Here, Eat This

Houston's Best Sandwiches: The Chicken Philly at Pappa Geno's

The Chicken Philly at Pappa Geno's is one amazing and amazingly filling Philly.
The Chicken Philly at Pappa Geno's is one amazing and amazingly filling Philly. Photo by Jeff Balke
We are in search of Houston's best sandwiches because we love sandwiches and we love Houston!

Despite Houston being one of the most culturally diverse cities in America, there are a handful of culinary delights that are difficult to create here because of the water. Certain bread products are especially difficult to make with Houston's water, so things like pizza dough and po' boy rolls are often flown in from other parts of the country. Such is the case for the devastatingly light and airy hoagie rolls at Pappa Geno's that hold my favorite sandwich there, the Chicken Philly.

The purveyor of Philly cheesesteaks, something people from that part of the country fight over (but what don't they fight over in Philadelphia?), has its original location (they have four now around town) in a nondescript little strip center location just north of the Heights on Ella Boulevard. If not for the bright orange and blue color scheme, you might miss it.

Inside, it has the feel of a brightly-colored diner and it serves up the best cheesesteaks in Houston. The Chicken Philly is what you might imagine: ground chicken, grilled with onions, with mayo and melted provolone cheese. But, it's that bread that makes the sandwich. Flown in by Pappa Geno's from Buffalo, New York, the sub-style roll is incredibly light but sturdy enough to soak up the considerable juices from the chicken and onions. It's like biting through crunchy cotton candy without the sugar.

The interior is well seasoned and comes out piping hot from the kitchen. And the whole thing is big, like a full footlong sub big. To be honest, it probably isn't something I'd want to consume in one take even if I could, which I can't. I don't even bother to get french fries with it. That would be way too much.

And this isn't to say the Philly cheesesteaks here aren't great. They are. They even put Cheese Whiz on a couple of them, which tastes remarkable. But the Chicken Philly just has that perfect bite I look for in a sandwich. Fortunately, I'm not limited to only one visit or one sandwich, though I probably am limited by the number of times I want to go per month assuming I don't want to weigh 400 pounds.

If you have a sandwich you think is one of the best in town, hit us up. We're always looking for new options.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke