Philadelphia is a melting pot of global cuisines and an alluring destination for dining thanks to the roster of renowned chefs and restaurateurs in the city including Jose Garces, Michael Solomonov, Steven Starr, Marc Vetri, Nicholas Elmi, and Greg Vernick. Whether you want to treat yourself to a sure-to-be-unforgettable gourmet meal, chow down on the city's trademark cheesesteak or try something new and different, the Philadelphia dining scene is diverse enough to suit every taste.
City of Neighborhoods
With a broad range of cultures, Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods with each associated with certain styles of food. South Philadelphia, the historically Italian section of the city, offers numerous red gravy Italian-American restaurants, sandwich shops, and pizza places. Chinatown, the second largest on the east coast of the United States, offers a fusion of Asian cuisines. The Reading Terminal Market is one of America's largest and oldest public markets, housed since 1893 in a National Historic Landmark building in the heart of Center City. Philadelphia also has a vast assortment of family friendly restaurants, sports bars, vegan options and much more. With hundreds of restaurants throughout the city, you're sure to find something to whet your appetite.
Eat Like a Local
With a broad-range of cultures in Philadelphia, there are foods from almost every country imaginable. And with hundreds of restaurants throughout the city, you're sure to find something to whet your appetite. But, if you're looking for something truly authentic, nothing says Philadelphia quite like these local favorites:
- Cheesesteaks - Fresh, soft and squishy Italian rolls, typically 12 inches long, filled with melted cheese and tender pieces of beef are the main components of this truly Philadelphia sandwich.
- Roast Pork Sandwiches: These juicy classics, made with a soft roll, sliced roast pork, sharp provolone, broccoli rabe, roasted peppers and long hots, are a true crowd-pleaser. The most famous version, available from Dinic's in the Reading Terminal Market, was once dubbed the “Best Sandwich in America.”
- Crab Fries: Combining hot and spicy with one of America's favorite dishes Crab Fries are a real treat. Available at multiple restaurants and venues across the city, Chickie's and Pete's take on the dish is a Philadelphia favorite.
- Hoagies: The “Official Sandwich of Philadelphia,” hoagies are a regional concoction and overwhelming favorite. These mouth-watering sandwiches are more than a mouthful, packed with lettuce, tomato, onions, peppers, oregano, oil dressing, cheese (Provolone or American, usually) and of course, delicious Italian lunch meats like dry salami, mortadella and capicolla – hence the nickname, “Italian Hoagie.”
- Soft Pretzels: These soft and chewy, hand-twisted baked goods are the ultimate comfort food for Philadelphians. Baked fresh every day and available at street vendors, local stores, or directly from the factory, these salty satisfiers are delicious with a little spicy mustard.
- Water Ice: Nothing says summer in Philadelphia better than water ice (also known as Italian ice). This cool and refreshing frozen treat is a smooth mixture of ice, fruit juice and fresh fruit.
Dine like an 18th century local
The City Tavern is housed in a historical landmark, the “unofficial” meeting site for the First Continental Congress. Just ask your server for some of the history and he or she will surely describe the number of historical figures who frequented the tavern including George Washington. The 18th century-inspired children's menu is award-winning and includes a Colonial chicken pot pie, meat and cheese pie and apple cider.
In Philadelphia, a city known for its exceptional dining, you can choose from more than 300 BYOB restaurants and cafés. There are many reasons why Philadelphia is considered the BYOB capital of North America, including our Quaker roots – strict alcohol licensing laws make it a challenge for smaller restaurants to have bars on the premises, but there are no laws preventing patrons from bringing their own bottles. So, stop in to one of the city's finest BYOB establishments. You'll find the atmosphere to be cozy and welcoming, and the food to be phenomenal.
A fun way to explore Philadelphia's culinary scene is to take a food tour. A sampling of food adventures includes:
- Italian Market Tours – Tour the 9th Street Italian Market in South Philadelphia with Taste 4 Travel, Chef Jacquie, your guide, a South Philadelphia native, born and raised just two blocks from the Italian Market, and a professional chef who grew up with most of the shop owners on 9th Street. The market began in the mid-to-late 1880s and eventually formed the largest, outdoor, continuous market in the country with butcher shops offering high quality cuts of meats, cheese shops, restaurants, bakeries, along with merchants selling fresh fish, fruit and vegetables.
- Reading Terminal Market Tours - Learn the history of local food favorites like cheesesteaks, hoagies and pretzels and the Reading Terminal Market, at 12th and Arch Streets, during a 75-minute, food-writer-led walking Taste of Philly Food Tour. The public market opened in 1893 in the train shed of the Reading Railroad Company and is renowned for its international and local specialties - including Pennsylvania Dutch goodies. The marketplace is a great sampling of Philadelphia flavors with over 80 merchants selling food, groceries, gifts and more.
- Colonial Pub Crawls - Enjoy traditional drinks and 18th-century history at Colonial and modern-day watering holes as your Colonial guide shares tales of taverns of old with Tippler's Tour: Colonial Pub Crawl.
- Beer tours - Philly Brew Tours offer's daily all-inclusive beer focused tasting and tour experiences for visitors and local's alike in the Philadelphia and Southern NJ area. Every tour includes a 15+ different beers, VIP tours at 3+ breweries, a beer lunch/dinner tasting, and round trip transportation from downtown Philadelphia.
For more information on Philadelphia, visit the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau's website, https://www.discoverphl.com/visit/plan-your-trip/tours/
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About Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau
The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), a private non-profit, membership corporation, is the official tourism promotion agency for the City of Philadelphia globally, and the primary sales and marketing agency for the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The PHLCVB is an economic engine for the city – creating jobs and fueling economic growth by encouraging overseas visitation and by bringing ethnically diverse regional, national and international meetings, conventions and sporting events to Philadelphia.