Local Food Scenes I: Philly, Seattle, & Denver
Supporting local businesses and industries while traveling is easier than ever these days. In our Part I of Local Food Scenes blog series, we’re highlighting three of our WeVenture cities that really shine when it comes to offering local food options – particularly produce and local-grown ingredients – for both locals and visitors alike. Take a look at the delicious offerings available in Philadelphia, Seattle, and Denver!
Philly has two markets famous for their year-round produce, often surprisingly affordable and good quality. Locals and visitors alike take the time to pick over the stalls lining 9th Street and take in the century-old history of the Italian Market. By the end of the day, the vendors need to offload as much as possible while it’s fresh, so keep on the lookout for good deals and seasonal offerings.
In the heart of the city and feeding the hungry workers on their weekday lunch breaks, Reading Terminal Market provides both produce and great to-go food, from delicious Italian sandwiches from DiNic’s to sweet-tooth–satisfying cannoli from Termini Brothers Bakery. If you’re looking to try a truly unique regional specialty, stop by Kauffman’s Dutch Market for a local treat from Amish country: apple butter, braided pretzels, cheddar cheese popcorn, maple onion bacon jam. Maple. Onion. Bacon. Jam.
And now to address the elephant in the room: the Philly cheesesteak. If you’re willing to travel a little more and explore a truly local neighborhood, head to Frizwit in South Philadelphia. While you can enjoy a mouth-watering cheesesteak at beloved institutions like Jim’s on South Street and Campo’s in Old City, take a different route with all-local ingredients here, including mushrooms from a local sustainable mushroom farm! Worth the walk, bike, or bus ride, and where you can end your day with a pint and a few trivia rounds at Moonshine Philly.
Washington is a state rich in resources, and the region east of the Cascade Mountains is known for its rolling hills covered with orchards and stretches of highway dotted with local produce stands. The city of Wenatchee itself, located in the heart of Washington along the Columbia River, is known as the “apple capital of the world”.
Being just over a two hours’ drive from this region, Seattle benefits greatly from the local fruit industry, with farmers markets operating many days of the week. One such market is arguably the biggest tourist attraction in Seattle, luring over 2 million visitors a year: Pike Place Market. Walk around the stalls and you’ll know what season it is by the stands filled with strawberries and blueberries in June and July to apples and pears from late August to November.
Smaller farmers markets take place mainly on weekends in the neighborhoods outside of downtown, including Capitol Hill and West Seattle.
For those heading out of the city for a day trip to the Cascades and Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth during the summer months, be sure to stop by one of the many fruit stands to pick up some freshly harvested apricots and plums. Similarly, the Olympic Peninsula offers a variety of local-grown goods plus bundles of lavender following harvest time during late June and July.
Like Washington state, Colorado has a flourishing fruit season, the Western slope’s low humidity, warm daytime temperatures, and cool nights being perfect for peach and apple tree growing. Whether you’re shopping around at the farmers market outside Union Station or in Cherry Creek or stopping at a fruit stand on your way to Rocky Mountain National Park, be sure to grab a juicy Palisade peach or a sweet Honey Crisp apple for the ride.
In 2019, Colorado Public Radio ran a contest for the state’s most iconic food, with contenders such as the Rocky Mountain oyster (yuck), the Denver omelet (not from Denver), green chile, and, oddly enough, the microbrew.
Notwithstanding what some consider a “food”, green chile proved victorious, not altogether surprising what with the large Hispanic population and the fact that you can’t beat a beefy burrito absolutely smothered in green chile. For those who can handle some spice, indulge yourself at Santiago’s, or for a milder version, Illegal Pete’s. For anyone visiting during the winter months, make Tamales by Las Casita your stop for their soul-warming green chile stew. And for the sweet tooth: Voodoo Doughnut’s chocolate cake doughnut dusted in cinnamon sugar, cayenne pepper, and topped with a dried red chili pepper.
Not in any of these cities? Look out for our Part II post featuring three more of our WeVenture destinations where you can enjoy locally sourced foods and sustainable shopping!