I have been to the City of Brotherly Love many times. In fact I have been there so often I don’t have any idea how many trips I have made. The one thing I do know is that my to do list for Philadelphia is continually getting smaller and smaller. Upon a recent trip to Philly I finally got to cross Reading Terminal Market off that list.
It is no surprise to my readers that I a not a fan of the summer heat. I do however care a great deal about frozen treats. Luckily there is this great food Mecca in the heart of this city that is climate controlled. Alas my destination, Reading Terminal Market!
The Reading Terminal Market has quite a history in Philadelphia. It opened way back in 1892 as an urban farmers' market. It sought to “provide a wide variety of produce, meat, fish, bakery and dairy products…to a public market in the center of the city by farmers, growers, producers and chefs”. It had delivery services for residents as well as an ability to ship products to Canada and Mexico. Not bad for a local marketplace.
According to their website: "In 1995, the Authority created a non-profit corporation to manage the market. In the years since, this historic landmark has prospered. Today the Reading Terminal Market is one of the nation's most successful public markets with more than 75 independent small businesses that offer an array of fresh and prepared foods, lunch counters, and places to eat and the shot."
Out of the many stalls there are to patronize these were the ones I actually got to. It turns out, as is often the case, that there are too many good things to eat in one day. This is the list of what I accomplished that day and what I believe are the very things you MUST try when there.
The perfect guide to having a successful trip to Reading Terminal Market:
1. Miller’s Twist- Amish made pretzels are what they are selling, I tried the pigs-n-a-blanket, which were good, but I would have preferred the dogs were cooked longer.
2. Termini Brothers- I got the cannoli they are known for and are different than I usually eat from my local Italian pastry shop. The cream was lighter and sweeter. It was also too large for even two people to share, who are going to continue to eat around the market.
3. Bassets Ice Cream- Two scoops of the special that day; vanilla ice cream with chunks of brownie and cookie dough, in a waffle cone was the perfect size for two people. There is a counter where you can sit down and enjoy your dessert. The quality of the ice cream is unbelievable; you can taste the homemade flavors in each ingredient that tastes better and better with each bite.
4. Kauffman's Lancaster Country Produce- Apple Cider, specialized popcorn, and home made fig jam. You won’t hear any complaints from me!
5. Keven Parker’s Soul Food Café- I tried a piece of fried chicken because it smelled so good but it was nothing special. It could have been crisper or had better seasoning. It was an impulse buy.
6. Meltzer Skelter- Are the grilled cheese kings and I couldn’t resist. I had the Brlelle, made up of Brie cheese, cranberry chutney, caramelized onions, and pine nuts on brioche bread. Yummy and very filling.
7. The Tubby Olive- What an impressive collection of olive oils and balsamic vinegars in flavors that will blow your mind. I settled on a standard for my family, Garlic Olive Oil.
8. Beiler’s Bakery- These doughnuts had a multitude of choices. I liked the plain glaze the best but also recommend the apple fritter, Boston crème, chocolate, lemon, and coconut. By the end of that day I had six doughnuts that I ate with great delight.
I now accept that I will need at least one more trip to the Reading Terminal Market if I am to complete my list of desired foods. Next time I plan to go to DiNic’s for the roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwich (go here as soon as it opens because the line will literally be out the door), Little Thai Marketplace (shrimp pad Thai), Salumeria, Dutch Eating Place (apple dumplings), The Rib Stand, Beck’s Cajun Café (falafel), and Old City Coffee. It’s going to be another long day.
The single best piece of advice I can give you is to AVOID the tour. There is a tour of the market every Saturday morning. I attempted it on my journey but after failing to meet up with the group in the beginning due to some confusion, I realized how impossible a tour was. Even once I had caught up with the group the market was incredibly crowded and there was no room to pull over and listen to the history being told. Half of the time I couldn’t hear a thing and mostly I was just being shoved one way or another by passer bys. I spent about twenty minutes total with my tour group before breaking away and doing the smart thing, which is to start at the beginning stopping along the way at the stalls that appealed to me.
By the time I got to the end, where Beiler’s Bakery was I was DONE. That line was something I had never seen before. I couldn’t find the beginning or the end of it. Luckily I had a partner in crime willing to wait on line while I went outside and got some air. They were sooooo worth the wait! It turns out those doughnuts would serve us well as we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the way home.
I am an amateur market place groupie. I have been to the ones in Chelsea (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2012/09/for-meandering-through-chelsea-market.html) and Gansevoort (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2016/01/for-trip-to-market-that-didnt-include.html) in New York City as well as to Harrods in London, and Eataly in Chicago. They are all slightly different from one another but essentially all sell exotic foods and products to visitors and residents alike. Each one has their own individual appeal. I suggest a visit to them all to discover which appeals to you the most.
Your visit to the Reading Market Terminal can be made seamless as cheap parking is made available in two different garages directly across the street from the facility for a total of four dollars per visit! Making this price a steal is how clean and organized they are. At the elevators there is even a ticket to take with you to remember where you parked. This garage was nicer than some restaurants I have been to.
Aside from the Reading Terminal Market I still have plenty to accomplish on my Philadelphia to do list (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2015/09/for-city-of-brotherly-love-benjamin_3.html).
Thankfully they are all food related.
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