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Mar 29 2016

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:

Sandwiches:

  • 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.

Meats:

  • 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.

Snacks:

  • 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.

ADDRESS BOOK
In alphabetical order

Barclay Prime
237 S. 18th Street
(215) 732-7560, barclayprime.com

Blue Duck
2859 Holme Avenue
(267) 686-4687, blueduckphilly.com

Breezy’s Café
1200 Point Breeze Avenue
(267) 858-4186, breezyscafephilly.com

Campo’s Deli
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

Dalessandro’s
600 Wendover Street
(215) 482-5407, dalessandros.com

DiNic’s
51 N. 12th Street
(215) 923-6175, tommydinics.com

Geno’s
9th Street & Passyunk Avenue
(215) 389-0659, genosteaks.com

George’s Sandwich Shop
900 S. 9th Street
(215) 592-8363

Godshall’s
675 Mill Road, Telford
(215) 256-8867, godshalls.com

Goldenberg Peanut Chews
peanutchews.com

Habbersett
701 Ashland Avenue, A-4, Bridgeville, DE
(610) 532-9973, habbersettscrapple.com

Hatfield
2700 Clemens Road, Hatfield
(215) 368-2500, hatfieldqualitymeats.com

High Street on Market
308 Market Street
(215) 625-0988, highstreetonmarket.com

Jim’s Steaks
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
jimssteaks.com

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
leeshoagiehouse.com

Little Nonna’s
1234 Locust Street
(215) 546-2100, littlenonnas.com

Mancuso & Son
1902 E. Passyunk Avenue
(215) 389-1817

Matt & Marie’s
1107 Walnut Street, (267) 886-9955
18th & Arch Streets, (267) 273-1940
18th & Sansom Streets (215) 563-2000
mattandmaries.com

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
paesanosphillystyle.com

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
Various locations
phillysoftpretzelfactory.com

Pudge’s
1510 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell
(610) 277-1717, pudgescheesesteaks.com

Rose’s Real Italian Water Ice
4240 Pechin Street
(267) 972-1902

Sarcone’s Deli
734 S. 9th Street, (215) 922-1717
2100 S. Eagle Road, Newtown, (215) 860-9500
sarconesdeli.com

Taste of Philadelphia
(800) 8-HOAGIE, atasteofphilly.com

Tasty Baking Company
tastykake.com

Tony Luke’s
11 Pennsylvania locations
tonylukes.com

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.
 

Contact(s):
  • E-mail

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