Philadelphia Local Flavors

Mélange of Menus

Philadelphia is a melting pot of global cuisines and an alluring destination for dining thanks to the roster of renowned chefs and restaurateurs in the city including Jose Garces, Michael Solomonov, Steven Starr, Marc Vetri, Nicholas Elmi, and Greg Vernick. Whether you want to treat yourself to a sure-to-be-unforgettable gourmet meal, chow down on the city’s trademark cheesesteak or try something new and different, the Philadelphia dining scene is diverse enough to suit every taste.  Home to creative mixologists with special signature cocktails, Philadelphia has over a thousand bars and restaurants in Center City. Also, Philadelphia is considered the BYOB capital of North America, with hundreds of restaurants that allow patrons to bring their own bottles.


City of Neighborhoods

With a broad range of cultures, Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods with each associated with certain styles of food. South Philadelphia, the historically Italian section of the city, offers numerous red gravy Italian-American restaurants, sandwich shops, and pizza places. Chinatown, the second largest on the east coast of the United States, offers a fusion of Asian cuisines. The Reading Terminal Market is one of America’s largest and oldest public markets, housed since 1893 in a National Historic Landmark building in the heart of Center City. Philadelphia also has a vast assortment of family friendly restaurants, sports bars, vegan options and much more. With hundreds of restaurants throughout the city, you’re sure to find something to whet your appetite.


Eat Like a Local

If you’re looking for something truly authentic, nothing says Philadelphia quite like these local favorites:

  • Cheesesteaks: Fresh, soft and squishy Italian rolls, typically 12 inches long, filled with melted cheese and tender pieces of beef are the main components of this truly Philadelphia sandwich. Most establishments offer a choice of Cheez Whiz (most popular choice, “whiz with”), American or Provolone cheese and the option of adding fried or raw onions to the steak.
  • Roast Pork Sandwiches: These juicy classics, made with a soft roll, sliced roast pork, sharp provolone, broccoli rabe, roasted peppers and long hots, are a true crowd-pleaser. The most famous version, available from Dinic’s in the Reading Terminal Market, was once dubbed the “Best Sandwich in America.”
  • Crab Fries: Combining hot and spicy with one of America’s favorite dishes Crab Fries are a real treat. Available at multiple restaurants and venues across the city, Chickie’s and Pete’s take on the dish is a Philadelphia favorite.
  • Hoagies: The “Official Sandwich of Philadelphia,” hoagies are a regional concoction and overwhelming favorite. These mouth-watering sandwiches are more than a mouthful, packed with lettuce, tomato, onions, peppers, oregano, oil dressing, cheese (Provolone or American, usually) and of course, delicious Italian lunch meats like dry salami, mortadella and capicolla – hence the nickname, “Italian Hoagie.”
  • Soft Pretzels: These soft and chewy, hand-twisted baked goods are the ultimate comfort food for Philadelphians. Baked fresh everyday and available at street vendors, local stores, or directly from the factory, these salty satisfiers are delicious with a little spicy mustard.
  • Water Ice: Nothing says summer in Philadelphia better than water ice (also known as Italian ice). This cool and refreshing frozen treat is a smooth mixture of ice, fruit juice and fresh fruit. 
  • Irish Potatoes: Tiny balls of coconut cream rolled in cinnamon are the farthest thing that comes to mind when hearing the name of this dish for the first time. Though they’re not an Irish dish (or a potato) this dessert is usually available around St. Patrick’s Day.
  •  Scrapple: Hailed as the first pork food invented in America, this local invention is a fried treat at any meal. A mishmash of pork, cornmeal, flour, onions, herbs, spices and other seasonings, scrapple is packed into a loaf before being fried to perfection for your taste buds


Dine like an 18th century local

The City Tavern is housed in a historical landmark, the “unofficial” meeting site for the First Continental Congress. Just ask your server for some of the history and he or she will surely describe the number of historical figures who frequented the tavern including George Washington. Try the Pepperpot Soup, a delicious brew of tripe and vegetables that has a history dating back to the Revolutionary War, served to soldiers as a warm heartening meal.  The 18th century-inspired children’s menu is award-winning and includes a Colonial chicken pot pie, meat and cheese pie and apple cider.


Culinary Tours

A fun way to explore Philadelphia’s culinary scene is to take a food tour. A sampling of food adventures includes Italian Market Tours, Reading Terminal Market Tours, Colonial Pub Crawls and Beer Tours.




The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) is the official tourism promotion agency for the City of Philadelphia globally and the primary sales and marketing agency for the Pennsylvania Convention Center.


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