A Lunchtime Tour of Reading Terminal Market

When I found myself in Philadelphia a few weeks ago, I had a tough decision to make. 
No, I didn’t have to decide which child to give up(we can’t ALL be noble like Sophie, okay?). I had to decide where to have lunch, and in a town like Philadelphia, that is not an easy decision. Should I go for a cheesesteak? An Italian meal? A lunch in one of the city’s many fine restaurants? Ultimately…I made the best decision of all. 
 I headed to Reading Terminal Market, a huge indoor market with hundreds of food purveyors and restaurants serving everything from pizza to sushi to those famous Philly Cheesesteaks. 
 The building is gigantic and can be overwhelming at first, but it is actually well laid out. If you grab a map near one of the many entrances, it is easy to find the spots you want to try from the clearly labeled aisles. 
 And, despite it seeming like there were more people here than at Disneyland, there was ample seating – no need to hover over small children, glaring at them till they finish. 
Of course I do that…don’t you?!
 The first place on my list was DiNic’s pork . Everyone I talked to and everything I have read said that this place, specializing in roast pork sandwiches would offer me the gustatory experience of my life. 
 The line was long, and, as I have learned in NYC – if you see a line, get in it!
 Though the service was incredibly efficient, I was still dying looking at these pork roasts just sitting in the window…taunting me cruelly…
 The bread looked pretty damn great too. 
 There are any number of sandwich combinations you can order, but we went with the classic: Roast pork with provolone and sauteed broccoli raab. 
 The sandwich looked fantastic and tasted…well, quite frankly, it tasted a little disappointing. The pork was extremely mild, and though the cheese was sharp and gooey, the bread was exemplary (soft and dense with a light crust) and the broccoli raab was wonderfully garlicky with just a touch of bitterness, the sandwich was…missing something. It was a bit dry, and though it didn’t lack salt, it did lack something. This might be because I grew up eating French Dip sandwiches, but I REALLY think some au jus would have made this for me. 
 Undeterred, we headed to the Dutch Corner for some Pennsylvania Dutch food. These are foods that are derived from the Amish community that still thrives in Pennylvania. 
 Think hearty, fresh and porky. 
My three favorite adjectives. 
 There were several restaurant stands offering traditional Pennsylvania Dutch fare but we settled on Smucker’s Grill for a scrapple sandwich. Scrapple is(According to Wikipedia) “traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and flour, often buckwheat flour, and spices.” The scrapple we ordered, topped with sharp cheddar cheese, was…
 Like romance on a roll. That intoxicating, that surprising, that totally delicious. The scrapple was crispy on the outside and positively airy on the inside, less creamy than melty. It was like a sausage flavored hashbrown, with the sweet taste of pork and a bit of spice from onions, peppers and other seasonings. It was steaming hot, and as my teeth crunched through the outside, strings of incredibly pungent and sharp cheddar cheese broke up the fatty taste of the scrapple. I took the server’s advice and poured a bit of maple syrup on it, and…of course…it was even better. I wish I could comment on the roll, but really…I can’t remember it. The scrapple and the cheese totally took my attention. This was outstanding and I can’t recommend it enough. 
 We hit up The Rib Stand next, mostly because my sister wanted BBQ.
 It didn’t look too impressive.
 But it tasted GREAT! Pulled pork was tender but not mushy, and though the taste was not as deep and smoky as I like, it was still delicious and cloaked in a sweet and tangy North-Carolina style BBQ sauce. On a soft roll, this reinforced my belief that I need some sauce on a sandwich. 
Stopped at Miller’s Twist next for…
 Some Smoky Cheesers. They are hot dogs filled with cheese wrapped in chewy, light, slightly sour pretzel dough. 
 When dipped in some nasal-clearing mustard, they might have been the best things I ate all day. 
 Of course, I didn’t get to try any of these. 
 Or any of the many fresh cheeses on offer.
 Or any of these awesome by-the-scoop pudding desserts. 
I did try some Peking duck, but it was a little greasy and salty for my taste – not enough crispy skin. 
Reading Market had a couple misses but far more hits. It was all extremely economical and made for an awesome lunch and shopping trip. And I didn’t even get to check out any of the seafood stalls or the other Pennsylvania Dutch stalls. And I need to get that pudding!
Guess I have to head back.
It’s a hard life, but someone has to live it. 

Comments

  1. JustinM says:

    Last time in Philly I was waiting to take a city tour and ate at the food court at The Bourse – I think I had a lousy cheesesteak and a slice of Sbarro pizza. I'm thinking I went to the wrong food court.

  2. Hungry says:

    That's weird. The last time I went to Dinic's, they poured au jus over my sandwich. It was enough to soak through the paper wrapper but not enough to turn the bread into mush.

  3. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Justin-Oh man, totally! You would really dig this place!
    @Hungry-Oh no…maybe I had to ask for it wet or something?

  4. Sarah Shaker says:

    We went there today!! Loved Dinic’s and the the I’ve cream shop!

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  1. [...] wheat toast, served with mound of creamy whipped butter, melting into rivulets on the crusty bread. Scrapple, crunchy without and creamy within – onions and pork prevalent, blending well with the sweet [...]

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