Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef for 1/4 Pound Roast Beef Sandwiches and Meaty Gravy Fries

Today Zoe from Row Home Eats shares her meat-tastic experience from Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef.

As a food (and especially SANDWICH) aficionado who resides in Philadelphia, it was pretty much blasphemy that I hadn’t been to Nick’s Roast Beef. Everybody, and I do mean everybody, raved that it was *the* place to get roast beef in Philly. I tried to go and struck out a few times due to various reasons, but was finally successful one sunny Saturday afternoon. My husband and I planned to get our sandwiches to go and grab a picnic table at the nearby FDR Park with our dog.

We pulled up to the  bar/restaurant with the old-school neon sign and double parked, of course. When in South Philly… I walked through the door, unsure what to expect and saw a small bar with a few old timers watching the Phillies game. At the end of the bar was a little workspace where two or three guys prepared sandwiches with finesse. There was a doorway through which there seemed to be a larger dining area, although I never made it that far. A friendly older woman (hostess? waitress? some combination of the two) asked me if I wanted to order sandwiches and pointed me towards the guy taking orders. It’s always nerve wracking at these places. You want to seem “hip” and “in the know” when you put in your order ( a la “wiz wit,”) so you scope the menu in advance and figure out just what to order and the right way to say it. It’s just so Philly.

This place is called “Old Original” Nick’s Roast Beef so I obviously had to go with the roast beef combo (combo=sharp provolone cheese.) I’m a broccoli rabe lover but wanted to keep it classic so I abstained. In the future, I’ll probably go with the roast beef combo “overboard” which means extra gravy ($7). Yes, please!

The five minute drive to FDR Park seemed interminable with the beefy aromas dancing about the car. I don’t know who was more excited–me or the dog. We finally got to the park and found an open picnic table. We pulled the foil wrapped food from the brown paper bag and opened the sandwiches first. There’s nothing better than the gooey, oozing cheese and the gravy that had soaked into the bun just enough to make it taste better but not so much that it fell apart. Now that’s what I call a perfect sandwich. And then I bit into it. Oh yes. Each sandwich has a 1/4 pound of meat on it. A quarter pound of juicy, tender roast beef dripping in gravy and contained in a hearty (yet not too bready) kaiser roll. Just enough to fill you up if you’re a, ahem, hearty eater like me.

Especially if you get the gravy fries. I also added an order of the can’t miss gravy fries ($4) that had received possibly even more raves than the sandwiches themselves. Oh, the gravy fries. I expected fries topped with some gravy–which would obviously be good. What I got was this.

Yes, there are fries under that mound of meaty goodness. I promise. But honestly, who cares when you have that pile of beef to devour. These fries were everything that I had expected and much, much  more. While the fries, themselves were fine, the gravy was the best. I mean, chunks of slow roasted meat sitting in thick gravy atop starchy fries? There’s pretty much no better combo.

With the two sandwiches, an order or gravy fries and a tip for the sandwich maker, I still walked out with change from my twenty dollar bill. Perfect for a Midtown Luncher! Bottom line, Nick’s was worth the wait, but I can promise it certainly will not be five years before I go back. And you should go too. Get your sandwich overboard and let me know how it is. There’s no such thing as too much gravy! Added bonus, you can get containers of meat and gravy to go. Check it out for your next party. You know, when the Sixers are in the finals or something…

THE + (What somebody who likes this place would say)

  • Gravy fries. Need I say more?
  • Quick service

THE – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)

  • Parking is tough
  • Vegetarians beware

Nick’s Old Original Roast Beef, 2149 S. 20th Street, 215-463-4114


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