Citizens Bank Park Food:
Iconic Philly Sandwich#1 – The Schmitter®

What, you say? The Schmitter®? Over Tony Luke’s roast pork and provolone? Over the Campo’s “Heater” sandwich? The Bull’s BBQ turkey leg or Chickie’s and Pete’s fries? With all of these other goodies at Citizens Bank Park?

First, to your question about what the heck a Schmitter® is. Like the offerings from Tony Luke’s and Campo’s, the Schmitter® is another local delicacy, born at the venerable McNally’s Tavern in the Chestnut Hill area of Philly. It is something of a cheesesteak, but far enough away to have a different name.

Yes, there’s steak and cheese—but there’s also grilled salami, fried onions, tomatoes, and the secret sauce (something like thousand island dressing), all on a Kaiser roll. If you’d like a diagram of the sandwich, McNally’s has a (copyrighted) map of it on their website and at its Citizens Bank Park stand.

In case you’re wondering, no, the sandwich isn’t named after Phillies great Mike Schmidt. In the Citizens Bank Park E-Guide, I share a version of the story of the sandwich that wasn’t quite correct or complete (I'll fix it when I can). At a recent media event, I met with Joe Pie from McNally’s, who told me the much better full story.

In 1966 there was a young man who returned from Vietnam that was a regular customer at McNally’s. Despite being a medical technician in Vietnam, he couldn’t get a job doing it full-time back home and worked as in intern in the Chestnut Hill hospital.

After his shift each night he would come into McNally’s, and the McNally's owner, Huey, would scrape up fresh leftovers for the young hero. He drank Schmidt’s beer, too, since it was the cheapest available at the bar.

One night Huey whipped up "a chemistry experiment of a sandwich", as Joe puts it, adding steak, salami, ketchup, thousand island dressing, and all of the other ingredients that make the Schmitter®. It became an instant hit, and soon it was added to the regular menu. The sandwich became so popular that McNally’s applied for a trademark for it in 1996...when a lawyer friend of the family discovered a counterfeit version of it in California. (Pie requested I add the trademark here. No problem Joe.)

Today, with its presence in Citizens Bank Park and now legendary status, it is in the Visit Philadelphia Sandwich Hall of Fame.

On McNally’s website, in addition to touting their positive ratings on Yelp, they quote others calling the Schmitter® the “planet’s greatest sandwich”. I don’t know about all that, but it’s a pretty good one.

Iconic Philly Sandwich #2 –
Tony Luke’s Roast Pork and Provolone

When people come to visit Philadelphia from everywhere on the globe, usually a cheesesteak or four is on their itinerary, and Tony Luke’s is usually among the big names for the city’s most famous delicacy.

Tony Luke’s original location is on Oregon Avenue not far from the Sports Complex, but they now have several locations in South Jersey, including a couple at the Shore. On the Food Network’s Throwdown With Bobby Flay, Tony himself took on Bobby Flay in a cheesesteak battle and luckily for Flay, Tony won.

At their Citizens Bank Park location, you can get the classic cheesesteak, adorned with that venerable Cheez Whiz and with or without fried onions (Philadelphians shorten “with onions” to simply “wit”, for some reason). And it’s perfectly good, if somewhat overpriced as all ballpark food is. But you can get a cheesesteak at any number of joints in Philly—try that roast pork sandwich.

The roast pork sandwich comes with sharp provolone and an optional and very garlicky broccoli rabe. They’ll usually throw in a long hot pepper too, but be careful with this—I wouldn’t eat one of the peppers after they’d been sitting for a few innings (I speak from experience). For an extra buck or two you can get extra broccoli rabe, an extra pepper or a cheese cup (which is usually used for the curly fries).

What do you put on this? Well I would say barbeque sauce if you can find it—and the next time I go to a Phillies game, I promise I’ll look for some! (You could probably find some at Bull's BBQ nearby.) The sandwich is plenty tasty without any additional condiments, though. It is salty, as you can imagine; so you should have a drink of some kind with it.

Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with a Tony Luke’s cheesesteak except that they can be a bit skimpy with the beef (in fairness, Campo’s doesn’t pack the roll full either). But the roast pork sandwich is what really makes Tony Luke’s stand out at the ballpark.

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