A place on the top of your list to visit in Philadelphia (Philly) is the Reading Terminal Market. Established in 1892, it is situated at 12th and Arch Streets and is the country’s oldest continuously operated farmers’ market. Despite weathering the ups and downs of the economy over the years, it is still one of the best public markets in the country.
The Melting Pot
The experience lies in the many types of cuisine you can enjoy—soul food, Asian and Middle Eastern delights, your well known Philly cheese steak, and of course that Pennsylvania Dutch fare (love the wet bottom shoofly pie!). You can tell the stands are run by families who take pride in their heritage. There are more than 80 merchants, with three of them descendants of original stand owners.
Visiting once is not enough to take in all the good eats. You will find yourself going back for lunch a few times to see what is your favorite. A suggestion would be to go in a group, split up, purchase from various stands, and then meet up at the tables to try a bit of each. There are places to sit throughout the market. Or, given it can get crowded due to its popularity, purchase lunch and take it back with you to the office or grab an outdoor spot in the nice weather and enjoy.
Did we mention to allow enough time to take in the fresh produce, dairy products, unique meats and seafood, fresh flowers as well as hand-made crafts and American quilts. Along with the organic vegetarian fare are your classic, finely prepared cannolis, and soft pretzels.
Best of Philly
Local restaurants send their cooks each morning to buy their fresh meats, poultry, seafood, and specialty ingredients. Here is a rundown on some of the establishments:
- Beiler’s Bakery, selling homemade Amish goods—try their twist and bake pretzels while still warm right out of the oven
- The Famous 4th Street Cookie Company—ooh, those big chocolate chip cookies, best ever
- Blue Mountain Vineyards Cellars, Ltd offering PA wines and accessories
- Molly Malloy’s offering 24 beers on tap along with hand-made dishes
- Bassetts Ice Cream, oldest American ice cream company since 1861
- Salumeria, wide spread of international cheeses, Italian deli and hoagies, salads, and specialty sandwiches
- Fair Food Farmstand, promoting sustainable agriculture for the Delaware Valley and emphasizing local farm food such as vegetables, fruit, eggs, cheese, dairy, and humanely raised meats and poultry
- John Yi Fish Market, featuring fresh seafood specialties
- Chocolate by Mueller, focusing on hand-made old fashioned chocolates in their on-site display kitchen. And, there are so many more worth visiting!
Classes and Entertainment
What else can you enjoy at the Reading Terminal Market beyond the food?
Cooking demonstrations and cookbook signings are frequent events at La Cucina. Free live musical performances—enjoy piano, jazz, and soft rock. Every Wednesday and Saturday there is a 75-minute food-writer led walking tour where you can learn about the making of the cheesesteak, hoagie, and pretzel as well as the 116-year history of the market. On some Thursday nights, a sommelier from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust is teaching wine classes. There are also sommelier certification courses on offer for the true gourmand.
So much to offer fat one stop!