It’s no doubt that I love food. I practically have at least one foodie post up for every destination I go (check out my indulgences in Maui Hawaii, Boston, Israel, and New York, just to name a few). Sometimes I even plan entire trips based around the food alone (have you been to New Orleans yet?!)
But when I started planning my weekend trip to Philly, I hadn’t considered all the tasty treats and delectable dishes I would come across. Sure, I knew there would be cheesesteaks on every corner, but the best sandwich in America, unlimited bellinis at brunch, and the oldest ice cream shop? I basically had to redo my entire itinerary in order to squeeze in all this eating. What a horrible problem, I know! :p
My gluttonous self probably gained a few pounds while in Philadelphia- but I don’t regret a single calorie I consumed. I made sure to lick my lips after each and every bite. 🙂
WARNING: Reading the remainder of this post will make you hungry. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself licking the computer screen. I won’t tell anyone.
1) Federal Donuts
With overly creative and some standard original options, you’re bound to find a few donuts to smack your lips about. We opted for cookies n’ cream and chocolate covered strawberry donuts, but the mint chocolate cookie, maple bacon, spicy PB&J, and lemon bar sounded out of this world as well.
Want fresh donuts (and coffee) delivered to your hotel room first thing in the morning? Book the Philly is for Foodies package at Hotel Palomar. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have donuts in bed?
Craving some fried chicken? You’re in luck- Federal Donuts serves some of the best in the city (and with some amazing spice rubs). I don’t think this place can get any better!
Insider Tip: Donut flavors change on occasion, since the shop is always adding new ways to spice up the fried dough. Follow them on social media to be up to date with the latest donut flavors!
If you’re hanging around Fairmount Park and Kelly Drive (a must-do for any first-time visitor to Philly), be sure to walk a few blocks to Rybread. This small café, located in the Fairmount neighborhood, offers sandwiches, salads, and downright delectable treats. With made-to-order paninis, sandwiches named after different cities, and heavenly scones, it was the perfect place to enjoy a quick breakfast with my sister.
The menu is rather extensive, and everything looked and sounded phenomenal- too bad we were leaving that afternoon! I really want to try the Savannah (oven roasted turkey breast, brie, cranberry sauce, and mayo on multi-grain bread) and the San Diego (chicken, sharp provolone, roasted red pepper, pesto, and caramelized onion) on my next trip the City of Brotherly Love.
The sandwiches may be on the pricey side, but definitely make up for in taste, quality, and flavor.
3) Red Owl Tavern
My sister and I headed to Red Owl Tavern for brunch one morning, which was ultra-convenient considering we were staying at Hotel Monaco for part of our stay. We made sure to make reservations ahead of time the moment we found out about their “Bottomless Bellini Brunch” offer. Girls from NYC love their brunch!
The menu includes cinnamon bread french toast (with vanilla marscapone and a sweet cherry wine compote), buttermilk pancakes (with apple-walnut chutney and cinnamon whipped butter), and belgian waffles (with seasonal mixed berries and maple syrup). YUM.
Along with all the traditional brunch options above, Red Owl Tavern also has a few items for those who prefer a lighter and therefore healthier brunch. How does the Red Owl Tavern Omelet, made with eggs, prosciutto, baby arugula, herb goat cheese, asparagus, and black truffle vinaigrette sound? My sister, a Registered Dietician, approved! That just means I can have a double order, right? :p
Not only was the food and service of excellent quality, but we were able to drink our personalized bubbly in style by adding fruit purée. And we made sure to try them all- strawberry, pear, peach, and passion fruit (more than once each).
Something that I particularly like is that Red Owl Tavern cares about the Earth. Composting fruits and vegetable peels into mulch, and turning grease into biodiesel fuel are just two ways this restaurant is giving back. Pretty cool if you ask me. A restaurant that serves unlimited bellini’s and is helping preserve our Earth- yes please! I’ll gladly come back.
Insider Tip: Be sure to make your reservation at Red Owl Tavern on a Saturday or Sunday. The bottomless bellini’s are not to be missed!
4) La Scala’s
Located just blocks from Hotel Monaco (with the chicest rooms I’ve ever seen), we stumbled upon this place when we couldn’t decide on dinner one night.
We decided to stock up on veggies that evening (especially since our day consisted of treats from around town), and ordered the Arugula salad and an eggplant hand tossed pizza.
The pizza was great – crust was thin and crispy, perfect amount of ricotta cheese, and toppings were perfectly seasoned. Not very greasy at all, which is something I always hope for when ordering pizza. The bread basket with a mix of olive oil, butter, and herbs was divine!
Our waiter was very personable, and with a nice atmosphere and reasonable prices, I’ll definitely be back next time I visit Philly!
Conveniently located to the Independence Park area and just steps from Hotel Monaco, makes this spot absolutely perfect for tourists.
