Wawa Sandwiches, Ranked
The Gobbler is back! How does it stack up against Wawa's other sandwiches?
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As Philadelphians, we don’t agree on much, but one thing I think we all know as fact is that the Gobbler is the greatest hoagie ever. It is a whole holiday meal crammed into a long roll. A seasonal delight that always arrives mysteriously and is gone too soon. Overstuffed, messy, a little bit ridiculous — it is, as a sandwich, all the things we are as a people. Sweet and salty? That’s us, too. The day the Gobbler comes back to Wawa ought to be a national holiday. Seriously, there should be parades.
But since we don’t get to make those kinds of calls (yet…), we’re doing this instead: To celebrate the imminent return of the almighty Gobbler to Wawas everywhere, we’re making a list. As we’ve done before with Rita’s water ice flavors and Herr’s potato chips (and, of course, the Best Restaurants in Philly), we’re ranking Wawa hoagies from best to absolute worst. We do this as a public service, of course. And also because we just like picking fights over stuff. So here we go …
1. The Gobbler
Is there really any question about the Gobbler being the Number One Sandwich at Wawa? No, there isn’t. It is comfort on a roll. A portable Thanksgiving dinner. Warm and sloppy and cheap and delicious all at the same time. My only complaint? That it isn’t available 365 days a year. Or sometimes after 9 p.m. And that it doesn’t automatically come with a side of mashed potatoes to dip the entire sandwich in.
2. Classic Italian hoagie
I would argue that the Wawa Italian hoagie is a benchmark sandwich. Every other Italian hoagie in town? It can be judged on whether it is better or worse than the one at Wawa. Here, we’re talking a thin, folded stack of ham, hot ham (that doesn’t really taste like capicola) and thin-sliced salami, lettuce, onion, tomato and provolone (or American, but … really?). Honestly, the Wawa Italian is best eaten as leftovers, but if you’re going in that direction, make sure you get enough oil so that the bread stays soft and squishy. And double meat, too. Because you deserve it.
Bonus: I used to swear by the oil-and-vinegar strategy here, but I have heard tell that some locations (though maybe not all locations) have options for a spicy cherry pepper relish and/or garlic aioli. If those options are available to you, I’d definitely give them a try. It may seem a little bougie for Wawa, but what’s life if not an eternal adventure with occasional breaks for sandwiches?
3. Ham hoagie
Wawa hoagies are at their best when you keep it simple. And the standard-issue ham hoagie with all normal vegetables, American cheese (or Swiss if you’re fancy), salt, pepper and oil is a damn fine sandwich.
4. Cheesesteak, after midnight
There’s something about the hour (and your particular blood-alcohol content at the time of ordering) that makes the Wawa cheesesteak a wildcard on this list. If it’s late, if everything else in your neighborhood is closed, if you’ve had a bad night, a great night, a long night or just forgot to eat, a Wawa cheesesteak — all hot and gooey and salty as hell — can be one of the greatest things in the world.
5. Meatball parm sandwich
This one comes with a couple strong qualifiers: It is not a bad sandwich, but neither is it a very good one. It exists to serve a very specific purpose in Philly’s sandwich ecology: to be the meatball sandwich you eat when you simply must have a meatball sandwich but either a) no other meatball sandwiches exist in your immediate vicinity, or b) you don’t want to drive any further than the nearest Wawa. Also, there are two versions of this sandwich: a stripped-down customizable frame and a fully-loaded parm. The parm is VASTLY better — though still not quite as good as any decent meatball sandwich served elsewhere.
6. Meatball sandwich, standard
See above. Why anyone would order this version when the parm is right there is just beyond me. But if you’re some kind of weirdo who just has to have Miracle Whip and pickles on your hot meatball sandwich (which are both actual options), then you let that freak flag fly, friend. This is where you get to shine.
7. Turkey hoagie
The sandwich for people who find ketchup on a burger too exciting. It is the Ben Affleck of sandwiches. Satisfying, I guess, but no one is ever going to give it an award for anything.
8. Cheesesteak, before midnight
There is simply no excuse to order a Wawa cheesesteak before midnight.
9. Chicken/tuna salad
Even though Harry Styles famously ordered himself a tuna salad on wheat when he rolled through Philadelphia, just don’t do it, okay? It is never going to be as good as you think it is, and half of it always winds up on your pants anyway.
10. Roasted veggie hoagie
Enough, Becky? Who are you trying to impress here? You’re already standing in line at a Wawa. Don’t pretend like you’re trying to eat clean and live healthy and be better than the rest of us. Just get an Italian hoagie, double oil, a box of mini-donuts and a 64-ounce Icee like you really want and stop trying to shame the rest of us. On the other hand, if you’re doing it because you’re vegetarian, well, then … okay. That’s perfectly reasonable. Though, depending on the location, you might still be better off with the donuts and the Icee.
11. Roast beef hoagie
Wait, seriously? Wawa has a roast beef hoagie? How did I not know this before?
12. Cheese hoagie
Some people swear by these — a hoagie made out of all available cheeses, plus hoagie toppings. And while originally, I found this sandwich somewhat refreshing (even if only for its oddity), I am now far less fond of it. Mostly because I think you have to be ordering it at a location that’s accustomed to making them and doesn’t see it as some kind of secret surprise sandwich ordered just to annoy them. But also because it tastes EXACTLY like a hoagie that someone forgot to put meat on, and I still find that disconcerting.
13. Chicken-finger hoagie
Should only be available to drunken teenagers or children under 10. If you are not one of those things but are still ordering chicken-finger sandwiches, well …
14. Pepperoni, hot or cold
This one is a personal vendetta. Ages ago, Wawa used to offer a salami hoagie that was perfectly acceptable within Wawa parameters. Then it vanished from the menu and this childish abomination — a cheap-ass pizza sandwich simulacrum made with provolone — appeared in its place. Pepperoni should not be a sandwich meat. Full stop.
15. BLT hoagie
Bacon is one of the worst things that Wawa does.
Not a hoagie, but still. Every day after 4 p.m., Wawa starts selling burgers. They are … not great. But (and this matters a lot to me) they remind me of these frozen, microwaveable burgers I used to get from the grocery store, and I LOVED those things. Wawa’s version is a mathematically perfect patty with the taste of grill char added, cooked well, topped with American cheese and then whatever else you want, all mounted on a surprisingly decent (and very soft) brioche bun. There’s something about the squishy texture of the burger, the fake flavor of it, the weirdly exacting way in which all the toppings are added (for example, a single, perfectly round blorp of ketchup only on the top of the roll, and mayo only on the bottom) that makes me crave it more than a person really ought to crave that kind of thing.
To go with the Wawa cheeseburger, natch. If you’ve got access to an air fryer, you can get these nice and crispy at home and they come out a lot better than most fast food or chain restaurant fries.
I’ve eaten these several times, and they are surprisingly good. Also, endlessly customizable. Also, they’ll let you make a mac-and-cheese sandwich if you want. And not for nothing, but if you get a ham-and-Swiss with pickles, an extra slice of provolone, and then scavenge some pulled pork from one of their other sandwiches or sides, you can make yourself a passable Philly Cubano — which is honestly all I’ve ever really wanted out of Wawa in the first place (other than year-round Gobblers, of course).