Straight Out of Philly
210 E Fireweed Lane, Anchorage.
Monday – Saturday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Sunday 3 p.m. – 10 p.m.
I visited Philadelphia when I was a smart-mouth 7-year-old and donʼt remember much - maybe seeing the Liberty Bell and learning how to whistle. I wonder if there was the fierce competition back then for who made the best Philly cheese steak sandwich - Patʼs or Genoʼs?
This should tell you I donʼt know anything about “authentic” sandwiches. But as the saying goes, “I know what I like” and I like Straight Out of Philly (SOOP). The outdoor sign reads Alaskaʼs Best Wings & Phillyʼs so you grammar commandos might have a hard time with the punctuation of Philly, but donʼt let that stop you from trying them out. The staff is friendly and they deliver.
SOOP sits on the corner of Fireweed Lane and Cordova St., two blocks east of the Gold Cache Bingo parlor. Itʼs a small space, seating 16 people in the two booths, family-style table and a smaller table that seats two. This is not the restaurant to bring your first date, but if you and your co-workers need a hot sandwich, get in the car and drive. They do a huge pickup service so go online for their menu and call in your order. Or order at the front counter and find a seat. The service is fast and you can distract yourself with the wall-mounted TV that always seems to be tuned to sports.
What makes SOOP Philly sandwiches so good is the bread. Itʼs perfect. The order comes out warm, bread tomahawked down the middle, with a slight snap to the crust that belies the soft innards. They donʼt bake the bread at SOOP, and our server was coy about where it was born. Iʼm OK with that, just so they donʼt stop using it.
They serve 22 different Philly sandwiches, but once the goods are loaded into the bread, itʼs hard to tell the difference by sight. The ingredients are hidden by the cheese melted into gooey submission under the heat lamp. For the record Iʼve ordered the North Philly ($10.95, double meat $13.95) filled with meat, grilled onions, mushrooms and cheese.
The server delivered it hot out of the kitchen with the bread pillow-soft, the melted cheese draped over the meat like a baby blanket. I could only eat half, but younger and bigger eaters could polish off an entire sandwich no problem. You can add other ingredients like green peppers, lettuce, avocado, black olives, and barbecue sauce, but I wouldnʼt mess with the classic ingredients too much.
My son gave me a bite of The Boss ($13.95, double meat $16.95) and itʼs packed with everything: meat, Canadian bacon, green pepper, grilled onion, jalapeno pepper, pineapple and cheese. The sweet heat of the pepper stoked a delayed warmth on the back of my tongue.
Their sign says they have the best wings in Alaska, but thatʼs not true. Wings and Things continues to hold that title, and itʼs not likely to lose it soon. That said, the SOOP wings are good wings (12 pieces with fries $11.95) deep-fried and basted with something like Frankʼs Hot Sauce so they deliver a vinegary bite. For a bit more cash we substituted onion rings ($6.95) for the fries that came with order. The price is high, but you get enough rings for four people and they are good rings, big, crunchy and with the whole onion ring inside the batter.
SOOP serves a lot of other food, like subs ($10.95) and a half-pound bacon burger ($10.95). But like the wings, why go there for a burger when you have White Spot, Long Branch Saloon and Tommyʼs Burger Stop? Then again, if youʼre dragging the kids along, they might need something more familiar like a burger, hot dog on a stick ($5.95) or the chicken fingers with fries (5 for $11.95).
Iʼve got to keep SOOP on my radar because Iʼm never disappointed by their sandwiches and thatʼs what Iʼll go for.