Whether you’re talking sandwiches or sports teams, city loyalty is a quality that Philadelphians have in spades. And between being the birthplace of the nation, home to a certain film franchise that’s getting plenty of Oscar buzz and some damned good eats, there are more than a few reasons why. Here are six reasons why eating in Philly is tops.
One word: cheesesteaks. Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, we’re freed up to talk about all of the other amazing sandwiches that sit in the shadows of Pat’s and Geno’s. There’s the roast pork sandwich in all of it’s drippy provolone and broccoli rabe glory (try it for yourself at John’s Roast Pork or Dinic’s) and the over-stuffed Italian hoagies with a deli’s worth of salami, ham and other imported cold cuts (Cosmi's is a solid bet). The Schmitter, sausage and peppers (try out the ones from Rocco's at Home Depot, no joke!), Italian-accented chicken cutlet sandwiches at Shank’s, George’s Italian Market tripe and tongue? Seriously, the list could go on forever.
Philadelphia is home to its very own namesake style of ice cream. Made with just hot milk, cream and flavoring, this style of ice cream forgoes the custard base making for a lighter, fluffier scoop. If you’d like to get your hands on this born-in-Philadelphia style of ice cream head over to old-school favorite Bassetts in Reading Terminal or grab a cone at the fantastically retro Franklin Fountain. And while it might not be Philly style, Capogiro (pictured above) makes some of the best gelato outside of Italy.
Philadelphia’s take on Little Italy, located on this blocks surrounding the Italian Market, is firmly footed in another era. With no nods to specific regions of Italy, the checkered-tablecloth and red-sauce joints that populate the area are strictly spaghetti and meatballs and Chianti spots. Portions are sizable, service is warm, crusty garlic bread is de rigueur and most importantly, the food is soul satisfying in that uniquely Italian-American way. For the best of the best be sure to check out Villa di Roma and Dante & Luigi’s (home to the hearty lasanga pictured above).
Obviously, you're going to need to get on a plane for the best bowl of pho. But when it comes to the East Coast, Philly's as good as it's going to get. Since the 1990s Philadelphia’s Vietnamese population has been steadily growing and with it fantastic options for banh mi, pho (pictured above), and bún bò huế. For the best that Philly’s Little Saigon has to offer all you need to do is explore the blocks of Washington Avenue between Front and Sixteenth Streets and you’ll find everything from Vietnamese bakeries and grab-and-goes to bubble tea spots, supermarkets brimming with fresh produce and restaurants like Pho 75 and Nam Phuong, both perfect places to dive deep into expansive Vietnamese menus. But if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, Kensington’s Pho Ga Thanh Thanh makes the best chicken pho in town.
Whether you’re grabbing a preflight pint at an airport bar, venturing into a neighborhood dive or settling into a stool for afternoon happy hour, Philadelphia’s devotion to the American craft-beer movement can be felt in every corner of the city. From city center out to the 'burbs there are new breweries opening their doors every day, not to mention the 10-day bacchanal that is Philly Beer Week. While nearly every bar in the city has a draft list full of fascinating options locals like South Philadelphia Tap Room, Standard Tap and Monk's Cafe (pictured above) are the places where you’re going to find the kind of sours, saisons and stouts that get beer nerds all worked up.
The jury might be out on the origins of Philadelphia’s classic shot of whiskey and cheap beer chaser combo, but there’s no doubting the city’s fondness for its beloved good idea/bad idea twofer. Bob & Barbara’s is the go-to for a $3 shot of Jim Beam and a PBR, but there are plenty of other spots around town that mix up the special with higher- (and even lower-) end beers and an assortment of not for the faint of heart shot options like Kensington Quarters' Exile on Main Streets, a pour of Founder's Rubaeus and a shot of Fernet.