Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Dec 11 2015

Philadelphia Does Grilled Cheese Great

Cheesemongers & Specialists Lead Philly’s Craze For The Childhood Fave

The grilled cheese sandwich, once considered so plain it was relegated to kids’ menus, has now gained grown-up favor and flavor among specialty food vendors, lunch spots and esteemed eateries in and around Philadelphia. Sure, a couple slices of American slapped on buttered white bread will do at home, but those eating out can discover the joys of melted manchego, sharp provolone, brie and enhancements such as fried jalapenos and homemade brisket. Here’s where to find downright upscale versions of a formerly simple sandwich:

The Classic, Only Better:

  • Old City’s Farmicia takes the first part of its name seriously and sources the cheese for its grilled cheeses at nearby farms, including one that’s Amish cheddar (with tomato on multigrain) and another that’s goat (with pesto and tomato on sourdough). 15 S. 3rd Street, (215) 627-6274,
  • The biggest sandwiches in town come from just south-of-South Street’s deservedly Famous 4th Street Delicatessen. Though the retro hangout is best known for its overstuffed corned beef specials, it also makes the city’s mightiest grilled cheese, available with or without bacon. 700 S. 4th Street, (215) 922-3274,
  • The Grill Cheese truck calls University City its semi-permanent home and names its specialties after nearby institutions and neighborhoods. The Penn Quaker is Swiss and Asiago with sautéed spinach on rye with garlic butter; and the Drexel Dragon pairs pepper jack with grilled jalapenos and red sauce on Tuscan bread. Various locations, (215) 715-1084,
  • Out of the shadow of elegant sibling operation Fork, casual High Street on Market has earned national accolades for its house-made breads, which happen to furnish the perfect bases for the bistro’s sublime “Best Grilled Cheese Ever,” made with Pennsylvania Noble cheddar and cultured butter on roasted potato bread. 308 Market Street, (215) 625-0988,
  • Comfort foods gone modern are the specialty of Jones Restaurant. On a menu of chicken and waffles and matzo ball soup are two grilled cheeses: One is classic, with a cup of tomato soup; the other could be a future classic, grilled Halloumi on a brioche bun with avocado, lettuce, tomato and lemon aioli. 700 Chestnut Street, (215) 223-5663,
  • The cozy, coffee-centric Little Spoon Café rotates its grilled cheese offerings, in order to satisfy its clientele with an ever-changing, always seasonal take on its most popular sandwich.1500 South Street, (267) 587-6559,
  • The Rittenhouse home of East Coast-based seafoodery Luke’s Lobster is best known for its lobster roll, but does non-crustacean eaters right with its grilled Gruyère on classic Maine bread (with lobster for those who wish). 130 S. 17th Street, (215) 564-1415,
  • East Passyunk’s best-kept secret Watkins Drinkery makes a mean burger and switches up its grilled cheese recipes on a delicious whim. The artisanal concoction always comes on sourdough, gets fries on the side and never costs more than $9. 1712 S. 10th Street, (215) 339-0175,

Triple—& Quadruple—The Cheese:

  • Bella Vista’s always packed Royal Tavern does up its triple-threat sandwich with smoked Gouda, provolone and goat cheese, plus a cup of soup for the ultimate comfort food concoction. 937 E. Passyunk Avenue, (215) 389-6694,
  • Sam’s Morning Glory Diner, the first of Bella Vista’s new wave of line-out-the-door brunch spots, hits its triple-cheese sammie with Swiss, provolone and cheddar on whole wheat. 10th & Fitzwater Streets, (215) 413-3999,
  • Three-cheese griddled sandwich after midnight? Yes, please. Northern Liberties’ classic Silk City Diner loads American, provolone and Swiss cheeses onto country white, adds a tomato, and country ham or bacon (for those who so desire), for the ultimate late-night or day-after cure-what-ails-you fare. 435 Spring Garden Street, (215) 592-8838,
  • Fishtown’s plainly perfect coffee-plus-morning cocktails Soup Kitchen Café does its triple-cheesed grilled cheese four ways: plain, with pickled green tomatoes, vegan or with a cup of tomato soup. 2146 E. Susquehanna Avenue, (215) 427-1680,
  • The South Philly Taproom presaged the movement of hip, new drinking-dining establishments to its neighborhood. Longtime locals and newcomers might dress differently, but they agree on the three-cheese grilled cheese served with dense tomato lager soup, pickles and fries.1509 Mifflin Street, (215) 271-7787,
  • Cozy, all-American Tavern on Camac combines four cheeses on its griddled sourdough: Cooper sharp, Cotswald, pepper jack and Midnight Moon, and serves it with a cup of tomato soup. 243 S. Camac Street, (215) 545-1102,

