City Food Tours Philadelphia

Monday, July 6th

It is well known that when we visit a new city, we try to take a food tour.  In general, we don't do many tours in a city, but an exception is made when we're talking about food.  Whether it's with Adele or Elias or Danielle, going on a food tour is a good overview of any city.  And oddly enough, a food tour is the one thing I haven't done in the States.

We chose City Food Tours of Philadelphia after an extensive (meh...probably more "quick" instead of "extensive") search on TripAdvisor.  It seemed like the best possible way to get a Cheesesteak without braving the scrum of tourists at Geno's or Pat's.  Because you don't always get the best meal at the tourist trap (assuming these two are tourist traps, we never made it there.  And I was ok with assuming).

14 people from various places around the world made their way to Philadelphia to eat their way around the city the other day.  And we weren't disappointed.

Joe's Pizza - Tomato Pie

I did not get to eat the entire pie.  Dang it.
Joe moved to Philly from Italy a few decades ago and began making pizza and Tomato Pie.  What is Tomato Pie, you might ask??  Tomato Pie is kind of like a cross between Chicago style pizza and focaccia.  The dough is a twice rising type with only a tomato topping.  No cheese.  No sausage.  This particular sauce is made with San Marzano tomatoes and only Joe knows the recipe.  I did ask Judy, our guide, if anyone else has the recipe ready to go in case...the inevitable happens.  She didn't really have an answer for me.  I sure hope he does.

I ate all of this piece.
The Tomato Pie was very good...all tomato-ey and doughy.  I don't know if it would be something I would order often, but I'm obviously partial to a Chicago style pizza.

Philly Pretzel Factory - Pretzels

Pretzels date back to the 5th Century and were given to children as a reward if they learned their prayers (the cross in the middle of the pretzel is supposed to signify the arms crossing the chest).  Philly seems to have taken this little reward to heart as they consume a significant percentage of pretzels on a yearly basis (Judy gave us a percentage, but I don't remember what it was).  Soft pretzels are an easy snack and seem to be on every corner.

At first, I wasn't stoked about not getting a giant pretzel.  But considering what we ate the rest of the day, I was thrilled we had a small pretzel this time.  This time only.  Next time I want a real sized one.
We stopped at the Philly Pretzel Factory, one of many locations in the city (also in the country...something I just saw and is a bit disappointing.  I'd have liked to have visited more of a Mom and Pop shop).  The pretzels were good and the store provided three different mustard options.  I think this was my least favorite of our stops.  Which is kind of odd considering I'm a bit of a carb freak.

Del Frisco's

This stop wasn't a stop for food.  It was more of a "hey, look how cool this is!!" kind of stop.  And this was a very cool stop.  The building used to be a bank.  Now, it's a high end restaurant.  You can eat in the old vault.  And there is a several story wine tower, which made me want to sit down for a glass.  It was actually a nice stop between courses.  We needed a bit of time to digest.

I could eat in here. 

So much glorious wine lives in that tower.
Pandora - Cheesesteak and Cheese Fries

Of course we were going to have a cheesesteak.  We are in Philly.  But the stress of the two big names in cheesesteaks was the deciding factor to go on this tour.  We ended up at Pandora.  I don't know the story behind Pandora other than they served us a Philly Cheesesteak and Cheese Fries.  So I am forever in their debt.

There is provolone in there.  No Cheese Whiz...
But...again, this is where living in Chicago(land) is a hinderance.  The Cheesesteak was very good.  But it kind of doesn't hold a candle to an Italian Beef.  I would eat it again, obviously.  But there's something to be said for the gravy vs provolone.

There is Cheese Whiz in there.  No provolone.
I'm not really a french fry person (everyone in the family mocks my lack of interest in potatoes), but I do occasionally dig some Cheese Fries.  These were hot and fresh out of the oil and smothered in cheese.  What is bad about this??

Famous Fourth Street Cookie Company - Chocolate Chip Cookie

We had three savory courses and needed some sugar and our walk landed us in Reading Terminal Market.  Now THIS would be the place I could spend an entire day.  Stall upon stall of fruits and veggies and meats and cheeses and pork sandwiches and baked goods and smoothies and pho and cookies.  But Elias can only do food for so long.  And a food hall is just not his thing.  So I knew we wouldn't linger (though any additional trip to Philly will include a long visit to the market).

You can't go wrong with a cookie.
What we did do was stop for a cookie at the Famous Fourth Street Cookie Company.  The cookie was very good.  And it was a nice stop.  I approve.

Flying Monkey - Cake Truffle (Cake Pop)

After a cookie, we had one final stop at the Flying Monkey.  This is a bakery in the market that is known for cakes and whoopie pies.  During the holidays, they are known for a Pumpple Cake.  This is a ridiculous dessert that I would have bought in a moment, had it been available.  Get this.  It's a chocolate cake with a pumpkin pie in the middle, plus a vanilla cake with an apple pie in the middle.  With frosting.  I know, right??  I have to try that cake one day.

Cake Truffle!!
We had a Cake Truffle.  Which, this was basically a cake pop (cake remnants mixed with frosting/cream cheese to form a ball, then dipped in frosting/ganache), just with a different name.  The cake was strawberry and the ganache may have been dark chocolate.  Not my favorite combos, but I do love me a Cake Pop...ummm... I mean Cake Truffle.

The innards of a Cake Truffle.  Note the tooth marks.
After our Cake Truffle, our group all parted ways.  After almost three hours together, we had eaten just enough food, and learned historical details about Philadelphia.  Did you know that the streets in Philly were set up in four sections on a grid system??  And each section in the grid has its own public square??  That was so if there were any emergencies, everyone in the section knew to meet in the public square.  Knowing this information helped us navigate the city as the week went on.  Thanks, Judy!!

We had a great afternoon and really didn't need food at the end of the night.  Worked for me.  And that is why we take food tours.  Until next time!!

Comments

  1. Now that you have turned me on to the food tours, I have done several because of your amazing suggestions! (Madrid, Prague, the wine tour in Vienna)! And on to a food tour in Poland next year!

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