Your Guide Through Philadelphia’s Iconic Reading Terminal Market
Thomas Jefferson, one of our nation’s Founding Fathers, once said about railroad infrastructure, “The introduction of so powerful an agent as steam to a carriage on wheels will make a great change in the situation of man.” This quote tugs at my historical heartstrings, as railroads have played such an integral part in the development of our nation. They also played a role in my family history. Both of my grandfathers worked for the railroad, an uncle and my father, during his summers off from university.
In Philadelphia’s railroad history there were two rival railroads: the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Reading Railroad, each having its own exquisitely-designed station built in the Center City area of Philadelphia.
During the early 1890s the Reading Terminal Headhouse opened. It had its eye on snatching up both the Farmers Market and Franklin Market; thus, housing them both in the location famously known as Reading Terminal Market. What added to the uniqueness of this location was that the Reading railroad tracks were constructed over the market, making Reading Terminal Market an important place for buyers and sellers.
If you’re planning to visit Philadelphia’s iconic Reading Terminal Market here’s my advice:
To keep your hunger pains at bay, Reading Terminal Market has no shortage of dining options. At Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies and Cheesesteaks, you can find unique cheesesteak choices like The Franklin containing American cheese and Philadelphia cream cheese. If your tastebuds are feeling adventurous try a Texas cheesesteak filled with American cheese, bacon and barbeque sauce. For a spicier meal, the Kamikaze cheesesteak is packed with pepper jack cheese, a trio of roasted, pickled and seeded hot peppers all drenched in hot sauce.
If your appetite is craving some Amish grub (and unable to take a day trip to Lancaster County), then Dutch Eating Place will meet your food expectations. Breakfast is an ideal meal to enjoy at Dutch Eating Place, where you will find apple cinnamon French toast, creamed beef over fresh-cut home fries or blueberry pancakes, being some of the most popular breakfast items on the menu!
With the plethora of stalls in the market it may feel slightly overwhelming where to begin your search for that one-of-a-kind souvenir. To calm your senses stop by Herbiary, an apothecary offering bath and body items, essential oils, herbs and teas. If you are in need of adding to your culinary collection back home, Amy’s Place is a great option. Take your time perusing through the vast collection of decorative bowls, cookie cutters, oven mitts and whisks.
To calm your senses stop by Herbiary, an apothecary offering bath and body items, essential oils, herbs and teas.
For the truly unique Pennsylvania souvenir, Pennsylvania General Store is the ultimate retail destination. Here you will find mouth-watering truffles on display, gift baskets filled with goodies, PA Dutch pumpkin rolls, shoofly pies and much more. The challenging part will be figuring out which items to purchase without going over-budget!
If your souvenir search includes a bottle of spirits, you can find authentically-made Pennsylvania gin, rum or whiskey at Eight Oaks Craft Distillers. The Lehigh Valley farm where they grow their grains is located about an hour north of Philadelphia. The number “eight” in Eight Oaks pays homage to the way owner Chad’s grandfather would include the number in letters to family members, as eight is the exact number of letters in “I love you”.
For an early morning java fix, head over to Old City Coffee located in the southwestern section of the market. Coffee and tea options include an artisanal iced oak milk matcha or their robust six-bean espresso.
Before venturing beyond the doors of Reading Terminal Market, give yourself a sugar rush at either Beiler’s Bakery or Termini Brothers Bakery.
Before venturing beyond the doors of Reading Terminal Market, give yourself a sugar rush at either Beiler’s Bakery or Termini Brothers Bakery. Beiler’s Bakery offers up an awesome array of donuts flavors from benign choices like harvest apple or Dutch crumb to more audacious flavors, such as Elvis Delight or maple bacon. At Termini Brothers Bakery your (LDL) cholesterol levels will be rising as your mind waffles between dessert items like cheese cannoli, raspberry cakes or the “mini opulent” chocolate caramel pastries. Your sweet tooth will thank you no matter which delectable goodies you decide on!
Be sure to stop in at Reading Terminal Market on your next visit to Philly—if not to reminisce about its railroad history, then to at least pick up a cheesesteak or a quaint Amish souvenir!
Photo credits for Your Guide Through Philadelphia’s Iconic Reading Terminal Market by Rebecca Biage.