With the Eagles recent Super Bowl win, all eyes have been on Philadelphia, or “Philly”, as it’s usually known in the northeast of the U.S. Although it's known right now for having a winning sports team, did you know that Philly is also a great food town? If you didn’t, here are five fun food-related things to do in the “City of Brotherly Love”!
There’s no food more representative of Philadelphia than the cheesesteak. In fact, it’s the “Official Sandwich of Philadelphia”! The “hoagie” is a hot sandwich on a particular type of roll with thinly sliced pieces of beef and melted cheese. The word “hoagie” is a true Philadelphia word. According to legend, a local newspaper reported that Italians working at the shipyard in Philadelphia during World War I, known as Hog Island, introduced the sandwich by putting various meats, cheeses, and lettuce between slices of bread. It became known as the "Hog Island" sandwich, which was then shortened to "Hoggies", then ultimately the "hoagie". You may recognize similar names for this type of sandwich – submarine, hero, or grinder, but don’t call it any of those in Philly! And there’s no shortage of great cheesesteak places in Philly, like the “Big 3” - Pat’s, Geno’s and Tony Luke’s. Try all three and decide which you like best!
Reading Terminal Market
The public market has been a landmark in Philadelphia since 1893! And Reading Terminal Market has awesome food – everything from produce, to Amish style donuts, to a bookstore, to yes…. Cheesesteaks! But, as a vegetarian, I was craving a falafel platter – just check out the photo! Yum!
What was once the ultimate party street has evolved into an awesome food scene. While food is the big attraction, there’s some super cool street art that draws crowds, too. Notably, Magic Gardens, situated at 1020 South Street! It’s the vision of artist Isaiah Zagar, who undertook beautifying and revitalizing the neighborhood in the 1960's by renovating dilapidated buildings and adding colorful mosaics to them.
The Italian Market is supposedly the nation’s oldest outdoor market! The streets around 9th Street are lined with produce vendors, but there are also bakeries, restaurants... you name it! While it’s known as the Italian Market, it’s really ethnically diverse, so you can find foods from all over, but especially from Central America. It’s a great little neighborhood stroll that includes some tasty treats!
You know you’ve reached Chinatown when you see the Friendship Arch located at 10th and Arch Streets! The arch was built in 1892 by Chinese artisans and it symbolizes the connection between Philadelphia and its sister city Tianjin.
Sports factoid: When the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team was looking to build a new ballpark in the 1990’s, one of the locations considered was an area in and around Chinatown, but the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation launched a successful opposition campaign against the ballpark plans. Eventually, the ballpark's current location, in South Philadelphia, was chosen.
Anyway, the neighborhood is a bustling mix of Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Korean cultures and cuisines. There are nearly a dozen bakeries that sell Hong Kong style pastries (like fried red bean cakes) and countless restaurants offering Vietnamese, Burmese, Japanese and Korean fare! There are so many great places to eat that it’s impossible to name just a few! Guess you’ll have to check it out for yourself!
Have you visited some or all of these places? I'd love to hear about it on Facebook or in the comment section below!