With a broad-range of cultures in this metropolitan city, you can find 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. Most establishments offer a choice of Cheez Whiz (or “whiz” if you want to sound like a local), American or Provolone cheese and the option of adding fried or raw onions to the steak. Depending on where you go, the beef is served in slices or chopped up, but almost every place in Philadelphia cooks the beef on top of a griddle with a little bit of oil.
Eat it Like a Local Tip: Stand back! The juices of these succulent sandwiches tend to run out the back of the roll, so watch out while you’re eating because you could end up wearing it! Many locals have adopted a particular way of eating a cheesesteak. To do it like them, stand and lean over your sandwich as you eat.
- 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.”
Eat it Like a Local Tip: Ask any Philadelphian what the X-factor ingredient is in making a great hoagie and the answer is universal – the bread. Make sure you find an establishment where the bread is fresh and warm!
- Irish Potatoes: Tiny balls of coconut cream rolled in cinnamon are the farthest thing that comes to mind when hearing the name of this dish for the first time. Though they’re not an Irish dish (or a potato) this dessert is usually available around St. Patrick’s Day.
- Pepper Pot Soup: A delicious brew of tripe and vegetables that has a history dating back to the Revolutionary War, this stew was served to soldiers as a warm heartening meal. Today, a hearty version can be enjoyed at the City Tavern.
- Scrapple: Hailed as the first pork food invented in America, this local invention is a fried treat at any meal. A mishmash of pork, cornmeal, flour, onions, herbs, spices and other seasonings, scrapple is packed into a loaf before being fried to perfection for your taste buds.
- Soft Pretzels: These soft and chewy, hand-twisted baked goods are the ultimate comfort food for Philadelphians. Baked fresh everyday and available at street vendors, local stores, or directly from the factory, these salty satisfiers are delicious with a little spicy mustard.
Eat it Like a Local Tip: Enjoy ’em while you got ’em. While pretzels are still good a day or so later – even as they dry out – the best time to eat them is when they’re fresh!
- 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. It’s available at street vendors and establishments throughout the City and comes in traditional flavors such as cherry and lemon, as well as more exotic flavors like chocolate, mango, passion fruit and coconut.
Eat it Like a Local Tip: It may sound funny — but locals pronounce this treat “wooder ice.”