Planning on traveling solo in Philadelphia? The City of Brotherly Love is a great foodie city and here a few of my favorite places to eat and drink.
Take a Bite Out of Americana
As cliché as it is, if you’re traveling to Philadelphia you need to have at least one cheesesteak sandwich. During this recent trip I bypassed the Cheez Wiz-topped variety and noshed on a tender, flavorful sandwich at Cleavers on South 18th Street.
I had The Block which is ribeye steak, Portobello mushrooms, fried onions, green peppers and sharp provolone. This sandwich oozes with finger-licking goodness. If beef isn’t your thing, order a chicken or veggie sandwich. The Spinach Balsamico with raw baby spinach, raw onions, plum tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and balsamic glaze sounds tasty. Wash it down with a craft beer or one of their boozy shakes. (108 S. 18th St.; Tel: 215-515-3828)
Mexican Meets Asian?
I’ll always have Vietnam on the brain and when I saw Hai Street Kitchen advertising a Vietnamese pork sushi burrito, I knew that creation needed to be in my belly. This place is not fancy and seems like an Asian version of Chipotle, in that you tell the person behind the counter what you want in your burrito (or bowl or salad) while he makes it in front of you. Although there is limited seating, I grabbed my bulging burrito, bag of chips with wasabi guacamole and bottle of water and sat on a street bench people watching. Based on the looks I got, I’m pretty sure those walking by were watching me. I suppose you can say Hai Street Kitchen is a small chain but for this small-town gal, it was something special. (32 S 18th St.; Tel: 215-964-9465)
Burn Calories as You Go
City tours with culinary themes are my kinda tours and Intrepid Travel’s Urban Adventures offers a handful of food-centric walking tours, one of which explores the 9th Street Italian Market where I met a butcher, baker and candlestick seller. Another tour focuses on Philly’s beer and another on street food.
Sweet and Meat
Word has it Federal Donuts serves up the best Korean-style fried chicken in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, I haven’t tasted their delectable-sounding poultry but I have tasted one of their sweet donuts. The Strawberry Lavender sugared deep-fried treat was simply perfect and is one of the traditional flavors along with Vanilla Spice and Cinnamon Brown Sugar. There are five locations in Philly and tend to sell out of donuts and chicken so arrive early.
Sink Your Teeth Into Something Gooey
Maybe it’s because I’m part of Generation X or maybe because I live in a small town, but mention Insomnia Cookies to a Millennial and their eyes widen, mouth salivates and they’ll tell you these are the best late-night food you can put in your mouth.
You know what? Oh. My. Goodness. Now I understand.
These are THE BEST cookies I have ever eaten. If you are not familiar with Insomnia Cookies, they are served warm and they are the gooiest, sweetest and flavorful cookie ever. They have traditional cookies such as chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and snickerdoodle but I went for the deluxe cookies with a S’mores and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup. Yumola! Insomnia Cookies is open until 3 a.m. (Two locations in Philly, 135 S. 13th St. and 108 S. 16th St.)
Home-style Cooking Without Doing the Dishes
Historic Reading Terminal Market is perfect for the solo traveler and if there’s one place you should visit it is Dutch Eating Place, a Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant. They serve breakfast and lunch but my fave are their delicious and generous apple dumpling. (Reading Terminal Market, 51 N 12th St.; Tel: 215-922-0425)
Sip and Nosh with a Little Culture
Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square is home to the Art Bar, a chic eatery celebrating Sonesta’s “Food is Art” & “Liquid Art” culture by serving craft cocktails and savory, mouthwatering bites of food. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating, which was recently added. If you enjoy people watching, this is the place to sit, sip and eat. The Art Bar offers live music during Happy Hour, 5 – 7 p.m., and during my visit, contemporary jazz and classical guitarist Dave Baker performed. He’s toured with Hall and Oates. (1800 Market St.; Tel: 215-561-7500)
Drink Some Barely Water
Philadelphia has been recognized as a top beer city in the world by Frommer’s it’s only appropriate to sip a bit of craft brew during your visit. Two places I enjoyed raising a glass were 2nd Story Brewing, where I met brewmaster John Wible and learned a bit about the operation. My favorite glass of beer brewed there that I tasted was the Hefewible, a refreshing wheat beer. The Declaration IPA, one of the brewery’s standard craft beers, gets a thumbs up from me, too. (117 Chestnut St.; Tel: 267-314-5770)
Across the way from the Liberty Bell and Independence National Historic Park is Independence Beer Garden where I grabbed lunch and an extremely delicious Ma! The Meatloaf! brewed by Evil Genius Beer Company. It’s a light, sweet mango wheat beer. IBG serves 40 regional and national craft brews. The 20,000-square foot eatery features casual American cuisine such as burgers, salads (try the kale salad made with raisins, Parmesan cheese and sherry vinegar) and my favorite, the Mahi Tacos with creamy guacamole and salsa verde. To pass time, sit at your picnic table stacking the Jenga pieces or admiring the interior decor which includes distressed metals and reclaimed timber. (100 South Independence Mall West; Tel: 215-922-7100)
Need more beer-spiration in the “Cradle of Libation”? Follow the Philadelphia Craft Beer Trail for additional breweries.
Check out the buzz at Liberte Lounge at Sofitel Philadelphia. Chef Luke Rogers is incorporating herbs from the hotel’s rooftop garden and honey from the bee hives into food and beverage items. Taste the Honey Bud cocktail, a sweet nectar made with Gosling’s dark rum, ginger, orange, lime and honey. [Learn more about my visit to the Sofitel Philadelphia’s honey bees in the roof garden.] (120 S 17th St.; Tel: 215-569-8300)
Sip a Volcano
Chocoholics need to plan a visit to RIM Café for a legendary hot chocolate Volcano. Not only is this an over-the-top indulgent drink, watching it being made by the barista is beautiful. Whipped topping is placed in the bottom of a glass followed by hot chocolate then topped with shavings from different flavors of chocolate as the beverage oozes over the rim. RIM Café has a quiet, Zen vibe perfect for solo travelers to chill.
There are so many tasty places to eat and drink in Philly and the above list is a small sampling of what’s available when traveling solo in Philadelphia.
Read about where to stay and things to do in Philadelphia.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to support my traveling habit and this blog. I was a guest of Visit Philadelphia during my June 2016 visit to the City of Brotherly Love however, opinions are my own.