Done right, the entity known as the cheese hoag is more than a simple meatless sub and vegetarian starter food. It becomes a veritable torpedo of protein. Beyond the beloved Wawa cheese Shorti, there are other entry points of fascination into this curdled dreamworld.
The type of cheese hoagie I can vouch for contains more than a hair of lettuce. It is not a brick of cheese slapped onto a hoagie roll. The cheese is sliced ultra-thin, lovingly fanned on top of a contrasting variety of cheese. There are three cheeses involved, all of them usual suspects. No fancy shit, please. Not here.
Mayonnaise is detectable, but not overpowering. All other components are judicious. Bread has strength on the outside but is not overly crusty, yielding to an inner softness, just a touch of sogginess where pickle has come to lay.
For vegans, the path leads to Citimarket Place (1318 Walnut St.) for the Mixed Soy Cheese Hoagie w/ Vegenaise. Their roll collection is near exquisite. Want Soy Crisps with that?
Chickie's (1014 Federal St.), while known for their supreme veggie hoagie, is a haven for cheese purists. Selections here include mozzarella only, prov or sharp prov only (there is indeed a difference), American only, or mixed cheese. There's real hoagie conviction in the air at Chickie's, and they use Sarcone's rolls.
Another cheese medium you can believe in awaits at Old Nelson (the deli that Arthur Kade hangs out in when he's not blogging). The balance of cheese to pickle is harmonious, and the bread is more substantial than most soft hoagie material. I'm almost certain they'll do anything you want here.
And you. Always you. Which paper-sheathed sword of bread and cheese do you fight hunger with?