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Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Reading Terminal Market experience in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Reading Terminal once served passengers from 1893 through 1984. Joseph H. Wilson engineered this masterpiece during an era when railroads wanted functional and beautiful terminals. The Reading Terminal Market began in 1892 as an open air market underneath the terminal shed. With patrons from the Philadelphia Convention Center next door and local traffic, the Market is always buzzing especially at lunch time. The Market is not just home to restaurant vendors, but is an actual market where you can find fresh meats, seafood, deli items, produce, fresh baked breads, and fresh flowers. Even though our hotel was less than a block away, I wished that our room came with a kitchenette, so we could have taken advantage of a wider variety of products sold at the market. The actual restaurants in the market offered a dizzying array of cuisine.  It’s not likely that you would have been bored with repetitious meals there.

Beck’s Cajun Café was founded in October 2009 by Chef Bill Beck and serves up authentic Cajun cuisine.
  • Bourbon St. Breakfast is red beans & rice, fried egg, cheese, and grilled corn bread. This is a working man’s breakfast providing you with the carbs and protein to get you through the morning until lunch. The sausage and eggs were just the perfect breakfast and the rest just reminded me of New Orleans. Rating: 5/5
  • Breakfast Po Boy is a French baguette with choice of fried eggs, melted cheese, andouille sausage, turkey sausage, or ham. These were the perfect sandwiches with just the right amount of bread to fillings. The turkey sausage had a light texture but flavorful. The Andouille sausage reminded me of a Hawaiian Portuguese sausage and eggs breakfast. I was in heaven! Rating: 5/5
  • Beignets (served on Sundays and Wednesdays) are French doughnuts/fritters served hot and topped with confectioners’ sugar. Beck’s makes the most authentic beignets outside of Louisiana. They have a beautiful golden brown crust and just the right consistency inside, not too dense and not too fluffy. If you’ve eaten beignets at Café du Monde in New Orleans, you will absolutely love these! Rating: 5/5
  • Chicken and Andouille Gumbo is something my mom had to try. She loves gumbo and is certain this gumbo was made with love. The color is dark with the vegetables cooked down to their essence to flavor the gumbo base. The chicken and sausage add the meaty texture and flavor to the mix. Rating: 4.5/5
  • The Alligator Sausage Po Boy is topped with caramelized onion, peppers, and creole mustard. The alligator sausage is mild and lends itself well to the sweet flavor of the peppers and onions and the robust creole mustard. Rating: 4.5/5
  • Fried Oyster Platter is served with corn bread and choice of red beans & rice, white rice, or Cajun fries. The oysters were meaty and fried to a perfect golden brown with crispy outside and slightly briny and creamy on the inside. The red beans & rice was fantastic with nice pieces of sausage. Rating: 5/5
  • Muffaletta is salami, ham, mortadella, sharp provolone, and olive salad served on Italian bread. My husband and I used to make this sandwich every day at Café Orleans in Disneyland. Beck’s version was much better as there is more meat and cheese and they sandwich the olive salad between the meats which keeps the bread from getting soggy. We took these with us to the airport to enjoy before our return flight. The flavors of the different meats is just amazing and the olive salad had just the right amount of acidity to bring the sandwich together. The bread was very rustic with crunchy outside and tender yet chewy inside. Rating: 5/5

Beiler’s Bakery has a long stall stocked full of fresh baked goods including Pennsylvania Dutch specialties and other classics.
  • Apple Snitz Fry Pie is reminiscent of the Hostess handheld pies but tastes more homemade with a buttery crust and slow-cooked apple pie filling. They only make them on certain days so if you see them, buy a bunch. We missed our chance to load up before we headed back home. Rating: 5/5
  • Chocolate Whoopie Pie looks like a mini flying saucer with chocolate cake on the outside with frosting in the middle. The chocolate cake was marvelous with rich chocolate flavor and soft, spongy texture. The frosting in the middle was fluffy, creamy, and not overly sweet. They were so good, we brought a dozen home with us. Rating: 5/5

Hatville Deli is run by the Esh family from the town of Hatville. Hatville Deli has called Reading Terminal Market home for over 40 years. They have a huge selection of specialty cheeses like Bacon Horseradish Cheddar and meats for the perfect sandwich.

Martin’s Specialty Sausages provides gourmet sausages with all natural spices and ingredients with no preservatives. I couldn’t help but notice the roasted turkey tails in the deli case. They were golden brown morsels of fatty goodness. I’m sure they are as tasty as they looked.

