The Reading Terminal Market has some of the most satisfying lunch options in the city, and certainly the most varied under one roof. If you’ve got the patience and tenacity to withstand the crowds, any one of the hearty sandwiches from the cult classic DiNic’s is worth the wait. And long before Oprah and Bobby Flay took note, Philadelphians have been caving to their cravings for Delilah’s crispy-not-greasy fried chicken and tangy mac and cheese that strikes the perfect balance between the simple cheesiness of Kraft and the complexity of more upscale interpretations.
Vegetarian visitors looking for something more substantial than juice (although the countless permutations of fruit smoothies from Four Seasons Juice Bar might be worth forgoing solid food) should check out Mezze where sandwiches, wraps and salads can be made to order from a selection of traditional Mediterranean flavors.
The most recent addition to the Terminal cornucopia is Beck’s Cajun Café. Even if you think the spicy flavors of New Orleans are not your style, the unlimited taste tests will eventually change your mind — even if it’s takes till the sticky-sweet bread pudding. If you’re feeling bolder though, chef Bill Beck crafted a menu of classic Creole that is nothing short of inspiring. The chicken gumbo over rice is a flavorful medley where no two bites are the same. Alligator (shipped in from New Orleans) proved to be surprisingly tender and served in sausage form on a po boy with sautéed vegetables and tangy Cajun mustard offered a distinctive alternative to a conventional hoagie. And the sweet potato fries? Oh the sweet potato fries. In the exercise in gluttony that was researching this review, the flaky-on-the-outside smooth-and-sweet-like-custard-on-the-inside sweet potato fries are the only thing I could finish.
And no matter what you choose for lunch, save room to indulge in one of The Flying Monkey’s playful cupcakes in flavors ranging from rootbeer to crème brulee to PB&J. The decadently moist cake and buttercream too think to be stolen with roving fingers will almost make you wish you’d skipped lunch so you can have another.