As our World Fucking Champion Philadelphia Phillies begin a new season, we take a stroll through the ballpark looking for the best gameday sandwiches. Though we do envy the food at our hated Mets’ new digs, we found a number of sandwiches that we think deserve recognition. At the top of our list? A proper Philly cheesesteak, a huge grilled dog, and Philly’s one and only “Big League Sandwich.” So, for those of you heading down to the park this season, we present Unbreaded’s Starting Lineup of ballpark sandwiches (in ranked order) or, one for each inning.
9. Planet Hoagie’s Veggie Sandwich (Ashburn Alley)
For a stadium recognized as baseball’s most veg-friendly park, we found the options to be generally unremarkable. Only Planet Hoagie served up a vegetarian sandwich we would recommend. Chopped broccoli rabe flecked with garlic, sweet roasted red peppers, strips of breaded fried eggplant and provolone on a dense seeded hoagie roll from Carangi Bakery Co. in South Philly.
8. Harry The K’s Carved Turkey (Left Field Plaza)
At the park’s table service restaurant named after broadcaster Harry Kalas, we thought the Carved Turkey sandwich was a good option for anyone looking to keep the calorie count in check. Tender, flaky, herb roasted turkey breast, creamy muenster, shaved red onion and local bibb lettuce was served on rye slathered with dijon that offered a nice kick of its own. (The menu actually called for Artisan sourdough, but we were happy with the rye.)
7. Bull’s Pit Turkey Sandwich (Ashburn Alley)
Another turkey sandwich earned a spot at #7: the smoky, juicy turkey sandwich from Bull’s BBQ. A simple sandwich to be sure, the thin-sliced smoked turkey on an Amaroso’s kaiser roll does need a visit to Bull’s condiment bar, where we smothered our turkey in Bull’s BBQ and horseradish sauces.
6. Planet Hoagie Italian Hoagie (Ashburn Alley)
Planet Hoagie’s Italian Hoagie delivers exactly what you expect from an Italian hoagie shop: fresh meat, creamy cheese, great bread, juicy veg, and flavorful oil and spices to bring it all together. Not exactly house-cured Italian salamis, but exemplary of the typical Philadelphia Italian hoagie.
5. Harry The K’s BBQ Brisket (Left Field Plaza)
The BBQ Brisket at Harry The K’s is right on the borderline between a sloppy stewed meat sandwich and a sandwich-turned-platter mess. Fortunately, it was the former, and if handled properly, can be quite a treat. (The key is not to put it down.) Shredded slow cooked beef enveloped in a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce is plated on a soft, spongey potato roll that absorbs the sauce and disintegrates into each bite.
4. Planet Hoagie Chicken Italiano (Ashburn Alley)
The hoagie shop from the Northeast proves it too can deliver the classic South Philadelphia sandwich: a chicken cutlet with broccoli rabe. The chicken breast was well-seasoned and lightly breaded, delivering a bite that was hearty and satisfying. Two slices of sharp provolone sat between the chicken and the bottom bread, with garlicky shreds of rabe on top. Though the cheese is traditionally melted in with the rabe, on this sandwich, the modified construction worked well. The rabe was tender and not at all bitter, adding bold flavor to an already delicious chicken cutlet.
3. Tony Luke’s Cheesesteak (Ashburn Alley)
Making the decision to bring one’s brand and sandwiches to the ballpark (with Aramark’s finest manning your grill) is not as easy as it may seem. When crafting the perfect sandwich, consistency is key. Tony Luke’s is an estabishment that has long been devoted to consistency and the long line of cheesesteak hungry fans that lasts through the 7th inning is proof of their success in doing so. The whiz wit’ steak that we ordered tasted like it was straight out of the Oregon Avenue shop. Don’t be intimidated by the line, it moves quickly and if it is a cheesesteak you crave, it is definitely worth the wait.
2. Bull Dog (Ashburn Alley)
Bull’s BBQ serves a hulking kielbasa sandwich that will send any ballpark hot dog whimpering back home. The massive grilled sausage is well larger than the roll and needs no condiments; the sweet, smoky glaze around the casing does all the work. Juicy, rich and thoroughly filling, the Bull Dog will satisfy even a monstrous craving for some serious meat.
1. The Schmitter (Left Field)
The Schmitter, which was originally conceived at McNally’s Tavern in Chestnut Hill, is hands down the best sandwich at the stadium. Dubbed “Philly’s Big League Sandwich” by its creators, it is a must have, at least once when attending a Phillies game. The magic is how the sandwich contents are layered, which is outlined in diagrams that adorn the walls: a slice of American cheese is topped with steak, onions and thick slices of tomato. Yet another slice of cheese leads way to grilled salami, Schmitter special sauce (think Thousand Island dressing) and is topped with yet another slice of cheese. The sandwich is obviously deliciously gooey from all of that cheese but the flavorful and perfectly cooked steak and salami are able to shine through. The large kaiser roll from Conshohocken Italian Bakery is thick and fluffy, never allowing the sandwich to get too soggy or messy when eating it at your seat.
On the Bench: Alley Grill (Left Field)
We give them great points for flame-kissed effort, but the Alley Grill sandwich stand needs to work out a few issues before it makes the starting lineup. The dry hamburger buns and overcooked meat need to be corrected, but there were a few bright spots to build on: the sauteed onions and Kennett Square mushrooms on the Smothered Chicken, and the hot and spicy fixings on the Blazin Burger.
Swing and a Miss: Campo’s “The Heater” (Ashburn Alley)
Last season, when it was just too hard to take our eyes off the game to spend time in the Tony Luke’s line, we relied on Rick’s Steaks which was only a few feet away and also served a great sandwich. This year, now that Rick’s has pulled out of the stadium to focus on the opening of their new location, Campo’s Deli has set up shop in his place. Campo’s which has an impressive 62-year history of its own, offers several variations on the cheesesteak and a much-hyped special sandwich called “The Heater”. This special, which can be found on the Campo’s menu in Old City as the “Holy Feldman,” combines spicy jack cheese, steak, grilled onions and hot sauce. We were disappointed in the rubbery round cut slices of ribeye that were far too fatty and the thick cut, jack cheese which refused to melt. This sandwich left much to be desired, but we know that a slow start happens sometimes, and it’s all about finding your zone as the season goes on.
And finally, we discovered two words that should never again be uttered at the ballpark: Lemon Aioli. You know who you are, Italian Market Chicken Sandwich.
Citizens Bank Park
One Citizens Bank Way
Philadelphia, PA 19148 (Google Map)