PROFILE: Philly Luncher “Zoe”

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 Zoe, a counselor who loves cheese and sandwiches- I am with you there, girl!

Name: Zoe

Age: 29

Occupation: High School Counselor (and newbie blogger with Row Home Eats)

Where in Philly do you Work?: 22nd & Arch

Favorite Kind of Food: Cuisines–probably Italian and Vietnamese. Food items (i.e. my death row meal) are baked macaroni and cheese, Uncle Tomy’s curly cheese fries, cheesesteak hoagies from Tony Luke’s, fettucini alfredo, Wawa hoagies and lobster tail. I would be very, very full. I’m also, apparently, a fan of cheese.

Least Favorite Kind of Food: Bananas and raisins.

Favorite Place(s) to Eat Lunch in Philly: Brisket sandwich with cheese and rabe from DiNic’s in the Reading Terminal. I used to be a vegetarian and they would make veggie sandwiches for me with cheese, roasted peppers and greens. I slowly transitioned to eating meat with their roast beef and brisket sandwiches. Now I’m a full-fledged omnivore and there’s absolutely nothing I like better than this sandwich, with extra gravy. YUM! They put a lot of care into their food preparation and truly value the process as well as the end result. And if you go when they’re not too busy (which has become increasingly difficult,) your sandwich comes with a side of conversation from one of the owners or a guy sitting next to you at the counter.

Because the Reading Terminal is a little too far from work, I usually get the turkey diablo with pickles from Primo Hoagies when I’m in the mood for a sandwich. The sliced turkey breast is paired with peppery cheese and a secret spice blend, which are all balanced nicely by the crunch of the pickles and the chewy seeded roll. Besides, I feel kind of racy ordering something called the “diablo.”

I also enjoy Vietnam Restaurant, although I do not get to lunch there as often as I would like. Their vermicelli dishes are outstanding and service is quick and friendly. I always try to order something different when I go, but their vermicelli is so darn good that it’s hard to veer away. At least I’ll switch up the topping from grilled chicken to steak to squid, depending on the day. I’ll usually add an order of vegetarian summer rolls because I’m piggy like that. At least they’re not fried!

“Go-To” Lunch Place You and Your Coworkers Eat at Too Often? Arch Gourmet, a great deli across the street from our building with some of the nicest employees in the entire city; Trader Joe’s; and, when we want to get a little fancier, Aya’s Cafe (2129 Arch St.) The nature of my job does not often allow for leisurely lunches (particularly those that involve martinis, unfortunately) so I rarely actually eat out. Aya’s is a great option for a quick lunch and also provides a discount for take out. Their calamari salad with ginger dressing is phenomenal.

If you could work anywhere (just because of the lunch) where would it be and why? Tuscany, sigh. I love rustic Italian fare and would tour the small-town outdoor food markets of Northern Italy in search of the perfect tomato, strawberry or peach, depending on the season. I would engage with the locals and, eventually, become one myself. Realistically, I wouldn’t mind working a little closer to the Reading Terminal or Chinatown though.

Is there anything you’d like to ask the Philly Lunch readers? How are you able to manage the balance between a healthy diet and a healthy wallet while enjoying all the great lunch spots Philly has to offer?

Nice rec with Aya’s, I just passed by there yesterday and was wondering how it was.

As for a healthy diet- I order whatever I want when I am eating out but I cook healthy at home, that is my balance. And for my wallet- well this is Midtown Lunch, all lunches are under $10 (usually much under), there is no need to pay more!

If you would like to be next week’s Profiled Philly Lunch’er (or know somebody you’d like to nominate), email me at


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