Baby Bites: Kid-Friendly Eats in Philadelphia
Snacking with the Small Fries
Philadelphia is home to some of our country’s most-notable sites, including Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Rocky steps. If you’re headed to town with kids in tow, here are a few quality food finds to keep them happy, including great ice cream and legendary cheesesteaks and roast pork sandwiches.
Photography courtesy of @foodbabyny
Some of the best doughnuts in the country can be found at Federal Donuts, which has four locations (plus one in Citizens Bank Park). They specialize in cake doughnuts of two categories: the Hot Fresh, which are fried to order and sprinkled with a flavored sugar of your choice, and the Fancy, which are glazed and topped in several rotating flavors, like Chocolate Eclair, Lemon Meringue and Guava Poppy. The doughnuts sell quickly, so it’s best to arrive early or place an order in advance for a dozen. Though the name of the game is doughnuts, Federal also serves excellent fried chicken.
Inspired by classic, old-school ice cream parlors, Franklin Fountain channels the best of the good old days with bow-tie-clad staff, retro sodas and phosphates, and excellent high-quality flavors. Choose from massive sundaes like the marshmallow-topped Franklin Mint with mint and vanilla or the Stock Market Crunch with rocky road drenched in peanut butter sauce. Alternatives include the best-in-class Cookies & Cream served in a Chinese takeout container, and floats like chocolate ice cream in housemade cherry soda. Plan ahead to leave extra time when the weather is nice, as the line can quickly start to extend down the block.
Cheu Noodle Bar
This may not be the place for authentic ramen, but for a fun, lively atmosphere serving eclectic flavors, this is your spot. One popular combination plops matzo balls into the soup, along with juicy brisket that adds even more flavor to the spicy red-chile broth. For a less spicy option, Cheu serves a great take on the more traditional Miso Ramen. For starters, try the Al Pastor Dumplings. And if they’re on the menu, don’t miss the Cheeseburger Buns.
Recognized by Guinness Records as the home of the largest collection of pizza memorabilia, this "pizza museum" also serves up some very memorable pies. Whole pizzas are available in a variety of eclectic flavor combos with toppings like honey goat cheese, Buffalo sauce, spicy mustard, sirloin and soy chorizo, or diners can order single slices from a smaller list of rotating choices. Adventurous kids looking to try something a little different can try the Bob Shieldsmoose, a white pie with brisket, blue cheese, garlic and horseradish. For something simpler, go for the Forbes Waggensense, a fine take on a pepperoni pie, or even just the Plain Jane, a good old-fashioned slice.
Little Baby's Ice Cream
The perfect complement to the kooky slices at Pizza Brain, this ice cream parlor is attached to the pizza shop and serves up some even wilder flavors. Scoops range from the relatively normal Chocolate Salt Malt to their original wacky flavor, Earl Grey Sriracha. Flavors get pretty crazy and giggleworthy: Pizza, Sushi and Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese. But once kids get a taste of the high quality and creamy texture of any of their flavors, they are known to beg for seconds.
John's Roast Pork
No true list of where to eat in Philly would be complete without at least one mention of a roast pork or cheesesteak spot. John's has diners covered for both, serving two of the best variations in town. The prices are right, too, especially when considering that the small-size roast pork sandwich is bigger than a kid’s head. Get one topped with spinach and provolone for a hearty meal, and throw in the cheesesteak for an exemplary version of the classic.
Philadelphia tends to take a back seat to New York in the bagel department, but this shop makes some destination-worthy bagel sandwiches in crazy combinations like Black Sesame Bagels with Kimchi Cream Cheese, which work surprisingly well. Knead has several rotating special bagels and cream cheese flavors to pair them with, but even the simple flavors like the standard everything bagel are expertly crafted and ideal for breakfast in Washington Square.
High Street on Market
Start the day with brunch at popular High Street on Market. The cafe sells a variety of pastries at the to-go counter in back, like the must-try Red Eye Danish, which is topped with smoked ham and Gruyère. That one is probably better for parents, but this place also has great bagels, croissants and cookies for the kids. Grab some to eat nearby at Penn’s Landing or to tide over hungry little diners while you wait for a table. On the main menu, great dishes include the piled-high Hickory Town Breakfast Sandwich and satisfying takes on roast pork and meatball sandwiches, all served on freshly baked bread.
Another unique ice cream destination, this shop has endless possibilities for customizing your own blended flavor of ice cream (or frozen yogurt). Kids can go wild with tons of different candies and syrups, or opt for fresh fruit, nuts, cereals and jelly. No matter how many mix-ins kids try, the creamy texture of the ice cream and the fun of choosing the combo make this place a definite must-visit, blocks from City Hall.
Part of the Stephen Starr empire that includes Buddakan, Morimoto, Talula's Garden and El Vez, this restaurant has a casual retro-diner atmosphere that makes for an enjoyable, laid-back meal that’s ideal for little ones. This is one of the rare places that can pull off a large menu with flavors and cuisines drawn from around the globe, such as a giant bowl of Rad Na, Brisket Bao Buns and the must-try Cheesesteak Eggrolls.