This post is part one of four in a mini series on Philadelphia. I made a quick trip this weekend with my friends Chris and Andrew. (Yes, the hungry trio strikes again!) I have never had the opportunity to explore Philadelphia before. When I tell people I have never been to Philly, they are normally shocked since I am from PA. However, I am from New Castle (about 50 miles NW of Pittsburgh). I am way closer to Philly living in DC than I ever was growing up in PA.
Overall, I had a really good time, though I was exhausted by the end. We fit so much into a short trip. I learned a couple (well, confirmed) a few key things on my trip. 1. Philly is a great city for history nerds like myself. 2. Philadelphians really know how to make sandwiches. 3. It would be best to avoid drunk Philadelphians.
The whole reason for this trip was because Andrew had a work event in Philadelphia. He works in political fundraising and has been woking on raising for Senator Bob Casey’s re-election campaign. Senator Casey had an event in Philly on Friday with keynote speaker Barack Obama. Unfortunately, Chris and I were not able to get into the event, which made us sad. I can’t even begin to describe how happy I would have been to be in that room. Since we couldn’t see President Obama speak, we knew we needed to find some pretty cool things to do to make up for it.
When Chris asked me what I’d like to see in Philly, my first response was Reading Terminal Market. I found this in all the lists of ‘things to do in Philly’ online, and it looked like an excellent foodie adventure. Conveniently, our hotel was right beside the market, so we ended up going twice.
After parking Chris’s car at the hotel, Reading Terminal Market was our first stop in the city. Chris and I were starving when we got there, so checking out the market and getting food for lunch would check off two boxes at once.
Before we could possibly make a decision on where to eat, we had to make a full lap around the market. That was easier said than done. It was difficult to both look around at the restaurants and watch where we were going. The place was packed. I should not have been surprised though. It was Friday at lunchtime in an indoor market in a major city. I just was not prepared for the chaos and the amount of people. It made me feel very anxious, but I took some deep breaths and pushed through.
After taking a full lap, I decided I wanted to get something from the restaurant selling roast pork and roast beef sandwiches. I went with the roast pork sandwich with provolone and broccoli rabe. Of course, we both couldn’t go to the same restaurant because we wanted a wider taste, so Chris got a pastrami sandwich from a deli.
I took a bite of Chris’s sandwich (as I always do). It was fantastic. I really do not like sauerkraut, but on this sandwich I really didn’t mind it. It wasn’t the main taste of the sandwich and actually blended well with the other flavors. The pastrami was a high quality meat, and the Russian dressing tasted great. Chris was definitely pleased with his sandwich.
As for my meal, I haven’t had such a good sandwich in a long time. This sandwich had everything that makes sandwiches great. It started with amazing bread, which I think we all know can make or break a sandwich. It was soft and delicious but also thick enough to soak up all the juices released from the meat and veggies. The meat itself was divine. It was perfectly roasted, well-seasoned, and sliced beautifully. The broccoli rabe not only added a nice crunch and texture to the sandwich but a welcome bitter flavor (which was well-balanced with the other flavors).
We enjoyed our sandwiches, devouring them. I would say we were pleased with our choices. I knew I was not done with this market though. When we were talking around, I saw a bunch of little shops I wanted to check out before we left the city, but that would have to wait for the next day.
After we ate lunch, we grabbed some coffee at this adorable coffee stand in the market. That was some of the best iced coffee I have ever had. It wasn’t too strong or too bitter, and I would say it is best sipped black without anything added. We also grabbed a couple cookies from a stand located near the coffee stand. We both mentioned how these cookies looked really good when we first took our walk through. I got oatmeal raisin, and Chris got white chocolate macadamia nut. Oatmeal raisin are my favorite cookies, always have been. This one did not disappoint me. Chris’s cookie was also delicious, with a crisp buttery crust.
Chris and I took our coffee and started to explore the city, winding up outside City Hall before walking towards Independence Hall. My coffee gave me a boost of energy to get through the day of sight-seeing. I appreciate my best friend being my tour guide.
On Saturday, we stopped by the market again for breakfast. It was recommended that we check out the Amish donuts. Awesome recommendation! This was the best donut I have had in such a long time. In my experience, you can never go wrong with Amish donuts. The flavors and textures just cannot be beat. Andrew (who was with us this time) got an apple harvest (apple filling with vanilla glaze on top). Chris got caramel apple (apple filling with caramel glaze on top). I got pumpkin creme (pumpkin creme stuffed inside and on top). What I liked about this donut the most was that it actually tasted like pumpkin. I could tell that the filling actually contained pumpkin, not just pumpkin spices. It tasted like pumpkin pie stuffed into a fluffy fried dough. Oh, and of course we got iced coffee again from the same stand! I wish I could drink this coffee everyday. The coffee prices were totally reasonable.
After coffee and donuts, we walked around the market. I was looking for some gifts for family and a few treats for myself. My favorite stand had to be this Amish market. They had so many goods from flavored popcorn to jellies to handmade candles. I may have gone a little overboard with my jelly purchase, but can you really ever have too much jelly?
Reading Terminal Market one of the coolest indoor markets I have been to, ranking up there with the indoor markets I visited in South America (Ecuador and Argentina). I have never seen an indoor market with so many eateries inside (and with such variety of cuisines). Most of the other markets I have been in have primarily been like farmers markets with fresh produce, meat, cheese. Reading Terminal Market has all that plus so much more. Part of me wishes I lived nearby this market, and the other part of me is glad I don’t because I’d eat there way too much.