Chickie's, the tiny sub shop near the intersection of Federal and 10th in South Philly has won numerous local awards for best veggie hoagie, and even claims to be the "originator of the veggie hoagie." I'm not sure anyone can claim to be the first to stick veggies in a roll, but I certainly can't resist sampling an award-winning hoagie, especially when it resides so close to home.What exactly is in Chickie's famous veggie hoagie that even meat-eaters love? Broccoli rabe sauteed with garlic, baked eggplant, roasted red peppers, and sharp Provolone cheese nestled in a seeded Sarcone's roll. Very Italian.
But wait. What's that on the menu? A fried tomato hoagie? Aw, I just went ahead and got one of those, too.
You see, I know what I like, and I don't like broccoli rabe (too bitter) or slabs of baked eggplant (mushy) on hoagies -- but I tried one anyway. I've actually had a sandwich similar to Chickie's veggie hoagie elsewhere (not nearly as good, for sure), and it's not for me. Maybe it's the Southern in me and the absence of any Italian, but fried tomato hoagie with roasted peppers, lettuce, cheese, and mayo (hold the bacon and turkey) sounded just right. Yep, I know what I like, and I liked the fried tomato sandwich better. The curious part is that the tomatoes were ripe. I was fully expecting fried green tomatoes, but this ain't no Southern sandwich; it's South Philly, yo. I can't help but think a firm green tomato would hold up better to frying, though, and add a bit of tartness. At any rate, I ate the whole thing, and enjoyed it very much.
While both hoagies are good, you'll know if you like Chickie's veggie hoagie or their fried tomato hoagie best before you order. You might even prefer one of their other specialty hoagies.
Chickie's fried tomato hoagie might be my second favorite sandwich from an Italian hoagie shop, but the veggie turkey hoagie at Capriotti's still remains number one for my taste buds.
Chickie's Italian Deli
1014 Federal St., Philadelphia, PA 19147