4 Must-Try Iconic Philadelphia Foods

The city of Philadelphia is known for a lot of things, from historical locations to iconic architecture, and a personality that paints a unique identity for the people who live there. It’s also known for its food — some of which are closely associated with the city. Whether you live in the area or are just visiting and are searching for lunch restaurants in Northeast Philadelphia, here are a few dishes you absolutely have to try for a fully-rounded Philly experience.

The Philly Cheesesteak

This sandwich is so well known around the world that it’d be shocking if you didn’t know about it. Casual sandwich eateries and major restaurant chains across the entire country try and imitate the iconic Philly Cheesesteak, but nothing really compares to the real deal. The concept is simple enough: take some thinly sliced deliciously greasy beefsteak, add Cheez Whiz or melt cheese on it (American and provolone are classic choices), and shove it in a soft, warm hoagie roll. Onions are optional as well — say “with” or “without” when if you want to blend in. You might think you’d get the same experience anywhere else in the country, but don’t be fooled; Philly’s been perfecting the art of the cheesesteak for nearly a century.

Soft Pretzels

Pretzels are another staple of southeast Pennsylvania. It’s the nexus of the American love of pretzel snacks and nowhere else in the country eats as many pretzels. A favorite street food served on corners and at sports games, the soft pretzel is a warm and chewy treat that beats anything you could get in a grocery aisle. Top it with mustard or eat it as is — either way is great!

Water Ice

Often pronounced wooder ice by the locals, this iconic treat can be confusing as its name isn’t so accurate. It’s a frozen treat made of water, sugar and a flavor or your choice, typically fruit-based. It’s similar to a snow cone or Italian ice, but unlike a snow cone, the flavor is mixed in before freezing, instead of added in afterward. You have to try one if you visit during the summer!

Tomato Pie

Chicago and New York both have their iconic pizza styles that everyone knows: the thick Chicago deep dish and the thin on-the-go New York City street slices. However, not as many people are familiar with Philly’s own signature pizza style: the tomato pie. Born out of Philly’s historic Italian community, your first glance at a tomato pie might lead you to believe it’s like a deep dish, but that’s not really the case, as the thickness can vary. Tomato pie evolved from Sicilian immigrants to Philadelphia during the early 20th century, who came from a part of Italy where tomatoes and olives were bountiful and dairy was more scarce. A proper tomato pie doesn’t top itself with cheese, or at least uses it sparingly, and focuses on a rich tomato gravy (sauce for non-locals) topped on a rectangular crust baked to golden perfection.

Whether you live in or near Philly or you’re just visiting, do yourself a favor and treat yourself to some iconic Philly cuisine. Furthermore, if you happen to be planning for an event, business meeting, party, or wedding reception in Pennsylvania, consider a local Philadelphia catering company like Village Catering. With experience in planning and catering for everything from birthday parties to baby showers, Village Catering has a wide choice of available menu items and services that won’t disappoint. If you’re interested in planning a catered event and would like more information, please reach out to us today!