NOVEMBER 18, 2016: customers shopping at the Reading Terminal Market.
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©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Reading Terminal Market

Top choice in Chinatown & Center City East

Getting the balance just right between food shopping hub and dining destination, Reading Terminal Market opened way back in 1893 and it's been a Philadelphia institution ever since. The 75 local stalls crammed into this aircraft hangar of a marketplace provide a strong taste of Philly's cultural melting pot, embracing everything from Pennsylvania Dutch cooking and cheesesteaks to sushi, Caribbean patties and Thai curries, attracting everyone from billionaires to Philly's blue-collar workers.

Food stalls at Reading Terminal Market
Doughnuts and ribs are just two of the treats on offer at Reading Terminal Market ©f11photo / Shutterstock

The best food at Reading Terminal Market

There's food to spare at Reading Terminal Market, from quality Pennsylvania ingredients to ready-made meals to go. Regulars swear by the Philly cheesesteaks at Carmen's Famous Italian Hoagies & Cheesesteaks and Beck’s Cajun Cafe, best followed up with a scoop of icy refreshment from Bassetts ice cream. Other top local favorites include buttery pretzels from Miller's Twist, lip-smacking roast pork sandwiches from DiNic's Roast Pork & Beef, and wholesome, homey Amish dishes at Dutch Eating Place.

If you're just shopping for ingredients, you'll find fine sausages, prime cuts, and charcuterie, great cheeses from Downtown Cheese and Riehl Deli & Cheese Shop, piles of fresh fruit and veg, and great freshly baked goods – great if you're planning a picnic elsewhere in Philly. It's only a few blocks to Franklin Square and the string of parks leading south to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. If you're just looking for something free (or at least inexpensive) to do in Philadelphia, you could do a lot worse.

Reading Terminal Market
DiNic's Roast Pork and Beef – an essential Reading Terminal Market stop ©James Kirkikis / Shutterstock


The market is open daily but on weekends and around lunchtime on weekdays, it gets busy; think twice about visiting with small children or large groups (though at least with the latter, you can fan out to join different lines). To really get under the skin of the market, join the Taste of Philly Food Tour for an in-depth look around the market, including tastings.

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