Chase Rubin on His favorite Philly Eats

Chase Rubin has some sound advice for those who are visiting Philly: Find a cheesesteak, order some water ice, buy a soft pretzel. These food items are the essence of Philly eats; but you better save room, because nowadays, there’s way more to Philly eating than junk food. Like most cities with a booming food culture, there are two camps: the traditional and the modern. And while Philly is a city nationally recognized for its modern Israeli and vegan delights, dig a little deeper and you’ll find that some of the iconic dishes are rooted in Italian-American tradition, original-Americana recipes, and the wonderful contributions of a bustling immigrant community.

Lamb shoulder, Zahav.Zahav is a major point of Philly pride—a nationally renowned essential that’s led the charge for exceptional Middle Eastern food in America—and this staple is its de facto signature dish. Despite limited availability, travel writers and food editors have deemed the pomegranate-braised, chickpea-strewn masterpiece reason enough to plan a trip to the city, and it’s even gotten so popular the restaurant devoted an entire month to this single dish.

Roast pork sandwich, John’s.There are lots of worthwhile ones to try, but despite the fact that John’s uses spinach in place of the broccoli rabe that’s typically preferred, it’s impossible to deny the iconic stature of this particular sandwich. Chase Rubin also highly recommends trying the roast pork at Paesano’s (called the Arista) and George’s, both conveniently located in the Italian Market, and at High Street on Market.

Cannoli, Termini Bros.South Philly is rightly known for its picture-perfect family-run Italian bakeries, spilling over with sweets like torrone, lobster tails, and zeppoli. So while, sure, you could get a good cannoli in a number of other cities, the one at nearly-century-old Termini Bros. is both definitive and integral to the Philly experience.

Salt roasted beets, Vedge.New visitors to Philly are often surprised by how robust the city’s vegetarian and vegan dining scene is, but maybe that’s changing now that Vedge has become a destination restaurant in the truest sense of the word. And while many menu highlights are subject to change, one enduring staple is this dish of salt-roasted beets layered with avocado, smoked tofu, and capers.

Square Pizza, Santucci’s.While the quality and variety of pizza styles to be found in Philly has recently exploded, unique classics like the square pie from Santucci’s have been around since the 50’s and is essential to defining what Philly pizza truly is about. It’s well-charred in cast-iron pans and piled with “upside-down” toppings (i.e., the sauce is on top), and tasting the stuff is absolutely crucial to understanding Philly pizza.

Root beer float, Franklin Fountain.The ice cream soda was invented in Philadelphia in 1874, and there’s no better place to get into the old-timey spirit of the thing than Franklin Fountain. They make their own root beer here, but you don’t have to limit yourself—they also have Coke floats, the raspberry-peach combo Ladies’ Choice float, and even an option to design your own combination.