Families headed to Philadelphia generally have cheesesteaks at the top of their list when it comes to food. For those who grew up in the City of Brotherly Love, we know that hoagies, soft pretzels, pizza and water ice have to be on there too. Families will not be lost for choice for any of the local favorites, especially if they come with an appetite and a sense of adventure to head out of the typical tourist zones and explore some of the neighborhoods.
Fishtown and Kensington
Twenty years ago travelers would not have ventured into Fishtown or Kensington, but thanks to urban development, artists looking for cheaper rents, and galleries partaking in First Friday, these two neighborhoods have become a delicious place to explore. If you are a family of early risers, mom and dad can caffeinate at Leotah’s Place Coffeehouse, a local favorite in Kensington, while the kids munch on their own snacks and beverages in the play area.
Pizza Brain, just a few blocks away in Fishtown,isn’t just a restaurant; it is also a museum that will entertain families for as long as it takes your pie to get to your table and through to the last bite. As home of the world’s largest collection of pizza memorabilia, kids can get a peek at the originalTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys you played with in the early 90s, along with pizza posters, records and gadgets. Pie toppings range from your basic cheese to the truly inspired pies with brown sugar, smoked bacon and Brussels sprouts on top. Don’t forgeta stop at Little Baby’s Ice Cream, located in the same building, for a sweet end to your visit.
Cheese Steaks, Hoagies and More
Every food show and travel article about Philadelphia will tell you to have a cheesesteak when you visit the city and they are right. You really can’t come to Philly without sampling a cheesesteak. However, these same shows will tell you to go to Pat’s or Gino’s in South Philly. I’m here to tell you to head to South Street to sample one of Jim’s Steaks or head north to Gooey Louie’s. Make sure your cheesesteaks are smothered in cheese, whether that means with provolone or “wit wiz.”
Hoagies, anotherlocal food staple consisting of deli meats, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, oregano, oil and vinegar, and pickles wedged into an Italian roll, can be found in shops across the city, and even local quickie mart chain Wawa makes a decent one for picnics andlunches on the go. Pretzels don’t get any better than when they are fresh out of the oven from Philadelphia Pretzel Factory, which also has several branches across the city and in the surrounding suburbs.
Reading Terminal Market
When you are short on time or need to satisfy a multitude of taste buds, you need to head to Reading Terminal Market. Families should arrive before the lunch hour so they can beat the rush and sample as many foods as possible. DiNic’s is famous for their roast pork sandwich (with or without broccoli rabe) for a reason. Save room to devour one yourself or split it with a family member. Grab a cone from Basset’s Ice Cream, cannolis from Termini Brothers and sticky buns from the Dutch Eating Place. Take home a wedge of balsamic cheddar or Valley Sheppard smoked sheep’s cheese as a souvenir, after your kids sample several pickle varieties at the stall across the way.
Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Let’s just admit it right now parents, we use chocolate, candy and ice cream to bribe our kids into letting us stare just one more minute at that painting in the art museum, or go to just one more historical site that Ben Franklin walked across. When touring Old City you can bet your kids will cooperate with promises of a trip to Franklin Fountain, an old fashioned ice cream shop with seasonal flavors, like Jersey Blueberry and Carrot Cake, and fudge-filled sundaes that may require parental assistance to finish. Flying Monkey in Reading Terminal Market is also a fun stop, as well as Capogiro Gelato in Center City. Last but not least, Rita’s Water Ice is the perfect spot to cool down on a hot summer day. Never heard of water ice? The best way to describe it would be a mix between a snow cone and a Slurpee. Pick up a gelati, which combines frozen custard with water ice, if you want something a little extra special. Your kids will scream for more. Which delicious Philly snack do you want to try first?