By Iris McCarthy, Foodable Contributor
At 120-year-old Reading Terminal Market, more than 100 vendors gather under one roof to offer fresh produce, meats, seafood, ice cream, Amish baked goods, and specialty and ethnic foods. As one of the nation’s busiest markets, it hosts millions — yes, millions — of visitors annually. It’s impossible to experience and sample what the market has to offer in just one visit; from garden-fresh produce to prepared foods to confections, it’s easy to see why people keep coming back to this heavily-trafficked market. Be sure to check out these highlights.
Morning & Midday Munchies
Sidling up to the counter at Dutch Eating Place for breakfast or lunch promises a homey, comforting Pennsylvania Dutch-style meal like blueberry pancakes, corned beef hash, or a juicy burger fresh off the griddle. While your waistline may not be too thrilled, a sweet tooth is satisfied by the famous apple dumpling drizzled with heavy cream.
As the nation’s oldest ice cream company, family-owned Bassetts Ice Cream has been crafting super-premium ice cream for over 150 years. By far, the most popular flavor is the signature Gadzooks — chocolate ice cream studded with peanut butter brownie pieces, chocolate chunks, and caramel swirl. If you still have a hankering for a little something on the sugary side, head to Flying Monkey Bakery, where you can indulge in a treat from the popular bakery whose decadent Pumpple, a mile-high confection with whole apple and pumpkin pies baked into each cake layer, consistently sells out; arrive at the market early to score a slice. A host of cupcakes (try the lavender one), whoopie pies, and goodies fill the glass display case and have garnered a huge following. Craving a taste of N’awlins? Head to Beck’s Cajun Café for hot, pillowy powder sugared beignets fresh out of the fryer.
At this outpost of the original Chinatown locale, Sang Kee Peking Duck House offers juicy Peking duck just as its name promises. Steamed dumplings make for a delicious, affordable meal and heaping bowls of noodle soup are belly-filling and satisfying. Close by is Little Thai Market, where the crab shumai is the standout dish; be prepared for a crowd though, as market-goers tend to gravitate toward this hotspot.
In a city serious about its sandwiches (hello, cheesesteak?), the monstrous, delicious sandwiches at DiNic’s are worth tolerating the always long lines guaranteed to be packed with tourists and hungry lunch-breakers alike. The juicy roast pork sandwich with sharp provolone is a thing of beauty. Speaking of substantial eats, if you’re craving authentic deli-style sandwiches that could feed an army, Hershel’s East Side Deli should be your go-to destination. Perfectly spiced pastrami, mile-high Reubens, quality pickles, salads and desserts would make any Jewish bubbe proud.
If you don’t feel like being weighed down by a full meal while strolling around the market, pick up a soft pretzel from Miller’s Twist. These aren’t your average Philly pretzels — the Amish-made delights are long, twisted salty treats that get a brush of butter on top. Talk about gilding the lily. But with a snack this good, would anyone object to a few additional calories? Exactly.