The Meat Of The Matter:

  • Tomato and bacon sneak into the sandwich at Lafayette Hill’s warmly contemporary Barren Hill Brewery—all the better to soak up the pub’s signature saisons, dark ales and wheat beers. 646 Germantown Avenue, (484) 344-5438,
  • Double-decker Center City establishment Good Dog Bar loads porter-braised brisket and Carolina barbecue onto New York sharp cheddar and sourdough to create a strong competitor to the bar’s popular Roquefort-stuffed burger. 224 S. 15th Street, (215) 985-9600,
  • Elegant, Southern-influenced Rex 1516 does up a brunch-time grilled cheese by combining rich homemade pimento spread with brisket and barbecue sauce. 1516 South Street, (267) 319-1356,
  • The tradition goes mobile, and the menu changes daily at Say Cheese food truck, an operation known for rich to quirky recipes that might include oxtail, brisket or pork belly. These delights are served citywide from the Navy Yard to Love Park and out into the suburbs.
  • Main Line Brew Café and Fermenteria of Tired Hands Brewing Company serve rib-sticking sandwiches to go with their small-batch beer. One menu standout: A bologna panini made with Lebanon-style lunchmeat and smoked white cheddar from Lancaster County. Brew Café, 16 Ardmore Avenue, Ardmore, (610) 896-7621; Fermenteria, 35 Cricket Terrace, Ardmore, (484) 413-2983,

All Gussied Up:

  • A taste of home roams via Dadz Grilled Cheese. Come hungry, very hungry, for brioche-breaded, roast beef-and-horseradish-added grilled cheddar with carmelized onions; pepper jack with sweet peppers, bacon, carmelized onions and Panama pepper sauce; or Havarti with green apple slices and cinnamon on whole wheat. Locations vary, (267) 255-2355,
  • New Jersey-based Valley Shepherd Creamery owns and operates two Center City Meltkrafts, known for a cheesy sandwich menu that stars Valley Thunder (12-month cheddar, brisket and mac and cheese), Somerset (Gruyère, cured ham, cornichons, whole-grain mustard), Brielle (Brie, cranberry chutney, caramelized onion, toasted pine nuts) and roasted fennel and tomato soup. Reading Terminal Market, 12th & Arch Streets, (267) 639-3309; 46 S. 17th Street, (215) 687-4950,
  • Two west of Broad Street locations of the The Milk House double down on dairy with a menu of grilled cheeses and ice cream (plus mac and cheese, soups, salads and cheese fries). The twin institutions improve on the classic grilled cheese and tomato by adding bacon and avocado, and consider their sourdough cheesesteak not a steak but a grilled cheese. 37 S. 19th Street, (267) 639-4286; Suburban Station, 1617 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, (267) 606-6757,
  • High-end and quick-serve operation Plenty is working on a third location, better to serve the people elegant coffees, breakfast all day, a fully stocked bar and melted Gruyère and Fontina with roasted tomato and caramelized onions on High Street multigrain. 1602 Spruce Street, (215) 560-8684; 1710 E. Passyunk Avenue, (267) 909-8033; (coming soon) 705 S. 5th Street,
  • If anyone in town knows and loves cheese, it’s Talula’s Daily owner Aimee Olexy, who carries only the finest fromages in her charming Washington Square breakfast-through-supper eatery’s dairy case. Those same cheeses appear between grilled slices of artisan breads, via recipes that change with the season. 208 W. Washington Square, (215) 592-6555,
  • Old City’s quaint, petite Wedge + Fig has built an entire bar of grilled cheeses, better to showcase its deep dairy selection (farmhouse cheddars, Cantal, Manchego, more) that customers can combine with condiments (truffle honey, quince paste, fried egg, fried jalapenos and more) to create their own sandwiches on white, wheat or rye. 160 N. 3rd Street, (267) 603-3090,

