Reading Terminal Market
The Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of America’s oldest and largest markets! Established in 1893, it is currently a National Historical landmark, and carries with it a feeling of history. As soon as you see the building you feel like you have traveled through time into a world of neon lights and brick infrastructure. The Market is open everyday from 8:00am to 6:00pm and has countless vendors to try. We went to the Market on a Wednesday between 2:00 and 6:00pm and found there to be plenty of space and seating available.
As a general guide for myself when visiting new venues for the first time, I follow these rules:
1. Arrive hungry, but not starving. No one likes being hangry, especially when waiting in line for the food you desperately want to eat. Know your hunger levels, and arrive hungry, but not starving.
2. Be willing to try new things. These vendors specialize in their craft and chances are that they have been making this food for years. To experience new things, you gotta be willing to try new things.
3. Sharing is caring. The best way to experience more food at these markets is to share the food and the cost. Go with friends if possible, but understanding the world we live in, do what makes you feel the safest.
4. Be aware. It’s important to know the surroundings of anywhere you are. Look for the restrooms, potential vendors you want to try, and the exits for when you are ready to leave. No one likes feeling lost.
5. Make a budget, and stick to it. The worst feeling you can have when leaving a new place you tried is feeling regret over the money spent. Make a budget and do what you need to stick to it. Personally, I spend $150 to $200 dollars on food, but for me this is research in exploring tastes and trends. Find what works for you.
Now back to our experience. A day before making the spontaneous trip to meet with friends in Philadelphia, I was told about the Reading Terminal Market. I felt like I had been living under a rock, because I had never heard of this Market before. But I was told one thing about the Reading Terminal Market: “it’s pronounced ‘Ratting’.” I was also told that as a food lover, this is an incredible place to visit.
To prepare for our trip I had watched some of my favorite YouTubers as they vlogged about their own trips to the market. I watched as they moved through the market eating food from all of the offerings the Market had. Even though I wasn’t originally hungry at the time, their reactions are enough to make anyone hungry.
While we tried many vendors while at the Reading Terminal Market, these were the standout vendors and their dishes:
Herschel’s East Side: The juiciest pastrami sandwich I’ve ever had. Very few things in this world leave me speechless, but the delicious combination of the pastrami with the sauerkraut, while already being an award winning combination, was unlike anything I’ve had before. Something about their pastrami just makes it so much more special. The spice blend in their pastrami, the thick-cut slices, and all that juiciness contributed to an unbelievable sandwich. If you enjoy sandwiches, then I highly recommend you try this pastrami sandwich. We also tried the brisket sandwich which was just as meaty and juicy as the pastrami. But the hands down winner would be the pastrami sandwich with sauerkraut, a little mustard, 1000 island dressing, all on seeded rye bread.
Miller’s Twisted: Pretzels are great and you gotta love a place that specializes in one thing. I would love to see Miller’s Twisted in malls all over the country. Not only do they make the classic pretzel for an affordable price, but they also have the greatest creation ever: the cheesesteak stuffed pretzel “wiz wit”. Sauteed onions and beef with wiz (or american cheese) stuffed inside a delicious salted pretzel. When I say I want this more than anything right now, I frickin mean it. That first bite into a soft and warm pretzel that has a slight bite, and saltiness, but the inside oozes out hot, melted cheese with a beefy and slightly sweet flavor from caramelized onions: phenomenal. The meat juices soa into the inside of the pretzel making it slightly soft but still leaving the pretzel with enough body to hold up until the last bite. I would go back to the Reading Terminal Market for this dish alone.
Bassetts Ice Cream. While I’m not generally a “sweets” person, I like to enjoy a nice ice cream cone every once in a while. The flavors available at Bassetts may not be innovative or revolutionary, but they are classic and perfectly executed. The ice cream was creamy, delicious, and exactly what you would expect from a good ice cream spot. One large scoop of ice cream costs nearly $8, but I found that sharing between two people was good enough for both. Bassetts is a classic way to end any trip at the Reading Terminal Market.
While these are just a few of the many places available at the Reading Terminal Market, these are definitely among the most popular vendors. I saw so many other vendors at the Market that we were unfortunately unable to visit, but will definitely try on a second trip.
Since the Reading Terminal Market closes at 6:00pm, if you find yourself wanting more, Chinatown is a short five-minute walk around the corner. There you can get delicious hand-pulled noodles from Nan Zhou, or any other speciality from numerous other restaurants. If you enjoy games and want to walk off a few calories there is an Arcade in the fashion district just a few blocks down; or if you just need to sit down for a couple hours there is also a movie theater. Whatever you decide to do, there are plenty of options. Just get out there and see what you can find.