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Experience A Taste Of That Famous Philly Flavor
A Guide To The Philadelphia Region’s Legendary Foods
Philadelphia’s flavor is a dynamic mix of traditional ethnic recipes and new culinary inventions, well-known treats and obscure dishes, and these specialties can be found everywhere from the corner store to the fanciest kitchens of haute restaurants. Among the region’s signature foods are national favorites like Italian water ice, Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels and the ever-popular cheesesteak. Other local favorites include pork roll and scrapple, which are available here in the region and through services like Taste of Philadelphia, one of many companies that will ship Philly goodies throughout the United States. Philadelphians are loyal to their edible heritage, and here are some of the sandwiches, snacks and meats that have left a lasting mark on the local palate:
- Everyone agrees that the cheesesteak, invented by Pat Olivieri in 1930, requires thinly sliced beef and a crusty roll, but the choice between provolone, American and Cheez Whiz is a matter of great debate, as is the best place to eat the famed sandwich. The age-old feud between Pat’s King of Steaks and its neighbor Geno’s, which sits just across the street, regularly draws visitors to 9th Street and Passyunk Avenue for taste-offs. Dalessandro’s, John’s Roast Pork, Pudge’s, Tony Luke’s and Jim’s Steaks have equal numbers of devoted fans, and the latter will ship steaks out of town. The cutting edge of steak belongs to high-end restaurants like The Continental Restaurant & Martini Bar and its sibling The Continental Mid-town (a cheesesteak eggroll is stuffed with peppers, mushrooms and onions and served with sriracha ketchup for dipping) or Barclay Prime, which offers a $120 wagyu ribeye, truffled cheese and foie gras concoction that comes with a half-bottle of champagne.
- Contrary to popular belief, “hoagie” is not just a euphemism for a submarine sandwich. The creation of Italian immigrants in South Philadelphia, a hoagie is a sizeable roll stuffed with vegetables, ham, salami, mozzarella, provolone cheese, oil and oregano. The bread component is critical: Amoroso’s and Sarcone’s bakeries are the most common purveyors of rolls, and Sarcone’s Deli even sells its own hoagies in a Bella Vista storefront. The biggest of local sandwich chains, Lee’s Hoagie House has built a small empire with its special house-spiced oil and 24-hour hoagie shipping service. Hoagies can also be made with tuna, turkey and other meats, and still more creative combinations are available at Campo’s Deli and Tony Luke’s. New school purveyor Matt and Marie’s delivers a fresh take with the Italian Stallion, including Claudio’s provolone, house-pickled peppers and pepperoncini aioli.
- The lesser known of Philly’s long-roll lunches, the roast pork sandwich is nevertheless a signature regional delicacy that, like the hoagie, was born from Italian-American cookery. Tender pork, usually shaved or chopped, gets layered with melting sharp provolone cheese and garlicky sautéed broccoli rabe. John’s Roast Pork, Tony Luke’s, George’s Sandwich Shop and DiNic’s all deliver classic renditions. For a high-end version, High Street on Market adds fermented rabe and a homemade semolina roll, while Paesano’s Philly Style’s Arista innovates with longhots and pulled meat from a whole roasted suckling pig to great effect.
- A mixture of pork, spices and cornmeal, scrapple is a fried breakfast meat introduced by the Pennsylvania Dutch. Today, scrapple can be found in luxury hotels, greasy spoon diners and every local breakfast joint in between. Some of the most famous purveyors are Godshall’s, Habbersett and Hatfield.
- Popularized in the region during the 19th century, pork roll, also known as Taylor ham, is sausage-like breakfast meat that is usually served on a roll with eggs and cheese. This Philly favorite rivals scrapple as the breakfast meat of choice for locals. It can be found in pretty much any area diner, but hipster hangouts like Breezy’s Café are also integrating it into creative morning sandwiches, and the Blue Duck even serves it as the basis of one of its burgers.
