November 23, 2022 |

Food Tales: Hidden Gems in Philly

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Hadiyah Muhammad is a junior Journalism major at Temple University. Hadiyah is the Social Media Director for “We Need To Talk,” Temple’s all-female talk show, is a Staff Writer for Refine Magazine and Her Campus, and the Social Media Co-Chair and Community Service Chair for Women of Color Creatives. Outside of her journalistic endeavors, Hadiyah enjoys trying new restaurants in different states and watching good period dramas.

Guest-written by Hadiyah Muhammad

Philadelphia is home to a robust concoction of lifestyles and cultures, and most importantly: food. Like food, we’re never short on tourism. WHYY reported that in 2021, 36.2 million people visited the Greater Philadelphia region—134,221 of that number are college students, according to College Tuition Compare. Some are stuck in the cycle of what’s available in the vicinity of their campus, whether it be Drexel or perhaps Temple University, which is located in the North Philadelphia neighborhood. Sure, Philly provides the typical foods we’re known for: cheesesteaks, water ice, and soft pretzels. Those are all great, but what’s even better are the hidden food gems that only a Philly native (that’s me) would know.

1. Ooh La La Salads

Ooh La La Salads, a Black- and family-owned establishment is home to the best salads in Philadelphia… and that’s not an exaggeration. My personal favorite from them is the Salmon Wrap and their Strawberry Chicken Salad. They also provide a selection of detox juices and freshly prepared smoothies! Not only are they beacons in feeding the community, but they were also heavily dedicated to feeding front-line workers since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Saad’s Halal Restaurant

Chicken Shish Tawook Maroosh Way

Halal food trucks are a staple in Philadelphia, especially downtown and in neighborhoods near Temple and other colleges. Personally, my favorite halal spot is a sit-down restaurant. Saad’s Halal Restaurant is a Muslim-owned establishment that provides exemplary customer service like no other with Middle Eastern cuisine to match. Their signature Chicken Maroosh sandwich is one of the best on the menu. At Saad’s, you’ll find all your favorite halal truck meals centered in a family-friendly environment.

3. Dutch Country Market

Traveling over an hour to Amish country is not necessary when the best hidden gem is located in the Northeast section of Philadelphia. Dutch Country Market is only open four days a week. But while they are, their freshly baked pies, cookies, cakes, smoothies, and more are sure to keep you coming back. Also on the premises are Mennonite meat butchers who have a large selection of packaged and fresh meats. There’s also a fried food bar that’s a crowd favorite!

4. Sis. Muhammad’s Kitchen

Fried Fish Hoagies and Chicken Cheesesteak Hoagies

Philadelphia is estimated to be home to nearly 200,000 Muslims. Sis. Muhammad’s Kitchen, a Black-, Muslim-, and family-owned establishment has been a staple in the Philadelphia community for over 20 years. They’re renowned for their innovative and wholesome menu, which includes incredible fish hoagies and soul food platters. The taste and hospitality are always unmatched!

5. Siddiq’s Water Ice

Fresh Fruit Water Ice

Water ice is a staple, like any other staple in the City of Brotherly Love! Either by itself or paired with a soft pretzel, it’s a sure win. In 1995, on the campus of Temple University,  Siddiq’s Water Ice was born and a long legacy of infusing 100% real fruit in his water ice continued. Their menu has expanded and so has their storefront, which is also located in Chester, Pennsylvania. Their slogan, “It’s so good, we’ll let you taste it first!” 

European countries are easily referred to as the food capitals of the world, but the real cuisine is located in the heart of every neighborhood in Philadelphia. It could be the most basic food, but Philly natives are sure to spice it up and make it a five-star dish. More and more restaurants have sprung up in the recent decade, and have made an incredible impact on the city. Nothing can truly compare to the tenacious attitude of Philadelphia food lovers. 

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Happy eating!

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