At first glance, John’s Roast Pork may seem highly inconvenient to its customers. The family–run restaurant has odd hours. On weekdays, they're open from 6:45 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (or until they run out of rolls). It’s difficult to find, hidden in a shopping center in deep South Philadelphia. Once you make it there, you’ll initially be underwhelmed with the outdoor seating area, made up of just a few wooden benches, covered by an overhang that looks like your dad might have built it himself. But rest assured, the acclaimed establishment makes up for these inconveniences with a truly magnificent sandwich. Despite the restaurant’s appearance, I can promise you won’t be the only one who skipped that Friday recitation to chow down one of their hoagies. When I got down to 3rd and Snyder around noon, a lengthy line had already formed inside the restaurant that went almost to the door. The place is cash–only so I made sure to stop by an ATM beforehand. It was a bit of a wait, but once I got my hands on that sandwich, I couldn’t have cared less.
For starters, let’s talk about the meat. I’m not really a big roast pork fan, but even Ron Swanson would approve of the manner in which John and his family members handle the delicate craft of seasoning and preparing the juicy pork. So juicy, in fact, that I needed numerous napkins to soak up the delectable drippings. The provolone cheese was melted right into the already fantastic roll, and was the perfect cherry on top of an amazing treat. I went with the seeded roll, as opposed the regular Kaiser, and that just enhanced the overall quality. Without a doubt, I became a roast pork believer that day. John's Roast Pork has been proudly serving its namesake sandwich ($6 for a small, $9 for a large) for three generations, alongside other classics like the Philly cheesesteak ($8.50). If you're ever in the neighborhood early, go a little rogue and order an bologna and egg breakfast sandwich ($4) instead of the typical bacon variety. With over 80 years in business, John's has mastered the art of sandwich making and the food world has taken notice: it won a James Beard Award and has been featured everywhere from the Food Network to the Travel Channel. At its core, though, the restaurant is still the family–owned business it started out as. While most people grab and go, I suggest taking a seat at one of the outdoor benches and eating the sandwich while it’s still hot. Inside, the temperature rises quickly, but once outside, that’s easily forgotten. You’re left alone in bliss, just you and your sandwich.