- Introduced to the region by German (“Pennsylvania Dutch”) settlers in the 18th century, pretzels—dough twisted into three loops, then baked, salted and served hard—quickly became a favorite local snack. Now, of course, there’s the famous Philly soft pretzel, purchased from a street vendor or from a bakery storefront such as Philadelphia Soft Pretzel Factory. No matter what form the pretzel takes—braided, sticks, nuggets and bagels—every soft pretzel must be accompanied by mustard.
- Visitors would be hard-pressed to find a Philadelphian who didn’t have fond memories of Butterscotch Krimpets or chocolate cupcakes with rich striped icing: Tastykakes have been the Philadelphia snack of choice for nearly a century. Founded by a baker and an egg salesman in 1914, the Tasty Baking Company later revolutionized the snack-cake industry with its individually wrapped fruit pies. The company’s headquarters, opened in 2010 at The Navy Yard, spans 25 acres and features a LEED-certified bakery. Tastykakes can be ordered directly from the bakery or found in any local food store.
- Its name is oxymoronic, but Italian water ice is a perfectly logical solution for those in need of relief on a hot Philadelphia summer day. Otherwise known as Italian ice, the combination of fruit or syrup and shaved ice is a refreshing treat. John’s Water Ice, Mancuso & Son and Rose’s Real Italian Water Ice are age-old favorites, but the Yardley Ice House amazes with its astounding variety of flavors. Also worth noting is the seasonal changing water ice on the Little Nonna’s menu, which might be blood orange basil, concord grape or tomato depending on the time of year.
- The quintessential Philly confection, Goldenberg Peanut Chews are dense bars of nuts and sweet syrup enrobed in chocolate. First issued in 1890 by a Romanian immigrant named David Goldenberg, this chocolate treat has become a mainstay of regional trick-or-treat bags.
Sending Philly Food Love:
- Those who can’t get to Philadelphia to experience the eats for themselves can have the city’s specialties shipped right to their door. Campo’s Deli sends cheesesteaks, hoagies, soft pretzels, Tastykakes, Herr’s Potato Chips, Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews and other Philly foods throughout the U.S. and to select international destinations. The Pennsylvania General Store in the Reading Terminal Market packages Tastykakes, Asher’s chocolate-covered pretzels, Anastasio Italian Market Reserve Coffee, Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews and lots of other regionally made goodies into specialty gift baskets. Since 1978, Taste of Philadelphia has been delivering hoagies, cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, Amoroso rolls, Taylor Pork Roll and Habbersett scrapple to Philly-philes across the U.S. and Canada.
In alphabetical order
237 S. 18th Street
(215) 732-7560, barclayprime.com
2859 Holme Avenue
(267) 686-4687, blueduckphilly.com
1200 Point Breeze Avenue
(267) 858-4186, breezyscafephilly.com
214 Market Street
(215) 923-1000, camposdeli.com
The Continental Mid-town
18th & Chestnut Streets
(215) 567-1800, continentalmidtown.com
The Continental Restaurant & Martini Bar
2nd & Market Streets
(215) 923-6069, continentalmartinibar.com
600 Wendover Street
(215) 482-5407, dalessandros.com
51 N. 12th Street
(215) 923-6175, tommydinics.com
9th Street & Passyunk Avenue
(215) 389-0659, genosteaks.com
George’s Sandwich Shop
900 S. 9th Street
675 Mill Road, Telford
(215) 256-8867, godshalls.com
Goldenberg Peanut Chews
701 Ashland Avenue, A-4, Bridgeville, DE
(610) 532-9973, habbersettscrapple.com
2700 Clemens Road, Hatfield
(215) 368-2500, hatfieldqualitymeats.com
High Street on Market
308 Market Street
(215) 625-0988, highstreetonmarket.com
4th & South Streets, (215) 928-1911
Bustleton & Cottman Avenues, (215) 333-JIMS
431 N. 62nd Street, (215) 747-6617
469 Baltimore Pike, Springfield, (610) 544-8400
John’s Roast Pork
14 E. Snyder Avenue
(215) 463-1951, johnsroastpork.com
John’s Water Ice
701 Christian Street
