Reading Terminal Market has been in operation since 1893. That makes it one of the oldest markets in the US. I visited over multiple days in search of breakfast and lunch. Let’s eat!
It is called the Reading (pronounced “Red-ding”) Terminal Market because it is in the space under the train shed of the Reading Railroad Company. Originally an open market, the city moved markets indoors to help with street over-crowding and sanitation. The market hoped to capitalize on the foot traffic around the trains. In 1976 the Redding Railroad Company folded, but the market remains.
As I mentioned, my first visit is for some breakfast to keep me fueled for a day of city discovery. I heard Beiler’s is a must-visit for their doughnuts. Behind their pickle patch lies just what I’m looking for.
Oh yes, that’s the stuff. Look at all those treats on the glazing line. As you can see, their doughnuts are made fresh daily on location. Each doughnut is hand-rolled and fried using vegetable oil with zero trans fats. Am I telling you their doughnuts are healthy? Hey, I’m no doctor.
The decision is a difficult one, they all look so good. I am particularly tempted by the donuts with fruity pebbles on top!
In the end, I chose the classic glazed sour cream doughnut. You know what they say – keep it simple, stupid!
Many of the stands here at Reading Terminal Market Pennsylvania Dutch owned. The “Dutch” in Pennsylvania Dutch has nothing to do with the Netherlands. “Dutch” was misinterpreted from the similar-sounding “Deutsch.” The Pennsylvania Dutch are Germans.
The 1970s were hard times for the market. More people moved to the ‘burbs, high rents drove many vendors out, and the building was falling apart.
In the 1980s, downtown Philly experienced a resurgence with a new convention center built next door.
Today the Reading Terminal Market is one of the nation’s most successful public markets. More than 75 independent small businesses offer an array of fresh and prepared foods, lunch counters, and places to eat and shop.
My only regret from my visits is that I didn’t try anything from “Jonathan’s Best,” my namesake eatery.
One thing I DO NOT regret is getting the roast pork sandwich from DiNic’s. In 2013 the sandwich won “The Best Sandwich in America” from the Travel Channel.
In 1918, Gaetano Nicolosi opened a butcher shop in South Philly. For years, “Nicolosi’s” used a large oven in a garage behind the shop to cook specialty roasts for customers. In 1954, they had the idea to sell sandwiches out of that garage. The simple and traditional roast pork and beef sandwiches quickly became neighborhood favorites. DiNic’s has been here at the Market since 1980.
With all due respect to my friends at Cheesesteak Corner, this was the best sandwich I had in Philly.
Reading Terminal Market is free to enter, but there’s no way you get out of there without spending some money. The market is currently open 7 days a week, but, not all vendors are open on Sundays. The Pennsylvania Dutch vendors are open Wednesday through Saturday. Visit the official Reading Terminal Market website for all the details.
If you’re in Philly this is a can’t miss attraction. The sights, the sounds, the smells of a functioning market really help you to get a beat on the city you’re visiting. Plus, you can find just about anything to satisfy your hunger or to package as a gift.