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Eat Like a Local in Philadelphia

Submitted by on July 1, 2019 – 12:36 amNo Comment

Eat Like a Local in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Special to Road Trips for Foodies
By Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau

Looking to sample Philadelphia’s quintessential fare? Stop by these city spots specializing in hometown favorites.


Philadelphia’s most iconic eat is hands down the cheesesteak. Thinly sliced chopped beef and melted cheese served on a long roll, the sandwich has been elevated to an art form in cheesesteak shops across the region. For a classic experience, stand in line at JIM’S STEAKS on South Street, a cafeteria-style joint in a hard-to-miss Art Deco-style storefront. To order like a local, ask for Cheez Whiz instead of American or Provolone as well as fried onions on top (“Whiz wit” as the locals say). PSST: It’s cash only.


The sandwich theme continues with the hoagie, Philadelphia’s interpretation of the sub, made with deli meats, cheese, seasonings and more stuffed into a long roll. CAMPO’S SINCE 1947 in Old City crafts an assortment of craveworthy hoagies (and cheesesteaks). One to try is the Mamma Mia, a hoagie stuffed with prosciutto, sopressata, old-fashioned capocolla, sharp provolone and hot and sweet peppers. You’ll also find gluten-free and vegan options! TIP: If you fall in love with its food, Campo’s ships across the country.


For an A-to-Z assortment of Philadelphia favorites, stop by the READING TERMINAL MARKET, celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. The oldest continuously operating farmers’ market in the country, this food lover’s paradise is a maze of vendors selling everything from butchered meats to fresh produce and prepped-on-site bites. In the northwest corner of the market, Pennsylvania Dutch merchants sell traditional foodstuffs like shoo-fly pie, apple dumplings, soft pretzels, chicken pot pie, scrapple and more. You’ll also find the Travel Channel’s “Best Sandwich in America:” Dinic’s roast pork sandwich made with sharp provolone and chopped broccoli rabe. If you have room for dessert, opt for a creamy cannoli from Termini Brothers Bakery. Not sure where to begin? Get an expert, behind-the-scenes look at the market with a TASTE OF PHILLY FOOD TOUR. The 75-minute walking tour shares the backstory on Philadelphia’s culinary traditions while you sample market staples.

For a historic food tour in South Philadelphia, visit the ITALIAN MARKET. Spanning 10 blocks on South 9th Street, it’s one of the oldest outdoor markets in the country. Started by Italian immigrants in the late 1880s, the market has a mix of vendors selling fresh fish, meat, fruit, cheese and baked goods and today, has expanded to include Mexican, Korean, Vietnamese and other international merchants.


The markets aren’t the only historic food spots in the city. Step back in time at the CITY TAVERN in Old City. Established in the 1770s, it once welcomed the founding fathers. Today, under the ownership of Chef Walter Staib, the fine-dining establishment prepares authentic 18th-century recipes served by a waitstaff in period dress.

Near City Hall, MCGILLIN’S OLDE ALE HOUSE prides itself on being the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia. Opened in 1860, the cozy pub is a go-to for cold beer and traditional pub fare.

RALPH’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT, the oldest family-owned restaurant in the country, has been open since 1900 in the heart of South Philadelphia. Menu favorites include homemade pasta specialties like lasagna and fettuccine alfredo and Old World favorites like osso bucco and braciole.


Day or night, water ice is a warm-weather must in Philadelphia. Smoother than Italian ice, this local treat can be traced back to Italian immigrants who started selling it from stands in the late 19th century. Carrying on the tradition of Filippo “Pop” Italiano, who started scooping out water ice from his pushcart in 1932, POP’S HOMEMADE WATER ICE is a walk-up storefront on Oregon Avenue with various flavors of water ice, gelato (a mix of water ice and soft ice cream), soft pretzels and more.

(Photo courtesy of Discover Philadelphia)

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