In towns to the north, west, and south of Philadelphia, you’ll find a good many hoagie shops that rival some of the best in the city.
It’s interesting that there’s a National Hoagie Day when the “hoagie” is most definitely a Philly thing. Not that we’re complaining. Any day that gives you an excuse to enjoy one of the City of Brotherly Love’s signature sandwiches is a good day.
Different parts of the country have their own names, and subtle culinary twists, for sandwiches built on long rolls, piled high with meats, cheeses, veggies, and topped off with various spreads and dressings. What’s called a “grinder” in New England, a “hero” in New York, a “Po’boy” in Louisiana, and a “sub” or “submarine sandwich” pretty much everywhere else is a hoagie in the southeastern part of the commonwealth, and adjacent regions like South Jersey and Delaware.
In many parts of the city where the hoagie was born, you can’t swing a long, seeded roll without hitting a reputable hoagie shop. (Pro tip: next time you’re headed to a game in South Philly, make time to hit up Pastaficio in the Packer Avenue Shopping Center). Once you’re outside the city limits, your options become a little more limited, and a lot more populated with franchises like Primo Hoagies, Lee’s Hoagie House, and, of course, Wawa.
The greater Philly area still boasts a good many hoagie shops that rival some of the best in the city proper. Here’s eight you should try:
Bob’s Haven Deli – Phoenixville
At this unassuming shop that’s been in business for more than 60 years, they specialize in the hoagie varietal known as a “zep.” What’s a zep? There’s plenty of debate on its origins, but the zep is believed to have originated in Norristown during the 1950s, and is basically a hoagie that keeps it real simple: crusty long roll, one meat, one cheese, big chunks of onion, tomato, salt, pepper, oregano. That’s it.
Bruno’s of Lititz – Lititz
You know you’re a little far afield from Philly at Bruno’s, because you can get your hoagie with a bag of Dieffenbach’s Chips and a Reading Draft soda. While Lancaster County may not be considered a hoagie hotbed, Bruno’s offers a true taste of the city to the west with spicy hoagies like the Bruiser (peppered turkey, Cooper Sharp, pepper shooters) and the Spicy Italian (hot soppressata, cotechino, hot capicola, aged sharp provolone). The shop also has locations in Greenfield and Lebanon.
Carlino’s – Ardmore
Locals love Carlino’s for its selection of specialty groceries and prepared foods, but don’t sleep on the hoagies. Our faves: Angela’s Choice (prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, pesto), and the Old Timer (spicy capicola, fried eggplant, fresh mozz, red onion, tomato, balsamic vinegar, EVOO). Carlino’s has a second location in West Chester.
Eve’s Lunch – Norristown
It’s all about those zeps at Eve’s Lunch—when in Norristown, right? They’ve been serving them up here since 1965, racking up local “best-of” awards year after year. Whatever you want to call it — hoagie? zep? — it doesn’t matter. It’s still delicious.
Lorenzo’s – West Chester
This second-generation shop keeps it simple and classic, with tried and true options like Italian, turkey, BLT, and more. Our sleeper pick on the menu: the Nigerian, which includes American cheese, turkey, roast beef, lettuce, tomato, and onion, and is available as a super-sized 18-inch hoagie.
Phil & Jim’s – Brookhaven
Food Network Magazine doesn’t go around declaring you serve the “Best Hoagie on Earth” if you can’t deliver the goods. This Delco staple received that honor in 2022 for its Italian Special hoagie: a footlong featuring hot capicola, Genoa salami, peppered ham, provolone, onions, tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, oil, oregano, and sweet or hot peppers. They also serve Cheese Whiz fries, which should take the award for “Best Side on Earth,” if such a thing exists.
Silvio’s Deli – Hatboro
They keep it simple but classic at Silvio’s, serving hoagies ranging in size from 6-inches to 24-inches, with extras like hot peppers, cherry peppers, and pickles. Don’t sleep on the steaks and pizza here, either.
Sonny’s Italian Deli – Royersford
“A taste of the city in the suburbs” is what Sonny’s promises. With hoagies like the Grizzwich (cooked salami, hot ham, Genoa salami, pepper shooters, lettuce, onion, tomato, oil, and vinegar), the 9th Street (cooked salami, hot ham, genoa salami, chunks of sharp provolone, roasted red peppers, lettuce, onion, tomato), and the Philly Dilly (cooked salami, hot ham, Genoa salami, prosciutto, lettuce, onion, tomato, oil, and vinegar), they deliver.