Bacon flavored vodka, bacon flavored toothpaste, bacon sundaes: the culinary world’s most persistent trend just keeps getting more ridiculous. The truth is this cured meat never needed a makeover. Bacon is best when done simply, like on the side of some eggs (over easy, please!) or sandwiched between two slices of bread with lettuce and tomato. The BLT originated in the late 19th century as variation on the tea sandwich. With just five ingredients, the BLT is a hearty and simple sandwich as well an American diner staple. Here are some of the best places in Philadelphia to find the classic when all you want is a simple meal, hold the gimmicks.
The legendary overstuffed sandwiches at Famous 4th Street certainly help this deli live up to its name. The price tag may be a bit high ($10.50), but it is definitely worth it. Famous 4th’s overstuffed BLT is monstrous in the best possible way. Eight ounces of the thickest bacon you’ve ever seen with a salad’s worth of lettuce and tomato on hearty grainy bread means you’ll be full for a while. Pro Tip: Make sure you ask for mayo or you won’t get any. For your side, choose the potato pancakes: perfectly crispy discs full of real fluffy spuds.
As a spot for brunch it’s hard to find a more satisfying meal than at Day by Day. This airy dining room with welcoming service makes you want to be a regular as soon as you enter. The menu is filled with clever takes on diner favorites. With horseradish mayo and crunchy romaine on black bread, Day by Day’s BLT ($6.50) is definitely a twist on the standard, but the ingredients blend so well you’ll think this is how BLTs were meant to be. Pro Tip: Call ahead for take-out, especially during the noontime lunch rush.
It might seem strange to order a typical brunch item at a bar, but weird looks are a small price to pay for a BLFGT ($10): bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomatoes. This variation does get a little fancy, but the addition of the FGT (there are regular Ts on there, too) brings the cold-and-hot ingredient combo to another level. Warm, juicy veggies paired with crunchy, smoky bacon adds up to one of the most memorable BLTs in Philly. Pro Tip: Request the Tabasco remoulade on the side or it takes over the entire meal.
This unassuming eatery inside the The Science Center loyally serves its 9-to-5ers soups, salads, and breakfasts. This is the kind of place where the staff always makes you feel like their favorite customer and it isn’t unusual for the owners to call in a regular’s order just as they see them walk in the door. The BLT ($3.50) is a satisfying mix of crunchy iceberg, hearty romaine and silky tomatoes all slathered in the customary mayo that compliments a BLT so well. Pro Tip: ask for just a little mayo—this kitchen can be a little heavy handed with the condiments.
In the kingdom of mom-and-pop food stalls that is Reading Terminal, Down Home Diner serves up generous servings of no-nonsense recipe at a fair price. Though the BLT ($4.50) features softer bacon than some others in town, its meaty hickory-smoked flavor makes up for the lack of crunch. Extra chilly tomatoes once again become the key to the combo by contrasting with the hot bacon and toast. Pro Tip: Get your savory fix at DHD, then travel around RTM for dessert.
From the outside you’d think Sam’s was the perfect place for a quick and simple sandwich – until you see the lines, of course. This Bella Vista diner has some serious fans. We’re talking so many fans that brunch is raucously loud, there is always a long wait for a table on weekends. Sam’s does the BLT ($6) straight up with no tricks: just romaine, mayo, and toasted white bread. Pro Tip: If you don’t like waiting, go during a weekday.