The Reading Terminal Market is an indoor public market in downtown Philadelphia, PA. It has an interesting history. Prior to 1892, it was a site of an open street market, until the time when the land was taken over to build the Reading Terminal. Then the market was brought indoor into the ground and basement level of the trainshed. in the early 20th century, the railroad company introduced an innovative service where people who lived in the suburban areas could arrange for the grocery order to be filled in the Market and the basket placed upon a train bound for their town and held at the station until they picked it up. Then as horse-drawn carriage were replaced with refrigerated trucks, one could arrange for home delivery to the suburbs.
In mid 1970s, the railroad company closed its business and the market business dwindled, but in the mid 1980s, it was revitalized when the Pennsylvania Convention Center was built in the area. The trainshed was renovated; it’s no longer a train station, but now becomes the home for more than 100 merchants. Today it is a gastronomic destination for locals and tourists alike. You can find fresh produce, meats, seafood, ethnic foods, and restaurants, including some vendors from the Pennsylvanian Dutch Country selling traditional Amish goods.
I first heard of the Reading Terminal Market when watching a Food Network program where Bobby Flay challenged a lady named Delilah Winder for a macaroni and cheese throwdown. Ms. Winder owns a restaurant at the Reading Terminal Market called Delilah at the Terminal that servers Southern comfort food. Her macaroni and cheese was particularly famous, especially after Oprah named it the best macaroni and cheese in the country in 2003. During the program, there was a short segment mentioning about the Reading Terminal Market as a great foodie destination. A couple of years ago, I was doing a day trip to Philadelphia, and after visiting the Independence National Historical Park, I went to the Reading Terminal Market to check out the place.
One thing to note about visiting the Reading Terminal Market, there is a parking garage across the street where you can park your car if you drive there. When you do so, you should take your parking ticket and get it validated at one of the vendors at the market when you spend more than $10. That would get you discount for the first two hours of parking (otherwise the garage rate was very expensive).
The photo below was taken right in the middle of the market where another famous vendor, DiNic’s Roast Pork and Beef, is located. You can see the long line of people waiting to order food there. They’re famous for their roast pork sandwich. I’ve tried that sandwich, and it was indeed very tasty and worth the wait (and quite reasonably priced too). Oh, and about Delilah’s macaroni and cheese.. I also tried that, and it was quite delicious. And if you still have some room, try out ice cream from Bassetts — they claimed to be the oldest ice cream company in America (since 1861). Their ice cream was also very good — creamy, not too sweet, and there are many unique flavors available.