during my first few years living in philly, i worked a 9 to 5 job at a small non-profit in center city. i will save my mixed feelings and thoughts regarding office jobs for another post, or perhaps just keep them to myself. one thing that i will say, is that each day by lunch time i was so ready to get out from behind my desk, breathe some smoggy outside oxygen, and be amongst the humans. during spring and summer months, i'd often pack a little lunch and find a nice grassy corner in LOVE park or meet up with other working lady friends (mostly mary, kate and karina) in our secret garden on chestnut street. but on rainy days, or in the colder months, what was i to do? the dim atrium in the building i worked in was somehow more soulless than my office, as was the quizznos built right into the ground floor. so i stopped packing lunches as frequently, and started to explore the "under $6" options in the neighborhood. one of my most favorite discoveries was a little deli/salad bar place on 19th street, between market and chestnut, sort of embarrassingly called Oh So Good Eatery (there is another location at 17th and market but it's not as good). sure, i'd been to other little grab-and-go buffets in town, but oh so good trumps them all! and since working at 20th and sansom for the past 2 years, i treat myself to a special oh so good plate once in awhile, and damn is if doesn't still do the trick.
a fair warning: it's not all so good. over half of the buffet is greasy "chinese food," too-yellow mac and cheese, fried chicken and more in that genre of boring and gnarly fare. tucked in another little corner is an odd selection of sushi, as well as a fresh fruit and jello bar (seriously). that, too, is silly and weird and never finds a place in my plastic containers. there is also a deli counter on the far left side of the store. i got their veggie burger once, and even though it was only $3.75, it never felt worth revisiting.
the real appeal is the fresh salad section, where for $5.25/lb, there is a rotating selection of wondrous vegetable dishes. some of my favorites are: kale salad with sesame dressing, angel hair pasta w/ mixed peppers salad, and big triangles of cold tofu stuffed with avocado and sun dried tomatoes. true, many of the salads feature crumbled feta or slices of grilled chicken, but same can be said for lots of the dishes in the infuriatingly overpriced salad bar at whole foods, right? of course, there are also salad greens and all kinds of other veggies, so you can make up a super plate of stuff that resembles real food that you might actually pack for lunch if you had enough time or discipline to assemble 4 salads a day at home.
the atmosphere at oh so good is rather dull, but they always have a big stack of philly weeklies by the door, and the people who work there are really nice. and - little secret for ya - after 3:30 p.m., the entire salad bar is 30% off. they close around 4:30 or 5, so i guess they just want to get rid of stuff. and that's a good sign! because i'm pretty sure it means salad-y things are made fresh daily. another small bummer is that they are closed on the weekends, as their main patronage comes from the monday-to-friday drones. but if you're in center city on a tuesday, or whatever, and want a quick, cheap snack, this place kills it.
this is my container from the other day: