A market in Pennsylvania full of everything food related – it seemed like a dream come true. I love going to food markets in Florida, but had yet to find a decent one in Pennsylvania. Then I heard about Reading Terminal Market, an indoor food market that offers meals, cooking supplies, flowers and more. Lindsay and I love getting off-campus, and we needed an excuse to do a day trip to Philly. We decided to make the trek, because we’ll go to great lengths for good food.
Reading Terminal Market is nestled amongst the bustling streets of Philadelphia. It’s located indoors, allowing it to be open during the winter months. Once we stepped inside, I was met with a vast array of choices. I’m probably the most indecisive person you’ll ever meet, so we walked around for a while to scope out all of our options. We eventually decided on Beck’s Cajun Cafe.
After glancing over the menu, Lindsay and I decided to go with the alligator sausage Po boy sandwich. It comes with caramelized onions, peppers and Creole mustard. I’m not normally the biggest mustard lover, but I figured I’d give it a shot anyway. I love eating fried alligator – seriously, if you ever go down to the Keys, you need to try some fried gator – so I was ecstatic to get to eat gator again. Lindsay decided to also order the cajun fries, which are Louisiana spiced and seasoned with jalapeños, onions and bell peppers.
Our sandwiches arrived, and they were massive – not necessarily a bad thing though, knowing how much I love food. The alligator sausage tasted just like sausage, but I was hoping it would have a unique flavor to it. The onions and peppers were good, but didn’t add quite enough flavor. The Creole mustard, though, was the real star of the sandwich. I’m not a mustard lover, but this mustard added great spices and depth to the dish, without tasting too much like mustard. I wish there were more on it because when I got a good bite of it, the sandwich was delicious. The bread was also tasty and great, but it was cumbersome and made for messy eating. I was hoping there would be more depth of flavor to the sandwich, but I loved it nonetheless.
I took a few bites of Lindsay’s cajun fries, and they just tasted like potato chunk fries that had a bit of seasoning and some jalapeños on them. They weren’t bad, but like the sausage, I was hoping for some more seasoning and flavor. Overall, they were tasty, but were missing that extra oomph to push them over the edge to delicious.
The food was relatively cheap and the waitress was very kind. We thoroughly enjoyed our meals, but then started the search for dessert.
I’m a sucker for baked goods, there’s no denying that. Nothing can cheer me up like a good chocolate chip cookie, or a decadent slice of cake. I saw a wide array of cookies while on the hunt for dessert, but then I saw a slice of cake that reminded me of my mother’s cake. You have to understand, that is the biggest compliment I can give a slice of vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream frosting. Nothing compares to my mother’s homemade cake, and if given the challenge, I won’t deny that I could probably eat an entire one by myself in a day because it’s that perfect. I noticed it at the Beiler’s Bakery stand, which is a Pennsylvania Dutch bakery. I saw a long line at their stand earlier when we were looking around the market, so I figured it had to be good.
I ordered a slice of the vanilla cake, and what really attracted me to it was the thick layer of frosting on the outside. For me, frosting is what really makes a cake and the rich looking slab of it looked so sexy that I couldn’t say no. My cake came on a cute little styrofoam plate with a plastic fork in it, and then it was all wrapped up in some plastic wrap – perfect for on-the-go. After walking around for a while to digest my alligator, I decided to go in for the kill and try my cake. First bite I knew – this cake didn’t disappoint. Not as perfect as my mom’s (well, nothing is better than your mother’s cooking), but almost there. The cake was moist, light, fluffy and everything you could ever hope a cake to be. The frosting met my expectations. It was rich, sweet, not so sugary that it was grainy, and light in texture. Toward the end, the frosting was a bit too rich for me so I took some off, but this cake was still everything I wanted. If I go back again, I’ll get a different dessert so I can try something new, but also get this cake to save for later.
For Lindsay’s dessert, she ordered a caramel apple donut Beiler’s Donuts and Salads. She, too, had noticed a long line there earlier, and they are part of the bakery I got my cake from. Needless to say, the donut didn’t disappoint. I don’t really care for donuts but I took a bite anyway. This donut was good enough to turn me into a donut lover. It was sweet from the caramel, but still perfectly fruity with the apple. As Lindsay got to the center of her donut, she was gushing over the gooey apple center. For a long time after finishing it, she complained that she didn’t get more because of how much she loved it and how cheap it was – they’re only a $1.
We left with full bullies and happy taste buds. I loved Reading Terminal because not only was the food good, but I had a great time walking around it and seeing all the various products they have to offer. From desserts, to cook books, to meals, to spices, and so much more, you can find almost all your culinary needs there. I will without-a-doubt be back again.
Reading Terminal Market
51 N 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Mon-Sat 8:00am – 6:00pm; Sun 9:00am – 5:00pm