Long overdue as Hot Dog of the Week, Johnny's Hots is one of Philly's best out-of-the-way spots for cheesesteaks and hot dogs. The dogs are terrific, but the thing to order here is really the hot sausage, grilled and served on a fresh Liscio's roll and topped with roasted longhot peppers or some pepper hash. For the adventurous, Johnny's Hots is also one of the better places in Philly to try the Philly Combo, a smashed fish cake served on the same roll with a hot dog or sausage.
Johnny's Hots got started as a shack in front of a scrap metal yard in the 1950s, a place for workers to grab a quick bite. A few years ago they bought the current building, a little bit more than a shack but still a walk-up joint. The weathered previous location—across the road and up the street—has new owners and still exists as a similar breakfast and lunch spot.
The area is still mostly industrial, the parking lot filled with pick-up trucks and union guys shooting the breeze. The only seating is a bench along one wall, but most people eat in their cars or on the stainless steel shelf along the building. Or cross the street to Penn Treaty park, right along the Delaware River, for some pretty unique views of the city.
Johnny's opens at 4:30 a.m. every day except Sunday, serving up breakfast and hot coffee. Hot sausages with peppers, onions and egg, cheesesteaks—the perfect breakfast for a long day of pouring concrete or operating a crane. The menu isn't really that different from hundreds of breakfast and lunch trucks across the city set up near warehouses and construction sites, but Johnny's goes the extra mile in terms of quality. Aside from the sausages and dogs they also crank out an award-winning cheesesteak.
Be warned that Johnny's closes around 2 or 3 p.m. so you need to get there early. The neighborhood is changing and Johnny's is pretty close to the gentrification frontier, especially with the new casino in the works practically across the street. I could definitely see this place having lines around the corner on weekend nights if they opened it up a few hours earlier.
234 North Delaware Avenue, Philadelphia PA (map)
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