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Why Philadelphia is a diverse foodie's heaven you should definitely put on your bucket list.

Philadelphia is a city known for many firsts – it’s America’s first World Heritage City and it’s where the American Constitution was written.

It’s a city immersed in history – rich with diverse neighbourhoods, soulful music, art and entertainment, and a fanatic love of sports. The city celebrates it all… but the real hidden gem of Philadelphia is the indulgent food scene it has to offer.

Eating seasonally is a signature Philadelphian trend, as locals feel all four seasons, so menus consist of fresh, distinct, seasonal dishes that complement the climate.

With so much to offer, it’s important to note Philadelphia is well-worth a visit alone for an indulgent experience to explore a fusion of vibrant meals from all over the globe in this diverse American city.

philadelphia
The beautiful Philly skyline.

STAY: Sonesta Hotel.

Conveniently located in the heart of Philadelphia, the Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square is a no-brainer for a fellow foodie; if not for a memorable steak at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, which is perfectly placed next to the hotel, than for the proximity to various fine dining establishments, endless shopping options, historic landmarks and museums attractions.

EAT.

Breakfast at High Street on Market.

Kickstart the morning at this cosy café with an extensive menu that covers both savoury and sweet. Menu favourites includes the Philadelphia Fog (aka chai latte, house made ginger yogurt) and The Forager breakfast sandwich. Or you can’t go past a fresh croissant with coffee gravy. With all the pastries made from scratch daily, it's the perfect excuse to take away some treats to enjoy while exploring Philly.

high street on market
High Street on Market is the perfect start to your day.
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Philly Cheesesteak at Campo’s Deli.

Wanting a memorably tasty first Philly Cheesesteak, I crowdsourced nearly every Uber driver and friendly Philadelphian local to uncover the best Philly Cheesesteak. But it soon became very apparent the choice is yours to make as all the locals were divided. (However, learning the Cheesesteak lingo is a must). I opted for Campo’s Deli, which has been around for nearly 70 years and uses recipes that have been handed down through three generations.

Play it safe with a classic American favourite like the Cheesesteak Wiz Wit (with Cheese Whiz and Onion) or if you want to spice up your life, The Heater is a bold hit of jalapeno cheddar and Buffalo hot sauce. It certainly delivers on its promise to turn up the heat.

Campo's philly cheese steak
A famous Philly Cheese steak.
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Dinner at The Love.

Part of the iconic Stephen Starr restaurant family (a name every foodie should familiarise themselves with), The Love is Starr’s 20th restaurant and it's easy to become quickly infatuated with it.

The warming and homely vibe pairs nicely with the simple, sustainable classic American dishes on the menu. The extensive bar menu will even impress self-proclaimed sommeliers. For anyone that appreciates a good vino, home cooked vibrant meals and the most Instagram-worthy cheese platter, eat here.

 

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Lunch at Parc.

J’Adore Parc! A charming Parisian-like brasserie within Rittenhouse Square is the perfect place to indulge in fromage and bubbles. In true French style, Parc has perfected cheese, bread (I dream about their walnut cranberry loaf to this day) and tarts, offering an exquisite culinary experience that transports you from Philadelphia to Paris. Bon appetit.

Parc platter
A delicious French lunch from Parc.
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Brekkie, dinner or dessert at Gran Caffe L’Aquilla. 

Aussies are spoiled for choice when it comes to incredible barista-served coffee, which is why it’s best when exploring Philly to skip Starbucks and discover the nirvana that is Gran Caffe L’Aquilla.

A genius pairing between Italy’s gelato champion and one of Italy’s highest rated micro coffee roasters, Gran Caffe L’Aquilla is a heavenly slice of Italy in Philly. Staying true to authenticity, the restaurant was designed and built in Italy before being shipped over to Philadelphia.

It's the ideal spot for a nice proper caffeine hit and a tasty croissant before you start your day. Alternatively, treat yourself to an Italian feast by exploring their unique savoury pairings of meals with gelato, such as the Agnoletti Al Tartufo, a homemade petit ravioli stuffed veal, pork, onion topped with a butter-sage sauce, paired with a black and white truffle gelato.

Gran Caffe L’Aquilla
So. Many. Options.

Capogiro Gelato Artisans. 

