Whether you’re looking to grab a quick lunch or embark on a tour of Philadelphia’s impressive sandwich scene, Reading Terminal Market is an excellent place to start. Use our guide to the 10 essential sandwiches to find the best the market has to offer.
By Wendy Ramunno with contributions from Danya Henninger
Guac BLT at Molly Malloy’s
For its fresh take on the summer classic, the pub piles bacon from neighbor Halteman Family Meats, arugula and tomato on multigrain bread. The kick from pickled jalapeños is balanced with creamy avocado ($10).
51 N. 12th St.; 267-525-1001
Blueberry cheesecake biscuit at Birdie’s Biscuits
At this pop-up stand Jeffrey Presley sells flaky biscuits based on his grandmother Birdie’s recipe and a variety of sweet biscuit sandwiches. We’re partial to the one stuffed with cheesecake filling and topped with blueberries, blueberry glaze and fresh mint ($4). Note: open Thursday and Friday only.
51 N. 12th St.; 267-298-0341
Chicken breast sandwich at Hunger Burger
It’s worth ordering this juicy fried chicken sandwich with buttermilk ranch dressing based on taste alone, but there’s an even better reason to head to this burger stand. For every sandwich or burger purchased, the company donates a meal to a child in need ($6.50).
51 N. 12th St.; 215-922-2707
Roast pork at DiNic’s
It’s tempting to dismiss this one as overrated, since it did achieve national fame when the Travel Channel declared it Best Sandwich in America, but the combo of savory pork, sharp provolone and garlicky broccoli rabe is a true Philly classic ($9.25 plus toppings). Bonus tip: Try the pulled pork for an even juicier bite.
51 N. 12th St.; 215-923-6175
Pastrami Reuben at Hershel’s East Side Deli
Philly native Steven Safern has serious pastrami cred — his uncle was one of the original chefs at NYC’s famous Katz’s Deli — and the sliced meat at the stand he runs with partner Andrew Wash lives up to its billing. Get it piled on rye with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing for the full experience ($13.75).
51 N. 12th St.; 215-922-6220
Corned beef special at Hatville Deli
At this long-standing deli stall the Esh family has been using products from its native Lancaster County for over 30 years. The most famous offering is this cold sandwich with corned beef piled on with coleslaw and Russian dressing ($7.20).
51 N. 12th St.; 215-925-5065
Boneless rib sandwich at The Rib Stand
This Amish-run stand does its namesake ribs so well, it can be hard to resist them. When you want the same fall-off-the-bone meat without making a mess of yourself, choose the between-bread option, where the tender pork is cradled with cheese on a soft hoagie roll ($7.25).
51 N. 12th St.; 215-925-3155
Somerset grilled cheese at Meltkraft
Why are we certain these are the best grilled cheese sandwiches at RTM? The stand is owned and run by Valley Shepherd Creamery, so all the cheese involved comes from the dairy’s own grass-fed animals. The croque monsieur-like “Somerset” pairs cured ham with melting Gruyère, cornichons and whole grain mustard ($8.50
51 N. 12th St.; 267-639-3309
Oyster sliders at Pearl’s Oyster Bar
Second-generation owner David Braunstein may have given this four-decades-old sit-down spot along the 12th Street edge of a market an update, but his new menu didn’t give up on namesake classics. A trio of miniature brioche buns hold crispy fried oysters topped with cabbage-pepper slaw and a dollop of tartar sauce ($13).
51 N. 12th St.; 215-964-9792
The Bavarian at Wursthaus Schmitz
Chef Jeremy Nolen of Brauhaus Schmitz fame lets his sausage and schnitzel talents really fly at this offshoot stand, and the sandwich that takes its name from the motherland is one of the best. A smoked beef and pork bauernwurst is topped with horseradish sauce, Bavarian coleslaw and a sprinkling of fried onions for extra crunch ($8).
51 N. 12th St.; 215-922-4287