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There are few things more crucial to life in Philly than the ability to go to Wawa and order a $4.49 turkey hoagie at all hours of the day. But if you’re in the city, it’s also important to know which one is the best. Yelp’s often a good indicator of the top-tier locations of restaurants and convenience stores, but we at Billy Penn figured more detail was needed.
So in order to bring you this highly valuable piece of service journalism, this reporter walked around Philadelphia in a quest through subfreezing temperatures armed only with a knapsack and Yelp’s listing of the seven top-ranked Wawas. To keep this scientific, I ordered the same thing at each store: Oven-roasted turkey, provolone, lettuce, tomato and mayo on a white shorti roll — and don’t you dare toast that thing.
From there, I graded each Wawa on a bird scale — each Wawa stood to earn five birds. Each store could earn between zero and two birds for the ordering experience and general ambiance, zero and two birds for hoagie quality and up to one bird for speed. Here are the rankings:
6. Washington Square West
Store (9th and Walnut): This Wawa was enjoyable on the inside, and I had a pleasant experience dealing with the cashier. I also watched an employee assist an elderly woman with working the touchscreen, so, aw. However, a Wawa employee kinda ran into me and I kinda spilled coffee all over myself and I’m kinda not sure whose fault it was, and so that made for a bit of an awkward experience. One-and-a-half birds for experience and half a bird for speed here.
Hoagie: We all split this hoagie, but gave it the same reviews: Too much mayo, and the roll was sort of half-baked strange. It was soft and chewy in the middle, but the ends were hard and the bread was kinda soggy. This hoagie gets one out of a possible two birds.
5. Society Hill
Store (2nd and South): I quite enjoyed myself at this Wawa in Society Hill near South Street, even though it’s a pretty small location. The cashier named Ms. Linn was super personable and didn’t even laugh at me when I fumbled my debit card (while paying for a $4 sandwich). One and half birds for experience and a full bird for speed.
Hoagie: My reporting colleague Mark Dent had this one, and gave it mixed reviews. While he said the sandwich had good taste and right amount of vegetables, it lost points for poor construction as the meat was falling out. The bread was a bit on the hard side, too. One bird for this one.
4. University City
Store (36th and Chestnut): This University City location (one of two) was so incredibly speedy in making my sandwich that I actually hadn’t even paid for it before it was prepared. I also really appreciated a nice man behind the counter who helped me with my kiosk when I stupidly clicked the sale tab and couldn’t order a shorti — silly me! Two birds here for overall experience and full bird for speed.
Hoagie: While I was pretty sold on the service at this Wawa location, the hoagie was sub-par and received one out of two birds. Our astute intern Anthony Fleet said the roll was a bit hard, he couldn’t taste the cheese and it was lacking in the veggie department. But the amount of condiments was good, he said, and the turkey tasted fresh.
3. Logan Square
Store (17th and Arch): I had a fantastic experience in this Wawa with regard to personnel. A worker held the door open for me and made small talk about the weather, and the cashier reassured me that I didn’t look totally insane while my glasses were all fogged up. But the sandwich took the longest to make by a longshot. Two birds for experience, but zero birds for speed here.
Hoagie: The roll on this sandwich, enjoyed by our editor Chris Krewson, probably got the ravest (most rave? idk) review of all. Seriously, he couldn’t stop talking about how fresh and chewy and perfect this shorti was. Even though there was a little too much tomato and a little too much mayo, this bangin’ bread made up for it. One full bird for the Logan Square hoagie.
2. Market East/ Chinatown
Store (10th and Arch): The selection of the Market East/ Chinatown Wawa as No. 2 on this list is probably an unpopular opinion, but whatever, I had a fantastic experience there. Even though the location was a bit smaller than some of the others, the staff was ridiculously fast not only in making my sandwich, but in getting me through the checkout line. This one gets 1.5 birds for overall experience and one bird for speed.
Hoagie: I had this hoagie and was a huge fan. The roll was soft and chewy even on the ends, and the turkey was sliced thin just like I like it. I could actually taste the provolone cheese, and the thing wasn’t drowning in mayo, either. This sammich gets a full bird.
1. University City
Store (37th and Spruce): This Wawa is beautiful, especially if you’re into the whole Penn thing. They have some cool wallpaper of Penn sports figures, and the store itself is pretty large. When I went there around lunchtime on a school day, the store had enough staff on board that the experience was smooth and my hoagie was up fast. They also conveniently had two separate lines, one that didn’t sell tobacco products, making it go much quicker. Also, this was the last Wawa I visited and they managed to earn praise at a time when I couldn’t feel my feet or legs or face. This location gets two birds for experience and one bird for speed — two minutes and 30 seconds at lunchtime is impressive, especially when you’re basically on a college campus.
Hoagie: This hoagie won itself two birds, mostly because resident Wawa roll hater and Billy Penn community manager Shannon McDonald called it “the best Wawa roll I ever had” and called the sandwich as a whole “tolerable,” which means a lot coming from her. She added that the turkey was sliced thin, and the sandwich had just the right amount of mayor. Kudos, Wawa — you may have converted a nonbeliever.
Store (21st and Hamilton): Damnit.