THE GOOD WORD Vol. 6: Holly Moore of

Please note: This article is published as an archive copy from Philadelphia City Paper. My City Paper is not affiliated with Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia City Paper was an alternative weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last edition was published on October 8, 2015.

The Good Word is a new weekly Meal Ticket feature where we ask Philadelphia food people questions. We�re going to start by highlighting the city�s many excellent food writers and bloggers, with eventual plans to extend beyond the scribeosphere. The questions will be different every week unless we come across a really sweet one we want to reuse. Want to nominate a future Good Word candidate (yes, you can nominate yourself), or submit ideas for questions? E-mail

In this installment of The Good Word, we�re chatting with longtime Philly food personality Holly Moore. Moore, who wrote a food/restaurant column for City Paper for 14 years, is best-known for his food site (not a blog!), which sees the prolific eater rating inexpensive food all over the country on his grease-stain scale. CBS3 recently did a segment on Moore, which features a clip of him riding on his signature scooter.

You ran your own restaurant, Holly Moore's Upstairs Cafe, here in Philly from 1978 to 1982. Let's say you caught the bug again and decided to open a place today. What would it be called, where would it be and what would it serve?

I am tempted to jump back in�far too often.�About three years ago, I made offers on a few�locations, but none panned out. The name: Holly Dawgs. Holly Dawgs sells top quality�HollyEats�grease stain-worthy�food, including�hot dogs (Usinger's imported from Wisconsin, hopefully served on a toasted and buttered New England-style hotdog bun), hamburgers and cheesburgers�(four- to five-ounce, ground fresh daily), fresh-cut French fries (not shoestring), batter-dipped onion rings, draught root beer and shakes made with light cream.� There would be no turkey dogs, kobe�burger/dogs,�or�veggie burgers, and no toppings other than cheddar cheese, fried or raw onion, ketchup, mustard and red and green relish. No cheesesteaks, either.�Philadelphia needs another cheesesteak place like it needs another Southern Italian restaurant.

What now-closed Philadelphia restaurant do you miss the most? (Other than your own!)

That's easy.� Steven Poses' Commissary, the early years. The Commissary even helped�lure me to Philadelphia back in the late '70s.� Before then, all I knew about Philadelphia was Old Original Bookbinder's and the oil refineries�seen on the way�in from the airport. After being offered a job with an ad agency, I stayed at the Latham for a few days to get the feel of Center City. The Commissary, as much as anything, convinced me that W.C. Fields had it wrong. I still crave the Commissary's fresh-baked brioche and croissants, their omelet bar and, of course, the�carrot cake.�Among the other places�I really miss: Levis',�the Astral Plane�and Siegfried's, a German deli in the Reading Terminal Market that made several kinds of liverwurst.

You cover a wide array of food from all over the country on Holly Eats. What cuisines have you uncovered in your travels that are underrepresented here in Philly?

Non-franchise hamburger and hot dog stands. Cheesesteaks are so dominant in Philadelphia that, unlike most every other major city, there are�few walk-up stands where one can grab a quick burger or�dog.�As far as an actual regional cuisine, Southern cooking options have been pretty slim until recently. Bebe's sides, and especially their banana pudding, are as good as any meat and three in the South. Philadelphia�still needs more pan-fried chicken and more chicken-fried anything.

Early in your career, you worked for McDonald's as part of the team that developed the Big Mac. When's the last time you had one?

I used to make a point of downing a Big Mac once or twice a year. That ended when McDonald's started storing cooked burgers in warming drawers rather than serving them hot off the grill. McDonald's founder Ray Kroc and I didn't get along all that well,�but I have tremendous respect for his emphasis on freshness and quality. If�Ray Kroc�were around today, he would fire all the McExecutives and bring back�the McDonald's of yesteryear. There are few restaurant skills as impressive as a McDonald's grill guy, spatulas in both hands, flipping�six�burgers at a time, row after row after row. On road trips I will still grab an occasional Egg McMuffin.�That is about the only thing McDonald's has not screwed up.

Posted 2009-08-14 16:18:13
Yes! Great interview. I so agree with the need for more hamburger stands and chicken-fried foods!

Mike Ritz
Posted 2009-08-14 16:59:52
Holly, what will it take for us to convince you to move to Providence, Rhode Island? We've got plenty of great diners, Haven Bros, NY System Hot Weiners, Stanley's, and Mamie Ellen's Southern Vittles.

Posted 2009-08-15 18:35:22
Holly, good work.. keep hittin the Delaware Valley joints!

Posted 2009-08-17 13:01:07
I second the chicken-fried foods movement!  Is is too much to ask for a good chicken-fried steak in this town?

Posted 2009-08-20 10:43:43
his website has been around for years!!! i can't believe that people are only covering it now. i don't think that i have ever disagreed with a single one of his opinions....

Steve Poses’ Frog Burger opens tomorrow at noon :: Meal Ticket :: Food Blog :: Philadelphia City Paper
Posted 2010-05-28 18:12:06
[...] credited with spearheading the city’s restaurant renaissance (just check out contemporary Holly Moore’s high praise), has little interest in bumping chests with all those brassy contenders for Philly’s [...] 

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