Philadelphia: The Reading Terminal Market

OK, here is another theory I have about great cities. You know, there are many things that any city worth its salt must have. Among others, they must have stadiums, public libraries, concert halls, art museums, airports, universities. Cities spend a great deal of money acquiring these infrastructure and they cannot declare that they have arrived until they build them.


One of the must-have for a city is a public market. Seattle has its Pike Place. Vancouver has it delightful Granville Island. Every city has its own Public Markets. Public Markets are always a great way to experience the culture and food of the city they are in. The first place we headed to for breakfast in our first morning was the Reading Terminal Market.


The Reading Terminal Market used to be a train terminal, hence the name. Today, it is a food bazaar of sorts. For foodies, and especially out-of-towners, you should check this place out. You can find all sorts of regional delights and even Amish food here. However, the Amish stores were closed when we were there — they only open on certain days of the week.


Suanne and I were quite bewildered roaming the entire place. There are many stalls selling food. In the middle is where you find tables.


We got some soft pretzels. The City Center Soft Pretzels claimed to be Philly’s favourite pretzels. We personally did not quite like it. It’s tough and salty.


The Dinic’s Roast Pork and Beef caught our eye, especially the “since 1954” tag line. This had to be good. We settled down by the counter and ate there. We (actually) I had a great time chatting with the guy who served us about cameras since he saw mine.


Hmmm … now I can’t remember exactly what sandwich it was we ordered. I know we had ordered extra toppings of Roasted Peppers and Sharp Provolone. It was messy, juicy, moist and flavorful. The meat was on the bland side which we like.


It might have been the Italian Style Pulled Pork, since I had the tendency to order items that are highlighted.


We tried minute dollops of the condiments … and decided that is not what we like. The sandwich itself is good enough.


We went to another stall and ordered the New York Egg Cream. We were going to be in NYC the next few days but I just gotta let Suanne try this. I first tried this in my earlier trip to NYC and I fell in love with it. It’s $1.95 and has chocolate syrup, milk and Seltzer. What a mix, what a drink. *burp*


The ice cream in LD Bassett was great. This is a 150 year old ice cream joint.

If you’re looking to buying produce in the likes of Pikes Place, this is not the place. If you are hungry and wanted to try food that Philadelphians eat, head to the Reading Terminal Market.

Reading Terminal Market on Urbanspoon

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  1. anna

    I love public markets! They sort of remind me of the markets in Asian with the little booths and stalls- only more westernized. Your pulled pork looks good- I hope you have a picture of a Philly Cheese Steak, I really want to see how it looks (from Philadelphia) :).

  2. KimHo

    You know, I was wondering about “where is all the produce? Where are the butchers/seamongers?” until I read the last sentence. I love public markets also, specially because I grew up near one. It is odd, however, in the sense, nowadays, a lot of people don’t like to go to one mainly due to the “convenience” of supermarkets. I am partially guilty of this one.

    Having said that, I have mixed feelings of Granville Island. There are good stands (Oyama Sausages come to mind) yet it does not offer anything uniquely enough to guarantee a re-visit. Don’t get me wrong, if I was a tourist, I would like to go there (the same way I visited Pike Market), yet from the perspective of a Metro Vancouver resident, it is such a hassle. I am digressing here.

    I think I am echoing everybody’s sentiment here: we are waiting a picture of you and/or Suanne eating a Philly Chesse Steak! And, of course, it makes us (or at least me) wonder from which restaurant, Pat’s or Geno’s!

  3. Ron C.

    Near The Reading Terminal is the former Wanamaker’s Department Store – now Macy’s – it has (or used to have) a spectacular open atrium (no glass roof though) for the first few floors.

  4. Kirk

    Hi Ben – The last time I was in Philly, I had the pleasure of having a roast pork sandwich from DiNics….I think I enjoyed it more than the cheesesteaks from Genos or Pat’s…..

  5. Ang

    It’s so neat to see places on your site that I have personally been to! The Reading Market is fantastic isn’t it? It is my one of my favourite places in Philly. Glad you liked Rachel’s Cafe and Creperie and sorry that I failed to mention it wasn’t an Amish restaurant!

  6. Bob Libkind

    As a regular shopper (and eater) at the RTM I enjoyed your post about my fav public market. A few comments:

    That sandwich from DiNic’s looks like the roast pork. The aged provolone and peppers are a great topping, but next time, try it with the provolone and either broccoli rabe or spinach; the combination of sweet, mild pork, garlic-infused greens and sharp, salty provolone make the classic “Pork Italienne” sammy.

    The Amish are at the RTM Wednesday-Saturday.

    The pretzels you picture looked like they came from one of the suppliers to the food carts that multiply like rabbits around Center City Philadelphia. The best pretzels in town are those baked fresh at one of the Amish stands at the market; they slater them with butter hot out of the oven, you can add the traditional mustard if you wish.

    Your write-up suggests the market didn’t replace the old train terminal. It located there when the Reading Railroad opened the edifice in 1892. The trains arrived on the level above the street-level market and continued to do so until the mid-1980s. Today the train level serves as the grand entrance to the Pennsylvania Convention hall.

    While the Reading Terminal Market is a fantastic place to grab breakfast or lunch, I disagree with your assessment that it’s not so good a spot for groceries. I shop there at least once a week and find the quality of the meat, fish and produce considerably better than average, and competitively priced. (Please don’t take this as disparagement of Pike Place; although I haven’t been there for 20 years, it appears to have a wide selection of seasonal farm stands, which the RTM does not.)

    There are four full-service butchers, plus a fifth that just sells poultry. Three vendors sell an incredibly wide selection of fresh fish (maybe not as showy as the Pike Place fishmongers, but representative of what we land on the East Coast), plus there’s a specialty store dealing in shellfish and smoked fish. You want cheese? Try Salumeria or Downtown Cheese. Produce? Two mainstream vendors, an Amish produce vendor from Lancaster County, another Lancaster County vendor (primarily selling produce from his own farm every Saturday), plus the Fair Food Farmstand, a non-profit that conglomerates produce, meats and dairy products from the region’s small family farms). Bakeries? Two artisinal breadmakers, a cupcake-pastry maker and a purveyor of Amish goodies (the last isn’t my favorite style of baked good, too sticky sweet for me, but lots of folks around here like it that way). And the place where you got that egg cream (Hershel’s East Side Deli) not only makes gorgeous corned beef, pastrami and brisket sandwiches, they also sell a full range of Jewish “appy” and “deli” goods to take home, like smoked fishes, salads, etc.

    Between the Reading Terminal Market and the many urban farmers’ markets which appear in Philly’s neighborhoods from May to November, I only frequent supermarkets for staple items.

  7. Chubbypanda

    Heh. Cat likes egg creams too. Her father spent some time in New York as a young man, so he used to make them for her.

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