PROFILE: Philly Luncher “Erik”

As is 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 Erik, who does marketing for our great city and thinks that living and eating in Philly is the bees knees.

Name: Erik

Age: 28

Occupation: Database and E-mail Marketing

Where in Philly do you Work?: Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, 17th Street between Market and Chestnut.

Favorite Kind of Food: Traditional Philadelphia Italian hoagies, roast pork, and chicken cutlet sandwiches on seeded rolls are like heaven.  Also, just about any kind of Asian food.  Different variations of chicken, rice and veggies seem to be the most satisfying lunches for me.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: This might come off as a little snobby and holier-than-thou but I really try to avoid eating at large national chains for lunch in Center City.  I’m sure there is nothing drastically wrong with the taste or quality of food at these places per se, but I prefer to spend my hard-earned dime on local establishments.  We have so many unique options here…why get Subway if you can get Primo’s?

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Philly:

Giwa (16th and Sansom) Awesome Korean. I love, love the dol sot bibimbap which is a sizzling stone bowl of rice, veggies,  egg, and choice of meat (I normally get chicken) with Korean BBQ sauce.  Absolutely perfect on a chilly winter afternoon.  A little pricey at $11+ and the place can get cramped but well worth it.  Looks like the critics agree with me on this one.

Wrap Shack (18th St. @ Sansom)  I started eating these wraps years ago when it was literally a “shack” in Old City.  Same great wraps but now with a roof over your head.  My favorites are the Thai Peanut Chicken and Southwest Ranch wraps.   They’ve expanded recently to include a full bar with some taps if you feel like enjoying an adult beverage with your lunch.  The owner is a really nice guy too.

Dibruno Bros (Chestnut St. or Comcast Center Market)  For Italian sandwiches and pre-made salads.  Good people watching in here too.

Moshi Moshi (18th St. @ Chestnut St) Cheap sit-down sushi and bento box lunch specials.  Very quick and tasty sushi to get your fix.

El Fuego (Chestnut St. @ 20th St)   I come for fresh and delicious California-style burritos and the occasional Mexican beer.  My favorite is the chorizo burrito.

Mix (Chestnut St. @ 21st St) Pizza place across the street from El Fuego with really great garlicky crust and inventive pizzas. My favorite is definitely the BBQ chicken pizza.

Coventry Deli (Market St. btw 20th and 21st St)  I go here for large deli sandwiches with a variety of sides for reasonable prices.  The outside table area is the perfect office retreat on a nice day.

Cafe Spice (Liberty Place food court)  Indian takeout outpost of the popular Old City restaurant.  I really enjoy the chicken tikka masala and naan.

Also, I am fan of just about any food cart for quick and cheap hotdogs, soft pretzels, chicken cheesesteaks, egg and cheese, etc.  They are a great part of working in the city.  Where else can you get a full meal for just a few bucks so easily and quickly? Also, the folks manning these carts are great to chat with as they make your food.

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? Easily- Morris Café  in the lobby of my office building.  However, now that Stephen Starr catering is running the kitchen this isn’t such a bad thing.  The choose-your-own salad bar offers a great selection of toppings and dressings to experiment with day in and out.  The featured “global” entrée usually never disappoints.  Prices are very reasonable probably because of subsidies from the office building and the Duane Morris law firm.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? PHILADELPHIA (okay, so I work for the tourism office and feel somewhat obligated to say that).  Seriously though, we really do have a strong lunch scene here and I enjoy my lunch hour immensely because of it.  However, if  I had to go somewhere else for the lunches it would be Rome.  I could eat Panini, pasta and gelato for lunch every day.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Philly Lunch readers? Why do you guys think there isn’t as much diversity in Center City food carts as there is in University City?  In University City you have Indian, Jamaican and crepe carts but over here where the office workers are we really only have standard hotdog carts with the occasional Chinese or falafel cart.  Are college students really that more adventurous then suits and cubicle dwellers?

Erik poses an interesting question to ponder. Maybe students are more willing to wait on a line outdoors? Maybe there is just less space for carts in Center City? Hmmm…  If you would like to be next week’s Profiled Philly Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me at



  • Perhaps it costs more to keep a truck in Center City than in UC?

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    I have to say I was a bit disappointed in my Giwa experience. Oh the food was quite good, but too expensive for what you get. In addition, the size of the place is a big turnoff, especially if you are a solo luncher, because at busy times you are NOT allowed to sit at a table but must instead sit at the cramped counter with its uncomfortable block stools.

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    Two wild guesses about the lack of variety in downtown lunch carts.

    - most of the more interesting carts by Penn/Drexel (and don’t forget Temple and even CCP) are actual lunch trucks, while in Center City most of them are lunch carts. the trucks offer more cooking options (hard to have a big kettle of ox tails or make crepes in a small cart). I wonder if that’s actually due to licensing or just practicality.

    - most of the folks taking advantage of lunch carts in center city are probably not the most adventurous eaters…my non-PC take is center city lunch carts cater mostly to suburban or blue collar workers that prefer chains and non-ethnic food

    It does make me sad though – however, there are a handful of decent ‘different’ carts. There’s a great Halal street meet cart at 16th and JFK, a crazy cheap Chinese cart at 18th and JFK, and Falalfel at 22nd and Market.

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