Where To Eat In Reading Terminal Market guide image


Where To Eat In Reading Terminal Market

There are a lot of food stands in Reading Terminal Market. These are the 19 best.

Reading Terminal Market might be pretty touristy, but it’s also one of the country’s oldest and largest public market places, and has some of the best food you can find in the city. You can find everything from some signature Philly sandwich shops shelling out roast porks and cheesesteaks, to sugary treats like donuts and pies, to some great seafood options. And since there are so many spots—80 to be exact—we made a list of the 18 places you should try first. 


photo credit: NICOLE GUGLIELMO

Beiler’s Doughnuts imageoverride image

Beiler's Doughnuts


51 N 12th St, Philadelphia
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No matter what time of day you stop by Beiler’s Doughnuts, you’ll be in for a wait that resembles trying to cross the Tacony Bridge when it’s up. Your wait will be worth it, though, because you can get up to 40 different varieties of these warm Pennsylvania Dutch doughy treats. It’s hard to just pick one favorite behind the glass display at this spot, but you can’t go wrong with the classic vanilla sprinkled.

We think it’s a sin that more people wait in line at Carmen’s to get a cheesesteak than they do at DiNic’s for one of their roast pork sandwiches. It’s like if a movie theater were showing Wakanda Forever and Waterworld and somehow Waterworld ran the box office. While this sandwich might be simple, with marinated roast pork, broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone on a white, seeded roll, it’s delicious and tough to stay away from once you’ve tried it.

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Termini Brothers is one of the most famous bakeries in Philly, and rightfully so (since they make some of the best pastries, cakes, and cannolis in the city). The Reading Terminal Market location generally has a line of people who take their time deciding between a chocolate chip pound cake or a box of biscottis, but if you know what you want, you can call ahead and pick up your baked goods without waiting.

The longest line at Reading Terminal Market always seems to be at Carmen’s for their cheesesteak. If you want the best sandwich at the market, though, you’re going to want to walk down a few aisles to DiNic’s. What is worth waiting in line for at Carmen’s is their Italian hoagie. The meats are piled high on fluffy white bread and covered in oil, vinegar, and a mix of salt and pepper. And it’s huge, so if you can’t finish it, you can always save the other half for dinner.

The pretzels at Miller’s Twist are incredible. They’re fluffier than your average Philly soft pretzel, with crispy outsides covered in big pieces of salt, but they rip like cinnamon buns fresh from the oven. You can get them plain or covered in cinnamon-sugar, but the best thing to order is one of their pretzel-covered hot dogs. It’s an all-beef dog wrapped in melted cheese and a pretzel bun, and it’s essentially the best version of carnival food.

Walking through Reading Terminal can be overwhelming, and you’ll probably find at least 20 different things sitting on display that you’ll immediately want to order. But at Hershel’s, once you see the huge slabs of corned beef and pastrami behind the counter, there’s no way you’re walking away without a sandwich. That’s a good thing, though, because the pastrami on rye, maybe with some mustard, is the best thing on the menu. The meat is tender, the bread is perfectly toasted, and the sandwich holds together nicely if you’re taking it on the go.

Another place where you can always expect a line is at this vegan deli. Open daily, they have everything from breakfast sandwiches packed with smoky seitan, tofu egg puree, and melty american “cheese,” to staples like reubens and corned beef that will make you wonder why everything isn’t made out of seitan. Plus, since it’s a deli, you can also order vegan cheese, meat, and “tuna” and “chicken” salads by the pound. 

In the movie Everything Everywhere All At Once, the villain tries to put all of our hopes and dreams on a bagel. We didn’t know something like that was doable until we bit into a pillowy bialy from this Reading Terminal Market shop. It should be no surprise, since they’re made by one of our favorite bagel places in the city. With an assortment of sweet—like their jam with a creamy mound of whipped lemon ricotta in the center—to savory, there’s a bialy for whatever mood you’re in. Our favorite here is the ‘Strami, which has tender strips of pastrami, a potato chip crust, melty swiss, and comes with pickles and a dijon so good that you’d happily head to a multiverse where it was on every sandwich.

