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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. 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 U.S. Philadelphians are loyal to their edible heritage, and the following are just a few examples of foods 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 and Passyunk 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 (a Portobello cheesesteak at lunch includes peppers and provolone) and the Four Seasons’ Swann Lounge, with its cheesesteak spring roll available at the bar.
- 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 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.
- 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 new location, opened in 2010 at The Navy Yard, spans 25 acres and offers visitor tours. 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 to 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 and Rose’s Real Italian Water Ice are age-old favorites, but the Yardley Ice House recently took the “Best of Philly” award from Philadelphia magazine for its astounding variety of flavors.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- For one-stop shopping, visitors can find all of Philly’s finest foods at the historic Reading Terminal Market, where vendors sell the freshest meats, seafood, poultry, cheeses, vegetables, chocolates, Amish specialties and, of course, cheesesteaks.
- 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. Soft pretzels, old-school sodas and Cosmi’s pound cakes are the specialty shipping items of choice at A Little Bit of Philly. The Pennsylvania General Store in the Reading Terminal Market packages Tastykakes, Melrose Diner butter cookies, 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.
Pat’s King of Steaks
9th Street & Passyunk Avenue
(215) 468-1546, patskingofsteaks.com
9th Street & Passyunk Avenue
(215) 389-0659, genosteaks.com
600 Wendover Street
(215) 482-5407, dalessandros.com
John’s Roast Pork
14 E. Snyder Avenue
(215) 463-1951, johnsroastpork.com
1510 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell
(610) 277-1717, pudgescheesesteaks.com
469 Baltimore Pike, Springfield, (610) 544-8400
Bustleton & Cottman Avenues, (215) 333-JIMS
431 N. 62nd Street, (215) 747-6617
4th & South Streets, (215) 928-1911
The Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar
2nd & Market Streets
(215) 923-6069, continentalmartinibar.com
The Continental Mid-town
18th & Chestnut Streets
(215) 567-1800, continentalmidtown.com
Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia
1 Logan Square
(215) 963-1500, fourseasons.com
214 Market Street
(215) 923-1000, camposdeli.com
Lee’s Hoagie House
734 S. 9th Street, (215) 922-1717
2100 S. Eagle Road, Newtown, (215) 860-9500
39 E. Oregon Avenue
(215) 551-5725, tonylukes.com
Federal Pretzel Baking Company
638 Federal Street
Philadelphia Soft Pretzels Inc.
4315 N. 3rd Street
Philadelphia Soft Pretzel Factory
Tasty Baking Company
The Navy Yard
3 Crescent Drive, Suite 200
(800) 33-TASTY, tastykake.com
John’s Water Ice
701 Christian Street
(215) 925-6955, johnswaterice.com
Rose’s Real Italian Water Ice
4240 Pechin Street
Yardley Ice House
77 S. Main Street, Yardley
(215) 321-9788, yardleyicehouse.com
675 Mill Road, Telford
(215) 256-8867, godshalls.com
701 Ashland Avenue, A-4, Bridgeville, DE
(610) 532-9973, habbersettscrapple.com
2700 Clemens Road, Hatfield
(215) 368-2500, hatfieldqualitymeats.com
Goldenberg Peanut Chews
Reading Terminal Market
12th & Arch Streets,
(215) 922-2317, readingterminalmarket.org
214 Market Street
(215) 923-1000, phillyhoagie.com
A Little Bit of Philly
(800) 959-1128, littlebitofphilly.com
Pennsylvania General Store
12th & Arch Streets
(800) 545-4891, pageneralstore.com
Taste of Philadelphia
(800) 8-HOAGIE, tasteofphiladelphia.com
The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases business and promotes the region’s vitality.
For more information about travel to Philadelphia, visit visitphilly.com or uwishunu.com, where you can build itineraries; search event calendars; see photos and videos; view interactive maps; sign up for newsletters; listen to HearPhilly, an online radio station about what to see and do in the region; book hotel reservations and more. Or, call the Independence Visitor Center, located in Historic Philadelphia, at (800) 537-7676.
- Donna Schorr, (215) 599-0782
Every Day Is A Good Day To Shop At Farmers' Markets In Philly
Surrounded by richly fertile farmland and home to innovative urban growing projects, Philadelphia is a market-goer’s dream. Year-round and seasonally, open-air stalls dot the city and countryside, from the bustling indoor Reading Terminal Market to the gingham-clothed tables of the Phoenixville Market, collectively connecting consumers to freshly grown and produced food every day of the week. With many accepting electronic payments, Philly’s growing roster of farmers’ markets has made eating fresh, local food an easy way of life.
Here are just some of the places to find seasonal goodies while supporting area farms:
- The only farmers’ market
Nighttime Is The Right Time To Return To Historic Philadelphia
As day turns to dusk and museums and landmarks close for the night, Historic Philadelphia is just gearing up for a night of fun. Theaters, play places and ghost tours keep youngsters amused until pajama time, while beer gardens, dance clubs and live music venues entertain the over-21 crowd well into the wee hours.
