’s well worth the drive

If a deli doesn’t shimmer with the ancient patina of oil-and-vin, can you trust it to make a great hoagie? Penna’s proves you can. This gleaming cathedral of Italian American delicacies opened in 2021 with a long lineup of hoagies built on rolls from Norristown’s century-old Corropolese Bakery. For the Old Fashioned hoagie, prosciutto imported from Parma and sweet soppressata hug an oregano-flecked flurry of house-roasted peppers, lettuce and tomatoes. The fact that you’re buying it surrounded by pristine deli cases and a tasteful wood-fueled fireplace doesn’t diminish the fact that this is one of the best sandwiches in the region. Lower Gwynedd Township.

Skip the pizza and cutlets (It’s tough, we know)

Danny DiGiampietro’s Italian Market parlor is churning out some of the country’s best pizza and cheesesteaks and hoagies, which seems unfair to every other business trying to do just one of those right. And while several elements go into making each one worthy of its zealous fandom, the dough is the money. DiGiampietro perfected it using Italian flour and a days-long fermentation. The result is pitch-perfect texture and tang as a base for hoagies that — whether layered with imported ham or prosciutto or Cooper sharp or tuna drenched in olive oil — would alone be any eatery’s crowning achievement. Bella Vista.

Ferrante’s Meats and More
Hoagies worth crossing municipal lines for

You know a joint has good hoagies when Main Liners will cross City Avenue to pick them up. Such is the case with this longtime neighborhood butcher shop in Overbrook. No fanciful concoctions here, just classic hoagies made with love. Hell, they’re even wrapped with love: Each half is tightly encased in Saran wrap before the whole thing gets deli-papered, so when you get home and unwrap, everything is just as it should be, with nothing falling out or falling apart. Tip: Wait times can be long, so call in your order, and they’ll call you back when it’s ready. West Philly.

ro-lynn deli hoagies

Ro-Lynn Deli owners Steve Yancey (left) and Dave Avicolli

Dolores’ 2Street
The undisputed sandwich king of Mummerdom

A few years ago, we got very attached to the bacon-egg-and-cheese at a little shop in Pennsport. Then, one day, the place just … closed. Crestfallen, we resorted to making eggs at home, like heathens. Months later, as we Charlie Brown-ed down the block, we looked up and saw a new awning: Dolores’ 2Street. A mighty phoenix had risen, and that phoenix’s name was Henry. Henry was stacked high with grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, rabe, and a thin layer of fried zucchini. Henry was slathered with long hot mayo. Henry, the best vegetarian hoagie in Philadelphia, made us forget all about those bacon-egg-and-cheeses. We can make eggs at home. Pennsport.

Go-to for christenings, funerals, and every meal in between

If you’ve ever been to a Delco event with a hoagie platter, chances are it was from Pagano’s, the go-to when you need to feed 100 people. We like that we can get a turkey Caesar hoagie here, which is exactly what it sounds like it is. And they’re very serious about their Italian hoagies — so much so that they have nine versions. There’s even what is, essentially, an Italian hoagie stromboli on the extensive menu, which also includes some mmm-inducing tomato pie you’ll want to take home for later. Truth be told: We ate it on the car ride home. Drexel Hill.

The perfect shop for pre-Birds tailgates

It’s tough to find a more quintessentially Philadelphian strip mall than the one tucked into the northeast corner of Packer Park — Chickie’s & Pete’s, Termini Brothers, Celebre’s pizza. The thing that holds it all together, though, is Pastificio. Unlike most shops, Pastificio offers three size options, so the indecisive can try a coupla things. One you should always make room for? The Antipasto, with packed imported tuna, sharp prov, and a thin layer of fatty prosciutto, capped with olives and roasted red peppers. South Philly.

Pizzeria Beddia
A private room dedicated to just hoagies? Yes, please

There’s only one city in the world where you could find a hoagie omakase. The visionary behind it is John Walker, who’s worked with Joe Beddia since the 40-pies-a-day days. For two hours, the sandwich savant takes diners on a hoagie-centric journey that starts with a veggie version, with roasted broccoli rabe, red peppers, mushrooms, provolone, and basil lemon aioli. Next up is Italian oil-packed tuna threaded with sardines and finished with boursin cheese, olive tapenade and red onions. Finally, there’s an Italian with hot capicola and mortadella. Each is stuffed into made-from-scratch bread and served alongside long hots, house-made spicy pepper relish, and giardiniera. You’ll wish you could pick these up when the mood strikes, but then again, eating them one after another inside an intimate, dimly lit room in the back of a pizza restaurant is half the fun. Fishtown.

Heat-seeker heaven

Spicy sandwiches are nothing new, and you can get one at almost every establishment on this list. What separates Castellino’s from the pack is, surprisingly, the cheese. The shop’s Adronos hoagie comes with the usual spicy suspects — hot capicola and soppressata, cherry peppers — but finishes with a peppercorn-studded Asiago. If that kick is too much, don’t worry: Because Castellino’s is a market, too, you can grab a half-gallon of milk to wash it down. Fishtown.

Liberty Kitchen
The best hoagies you can find under the El

The cured meats and cheeses (like fresh mozz) that anchor the hoagies at Liberty Kitchen are all excellent. But like a zesty long hot spanning a six-inch hoagie, the through line at this glossy next-gen deli is its focus on small-batch ingredients. Condiments coating the seeded rolls from South Philly’s Carangi bakery are made from scratch: balsamic sun-dried pepper spread in the Della Casa, artichoke/roasted red pepper spread in the Ed’s Special Italian, and the creamy balsamic dressing and hellfire-y pepper relish — made by their sister company, Brine Street Picklery — in the Italian Salumeria. Fishtown.

Vincenzo’s in East Passyunk, which seeds its long hots to order

Pull up a stool at this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it luncheonette

From the outside, Vincenzo’s looks like any other South Philly deli: red, white and green awning, a little sign indicating its meat purveyor of choice. Inside is a different story. Think of a tiny diner, with maybe 15 counter seats overlooking the kitchen where you’ll spot owner Michael Pakradooni and his staff not only slicing meats to order, but stemming and deseeding every long hot to order as well. And in a town where so many hoagies come overflowing — we’re looking at you, Delco — the sandwiches here give you just enough meat to not make you regret your lunch choice four hours later. East Passyunk.


Vincenzo’s in East Passyunk, which seeds its long hots to order

​Mike & Emma’s
Small menu, big flavor

If Mare of Easttown was more accurate, Jean Smart would have been hiding a Mike & Emma’s hoagie from the rest of her family, not that pint of Ben & Jerry’s she tucked into the frozen-veggie bag. Get the Italian Special, with capicola, ham, prosciutto, Genoa salami and provolone, and a t-shirt, with a slogan that might as well be the headline for this story: “It’s not a sub. It’s a hoagie.” Folsom.

Middle Child
Eat your (roasted, pickled, funkified) veggies

When Matt Cahn opened Middle Child in 2017, the homage to diners and delis felt unlike anything else in the city. There’s the hip design and Princess Di decor, and the hyper-focused menu — a short roster stacked with all-stars. Among them, the Bye Felicia is a meticulous and ever-changing mélange of vegetables, like roasted squash and pickled fennel, or burnt broccoli and pickled red onions. It’s rounded out with artichoke relish, balsamic-infused mayo, and a fistful of arugula and raw onion, all on a seeded roll. Five years in, it still tastes fresh. Midtown Village.

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Published as “25(-ish) Essential Hoagie Shops” in the February 2023 issue of Philadelphia magazine.