Reading Terminal Market is one of America’s oldest and largest public markets in a National Historic Landmark building. They have produce, meats, fish, flowers, cheese, bread and sweets to create your own meal or they have a number of restaurants. While we enjoyed walking the aisles and seeing what was for sale we tried two of the most famous sandwiches there -Tommy DiNic’s and Hershel’s East Side. Both often have a line but we got there early and were able to easily buy from both and find a table in the center dining area, where all the tables are separated by plexiglas.
Tommy DiNic’s, 51 N 12th St., Philadelphia, 215-923-6175
Tommy DiNic’s is owned by Tommy Nicolosi and his son Joey (fourth generation). The Nicolosi family has been running restaurants in Philadelphia for over 100 years starting with a butcher shop. After several generations this is known as the home of the Roast Pork Sandwich (they also sell beef). You can see piles of the roasted pork in their counter. Before Covid the counter did have seating but now you must take it the food with you or eat in one of the market’s center sanitized tables – where there is often another wait. The sandwich comes on a long Italian seeded roll and the thinly sliced Italian seasoned roast pork is drenched with au jus and served with chopped and lightly salted broccoli rabé and sharp provolone. They cut it in half and wrap it in paper, then tape it shut and put in a plastic bag. The sandwich is easily enough for 2 and is stuffed with ingredients but I found the meat lacking in flavor. The broccoli added a fun, bitter touch but the cheese dissolves into the meat. The bun was first rate but this sandwich paled in comparison to the pastrami.
Hershel’s East Side, 51 N 12th St., Philadelphia, 215-922-6220
Hershel’s is like a Jewish deli and serves a house cured pastrami which is juicy and bursting with flavor. The owner Hershel is a Polish native who worked as a chef at New York City’s Katz’s deli for more than 40 years. His nephew Stephen Safern opened the deli in 2000 to honor his uncle’s legacy and heritage. While they offer a number of options we chose the pastrami and swiss on toasted rye with Russian dressing and coleslaw. It was a giant sandwich cut in half. Griddle marks lined the buttered toast and inside was juicy tender pastrami worthy of praise. It was divine and I could hardly force myself not to eat every bite.