(215) 925-6955, johnswaterice.com
Lee’s Hoagie House
14 Pennsylvania locations
1234 Locust Street
(215) 546-2100, littlenonnas.com
Mancuso & Son
1902 E. Passyunk Avenue
Matt & Marie’s
1107 Walnut Street, (267) 886-9955
18th & Arch Streets, (267) 273-1940
18th & Sansom Streets (215) 563-2000
Paesano’s Philly Style
148 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 886-9556
1017 S. 9th Street, (215) 440-0371
2012 N. Broad Street, (215) 204-7000
Pat’s King of Steaks
9th Street & Passyunk Avenue
(215) 468-1546, patskingofsteaks.com
Pennsylvania General Store
Reading Terminal Market
12th & Arch Streets
(800) 545-4891, pageneralstore.com
Philadelphia Soft Pretzel Factory
1510 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell
(610) 277-1717, pudgescheesesteaks.com
Rose’s Real Italian Water Ice
4240 Pechin Street
734 S. 9th Street, (215) 922-1717
2100 S. Eagle Road, Newtown, (215) 860-9500
Taste of Philadelphia
(800) 8-HOAGIE, atasteofphilly.com
Tasty Baking Company
11 Pennsylvania locations
Yardley Ice House
77 S. Main Street, Yardley
(215) 321-9788, yardleyicehouse.com
VISIT PHILADELPHIA® is our name and our mission. As the region’s official tourism marketing agency, we build Greater Philadelphia’s image, drive visitation and boost the economy.
On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.
Experience A Taste Of That Famous Philly Flavor
Philadelphia’s signature flavor is a dynamic mix of traditional recipes, new culinary inventions, well-known treats and obscure dishes, and these specialties can be found everywhere—from corner stores to the fanciest haute restaurants. Among the region’s best-known foods are national favorites like Italian water ice, Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels and the ever-popular cheesesteak. More localized favorites include pork roll and scrapple, which are available here in the region and through services such as Taste of Philadelphia, one of many companies that ship Philly goodies across the United States.
Here are some of the sandwiches, snacks, meats and more that have left a...
A Guide To Group Dining In Philadelphia
Dinner just tastes better when everyone’s together, and this is especially true in Philadelphia, where the concept of Brotherly Love extends across the table. For breaking bread with family, friends or both, a restaurant that’s both physically and conceptually designed to handle a big, hungry bunch is an invaluable find. Here’s a diverse selection of Philadelphia’s top group dining options, including casual spots to pop in with a party of 10 (and more upscale destinations where foodies book big tables in advance), bistros with prix-fixe menus and/or BYOB (bring-your-own-bottle) policies that take the worry out of splitting the bill, to...
Philly's Signature Sandwiches: Cheesesteaks, Hoagies & Roast Pork
Here in Philly, cheesesteaks, hoagies and roast pork sandwiches are civic icons, tourist draws, cultural obsessions—and, most importantly, favorite meals. A visit to the city would be incomplete without diving into the no-flatware-required specialties. Here’s the lowdown on the holy trio of Philadelphia sandwiches:
What Is It?
A cheesesteak consists of a long, crusty roll filled with thinly sliced, just-sautéed ribeye beef and melted cheese. The art of cheesesteak preparation lies in the balance of flavors, textures and what is often referred to as the “drip” factor. In the past, the “cheese” of choice has been Cheez Whiz
25 Things To Know About Philly's Food Scene
Philadelphia food is so much more than the cheesesteak and the soft pretzel, or even scrapple, or roast pork sandwiches. It’s also amazing vegan fare, quirky BYOB (bring-your-own-bottle) restaurants, world-class craft local beer, emerging distillery scene, or chef-driven concepts and passion projects. Philly’s food scene is about neighborhoods that grow with their restaurants. And competing chefs who work together. It’s about sourcing ingredients from the region’s farms and giving casual dining its due. It’s about embracing delicious diversity.
