Left at the Fork

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Tony Luke’s Expanding Down East Coast

Gotta admit, when we first started making regular visits to Tony Luke’s in South Philly in the early ’90s, we never imagined it would ever expand to a second Philadelphia outlet much less become franchised up and down the east coast. The roast pork Italian and Uncle Mike sandwiches had us thoroughly seduced, as did the very scruffy, bare-bones location, alongside a barbed wire encircled “parking area” beneath rumbling Interstate 95 next door.

Tony Luke's Roast Pork Italian is one of the world's great sandwiches.

Tony Luke’s Roast Pork Italian is one of the world’s great sandwiches.

We’ve still never tried one of their cheesesteaks, which we gather is the primary spur to their expansion success. There are currently almost 30 Tony Luke’s shops, all found within about 50 miles of the South Philly original, but future eateries are expected to land further afield, in places like Richmond, Charleston, Charlotte, and Miami. We’ll be interested to see if the concept takes hold down south.

The luxury digs at the original Tony Luke's on Oregon Avenue in South Philly. That's I-95 overhead.

The luxury digs at the original Tony Luke’s on Oregon Avenue in South Philly. That’s I-95 overhead.

We still love the original Tony Luke’s on Oregon, and the stand in Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia serves juicy pork Italians, dressed with provolone and garlicky broccoli rabe, every bit as good as those at the original (just a few blocks away). On the other hand, the short-lived Tony Luke’s franchise that landed a few years ago in the Trenton, NJ suburbs was just OK, a blurry approximation of the original sandwich with none of the soul.

6 Comments

  1. Omg!!! Im born bread nj/s.phl and 7yrs ago moved to virginia. Im soooooop excited to read this! Everyone i bring up home can’t wait to go back to eat on philly. Lots of miles for some good food…. here I come! This has made my day. I’ll be a regular in Richmond… what’s an hr and half done for some bangin’ food… nothing!

  2. The spot opened in OC, MD is terrible. I love Oregon Ave, but so far, that’s where the love ends.

    • Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle

      April 25, 2016 at 11:26 pm

      They need to keep tighter reins on the franchisees, probably. But Oregon Ave. is special.

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