Getting to know Philly’s Best
Passion and Nostalgia for Philadelphia Drives the American Dream
Moving to a different city can leave you craving for the flavors of home. If you have a hankering for your hometown favorite, you have two options find a least objectionable alternative or take a trip back home. But there is another option, open your own restaurant. This is the case with Philly’s Best .
Owners of Philly’s Best, Bob and Andrea Levey, moved to Southern California from Philadelphia and found themselves experiencing homesickness for the flavors of Philly. In the true American Dream, they turned this itch of nostalgia into a business.. What started as a single store operation in Fountain Valley in 1992, has grown to a 22 store operation. They have plans to have a total of 50 stores open in the coming years.
For anyone who has been living in Southern California during the 90’s and 2000’s you have undoubtedly tried a Philly cheesesteak at least once. For folks from Philadelphia, Philly’s best can be a refuge to cure your homesickness and enjoy a small bite of Philly.
Owner Bob Levey explained to me that when he opened the original stores in California he had a hard time getting legit ingredients to make a really authentic cheesesteak. He explained how he had to, “bring back supplies with him each time he visited family in Philly.” Times have changed they now airmail their bread straight from Amoroso bakery in Philadelphia and have found the right butcher to create the perfect thin slicing off the steak that is cooked to order in true Philly style.
My Food Recommendations at Philly’s Best
Cheesesteaks are the heart of this restaurant chain. There are two basic formats of a cheesesteak, cheesesteak with onions and “cheesesteak without onions. In Philly they use the shorthand “cheesesteak with”…they already know you are referring to onions. I personally prefer the Philly’s Best which includes sweet pepper and mushrooms, which is called the “Philly’s Best.” There are plenty of derivatives on the cheesesteak including a vegetarian option.
I asked my buddy for Philly how these cheesesteaks match up to the ones at home, he said the flavor is spot on. Although he added the caveat that he adds extra meat, so it piles over the roll. “That’s how I ate it as a kid and it is a birthright.”
Chicken and Cheese sandwich
The Chicken and Cheese sandwich is another version available at Philly’s best. It is made with thin sliced chicken, white American cheese and served on the Amoroso rolls. I tried this sandwich last time I visited and really liked it.
The Philly Italian Hoagie
The Philly Italian Hoagie is made with Capacolla, provolone, Genoa salami, mortadella, lettuce, onion, oil, and vinegar. This picture is from their website, I forgot to take a picture the day I visited.
Turkey Breast Hoagie
My wife’s favorite sandwich at Philly’s Best is the Turkey Breast Hoagie, made with thin sliced turkey breast, lettuce, mayo. Be sure to add white American cheese and ask for extra oregano. Trust me.
Taylor Pork Roll Sandwich
One of the lesser known sandwiches for the West Coast crowd is the Taylor Pork Roll Sandwich, which is very popular in on the East Coast. It is made by packing pork into a cylindrical sack, where it cures into shape. At Philly’s Best they slice it up and grilled it with cheese and serve it as a sandwich. It tastes like salty ham, although when combined with the cheese and bread, it is really delicious.
Cheese Steak fries
The Cheese Steak fries as a must try if you are feeling gluttonous. This dish is simple, Cheesesteak is served over crispy fries. The result is a little bit of happiness and a swollen gut.
Other goodies from Philly
Wise chips are also popular on the East Coast and virtually unheard of in California, unless you are in a Philly’s Best. My Mother-in-law, from New York, regularly talks about eating Wise Chips as a child.
PA Dutch Birch Beer might remind you of root beer, although it is made with birch tree sap. I love birch beer.
TastyKake is snack brand that any child on the East Coast knows very well. It is similar to how every kid on the West Coast knows the flavors of Hostess. TasyKakes are made in Philly and offer many different flavors, although my favorites include the Kimpets and the Candy Cakes.
My Final Thoughts
The first thing I will say is that I did not know Philly’s Best was actually owned by folks from Philly until my visit. Not being an expert of all things Philly, it was great to hear the stories of food in Philly and their inspiration for the Philly’s Best Chain. If you are from Philadelphia let me know if you like their cheesesteaks in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you.