Salumeria is an Italian deli and grocer with 250 cheeses from around the world. It has been in Reading Terminal Market since 1982. They had beautiful French pates, cheeses, and meats. We picked up some imported prosciutto, capicola, Swiss, and provolone to make picnic sandwiches in the hotel room for lunch. The prosciutto had a grassy essence blended with the aroma of aged cheese. The closest taste and texture comparison upon eating some is that it’s like butter with a salty porkiness and almost obscene. Unfortunately, my work day had not yet ended or I would have enjoyed a glass of Rosé to complete the food experience. Rating: 5/5

L. Halteman Family Country Foods is a family-owned and operated Pennsylvania Dutch store specializing in farm raised ducks, geese, beef, and pork. They also have a large array of cheeses like Pepperoni Cheddar cheese, Hot Wasabi Horseradish cheese, and Cheddar Smoked Bacon Horseradish cheese. There was an array of samples on hand and they were awesome! I am a big cheese lover and wished that we could have brought some home with us.

Dutch Eating Place is a diner of sorts serving breakfast and lunch next to Beiler’s Bakery. Since seeing Andrew Zimmern making and tasting scrapple, I had to have some. Dutch Eating Place served a Scrapple and Egg breakfast. I was so excited to finally try it and it was wonderful! If you like pork and liver, you’ll love this. It is pork scraps mixed with cornmeal, wheat flour, and spices, like a savory pork cake. It fries up really well with a crispy outside and almost pate-like texture inside. Every meat vendor in Reading Terminal Market sold variations with pork, beef, and even turkey. Again, I wish I had a refrigerator in my room so I could have brought some back with us. Rating: 5/5

Miller’s Twist serves up hand-rolled Amish-style hot buttered pretzels. Man vs. Food’s Adam Richman stopped by during his visit of Reading Terminal Market. You can watch as they roll and artfully twist pretzels. They also wind these beautiful pretzels around full size and mini hot dogs. The pretzel is golden brown with a beautiful glaze on the outside. The interior is chewy and works well with the hot dog. The mini dogs are two-biter and perfect to share as a snack. Rating: 5/5

Dinic’s is home of the famous roast pork and broccoli rabe sandwich which was crowned the best sandwich in America by the Travel Channel’s Adam Richman! I have been wanting to try this fabulous sandwich since I saw it on Man vs. Food. As I waited in line, I noticed a stack of roasted pork butts displayed behind the counter, cooling down prior to being thinly sliced and set in pork au jus. The aroma of the roasted pork is enough to drive you insane. The line moved pretty quickly and the sandwich was in hand in no time. As I bit into it the mix of the roasted pork, sharp provolone cheese, and broccoli rabe, it was hard not to verbally express my delight. It just blew my mind with umami flavor and did not disappoint. I need to have another one, stat! Rating: 5/5

Bassett’s of Philadelphia is family-owned since 1861. Their ice cream is amazing! The ice cream base is creamy, buttery, and rich. Peanut Butter Swirl, Irish Coffee, Vanilla, and Coffee were some of our favorites. I can see why they always have a queue of hungry patrons. Never fear, service runs like a well-oiled machine. The line moves pretty quickly. Rating: 5/5

Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies & Cheesesteaks is known for their delicious cheesesteaks and hoagies. We tried their cheesesteak and it was a little on the bland side. I’ve had better, but my mom thought it was good for her first cheesesteak. Rating: 3.5/5

Profi’s Creperie makes savory and dessert crepes to order. I think that the crepe itself should be cooked a little less as one side was very crispy and brittle.
  • Bacon & Egg Crepe was a great savory breakfast crepe. The melted cheddar added an omelet-like flavor. Rating: 4/5
  • Berries Cheesecake with strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and raspberry sauce was definitely a dessert crepe. It was a little heavy for breakfast, but delicious nonetheless. The berries were fresh and bursting with sweet juices. Rating: 4/5
  • Nutella Strawberry Banana with chocolate and powdered sugar was a perfect sweet to salty pairing with the Bacon & Egg Crepe. Nutella, strawberries and banana always work well together. Rating: 4/5

I love Reading Terminal Market! We spent a week in Philadelphia and pretty much ate there every day for breakfast and lunch. I can’t wait to go back!

Atmosphere: 5 out of 5 stars
Service: 5 out of 5 stars
Décor: 4 out of 5 stars
Food: 5 out of 5 stars


For more information:
51 N 12th St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
+1.215.922.2317
Hours: Monday through Saturday from 8am to 6pm, Sunday from 9am to 5pm
Parking: $4 (with $10 purchase and merchant validation, limit 2 hours) at 11th & Arch Streets (Expert Parking), 12th and Filbert Streets (Parkway Garage)

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