I was lucky to grow up in the Philadelphia area. As a high-school student with a burgeoning interest in food and cooking, I fed my curiosity and appetite on Philly’s wide-ranging and world-class dining scene—whether that meant exploring the stalls of Reading Terminal Market going for family meals at the city’s BYOBs, or embarking on a quest for the perfect cheesesteak.
Today, every trip back home to Philadelphia takes the shape of a moveable feast—and the city’s dining scene has only continued to expand and evolve since I left. Come ready with an empty stomach: On this 3-day itinerary, you’ll discover the best of Philly’s food.
Philadelphia is a city of weather extremes—pack layers and watch the forecast.
If you only have time for one thing, make it Reading Terminal Market, one of the country’s oldest public markets.
Any food-focused trip to Philadelphia should begin at Reading Terminal Market. A Philly landmark since 1892, the covered market is home to more than 80 traders who sling everything from diner fare and barbecue to Amish baked goods. As its scale can be overwhelming, try a small-group tour to navigate with ease.
Another Philly food classic: the Italian Market, an open-air market that runs down Ninth Street in South Philadelphia (from Reading Terminal, it’s a 26-minute walk or 10-minute cab ride). A chef-led neighborhood food tour is the ideal way to discover it.
You can’t come to Philadelphia without having a cheesesteak. Served across the city, the iconic sandwich is, for the uninitiated, a hoagie roll stuffed with chopped, griddled rib eye steak that's preferably accompanied with fried onions and Cheez Whiz (a “whiz wit” in local parlance). If you hop on a Segway, you can taste five of Philly's must-try cheesesteaks.
Once you’ve laid down that gut-busting foundation, it’s time for some liquid accompaniment. Philadelphia’s craft brewing scene is as lauded as its food offerings, and a guided visit to several of the city’s notable breweries is just the way to indulge.
Several miles south of Center City, East Passyunk Avenue has been burnishing its reputation as one of Philadelphia’s must-visit restaurant rows. On this taster lunchtime tour, discover what all the fuss is about when you sample everything from cheesesteak potstickers to pizza, sliders, and wine.
End your decadent Philadelphia excursion on a high note. As much as the City of Brotherly Love adores its dive bars, Philly also boasts some serious cocktail bars. Make your way to Center City—it’s a 30-minute walk, or 10-minute taxi—and get ready to toast to your experience.