If you happen to find yourself in Center City Philadelphia, either as an out of towner, a visitor from the suburbs or even as a local, you have to make a trip to Reading Terminal Market. The large, indoor market has a lot going for it. It’s a central location where people from all over the region come together. It’s also full of wall-to-wall incredibly delicious food, super fresh produce, groceries and other goodies. It’s hard to argue against good food. With the market always seeming to be elbow-to-elbow crowded, it seems everyone agrees that Reading Terminal isn’t to be missed.
Let’s put the food on hold for now and talk about the history first. Like many historic organizations, Reading Terminal Market took on many different shapes, forms and names over time. The market’s official year of opening is considered 1893 when a market was opened below the Reading Railroad terminal. Other local markets relocated and consolidated into the single location at Market Street and 12th Street just below Arch Street. Unlike one of the city’s other famous and historical markets, the Italian Market, Reading Terminal is fully enclosed.
While many people visit Reading Terminal Market for the historical value of the market, it’s fair to say that the vast majority of the visitors are there for the food. There is a little of everything and that’s what makes it so special. If you’re looking for Philly favorites like cheese steaks or roast pork sandwiches you can find those. If you’re looking for Pennsylvania Dutch or Amish specialties like sausages, soft pretzels or other homemade goods, you’ll be happy to know you can find those, too. Seafood, Italian, Mediterranean, Chinese, German — there’s a little bit of everything in terms of restaurant food. Some are sit down places and some you order at the register and then find a common seat in the market. (It should be assumed that the Amish shops aren’t open every day of the week so be sure to check ahead of time if there’s a specific shop you’re looking to patronize.)
If you’re more interested in eating at home, there is no shortage of fresh produce, meat, and seafood available. Not to mention the baked goods. Oh, the baked goods. The city’s famous Termini Brothers Bakery has a location in the market where they pipe fresh cream into cannolis shells to order. There are also a number of other shops selling freshly baked breads and other pastries.
Those interested in really getting more information about Reading Terminal should consider taking one of the market’s tours. Or, explore on your own. There’s really no wrong way to do it.
Reading Terminal market
12th & Arch Streets