FFR Abroad: Philadelphia

Welcome to a new segment of Farley’s Food Review: FFR Abroad! This past weekend, I headed northeast to Philadelphia to visit one of my best friends who is studying medicine there.

Unsurprisingly, we devised a food-focused tour route of the City of Brotherly Love. I sampled the local fare, a lot of it. Instead of trying to tell you a little about everything I ate, I’ll just cover the top 3.

Number 3 – Philly Cheesesteak at Jim’s

Pat’s or Geno’s? That showdown will have to wait for me! We went to Jim’s. The line pressed right up against the door at about 5:30 pm on a Saturday, and the room was buzzing. The walls are lined with framed praise from the stars – Denzel Washington’s caught my eye. “Cheesesteak, provolone, with,” was my order. “With” is code for “with onions,” which were perfectly translucent. My mouth watered as the cook flipped my sandwich onto the plate. I was then faced with a painfully long walk upstairs, to the dining room while my cheesesteak stared me down.

The walk was worth it. Warm bread, melty cheese, and a beautiful mess of beef and onions create a sandwich that is worth waiting for, as well as one that will not be easily forgotten. Next time, “cheesesteak, wiz, with.”

Number 2 – Tacos Barbacoa at South Philly Barbacoa

Corn tortillas, tender meat, and a squeeze of lime; a combination that has withstood the test of time. And there aren’t many places that do it better than South Philly Barbacoa. I learned about this place from Netflix’s Chef’s Table and I’m so glad I did. Cristina Martinez’s incredible story is well represented by her tacos. She’s transformed my understanding and expectations of corn tortillas forever. Everything you need to create your perfect taco is swiftly delivered to the table.

South Philly Barbacoa is a prime example of a restaurant without frills – the food does the talking.

Number 1 – Spicy Ramen at Terakawa Ramen

It can’t be easy competing against a sandwich named after the city and tacos featured on Chef’s Table, but my best meal on the weekend trip to Philadelphia came from a tiny restaurant in China Town: Terakawa Ramen. It was one of those meals where I felt truly fortunate to be taking each and every bite. I was immediately excited with texturally diverse gyoza and shrimp shumai. It was an excellent precursor to the best ramen I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. Perfectly dense noodles created an island in the bright red broth. On that island sat thick slices of succulent pork. On a cold Philadelphia night, I couldn’t have possibly asked for anything more.


It was a great trip. We walked all over Philadelphia to see densely packed neighborhoods, vast boulevards, art, fanatic sports fans, and more. The variety in the city certainly plays out in its cuisine. I’m already looking forward to my next meal there. Thanks, Philadelphia!

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