This second location of El Merkury in Reading Terminal Market does not disappoint. With an even smaller menu than the main hub (they only sell Honduran baleadas and Salvadoran pupusas, sides, and churros here), the warm grab-and-go pouches full of melty cheese, black beans with diced jalapeños, and pork keep us coming back. And even better, with street and lot parking near the market, we don’t have to struggle to find a spot near Rittenhouse Square.

There might be other places in Reading Terminal Market that serve ice cream, but none of them matters besides Bassett’s. The stand has been in the same place at the front of the market since 1892, which means it predates college basketball, the rotary dial, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. All of their flavors are super rich and creamy, like butter pecan, raspberry truffle, and a kind-of-spicy cinnamon. They usually have a line, but it moves quickly, so don’t wander off just because the bakery across the way has no wait.

If you’re here on a weekend, or just decide to take the day off and for some reason choose to spend your vacation at Reading Terminal Market, you should be getting breakfast at the Dutch Eating Place. They serve lunch as well, but what they do best are pancakes, eggs, and breakfast meats. Everything is heavy on butter and sugar, but as long as you’re not expecting to get a pre-workout smoothie, you’ll be very pleased.

Reading Terminal Market sells everything from herbs to donuts. So of course, it has you covered when it comes to wings. Dienner’s BBQ Chicken’s original rotisserie wings are tender, have a deep golden brown skin, and are covered in a spicy rub. You can eat them solo or dip them in their signature hot BBQ sauce.

Kamal’s homemade falafel, served on pita with chopped lettuce and a spread of hummus, is a simple but great lunch that only takes a few minutes to pick up. There’s also an eggplant stew that’s rich and savory, or if you can’t make up your mind, you can get a mezze plate with a bunch of different Middle Eastern salads and dips.

You’ll probably take in a lot of great smells in the market, like sizzling chicken or espresso from Old City Coffee, but the cinnamon-y scents coming from this Black-owned bakery beats them all. They have almost everything made with sweet potatoes that you can think of: sweet potato pie, cheesecake, cupcakes, and pound cake, and it’s all delicious. Come here for a treat to end your day, a quick pie run when you’re on dessert duty for game night, and every day in between. 

When you’re at Pearl’s, you can pretend for a second that you’re not in Reading Terminal Market. Not because it’s shut off from the rest of the space or in a particularly secluded corner, but because you can sit down on a barstool and order big platters of raw seafood. Make sure you order some briny oysters, which should be followed by a bowl of their excellent snapper soup in the winter.

Like Michael Buffer saying “Let’s get ready to rumble,” The Rib Stand does one thing really well. In this case, that thing is dry-rubbed ribs. There’s not much else on the menu, besides a couple of sides and bottled sodas. And there isn’t anywhere to sit, so you’ll have to take your messy, fall-off-the-bone ribs somewhere else to eat them. But once you get your plate of baby back ribs, mac and cheese, coleslaw, and a cup of either mild or spicy BBQ sauce, you won’t care where or how you’re eating it.

Profi’s isn’t just your only option for a good crêpe in Reading Terminal Market—it’s one of your only options for a good crêpe in all of Philly. If you don’t mind wading through the tourist jungle to get here, you can get a sweet or savory crêpe in about three minutes flat since there usually isn’t a line. The stretchy pancakes themselves are pretty standard, with a good amount of filling, and we’re particularly into the sweet ones, like the Nutella with banana or the cinnamon-sugar crêpe.

Almost everyone that walks up to the counter at Little Thai Market gets the shrimp pad thai. And it makes sense, it’s sweet and just a little bit spicy, with thick, chewy noodles and a sprinkle of peanuts. But the best thing here is the salmon curry. It’s a piece of salmon on top of a heap of rice and broccoli, covered with a spicy curry sauce. It’s so delicious that even if the three people in front of you all choose the same bowl of pad thai, don’t be swayed—the salmon curry is the right decision.

When Ms. Tootsie's Restaurant Bar Lounge closed down, there was a massive soul food gap in Reading Terminal Market. Thankfully, Ma Lessie's Chicken & Waffles opened up to serve up some tender and juicy ribs, crunchy fried chicken, and savory collard greens and cabbage. From yams, creamy mac and cheese, and turkey legs that are so big they sometimes struggle to close the takeout tray, everything here is delicious and will probably send you straight to your couch to take a nap when you’re done eating. 

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