What To Eat in Pennsylvania
Definitive cheese steaks and their close cousin, the roast pork sandwich, plus big soft pretzels make Philadelphia a worthy Roadfood destination. The city of Pittsburgh is an eater’s paradise for all sorts of good reasons. These include grazing through the bustle of the 24/7 Strip District where attractions include sensational fried fish and piled-high sandwiches that include French fries and slaw at the legendary Primanti’s. Italian, Polish, and Hungarian fare of the highest quality are found in little-known eateries throughout the city. Every eating trip through Pennsylvania should include a visit to Pennsylvania Dutch country for groaning-board meals, hand-crafted sausages, snickerdoodles, and whoopie pies.
Everyone knows about Philly cheese steaks, but a handful of local sandwich shops up the ante with a similar-looking but more deluxe roast pork sandwich: moist, sweet meat forked from a drippy trough and piled into a seeded roll, then supplemented by clumps of spinach or broccoli rabe sautéed in olive oil with plenty of garlic. Forget cheese; here, it is only a distraction.
Pittsburgh's Devonshire is a hot, open-face sandwich of sliced turkey and bacon on toast, smothered with cheddar cheese sauce. It is said to have been created at the Stratford restaurant by Frank Blandi, who went on to become one of the city's best-known restaurateurs. Steel City chefs do not hesitate to elaborate on the formula, substituting crab, chicken, and/or vegetables for the turkey or garnishing the sandwich with tomatoes ... or even with French fries, like a Springfield, Illinois, horseshoe. Needless to say, utensils are required.
In Scranton and Pittsburgh and points between, Pennsylvania has its own unique ways with Pizza. Sure, you'll find plenty of traditional Neapolitan-American pies, made in circles and cut into triangles, but pizza cuts are something else. The pie is rectangular as are its cuts (aka slices). Out in the western part of the state, into West Virginia, yeasty, thick-crusted trays (pies) get cooked with only tomato sauce on top. Pulled from the oven, the cuts are only then topped with cheese and whatever ingredients you want. Strange, messy, and curiously addictive!
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For well under $10, lunch at Pete's on chili dogs, fried pierogies and a carton of chocolate milk: a soulful taste of Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley.
John's is a humble restaurant serving some of the best roast pork sandwiches and cheese steaks in Philadelphia and therefore the world.
Unique regional pizza. Each bite is 1/2 baked crust & gooey cheese, 1/2 room-temp toppings & unmelted cheese. Beto's weird juxtaposition verges on addictive.
European-style breads and pastries are made from highest-quality ingredients at Pittsburgh's Five Points. Coffee is available, but seating is sidewalk-only.
There is nowhere in Pittsburgh better for an early morning meal than at a counter seat at the Gab & Eat, a blue collar urban hash house just west of downtown.
A convenient diner off I-81 in Pennsylvania Coal Country, the Dutch Kitchen is a family restaurant serving hearty local fare including shoofly pie.
Sourdough waffles with malted butter, breakfast sandwiches with a twist, & iced cardamom coffee pay homage to Philly ingredients at High Street on Market.
Car hops carry burgers and fries, chicken tenders, and deep-fried chipped ham to the car window. Jerry's drive-in is fast and fun. Since 1947.
Pizza is sold by the cut, not slice, and while it looks bargain-basement, don't be deceived by appearances. Tasting is believing; it is wonderful.