The best spot for a summer gelato, this award-winning, authentically Italian gelateria makes 27 fresh gelato flavours every morning. Prepare for a foodgasm with past flavour including Cactus pear, mint pineapple sorbets and caramel, pistachio cream-based gems.

Harp & Crown.

Harp & Crown is a chic bar with a bowling alley downstairs for when sipping cocktails with the girls isn’t enough fun. Iconic cocktails sure to impress include Ruby Slippers and The Charred Stone. Book a table or booth ahead of time for groups more than two as it’s a favourite with locals.

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Buddakan.

You may recognise the name Buddakhan from Sex and the City: The Movie where Carrie and Big have their rehearsal dinner. Not exclusive to New York, Buddakan is part of Philadelphian Stephen Starr’s repertoire so the iconic Asian cuisine can be experienced in his hometown. Marvel and snap the 10-foot tall Buddha, indulge in the famous edamame truffle dumplings, and have your taste buds blown away by the Bubble tea cocktail.

 

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Reading Terminal Market.

The historic Reading Terminal Market will spoil you for choice with over 80 renowned merchants that offer the best of Philadelphia’s famous specialities.

Build up an appetite to try the critically acclaimed Tommy DiNic’s roast pork sandwich, an American Italian Philly spin - roast pork marinated with a pepper seasoning in an iconic Philly roll. It's not for the faint-hearted.

If you haven’t rolled into a food coma after DiNic’s, treat yourself to some traditional Americana ice cream at Bassets, one of the original vendor since 1800s.

Reading Terminal Market Philadelphia
Philly's Reading Terminal Market has 80 renowned merchants that offer the best of the city's specialities.
DiNic's
DiNic's. Image: Supplied.
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ice cream
Yum. Traditional Americana ice creams from Bassets.

EXPLORE.

Walking Tour Historic District. 

Once you’ve stepped away from the phenomenal Philly food scene, get a tour guide to divulge the great stories of Philadelphia and walk you through the most historic square mile in the country. You'll see Independence Hall, the iconic Liberty Bell, the National Constitution Center, and the oldest residential street in the nation, to name a few.

Independence Hall.
Independence Hall. Image: Supplied.
liberty bell
The Liberty Bell. Image: Supplied.
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Continue to appreciate the history lesson and learn about America’s founding at The Museum of the American Revolution through cinematic and sensory led exhibits (making for a super friendly activity for children, too).

For a taste of Philadelphia’s fine arts, The Barnes Foundation is a lovely green sanctuary to escape the rumbles of the city and get lost in a world of Albert Barnes' inner thinkings and eclectic art ensembles. Barnes, an art collector, challenged the art gallery experience through an obsession with iron cables, furniture, symmetry and refusal of picture cards as he believed they distract from the piece, offering a truly unique experience for visitors of Philadelphia to appreciate art.

van gough barnes foundation
Some of the Barnes Foundation's Van Gough works.

Continue to discover Philadelphia’s thriving artistic community by visiting Isaiah Zagar Magic Gardens and get lost in a vibrant outdoor installation composed of various materials, guided by the Zagar’s philosophy of every piece is the right piece and every place is the right place.

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Isaiah Zagar's Magic Gardens
Isaiah Zagar's philosophy is every piece is the right piece and every place is the right place.

Other novelties to enjoy in Philadelphia include world class, tax-free clothing and shoe shopping at Rittenhouse Square, running up the famous Rocky Steps before the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a Segway Mural Arts Tour to experience firsthand why Philadelphia is the mural capital of the world. Or embrace a sacred American sports tradition and enjoy a baseball game with a hot dog and Rita’s Ice Water in hand – remember to cheer on the Phillies of course!

phillies baseball
Cheer on the Phillies at a baseball game.
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Finish a visit to Philadelphia on a high with a stunning 360 degree panoramic view of Philadelphia at the One Liberty Observation Deck.

view from One Liberty Observation Deck
One Liberty Observation Deck view
Photo taken at One Liberty Observation Deck in Philadelphia, PA, USA. Image: Supplied.

FLY.

Jump on a United Airlines flight, with non-stop connections from Australia to Houston on the Dreamliner. Alternatively, you can fly into Los Angeles or San Francisco and make tracks to Philadelphia from there.

Rebecca Jeffrey travelled to Philadelphia as a guest of Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.

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