A and I’s favorite place in all of Philadelphia is Reading Terminal Market. We even took some of our engagement pictures there (see above!). Even though we both lived far from there in Philadelphia it was our favorite place to shop for our groceries. Living in DC now we miss Reading Terminal SO much. We went there two to three times a month and even got to know a few of the vendors there. So for those who are intimated by Reading, those who want a quick shopping guide, or those who only think about it as a tourist trap and want to be convinced otherwise, here are some of our faves. These were the six spots we visited basically every single time we were there.
Best Meats: Martin’s Quality Meats and Sausages
A became friends with Dave, one of the butchers at Martin’s when he ordered a full goat from him. Dave clearly had not gotten many of such requests and the two became fast friends. Forward that a few more years and we were still coming back to Dave for the best lamb and sausages in the city. They are friendly, their prices are fair, we wish we had a place like Martin’s to go to in DC.
Best Produce: Fair Food Farmstand
If you are looking for the most beautiful, freshest, local organic produce, this place has it. It is pricey though, so we used it for mostly specialty items. It is tucked away in a corner past Bassett’s Ice Cream. Better stocked than all of the farmer’s markets in the city you can find anything for emu eggs to ramps when they are in season. They also go beyond produce and have things like ground goat, ice cream sandwiches, and local cheeses.
Best Produce when you don’t want to spend a lot of money: Iovine Brother’s Produce
Their variety is enormous, the prices are some of the most competitive in the city, and they import some produce from other places so you can get some stuff even when it is not in season. It is not always as varied or as fresh as Fair Food but much cheaper. If you are a student, Iovine’s has a student discount on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Best Seafood: John Yi Fish Market
Even though it is in the middle of the market right next to all the tables, it definitely has the freshest fish. Part of it probably is due to the fact that it is right in the middle, it likely sells the most and therefore needs to keep up. We made friends with some of the fishmongers there and they would grab us all the freshest fish from the back, but even so, we loved their chilean sea bass and live mussels and never got bad seafood here.
Best Place to assemble a Cheese Plate: Downtown Cheese
We had many a cheese plate made here. Everyone who worked here was always super friendly and helpful, they let you sample any of the cheeses and provide great recommendations for pairing with certain wines and with each other.
Best Sandwich: Meltrakft Grilled Cheese
Yes, Dinic’s has the longest line. Their brisket sandwich with sharp provolone and greens is pretty tasty and often is worth waiting in line for. What are even better though are all the grilled cheese sandwiches at Melkraft at Valley Shepard. It is all the way in the back of the market, behind the bars, easy to miss. Those in the know wait in line for this one too instead of waiting in line for another philly cheese steak or meat sandwich. Our favorite is the Avenue D, without bacon, just four different cheeses grilled to perfection. They also have the best fresh mozzarella in the city, made fresh daily. We took a mozzarella pulling class there and had the best time.
Best Spices: The Head Nut
Need zaatar? check. Ground coriander? check. Almond flour? check. Pretty much anything that you need for cooking or baking can be found in this little shop. Also hidden from the crowds, the staff is helpful and the prices are super reasonable. We bought a ton of pine nuts here. Random I know, but they’re expensive and they have the best deal in the city. Just don’t stick your hand inside their jars. They don’t like that.
That’s it folks. Now go to Reading and please buy some delicious food in our honor!
All photos by Lauren Fair Photography