Hanging Round the (Wrong) City

I spent around 24 hours this weekend in Philadelphia with friends, so naturally we set our priorities to finding the good food. Being new to the city, I was looking forward to discovering the Reading Terminal Market – and discover we did!

reading-terminal-market-carmen-ladipoCompared to Chelsea Market, this indoor food plaza of beauty is a little harder to maneuver, but much more sensory-stimulating. Bright neon signs, the scents of famous cookies, cold ice cream, Thai, Mediterranean, Chinese, Italian foods and more pack the building with sights and smells that will easily overwhelm you if you suffer from indecision. It probably took us 20-30 minutes to peruse and figure out what we wanted to eat. It was well worth the long stroll, and I now know what will be on my list the next time I’m in Philly (Famous 4th St Cookies? Kamal’s Middle Eastern Specialties? Profi’s Creperie??).

reading-terminal-market-carmen-ladipo

reading-terminal-market-carmen-ladipo

There is all sorts of stuff at the Reading Terminal market. You got your hot meals, your sweet treats, your groceries, and your books, flower essences, and juices. You could get a lot done here during the week (emphasis on “during” and “week”); like a street of Manhattan or Brooklyn, but reasonably priced. Turn your head one way and there are new and old cookbooks; turn your head the other way and there are turkey parts, all waiting to be purchased.

reading-terminal-market-carmen-ladipo

reading-terminal-market-carmen-ladipo reading-terminal-market-carmen-ladipo

What do you have for lunch in a place with more than thirty options? You go local: what’s the city specialty? In this case, I concluded a classic Philly Cheesecake was as good choice. This was split along with chicken enchiladas and a tamale for maximum tasting efficiency. As you can see, the cheesesteak was much meat and min…anything else. There was definitely provolone in there. I’m sure it was fine for a cheesesteak, and I know next time to get some roasted peppers in there too. The enchiladas and tamale were quite satisfying. And of course after such a well-balanced meal, we went in search of dessert!

If you know me, you know I love….wait for it…doughnuts! So very much.When I heard that the market had a doughnut situation, I had to check it out via Google. Apparently the Beiler’s Doughnuts are pretty well known, especially in Philly. This was my initial first plan of attack when we got to the market, but then we saw the line of 30+ people waiting and said “next time”. However, when it came to picking out dessert, I just had to know for sure that it would take too long. Conveniently standing near me was a gentleman with a box of these doughnuts…

“Excuse me good sir, how long were you waiting in line for those?”
“Oh, not long at all. The line moves quickly”
“Great, thanks so much–” – and I make a beeline for Beiler’s. Luckily the wait does go quickly, particularly when you get to see this in front of you…check it out!

Very large vats of doughnut filling waiting to be poured/scooped into funnels of fun
Very large vats of doughnut filling waiting to be poured/scooped into funnels of fun

Exhibit A: filling being scooped from vat into funnel.
Exhibit A: filling being scooped from vat into funnel.

Check out that equipment! Doughnut cutting efficiency at its coolest.
Check out that equipment! Doughnut cutting efficiency at its coolest.

Some on deck to the fryer, others to be served. The bottom rack on the right side is full of apple fritters to-be-fried. They were flying out of the display case!
Some on deck to the fryer, others to be served. The bottom rack on the right side is full of apple fritters to-be-fried. They were flying out of the display case!

Rapid-fire powdering.
Rapid-fire powdering.

Check out (part of) that production line.
Check out (part of) that production line.
So those apple fritters; they were indeed flying off the trays they were sitting on behind the window, and people were waiting even longer for fresh ones to come out! They probably had two new batches sell out while we waited in line. We thought we’d try our luck and see if we could snag one by the time we made it to the front. As we paid, the newest batch was getting glazed, and our server went to grab one for us !!! What an experience.

It got emotional...
It got emotional…
The steam was still coming off and it was almost too hot to eat. But, you know, we managed.

The trifecta
The trifecta
Of course, we needed to sample some true/varied doughnuts to get a well-rounded feel for their game. Always get a glazed – that’s where all the magic should happen. You know someone can make a doughnut when their glazed is great. That was the most surprising thing about Beiler’s: this glazed doughnut was the best doughnut I’ve had, ever! Far exceeding anything Krispy Kreme could do for you, even right off the belt. This melted instantly in my mouth, was so fluffy, crispy on the outside, and light on the inside. I was shocked and highly pleased. The other one was maple walnut, and it was pretty good. A lot of frosting going on that was unnecessary, especially with the same on the inside. Good flavors, though. And the last kicker is the price of all of these: 95 cents!!! Suddenly feel like moving out of my own city…sigh to the #3dollardoughnuts.

All in all, great time at the market, and great time in Philly. To round out the trip, we of course got brunch, from the Gold Standard Cafe in West Philly.

gold-standard-cafe-carmen-ladipo
Cinnamon cream cheese French toast? Had to.

Counting down the days till my next trip!

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