For those lucky enough to have grown up in the Philly area, good food and unique specialties have always been taken for granted. From Pat’s and Geno’s to Reading Terminal Market to a convenience store that baffles everyone not from the Tri-State area, Philadelphia and its suburbs really do provide some awesome eating. Since I’ve become a student at Maryland, withdrawal has set in hard. I find myself missing some of the delicacies of home, and I know I’m not the only one. Don’t worry, I’m here to support you and help you through the journey. We can do it together.

For when we Philadelphians return home, here are some reminders of things you can’t miss out on.

1. Bagels


Photo by Jennifer Thai

Well, yeah, you can get bagels anywhere in the US and around the world, but there’s something about biting into a freshly baked Philly bagel and definitively knowing where you are. There’s got to be a reason that basically the only cream cheese company is called Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Coincidence? I think not.

2. Federal Donuts


Photo by Alex Vu

This place only serves three things, but man do they do those well. The home of to-die-for donuts, fried chicken and coffee, Federal has found the perfect trifecta to make anyone happy.

3. Soft Pretzels


Photo courtesy of

Non-Philadelphians think that Auntie Anne’s is a real soft pretzel, and for that I feel kinda bad. Sure, they are covered in delicious butter and salt, but I’ll take a classic Philly soft pretzel anytime. This is truly a regional speciality that everyone should try at least once.

4. Wawa


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This one is a personal point of pride for Philadelphians. We truly feel we have the most amazing convenience store on earth (I 100% agree), and we are shocked when we learn someone has never heard of Wawa. Where else can you custom-order a sandwich on a super fun touch screen system, get it within two minutes and pay less than $5 for it? Good try, 7-Eleven, Cumberland Farms and Sheetz, but Wawa has you beat on this one.

5. Cheesesteaks


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These are so Philly famous that many people call them “Philly cheesesteaks,” and that’s pretty cool. They define our city as much as the Liberty Bell and our crazy sports fans, and if you ever wanna feel like a real city native, get yourself a cheesesteak. Make sure you know how to order first though; they’re very particular about the “wit” and “witout” terminology at these joints, depending on if you want fried onions.

6. Crabfries

Possibly the most incredible fries I’ve ever had, these are almost like a myth in Philly that outsiders have heard of, but never seen or tried. I’ve been lucky enough to grow up with them, and I promise they are worth a trip to a Chickie’s & Pete’s. Yeah, I know they’re $8.50 per order at the restaurant and $11.50 at Eagles and Phillies games, but they’re so worth it.

7. Nina’s Waffles and Ice Cream


  A photo posted by Nina’s Waffles (@ninaswaffles) on Sep 9, 2015 at 10:45am PDT

While not located within city limits, Nina’s is a staple in my suburban hometown and a frequent weekend night trip. Stop in to get the most amazing waffles you’ll ever taste topped with what I’d say is the area’s best ice cream. Oh and make sure they put chocolate syrup onto the waffles before the ice cream. Just trust me.

8. Water Ice

A photo posted by Rita’s Ice (@ritasice) on Apr 4, 2014 at 2:21pm PDT

For some reason, everyone else calls it “Italian Ice.” Either way, water ice — or “wooder ice,” as it sounds with a Philly accent — is a perfect (and just as delicious) alternative to ice cream. Practically every town has a Rita’s where I’m from — at least the awesome ones do.

9. Jimmies


A photo posted by Rita’s Ice (@ritasice) on May 26, 2015 at 3:50pm PDT

These are called sprinkles in the majority of the U.S., and I’ll admit that I alternate between the two names. But something about ordering “jimmies” on your ice cream makes it taste all that much better. Only Philadelphians get to experience the childish joy of ordering “jimmies” without getting looked at like they have two heads.

10. Jules Pizza

I can’t even begin to count how many times I’ve been to Jules over the past couple years, but I can say the managers personally know me and usually my three-slice order. Jules offers unique thin crust pizzas ranging from plain to Greek salad to Mexican to edamame and ricotta slices. There’s something for everyone here, and it’s an awesome place to try some new toppings.

11. DiNic’s


Located in Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market, DiNic’s is the pinnacle of a classic Philly food experience. Its roast pork sandwich won the Travel Channel’s “Best Sandwich in America” award in 2012 — pretty high praise — for good reason. Don’t miss this place if you find yourself in Philly, but also make sure to check out some of the other dozens of incredible vendors in the market.