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Top Five Delicious Philadelphia Foods and Beverages

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Philly-style soft pretzels are delish. Photo: Pretzelfactory, Wikimedia Commons, public domain image
Philly-style soft pretzels are delish. Photo: Pretzelfactory, Wikimedia Commons, public domain image

I’m probably going to be accused of advocating total gluttony here, but that’s fine. I stand by Philly’s finest food because there are just some things you can’t miss when you’re visiting Philadelphia. This includes pretzels, chocolate banana drinks, cheesesteaks, Yuengling lager and the hoagie.

The thing is, you don’t have to necessarily go to Reading Terminal Market or the Rocky Statue (like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did while campaigning). You can taste these goodies at most local sub shops, sandwich carts and pubs.

Philly Soft Pretzel

The Philadelphia soft pretzel is a classic food associated with the city. The best Philly pretzels are sold on carts around the city and at the sports stadiums. (SuperPretzels aren’t exactly authentic—try another stand. Real Philly soft pretzels come with what most people feel is too much salt. Always grab a napkin with your pretzel to brush off the salt and protect your hand from the sticky pretzel grease.

Wawa Chocolate Banana Frozen Drink

Wawa created a new monster this summer—the addictive chocolate banana frozen drink. This blended beverage puts Starbucks Vivanno to shame—it’s made with ice cream milk and two real bananas per large beverage. I don’t even want to know how many calories are in these, but that’s beside the point. They’re amazing.

Philly Cheesesteak

Philly cheesesteaks are also best served from the cart with all the grease and onions you can handle. If a restaurant has to advertise its cheesesteaks as ‘authentic,’ they’re probably not. If you don’t eat red meat, you can find some pretty decent chicken alternatives. Look for a relatively soft roll and cheese completely melted within the sandwich. A former boss of mine swears by Jim’s Steaks over on South Street; the place usually has a line out the door, even on cold days, so it’s safe to say they’re good.

Yuengling Lager

Yuengling is one of Pennsylvania’s gifts to the world. Though it doesn’t come from the city, it’s on tap in all respectable local pubs. Yuengling is slightly heavier and wheatier than Harp (a lager made by Guinness). It tastes great with most pub food. If you like Sam Adams or Harp, give this a try.

Philly Hoagie

As most people know, a hoagie is like a submarine sandwich or grinder—but not exactly the same. A few things make this type of sandwich different from the type of grub you might grab at Subway for example. A hoagie usually isn’t light on condiments and sandwich components, even though you can order them that way. Also, Philly hoagies are made on rolls that are slightly harder than regular sub rolls—they’re not stale, they’re made that way. This gives the hoagie a solid shape and that harder texture while still offering fresh, delicious bread.

Most of these foods and drinks make pretty bad souvenirs, especially the pretzel. If you want to remember your Philly food experience, just remember to bring a camera. After a day, most of these food items will taste pretty nasty (with exception of the Yuengling if you keep it cold). No visit to Philly is complete without gaining a few pounds, so enjoy!