Philadelphia is a no-frills city with a food scene that is much more than soft pretzels,Tastykakes, and cheesesteaks. Growing up on the outskirts, I often return to the City of Brotherly Love to visit family and friends. With over two hundred BYOB’s, an abundance of unique neighborhood establishments, and a culture of its very own, Philadelphia is the perfect urban oasis for a budget-conscious foodie. Limited by father time, I was only able to frequent a couple oldies but goodies and one new spot over the weekend.
As a self-proclaimed coffee aficionado who loathes that wretched green mermaid, I started my day off at One Shot in No Libs. Freshly dipped in all things steampunk, I am always enamored by the décor of this java emporium. After time-traveling for a bit, I settled on the seasonal beverage, Rumors. The coconut chai tea latte was laced with two shots of Stumptown’s hair bender espresso, soy milk, and a dash of cinnamon. A tad sweeter and with more milk than I prefer, the espresso was high quality and the foaminess of the chai latte was perfect. Next time, I’ll probably grab a cappuccino and one of their weekly omelet specials.
Although I usually devour some of their delicious grub while I peruse through the Sunday paper, I decided to trek down the block to grab some homemade baked goods from Brown Betty. Living in DC, I miss old-fashioned bakeries with delightful treats that taste like my grandmother’s. Unfortunately, owner Norrinda Brown informed me that they sold out of their scrumptious pound cakes and cupcakes. Luckily, I was able to score an Apple Brown Betty and bread pudding. After heating them up for a few minutes, I sampled both desserts. The bread pudding had subtle notes of vanilla, butter, and sugar while the apple brown betty had a hint of rum but could have used a heavier hand with some of the spices and sugar. In the future, I will get there earlier to indulge in their red velvet, carrot cake, or sour cream pound cake and grab another bread pudding.
Philadelphia is a foodie haven and although the cheesesteak is the most famous sandwich, it is not the city’s best sandwich (Just ask Man vs Food). Despite the fact that I have not eaten a cheesesteak in almost three years, my recent obsession with all things vegetarian led me to HipCityVeg in Rittenhouse Square to dive into their vegan Philly Steak. As a virgin to the meatless knock-off , I was not sure what to expect. Once I removed the wrapper, I was amazed at how authentic the sandwich looked. It looked so legit, I expected the sandwich to taste like the real thing. Covered with ketchup, vegan mayo, sautéed mushrooms, and onions, the perfectly textured seitan was enveloped in a tasty roll. Now don’t get me wrong, HipCityVeg’s version does not taste anything like Tony Luke’s but it does have great flavor for a vegan alternative. They also have many other meatless options.
Trapped between the Nation’s Capital and the Big Apple, Philadelphia often gets overlooked when it comes to food and culture. Whether you are in Chestnut Hill or Society Hill, Old City or University City, Fishtown or Germantown, Philadelphia is a foodie’s paradise.