PROFILE: Philly Luncher “Matt”

As is now customary at Philly Lunch, every Tuesday we turn over the site to a different lunch’er for his or her recommendations for the best lunch in Philadelphia. This week it’s Matt, a consultant who knows his deli sandwiches and is taking me to this Savoy deli place sometime soon, though he doesn’t know that yet…

Name: Matt

Age: 27

Occupation: Management Consultant / Resident foodie

Where in Philly do you Work?: 18th and Market…and wherever else in the world they send me (right now exploring Midtown East in NY — which is MUCH better for lunch than White Marsh, MD)

Favorite Kind of Food: Tough question. Nothing beats old school Russian Jewish food to me (kishke, kreplach, chopped liver, etc.) but that’s because I grew up on it. I also will always go for Japanese and Korean food as it’s pretty healthy and clean without sacrificing on taste. I love me a good arepa, although I haven’t checked out Sazon yet.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Grapefruit. I don’t know what it is but I can’t do it.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Philly:In terms of generic sandwiches, the Reuben at Old Nelson Deli is surprisingly fantastic — they just get the balances down pat; the Brian at Coventry Deli (2000 Market St @ 20th)  is another favorite (garlicky greens, pears, turkey, muenster on sourdough), and if I’m up for a walk, the turkey schwartzie at Primo’s is also solid. Gia Pronto makes a mean Chicken Parm, and Marco is a great guy — I’ve known him since he first opened the store at Penn.

Outside of that, I’m a huge fan of the falafel at Mama’s Vegetarian, the beef chow fun at Yue Kee Mobile Kitchen (if you’re there, it’s a good excuse to get some Stumptown coffee from Hub Bub next “door”), Magic Meatballs (with cheese and hot sauce) from Magic Carpet (I swear, you’ll forget it’s tofu), and the chicken torta at Tacos Don Memo. (3800 Sansom St. @38th St.)  The Jerk Chicken at Gigi and BigR’s is pretty great too. If I’m really aggressive and can get to the terminal market, I’m getting me a plate of Sang Kee duck, rice, and greens and maybe having a peking duck roll on the side. Keeping under $10, I can live off two rolls and a miso soup from Vic Sushi (2035 Sansom St.  btw 20th and 21st) any day of the week. I live in Rittenhouse so on Saturdays sometimes I’ll grab tamales from Savoy Flowers, just don’t be put off by the randomness of the deli. (262 S 18th St. @ Manning St.)

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? We’re across the street from the Comcast tower so their food court is probably a little too much of a “goto” — there’s a lot of choice and honestly the food is pretty good if you forget about the price. I can’t knock DiBruno’s (1730 Chestnut St. @17th) on quality at all and LaScala (615 Chestnut St. @ 7th) is among the better pizza places in the vicinity. Sometimes we have staff lunch from Cosi — I’m not one to turn down free food, but it just doesn’t excite me.

Place you discovered thanks to Philly Lunch (if any): Well ya’ll haven’t been around that long but I’m looking forward to my first Rangoon experience. But I also am an avid reader of the original Midtown Lunch and did learn about Kwik Meal from one of Zach’s posts.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? I think probably Queens NY. I’m a displaced New Yorker and what I’ve always loved about Queens is that you have so many ethnic communities in a (relatively) small place. It’s really easy to get whatever you could possibly have a hankerin’ for, from Indian in Jackson Heights, Bukharian in Forest Hills, Korean and Chinese in Flushing, and amazing Greek in Astoria. Plus Mama’s of Corona has the best turkey motz hero (hoagie?) I’ve ever had. Outside of the States, I could probably live on Churrasco sandwiches in Chile for a long time…

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Philly Lunch readers? In New York, you can get Chicken and Rice on almost any street corner. Yet I have not come across this amazingness in 8 years of living in Philadelphia (granted 6 of those years were spent on Penn’s campus, but…) Anybody know where I can get this?

Churrasco sandwiches? Meh, I am going to have to go with pastel de choclo as my one craveable Chilean dish… but kudos to you for giving a shout to my hometown, Queens, and for knocking the grapefruit!   If you would like to be next week’s Profiled Philly Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me at



  • Jamie… you are such a Chilean food hater! We’ve got to break you of this…

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    I agree the lack of Street Meat carts in Philly is sad and makes me cry. However, there are two in the central business district that I’m aware of. NY Halal on the west side of 16th smack in between Market & JFK is my favorite (although its also $.50 more than the other palce). The other is at the corner of 12th and Chestnut.

    Both offer a free can of soda if you ask (its on their signage, but lots of people I see forget to grab the free drink).

    Are there any other Halal carts in Center City?

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    grapefruit haters!

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    Geeze now there are two grapefruit haters! Not allowed.

  • Hey now, zach, I am a big fan of that beautiful country (glaciers, desert, beaches, mountains,pisco) I was just never sold on their food. Though if any bar started serving chorrillana (fries covered in meat and egg), I would be a happy girl.

  • I would hop on a train to Philly for that…

  • I’m partial to Denise’s pink cart along the bolt bus stretch on 30th. Their oxtail rocks and their fried chicken is some of the best that i’ve had. However, it’s a bit difficult transporting 5 lbs of food on the handlebars of a bike.

    I’m with Matt. I’m grapefruit hater #3. And Cosi? Blech.

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