In this one-stop, stomach-bulging sandwich quest, we pit two iconic Philadelphia sandwiches – the cheesesteak and the roast pork – against each other in order to decide the best sandwich John’s Roast Pork has to offer.
Just in case you live in a sandwich cave, John’s is a legendary sandwich institution in South Philly. Both its cheesesteak and roast pork are widely regarded as two of the best sandwiches in this great city (the roast beef is pretty awesome, too).
The cheesesteak is quite easily one of the best I’ve had in Philadelphia. Cheesesteak diehards might pick another as their favorite, but the margin will be slim. If you’re looking for a Philly cheesesteak done right, John's is your place.
The bread is a perfect blend of soft and chewy, allowing the meat and cheese flavors to really shine. A chewier bread can work with an Italian hoagie, but not with a cheesesteak.
My biggest pet peeve with most cheesesteaks is easily the lack of meat. It’s one reason Ray’s in Lansdale is my favorite cheesesteak in the 'burbs. John’s features a solid 12 ounces of meat to provide a good layering of meat throughout. Boosting the meat to 16 ounces would take it to another level.
John’s also cooks each sandwich separately, which avoids the issue of dry meat that you might find at places that pile mounds of cooked steak into a corner to keep pace with tourists. It could be another reason why the line at John’s often goes out the door, too.
The roast pork was certainly in for a fight.
My first bite of the roast pork was a slap of awesome to the face, as the contrast of melt-in-your-mouth roast pork and sharp provolone ignited my tastebuds.
The pork was juicy, flavorful and just about perfect. John’s ladles on extra juice leading to a slightly moist bread that I love. This is no sissy sharp provolone, either. You taste the salty kick in every bite, and combined with long hots and spinach, it is a great combo.
I almost declared a first round knockout, but after a few rounds of a rope-a-dope strategy the cheesesteak hit back with subsequent bites.
After eating half of each, I decided to take the rest home to see which one could stand the test of time and collect my thoughts. The drive home had me desiring another bite of the cheesesteak, while the roast pork only got better with time as the juices sunk in. This was like Rocky and Apollo Creed pulling themselves up from the ropes after 15 brutal rounds and both deserving victory.
In the end, the cheesesteak has very slight nod. My recommendation is to order both. Eat one at a time, split them up, save one for later, who cares. But order both. And if the cheesesteak line is too long, get the roast pork first since there is rarely a wait, and start on that one while you wait in line for the cheesesteak. You can't go wrong!