5 delicious Philadelphia dishes that are not cheesesteaks

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is known as the home of the cheesesteak, and while cheesesteaks are undeniably tasty, the city has contributed much more to America’s culinary fabric. It would be a shame if you left Philadelphia without discovering other delicious foods made in the city besides the already world-famous “Philly”–don’t miss these five foodie delights during your next visit to the City of Brotherly Love.

Hoagies: The “Other” Sandwich

Philly Hoagie

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Hoagies are often overlooked by people with cheesesteaks on their mind, and you might not realize the city’s former mayor Ed Rendell named the hoagie Philadelphia’s official sandwich in 1992. Stories of the hoagie’s origins vary, but one theory suggests that the term hoagie came from South Philadelphia’s Italian community as early as the late 19th century.

Hoagies are so appealing because they’re built to order. You can fill the crusty Italian roll up with your favorite ingredients. A classic hoagie features deli meat, cheese, lettuce, onion, tomatoes, and a drizzle of oregano vinaigrette. You can also get hoagies with tuna, roasted vegetables, chicken cutlets, and heaps more. Stay at one of IHG’s Philadelphia hotels, such as the Holiday Inn Express Philadelphia-Midtown, and you’ll never be far from great hoagie joints such as Campo’s Deli, and Reading Terminal Market’s Salumeria or Carmen’s Famous Italian Hoagies & Cheesesteaks.

Santucci’s Original Square Pizza: An Upside-Down Pie

A distinctly different pie hit the Northeast Philadelphia scene in 1959, when the late Joseph and Philomena Santucci opened the first Santucci’s Original Square Pizza. When his father Joseph’s passed away, Frank Santucci took over the business and kept the dream alive. The pizza’s square shape isn’t its only defining feature; toppings are placed underneath the sauce, and the pies are charred in cast-iron pans, giving the pizza a smoky taste.

Scrapple: Unusual Breakfast Food

Some might argue that scrapple should never make a list of Philadelphia’s most delicious dishes, but fans of this polarizing breakfast meal would insist it’s earned its place. The Pennsylvania Dutch first served this cornmeal dish made from pork and meat broth, and seasoned with onions, herbs, and spices. The mixture is shaped into loaves and sliced for frying, giving the dish a crispy crust. You can find scrapple with poached eggs at Reading Terminal Market’s Down Home Diner, and you can order it “straight up” at Silk City Diner Bar & Lounge in the Northern Liberties neighborhood, a short drive from waterfront hotels such as the Holiday Inn Express Philadelphia – Penn’s Landing.

Funnel Cake: Fried Dutch Dessert


Image via Shutterstock by Brent Hofacker

The Pennsylvania Dutch also gave Philadelphia the funnel cake, a fried dessert popular throughout the city. You make funnel cake by pouring cake batter in a circular pattern into bubbling oil. The mixture is fried until it’s crispy and golden brown, then it’s dusted with confectioners’ sugar. You’ll easily find funnel cake during the Pennsylvania Dutch Festival at the Reading Terminal Market every August, but a few local bakeries and restaurants make it year-round. Try this local treat at Philly Flavors, Stateside, and South Bowl.

Fried PB&J: A Decadent After-Dinner Favorite

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich is a staple across the United States, but in Philadelphia this lunchtime favorite becomes a mouth-watering treat. The makeover comes courtesy of South Philadelphia Tap Room, a hipster pub in the Point Breeze neighborhood. The restaurant encrusts the sandwich with sugar-coated cereal flakes before deep-frying it to create the ultimate comfort food.

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