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Jun 20, 2007 12:22 PM

6 hrs in Philadelphia this Saturday


I have a long layover in Philadelphia this coming Saturday, and I think I'd like to take the train from the airport into the city to explore a bit, get some food, relax, then head back to the airport. My flight arrives at 7:30 AM so I could probably be in the city by 8:30 or so (I'll have no bags, since they go straight through)....I'll probably want breakfast and/or brunch and/or lunch before heading back to the airport...I probably need to be back at the airport by 1:30 or 2 PM for an int'l flight that leaves at 4 PM.

Within Philly, I would like to only take public transportation.

One idea I had was to go to the big market (farmers market?) and walk around there, get some good coffee and breakfast, etc. Any details about this? I'm looking to keep things pretty inexpensive.

Another idea is to get a cheesesteak sandwich (I live in San Francisco, so it'd be great to have this or other east-coast foods that we don't have as much here).

A third idea is to go to this Chinese place called Evegreen to try the cheesesteak egg rolls that Gary Soup was talking about.
It seems like I could get there by public transportation okay....but maybe this trip would be silly? The idea of it is great, but any first-hand experience would be appreciated.

So does anyone have good suggestions for cafes, or even entire neighborhoods worth exploring on Saturday morning? Thanks a lot,

Dave MP

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  1. Evergreen is not convenient, but Reading Terminal Market certainly is. You'll just take the Airport Line to Market East Station (20-25 min), and you're right there. You can certainly do breakfast there at any number of places widely discussed in this form (Dutch Eating Place, etc), or lunch (decent, not great cheesesteaks, but tons of other fantastic things). From there, you're only a few blocks away from the historic district -- visit the Liberty Bell, National Constitution Center or Independence Hall, say -- and, again, not far from the train to get you back to the airport.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Hardart

      I second RTM. You can skip Rick's cheesesteak IMO, and head to DiNic's for a roast pork sandwich. It's juicy roast pork, sharp provolone cheese and greens, usually spinach at DiNic's. While Philly is universally equated with the cheesesteak, it does roast pork really well, it's just not generally known to non-natives.
      Delilah's has wonderful soul food. The mac and cheese (voted best of America by Oprah a few years ago), as well as the greens are wonderful.
      If you're more in a breakfast mood, try the Down Home Diner.
      If you've got room for dessert, treat yourself to Philly's own Bassett's ice cream
      DiNic's +Bassett's= uniquely Philly chowing.
      The only downside is that you will wish you could buy some of the wonderful stuff there to take home and cook.

      1. re: monavano

        This sounds great. Roast pork sounds awesome, I would probably prefer that to cheesesteak anyway. If I get there at 9 or so, I could have a small breakfast and coffee and probably be ready to move on to lunch food by 11 or so.

        If there are any good things to buy that I could bring on a plane with me to eat on my flight, I might do that. Sounds like this will be a good option.

        Dave MP

        1. re: Dave MP

          Absolutely. There are many sandwich shops, from Hershel's Jewish Deli (Philly excels in Jewish Deli's), to a hoagie from Salumeria. Here's a link to RTM sandwiches.

          To conclude, you could get some Italian cookies or a cannoli from Termini Bros. Bakery.
          If you like cooking, check out Fosters for cookware and gadgets, and the Spice Terminal for spices, oils etc.

          1. re: monavano

            I probably won't buy too many things for myself, since I'll actually be on my way to Greece for vacation....better to buy things toward the end of a trip :) But I could definitely see getting a sandwich to eat on the plane...San Francisco does *not* excel in Jewish or Italian Delis, so that will be good! Thanks for the link!

            Dave MP

          2. re: Dave MP

            As everyone else said, Reading Terminal is the place for you. If you're looking for a good plane snack at the Terminal, try Famous 4th Street cookies.

          3. re: monavano

            Absolutely second the DiNic's. Get the sharp provolone with the broccoli rabe if they have it.

        2. Philly doesn't have a single good Jewish deli, at least not from the perspective of someone who grew up in NY/NJ. Italian, yes. DiNic's pork a good choice. If you arrive at the market early you could get a wonderful danish from Metropolitan.

