To call Philadelphia’s new Whole Foods a supermarket feels wrong. Located behind the Rodin Museum at 2101 Pennsylvania Ave., the new flagship location for the chain’s entire Mid–Atlantic region is an attraction unto itself. With floor–to–ceiling glass windows overlooking the Parkway and freshly wood–paneled walls inside the massive entrance, shopping here will make you feel fresher than trendy Whole Foods produce (in case you missed it, mini artichokes are a thing now).
The highly–anticipated food wonderland finally opened its doors on October 14, which means you’ve already been shopping at FroGro for two weeks too long. Here are just a few of the things you’re missing at Philadelphia’s new plant–based paradise.
The trendiest foods you didn’t even know existed
After decades of space exploration and medical advances, the scientific community has finally turned its attention towards something genuinely important: food. Within the past year, Whole Foods has become one of the first and largest carriers of the Beyond Burger, the first ever “bleeding” vegan hamburger (Ed. note: when we asked the beef industry for comment they cow–ered in fear). When it hit the market last May at a Whole Foods in Boulder, Colorado, the store sold out of the burgers in just an hour. With its meaty consistency and taste, satisfying sizzle and pink interior, the seven years it took researchers to create the burger have more than paid off. The burger has proven itself good enough to win the approval of some pretty serious meat–eaters, ranging from superstar chefs like Alton Brown to the most carnivorous of Penn frat boys.
For an equally baffling dessert, Whole Foods is serving up Halo Top ice cream, a cold treat that’s been generating some serious buzz over the past few months. One bite and it’s easy to see why—although each pint of Halo Top clocks in at only 240–280 calories, the stuff is shockingly delicious. It’ll kill your Ben and Jerry's craving just as well for about five times fewer calories and twice as many grams of protein. According to one friendly customer service representative, “they can’t keep it on the shelves for longer than a day at the Chicago store.”
Unlike Boulder and Chicago, Philadelphia’s Whole Foods has kept both hit items fully stocked, so go pick some up and tell your friend across the country to go La Croix you a river.
Four hit Philly food companies, one killer lunch break
Whole Foods scoured the city and extended select invites to some of Philly’s finest to bring their best fast–casual game to the table. Before you even hit the groceries, Whole Foods lures you in with four different lunch counters, each offering one of the best dining experiences this city has to offer.
In the front is Wiz Kid, a first–time foray into the fast–casual world for the queen and king of the city’s vegan cuisine, Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau. Their star offering here is a vegan cheesesteak, piled high with seitan, peppers, onions, and a rutabaga–based whiz alternative. The result is a near–perfect decoy: sloppy, filling and nothing like the dainty dishes you'll find on the menu at Vedge, their swanky Center City establishment. Seitan cheesesteaks have been done before, but Jacoby’s vegan “whiz,” which took her two years to develop, is unprecedented.
Behind Wiz Kid lies a more well–known Philly favorite: Dizengoff. Chef Michael Solomonov’s hummus heaven has been a staple since 2014. Take a seat at the counter to watch the pita and hummus being made, but you’ve been warned: the process is so artful and mesmerizing, you’re likely to forget why you came in in the first place (hint: grocery shopping).
Lastly, the food hall’s offerings are rounded off by CHeU Noodle Bar, serving Asian–inspired small bowls by the owners of Bing Bing Dim Sum and Severino Cucina Rustica, for those who like to end their trips to the supermarket with a massive bowl of steaming, fresh, authentically Italian pasta.
Other things that don't traditionally belong in grocery stores (but are at Whole Foods anyway)
Whole Foods has a bar—and no, it isn’t kombucha on tap. The bar, which transitions from serving coffee to more “adult” fare at 11 a.m., offers a full cocktail menu, 40 different beers and a staggering variety of wines. To top it off, a roaming beverage cart ensures that the people dining at the four gourmet counters at the top of the split–level food hall can get their fix without moving an inch.
It may also come as a surprise to the Whole Foods shopper that a solid chunk of the of the store is carved out for a display selling items that are distinctly not edible. Scarves, bags and yes, even makeup dominate a small slice of the gargantuan store.
And your friends at home wonder why you love Philadelphia so darn much.