The Philly Taco: more than just a stoner legend
The Philly taco is a local food challenge built for college students and stoners alike. Vice reported on the Philly taco in 2017; the story introduced the pizza-wrapped cheesesteak to the masses– and just like that, the Philly Taco solidified its place in stoner food lore.
To learn more, GreenState got Mark Kuhn on the phone. He is the CEO of Oat Foundry, and grew up right outside of Philly before moving to the city in 2008. He laughed, “Of course, growing up, you know what a cheesesteak is, but the Philly taco, I didn’t hear of until college. It’s specific to Lorenzo’s and Jim’s, you can’t do it with just anyone’s stuff.”
As the story goes, in the early 2000s, two friends decided to head to Philadelphia’s South Street, home of local staples Lorenzo’s Pizza and Jim’s Steaks. The twenty-something buddies rolled their sandwiches into a pizza, and in that humble moment, a legend was born.
The challenge seems to be a right of passage for young Philadelphians, “I’ve done it like twice in my life, and it’s disgusting,” Mark said.
Most people place the cheesesteak lengthwise, rolling the pizza around the bread like you fold a New York slice. But Mark says some put their sandwich perpendicular to the slice, rolling it inside using the croissant method. He concluded that is a bananas approach to the challenge– but to each their own.
The other munchies of Philadelphia
Unfortunately, one half of the challenge is unavailable for now. Jim’s Steaks is out of commission following a Summer 2022 fire, so tourists must wait to try their hand at the South Street-based food challenge. As the establishment is slowly renovating to open up a new shop next door to the old location, Mark recommended other Philadelphia staples stoners and foodies would both drool over.
For a beloved Philly sandwich, Mark said, “Go to DiNic’s and get a roast pork sandwich, like, that’s a great fucking sandwich.”
Food tourists should also check out family-owned John’s Roast Pork in South Philly’s Reading Terminal Market. “They have the best cheesesteak in Philly, and it’s not even the best thing on the menu,” Mark divulged. (He did add that if Jim’s was still serving up steaks, it would be his top choice)
If high caloric intake and food that “hits your stomach like a bomb” isn’t your thing, consider visiting Mish Mish, a white table-clothed establishment with a solid wine program. Mark recommends that cheesesteak lovers start with the Armenian fried string cheese. The spicy duck at Kalaya Thai in Fishtown is another dish he swears by. The spice, he says, is unlike any other– from his description, it seems like it evokes a somewhat religious experience. Lastly, for the sandwich crowd, Middlechild has two locations. Its Center City deli counter or newer Fishtown location have “phenomenal, phenomenal sandwiches.”
The local tales of traveling to South Street to wrap a cheesesteak in a pizza seem to be more than just a legend– it’s a right of passage for the brave souls willing to take on a day’s worth of calories in one sitting. But while tourists wait for Jim’s new location to open, these recommendations should satisfy visitors.
Does your town have a unique food that has to have been thought up by stoners? If so, send me an email— I’d love to hear about it.