With it’s perfect location just across from Rittenhouse Square, and it’s outdoor seating with direct views of the park, Rouge was the perfect spot for lunch one afternoon.
The meals we ordered (tilapia tacos and the quoina black bean burger) were both fantastic, and although service was a tad slow, we enjoyed the great people watching right from our seats. And what eccentric people we watched!
The bun was the best I’ve ever had- perfectly toasted with the right amount of butter. The burger was huge and amazing, and you can really taste the quality of the ingredients with each and every bite.
Make sure to sit outside- a great option on a bright, sunny day in Philadelphia! Definitely a staple in the Rittenhouse area, and a great place for a weekend brunch/lunch.
Pro Tip: Be sure to order the specialty fries – a must try!
6) Bassetts Ice Cream
How can you visit the City of Brotherly Love without trying America’s oldest ice cream company? Established in 1861, this shop creates homemade ice cream with a beyond creamy richness.
Bassetts is known for their creative and unusual flavor combinations, and my sister and I shared three scoops of this creamy deliciousness. My favorites were the WHYY experience (no, not a typo), which consisted of vanilla ice cream, chocolate covered pretzels, and a rich caramel swirl, and Gadzooks, chocolate ice cream with peanut butter brownies and chocolate chunks. I think next time I’ll try the cinnamon and Guatemalan ripple. The flavors we orders were true to taste, which is becoming more and more difficult to perfect in this day and age considering all the unnatural ingredients used.
The consistency was firm, yet creamy and smooth, and is quite possibly one of the best (if not THE best) ice cream I’ve ever had.
Located in Reading Terminal Market, this ice cream shop is a must for any first-time visitor to the city. Or, basically anyone looking for a cool treat on a hot summer day. Don’t let the long lines fool you- the line moves quickly and the rich, creamy ice cream is definitely worth the wait.
Pro Tip: The scoops appeared bigger in a cup, so if you’re looking to share an abundance of this creamy treat, opt out of a cone. Or ask for the cone on top. We even had to throw some out, which in retrospect, I regret fully.
Other noteworthy suggestions for a cup or cone include the Franklin Fountain (oldest ice cream shop) and Little Baby Ice Cream. Those are on my list for my next visit to Philly.
7) Famous 4th Street Cookie Company
If you’re looking for rich, warm, moist cookies, this is the place to go. We came across this cookie shop while exploring Reading Terminal Market, and couldn’t leave without testing a few out. A wide variety of cookies are showcased here, including chocolate chip, macadamia nut, peanut butter, white chocolate chip, and oatmeal raisin.
Baked right on the premises, these are seriously amazing cookies- chewy and warm with ooey gooey chocolate and crispy edges. They were definitely worth the extra calories, I just made sure to have a light dinner that night!
I heard that their version of the black and white cookies are to die for- a sugar cookie with black and white frosting. A bit different from the traditional, but just as tasty!
Cookies are a bit pricy, roughly $2 each, and are sold by the pound. Bring cash- they don’t accept credit cards at this time.
Pro Tip: If you go right before closing (after 4:30pm), all cookies are only $1. Definitely a great way to stock up for less!
8) Miller’s Twist
Move over Auntie Anne’s, the Amish know pretzels, and they know them really well!
The pretzels here are so light and tasty, you don’t even need mustard. With their distinctive pretzel taste, along with being warm, savory, and buttery, I thoroughly enjoyed every bite.
Although I opted for a traditional soft pretzel with salt, Miller’s Twist has numerous flavors and other delicious pretzel-y treats. How about trying the jalapeño cheddar, beef jumbo, turkey sausage, or broccoli rabe fillings? The pretzel ice cream cones and pretzel dogs looked incredibly appetizing as well. The fact that I didn’t gain 10 pounds from this stand alone is surprising.
Another spot in Reading Terminal Market you can’t miss! If you’re full from all this delicious eating throughout the day, think about getting a pretzel to go- they travel incredibly well! My sister and I decided to pick one up and eat it later in the day at the park.
Pro Tip: Come early in the day and try one of the breakfast stuffed pretzels.
Can you believe I didn’t even have a cheesesteak! I’m probably the worst traveler I know! But with all the other treats mentioned above, my tongue (and stomach) didn’t really miss it. I’ll have two (or three or four) next time I’m in Philly to make up for it. You can definitely hold me to that!
So, I bet you came to this post hoping for a recommendation for a philly cheesesteak? I wont disappoint, promise. Here are two suggestions I was given prior to my trip:
- Campos Deli
- Pat’s & Geno’s
******** Again, if you’re looking for even more delicious food options, I urge you to book the Philly is for Foodies package at Hotel Palomar. Not only do they supply you with a list of their favorite secret restaurants, but you’re also provided with donuts and coffee upon wake-up (delivered to your room from Federal Donuts) and a $25 gift card to Reading Terminal Market. Totally worth it in my opinion.