Here’s how Historic Philadelphia buzzes with activity long after the clock strikes 5 p.m.:
End-of-day play at Franklin Square includes an award-winning playground, eclectic carousel and 18-hole mini-golf course with scale versions of iconic Philadelphia landmarks (open until 9 or 10 p.m., depending
Many Philly-Area Eateries Make Vegans, Vegetarians & Gluten-Free Diners Feel Right At Home
There’s no doubt that Americans are increasingly health conscious. Current studies, including the Vegetarian Resource Group’s Harris Poll, suggest that there are now some eight million vegetarians in the United States and one million vegans. Veg-loving visitors to Philly have plenty of options from which to choose, from upscale white tablecloth restaurants offering inventive vegetable creations to casual spots serving raw foods. There’s also plenty of great gluten-free goodies.
Here are some health-minded eateries worth checking out:
- Vegetable lovers head to Bucks County, where Mike Jackson’s Blue Sage Vegetarian Grille turns out creative, big-portioned vegetarian food (no
Iconic Landmarks Recount Philadelphia's Political History
When delegates gather in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention in summer 2016, all eyes will be on the nation’s birthplace. Having hosted numerous political conventions, including the 2000 Republican gathering and the 1948 conventions for all three parties (Democratic, Republican and Progressive), Philadelphia is accustomed to being in the political spotlight. It was here where disgruntled colonists created a new form of government. Today, many of the places where those meetings, debates and activities took place still stand in Historic Philadelphia, an area that spans from the Delaware River Waterfront to 7th Street and from Vine to Lombard Streets....
What's In The Society Hill Neighborhood?
With its cobblestone streets and original 18th- and 19th-century buildings from the Delaware River to 7th Street and Walnut to Lombard Streets, Philadelphia’s quaint Society Hill neighborhood remains as picture-perfect today as it was hundreds of years ago. Its proximity to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Independence Visitor Center make it hard for people to resist the appeal of walking the same streets the nation’s founders once did.
Following an era when the neighborhood was home to a number of luminaries—Samuel Powel, the first mayor of the city after independence was declared, future first...
What's In The Old City Neighborhood?
Located just next to Independence Mall, where the country’s Founding Fathers declared liberty and built a free nation, Historic Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood boasts charming cobblestone streets and plenty of 18th-century charm—along with an independent streak that’s evident in everything from its owner-operated shops to its edgy art scene.
Its proximity to the Liberty Bell, Penn’s Landing and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge make Old City a favorite for out-of-towners as much as for the residents who call it home. People love the neighborhood for its fashionable boutiques, great restaurants, eclectic galleries, boundary-pushing theaters and vibrant nightlife. Especially popular are First...
New Restaurants Blossom In Philly This Spring
The spring season’s in full bloom, and so is the Philadelphia region’s restaurant scene, offering a spate of just-opened eateries that promise to refresh diners’ palates. Among the additions are a Dutch and Pennsylvania German mash-up brunch destination (The Dutch), a second coming for a Queen Village favorite (Southwark) and a cheesesteak-ery for every eater (Cleavers).
The following are just some of the latest and greatest reasons to start making reservations:
Bella Vista/Queen Village/Pennsport:
- Northern Europe meets Pennsylvania German cuisine at The Dutch, a collaboration between chefs Lee Styer (Fond) and Joncarl Lachman
Recap And Refuel: Philly's Dining Scene Caters To Discerning (And Famished) Night Owls
As Philadelphia’s dining scene continues to grow, the city’s bistros, gastropubs, brasseries, eateries, diners and fast-food spots are growing by…hours. By law in Philly, last call at the bar happens at 2 a.m. Last call for food, however, is anywhere from 11 p.m. to never. Check out this list of the hottest, coolest and coziest spots to nibble, nosh, gobble and dine well into the early-morning hours.
Until Midnight On Weekends:
- Edamame dumplings and chocolate-filled bento boxes are available until midnight at Buddakan, restaurateur Stephen Starr’s ever popular, always glamorous Old City shrine to modern Asian fare. 325 Chestnut
What's In The Bella Vista And Queen Village Neighborhoods?
Once considered working-class suburbs, the tree-lined South Philadelphia neighborhoods of Queen Village and Bella Vista have spent the past decade establishing themselves as some of the city’s most stable and vibrant places to live, work, dine and shop. Small, mostly historic townhouses and a mix of new and well-established businesses make up these side-by-side neighborhoods. Residents both new and old are passionate about maintaining pocket parks and patronizing independent merchants and restaurants. The districts’ busiest byways include the open-air Italian Market on South 9th Street and the mini neighborhood of west-to-east-running South Street.
Directly south of Old City and Society...
Philly Eats (& Drinks) With A View
With the opening of the brand-new Assembly Rooftop Lounge at the Logan Hotel and the expected opening of SkyGarten atop one of Center City’s tallest buildings, Philadelphia’s skyward hospitality has reached new heights. While sleek Assembly offers soaring, stunning views eight stories across the Ben Franklin Parkway, SkyGarten promises German and craft beer 51 stories up. Assembly and SkyGarten join a growing roster of the region’s restaurants and bars that deliver up-in-the-atmospheric drama along with delicious eats and drinks. Here are some of Philly’s best places to scope the view:
- Lined with windows, the dramatic dining room