If you're visiting the Philadelphia Flower Show, plan to do a lot of walking.
The Convention Center also happens to be on the doorstep of Chinatown and across the street from one of America's best fast-food destinations, Reading Terminal Market.
You can eat onsite at the Convention Center, of course, but for the real Center City experience — and reasonable prices — head outside for your lunch, dinner, or snack.
Our suggested destinations are within three blocks of the show. You won't even have to move the car or venture "too far" from Jefferson Station.
Start by checking out Inquirer critic Craig LaBan's guide to Chinatown, which has something for everyone. Enjoy xiao long bao, the Shanghaiese soup dumplings? Try Tom's Dim Sum or Dim Sum Garden. How about old-fashioned seafood? He recommends Sea Bar. For sushi, there's Bubblefish. Click here for the guide.
For poké, the trendy bowls of marinated fish and vegetables, I recommend Oishii, a cute shop on 10th Street just south of Arch that offers lots of tasty, healthfully prepared protein at a budget price.
The brand-new Chinatown Square (1016-18 Race St.), a food hall, assembles eight stands with eight cuisines under one roof. (It also has late-night lounges and karaoke, but I'm guessing they're not aimed at the Flower Show crowd.) Choose from halal-style meats, rolled ice cream, poké, Cambodian food, Japanese street food (with whiskeys and sakes), Mexican/Korean food, bao buns, and curries. Prices are reasonable and there's seating in the rear.
Desserts in Chinatown
Crepes, bubble tea, and Thai rolled ice cream are some of the sweet options in Chinatown, and staff writer Samantha Melamed runs down your options here. Pay particular attention to the stylish desserts at A La Mousse, just up 11th Street from the Convention Center, and the Thai ice cream from ICE NY, inside Chinatown Square.
Fruit Life, tucked away at 1013 Cherry St., around the corner from the Convention Center, might be the healthiest dessertery in the neighborhood. Its specialties are Hong Kong-style snowdaes (fruit-topped snow ice) and ginkgo papaya bowls.
Inside Reading Terminal Market
LaBan's favorites at the market, from his "Ultimate Dining" guide, are:
- The fresh-pulled mozzarella sandwich and Valley Thunder grilled cheese at Meltkraft
- The grilled salmon at Little Thai Market (possibly the longest line at the market these days)
- The turkey Rachel (and pastrami) at Hershel's East Side Deli
- The roast pork at DiNic's
- The sloppy joe and ham-and-bean soup at the Dutch Eating Place
- Fried chicken at Keven Parker's Soul Food Cafe
- The gyro at Olympic Gyro
- The liverwurst sandwich from Wursthaus Schmitz
- A scoop of Bassetts Ice Cream
- Doughnuts and apple fritters at Beiler's Donuts
To those great ideas, I'll add:
- A corndog from the new Fox & Son Fancy Corndog
- A burger from Hunger Burger, which donates liberally to child-hunger charities
- Turkey sandwiches from The Original
- A cannoli - yeah, leave the gun - from Termini Bros. (The bags of filling hang from the ceiling like Peking ducks.)
Walking home may burn off those calories.