Here is a primer of 25 lesser-known components of Philly’s lush and luscious food scene:
- Richly Rewarding Food Shed:
The BYOB Restaurant: A Philly Phenomenon
Despite decades of popularity and expansion, one quintessential Philadelphia dining phenomenon continues to fly deliciously under the radar. It’s the BYOB, the bring-your-own-bottle restaurant—BYO, for short. Typically independently owned and operated, Philly’s BYOBs number into the three hundreds. Diners find them on dozens of corners in Center City, along avenues of renewed urban neighborhoods and tucked down rural roads. It’s a curious trend with an interesting backstory—and an even more interesting present.
Here’s a short explanation of how the BYOB scene came to be—and advice on navigating the landscape.
What Is A BYOB?:
A BYOB restaurant allows patrons to
A Wave Of Authentic Taquerias & Roving Trucks Make Philly A Bona Fide Taco Town
Little by little, Philly’s turned into a bona fide taco town. Between the mom-and-pop taquerias of South Philly, tried-and-true tequila bars, a roving pack of lunch trucks and the newest crop of gringo-owned joints, there’s truly a taco for everyone and their hermano. Here’s where the hungry masses can get their tacos on:
- Fishtown’s divey Loco Pez found its inspiration in L.A.’s fusion-y taco trucks, and the result is a mix-and-match selection of fun—and sometimes unexpected—flavors. Classic preparations like al pastor and cochinita pibil share menu space with unconventional choices, like vegan-friendly seitan and spinach, and soy
Poke Makes A Splash In The Home Of The Soft Pretzel
The Hawaiian poké craze has hit Philly in a major way, and no wonder: Raw fish over rice with vegetables, sauce and assorted fun toppings makes for a healthy and satisfying meal. While Japanese sashimi and Italian crudo continue to be widely popular, restaurant goers are also enthusiastically embracing fresh seafood in many new (to the region) ways, whether it’s a traditional dish of Philippino kinilaw or a completely unorthodox Mexican-Japanese mashup tuna taco.
Here are just some of the delicious ways to experience uncooked fish in Philly:
- Bubble tea meets sushi at the aptly named Bubblefish. The
When It Comes To Vegan Dining, The Home Of The Cheesesteak Proudly Vedges Out
It’s a curious thing that a city so renowned for its cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches could also foster one of the nation’s most robust vegan food scenes. Upscale diners can find delight in the shared plates at Vedge or the coursed and the home-style elegance of Miss Rachel’s Pantry, while those seeking a quick bite can swing by Blackbird Pizza for fare that is more traditionally Philadelphian. Factor in some coffee shops, bars and even a diner, and vegan eaters will see—and taste—that the city’s offerings have something for every palate, day or night.
Here’s a look at some
Cheesesteak 101: A Primer On The Who, What, Where And Whiz Of South Philly Cheesesteaks
Here in Philly, cheesesteaks are a civic icon, a tourist draw and a cultural obsession. Often imitated around the world, the cheesesteak is rarely duplicated successfully outside of Philadelphia. So what is an authentic cheesesteak and where did it come from? Here’s the lowdown on this region’s favorite sandwich.
What Is A Cheesesteak?:
A cheesesteak is a long, crusty roll filled with thinly sliced sautéed rib-eye beef and melted cheese. Generally, the cheese of choice is Cheez Whiz®, but American and provolone are common substitutions. The art of cheesesteak preparation lies in the balance of flavors, textures
Fall For Philly Restaurants
It’s official: Two of Philly’s recent openings—Wm. Mulherin’s Sons and South Philly Barbacoa—made Bon Appetit’s Best New Restaurants list, marking 2016 as a banner year for the local restaurant scene. There’s more yet to come this fall, with a thrilling lineup of globally inspired newcomers, including Philly’s first poke shop (Poke Bowl), a boldly imaginative taqueria (Mission), Filipino fine dining (Perla) and Latin American street food (La Mula Terca). Here are just a few highlights for the season’s must-try list:
Center City East:
- Taking up residence in a cozy