Gone International:

  • Chef Marc Vetri’s casual dinner-and-brunch-only Alla Spina proudly serves pretzels and pig tails—and reinterprets the grilled cheese Trentino-style, with Gorgonzola, provolone, speck and figs. 1410 Mt. Vernon Street, (215) 600-0017,
  • Workers who lunch fill the two floors of Rittenhouse’s Devil’s Alley to down a done-right selection of comfort foods, including a sandwich of cheddar, mozzarella, roasted red peppers and pesto on griddled wheat bread. 1907 Chestnut Street, (215) 751-0707,
  • The cheesemongers at Di Bruno Bros. take their decades of dairy knowledge to a foursome of grab-and-go markets in and outside Center City. Each one offers made-to-order sandwiches, including a decadent mac and cheese grilled cheese; a panini of melted Prima Donna, mozzarella and ricotta on an everything focaccia; and the bestselling French onion brisket, made with Comté, caramelized onion and sherry vinegar on a seeded gyro. 1730 Chestnut Street, (215) 665-9220; Comcast Center, 1701 John F. Kennedy Boulevard, (215) 531-5666; Franklin Market, 834 Chestnut Street, (267) 519-3115, Ardmore Farmer’s Market, 120 Coulter Avenue, Ardmore, (484) 416-3311,
  • Smokin’ Betty’s, Devil’s Alley’s younger sister, also serves the business crowd comforting fare. Its grilled cheese has fresh mozzarella, grilled tomato and pesto-dressed arugula on ciabatta. 116 S. 11th Street, (215) 922-6500,
  • Tria’s first pair of elegant, wine-centric cafes (the company also has an upscale taproom and a bistro) pride themselves on efficient service of tapas-style fare. On their menus: a savory roasted mushroom and brie pressed sandwich with baby spinach and truffle oil. 123 S. 18th Street, (215) 972-8742; 1137 Spruce Street, (215) 629-9200,

VISIT PHILADELPHIA® makes Philadelphia and The Countryside® a premier destination through marketing and image building that increases the number of visitors, the number of nights they stay and the number of things they do in the five-county area.

On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, and, make up the most-visited website network out of the 10 biggest U.S. cities. 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.

  • E-mail

Related Releases

Mar 14 2017

Experience A Taste Of That Famous Philly Flavor

A Guide To The Philadelphia Region’s Legendary Foods

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

Jan 20 2017

A Guide To Group Dining In Philadelphia

Casual Spots, Private Rooms & Prix-Fixe Menus Perfect For Groups

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

Jan 20 2017

Philly's Signature Sandwiches: Cheesesteaks, Hoagies & Roast Pork

A History & Love Story Between A Proud City & Its Delicious Inventions

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

Dec 29 2016

25 Things To Know About Philly's Food Scene

Think Outside The Hoagie Roll For Great Eats In Philadelphia

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:

Major Attributes:

  1. Richly Rewarding Food Shed:
Dec 6 2016

The BYOB Restaurant: A Philly Phenomenon

Region Boasts 300-Plus Bring-Your-Own-Bottle Restaurants

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

Dec 2 2016

A Wave Of Authentic Taquerias & Roving Trucks Make Philly A Bona Fide Taco Town

South Philly Leads The City’s Taco Craze

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:

New-Wave Mexican:

  • 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
Nov 14 2016

Poke Makes A Splash In The Home Of The Soft Pretzel

A Guide To The Philadelphia Region's Trending Raw Seafood Craze

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
Oct 13 2016

When It Comes To Vegan Dining, The Home Of The Cheesesteak Proudly Vedges Out

Philadelphia Offers An Array Of Vegan Fine Dining, Bar Eats, Fast Food & Café Fare

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

Oct 5 2016

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

Sep 23 2016

Fall For Philly Restaurants

Autumn’s New Eats Include A Modern Spin On Filipino Fare, Philly Fried Chicken, Hawaiian Poke & Much More

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