          12 Replies
          1. re: janeer

            I typed that in comparison to NYC, Philly has decent deli's, but then erased thinking that the message would stand without the caveat. Of course this isn't NYC. But were I grew up amongst legions of Russian Jews in NE Philly, there is good Jewish food. And deli's. Plus, word is that Hershel's does good corned beef.
            So, peeing contests aside, I stand by my recommendations.

            1. re: janeer

              As someone who grew up in NY, I would agree with janeer that there is not an authentic Jewish deli in Philly that would compare to what those of us who grew up in the NY area are used to. In fact, I haven't found anything remotely close, sadly. .
              However, the Italian delis are every bit as good as anything you could find in NY/NJ. Go for the roast pork; it really is good. Maybe get an Italian hoagie to take to the airport with you. And be sure to try one of the hot pretzels from the Amish. They are delicious with a bit of mustard to dip them into (or not).

              1. re: mschow

                And we haven't had a single actual kosher deli in about 15 years. Thank you.

                1. re: Bride of the Juggler

                  Just a suggestion, be nice to the other passengers- don't get an Italian Hoagie. They are a bit pungent. Reading Terminal will have plenty of other offerings.

                  1. re: dream_of_giusti

                    Haha, I agree. If I do get a sandwich to go, I'll probably eat it before boarding the plane :)

                    Cookies, on the other hand, would be good to bring on board.

                    Dave MP

                    1. re: dream_of_giusti

                      LOL: good point! While I love these Italian hoagies, they are a bit smelly.
                      Personally, I love roasted turkey. One of my favorite sandwiches from the terminal is the fresh roast turkey on marble bread from the Original Turkey. The turkey is real (not lunch meat), warm (if you want), and they make dozens of types of turkey sandwiches. Maybe you should have a turkey sandwich before you get on the plane. It'll help you sleep


                      1. re: mschow

                        If it were me (and I may just eat this myself tomorrow...) I'd do pancakes at the Dutch Eating Place at RTM (not the pathetic Down Home's gross!) and lunch at DiNic's there. In between I'd walk off breakfast. And bring apple fritters from Beiler's at the market on the plane...And as far as the Deli, Hershel's pastrami is darned close to Katz's in NYC without the hassle of getting there!

                        1. re: bluehensfan

                          This sounds like a good plan....I only have 6 hrs in Philadelphia, and I basically *never* get to be in Philadelphia, so I should probably eat as much as possible. I may be pretty exhausted too, so are there any places to rest a little bit between meals? Maybe a shady piece of lawn or park bench? Or on that note, places good for a picnic?

                          Dave MP

                          1. re: Dave MP

                            Anywhere along the parkway is close to Reading Terminal (from City Hall to the Art Museum) or you could go around Independence Hall. The first sometimes has areas with homeless people but is well traveled while the second has a lot of tourists.

                2. re: janeer

                  "Philly doesn't have a single good Jewish deli, at least not from the perspective of someone who grew up in NY/NJ"

                  Speaking from the perspective of an outsider who only gets to the East Coast occasionally now and then (and someone who is in deep mourning for the passing of Second Avenue Deli and Miami's Rascal House), I think Famous on 4th Street holds up its head quite nicely among a rapidly diminishing group of competitors in what seems to be a species perilously close to extinction.

                  1. re: jbw

                    Famous 4th is good. I love the hamentaschen (sp?) and some of the other baked goods. It would be nice if the sandwiches weren't SO ridiculously over-stuffed, but that's the gimmick.

                    1. re: clairvaux

                      It looks like everyone took proper care of you suggesting the Reading Terminal Market for breakfast and DiNicks for roast pork sandwich topped off with some killer cookies to take on the flight with you.
                      Now what you need is a plan!
                      Breakfast at RTM
                      Grab your DiNick's Roast Pork sandwich and head for Rittenhouse Square where you can sit and read and people watch to your heart's content while you languor over that sandwich.
                      You could also have fun walking aroung the Rittenhouse Square area window shopping.
                      Time goes much faster than you'd believe, so just be sure not to cram too much in that short span of hours.
                      Enjoy our beautiful City of Brotherly Love.

                3. Thanks everyone for the suggestions! Here's a link to my report of what I ate: