The Philly Taste

“Philadelphia is an overwhelmingly green city with a vibrant history and a lot of openness. Generously, the people here have invited me into their kitchens and made my research a Bleisure trip.”Mirko Reeh, TV chef and author of “Philadelphia, culinary journey with Mirko Reeh”

For me as a cook, new places are always exciting to sense how they affect me culinarily. I have experienced Philadelphia as an incredible city with an exciting history of freedom and tolerance and with colleagues who conjure up grandiose dishes.

Mirko Reeh in Philadelphia

Only a good hour’s flight from New York City, Philadelphia stands for the cradle of American history, where the Declaration of Independence was signed in Independence Hall on July 4, 1776. If you want to extend your business trip in Pennsylvania’s largest city, you will find a large selection of museums and historic buildings and above all a lot of art, culture and cosmopolitan joie de vivre. The city alone is home to over 30 of its own musical productions. The accommodation offer is also overwhelming and ranges from large chains to small houses, there is something for everyone. I stay at the Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse Square – an old building, but excitingly restored, and the rooms are up to date.

Meat for breakfast

It is quite interesting that the culture and cuisine of Philadelphia is especially influenced by the descendants of German, Irish and African-American immigrants. The kitchen styles are correspondingly diverse, as is also shown by the markets where you can immerse yourself in the culinary heart of Philadelphia – especially in the Reading Terminal Market. Here the mix at the well over 100 stands ranges from Amish cuisine to classic American cuisine and creations such as turtle soup and scrapple. My colleagues at Down Home Diner have been serving Scrapple in its original form since 1987, i.e. prepared with meat leftovers such as pork heads and served with onion jam. While Americans used to smile at Scrapple as a poor man’s meal, today it is a delicacy that is displayed and tasted on all food tours. For me personally, the moderate variant with pork sausage is feasible, as Scrapple is only available for breakfast.


And let’s stay with breakfast: My colleagues at the restaurant High Street on Market, which likes to come up with unusual creations, process Beloni sausage into a burger. The sausage is a specialty from Philadelphia that is similar to our mortadella, but without the fat pieces. Before my visit to Philadelphia I would never have fried it, but it tastes very delicious, as does the whole breakfast burger. In my cooking school in Frankfurt today I prepare the burger with the classic mortadella and engender a lot of surprise among the guests.

Pubs and cheesesteak

iStock-TheCrimsonMonkeyIt is evident everywhere: there is something going on in Philadelphia in the culinary field. There are dozens of restaurants and dishes that could not be more different. A typical dish is the Philly Cheesesteak, which you should definitely try. Here, entrecôte is thinly sliced, fried with onions and paprika, put into a baguette and garnished with some cheddar. At Campo’s they have the best Philly Cheesesteak. This traditional restaurant is located on the edge of the “Old City”, where the oldest houses of the country are located. Since 1947 the Campo family has been preparing the famous Philly Cheesesteaks themselves. And they are constantly expanding the assortment across generations, so that there is now also a vegan Philly Cheesesteak available.

Another exciting place to visit is the Twisted Tail Restaurant, Bar and Music Hall in Philadelphia’s nightlife district. The widely travelled owner George Reilly, whose family originally comes from England, wants to offer his guests good music, first-class whiskeys and fancy food for a relaxed evening. His menu features unusual combinations of American and Israeli cuisine with Mediterranean influences – a truly special culinary experience.

If you like it a little more chic, you should visit A.Kitchen. The restaurant in the middle of Philadelphia cannot be assigned to any particular culinary direction. Although there are classic elements, these are completely reinterpreted. My colleague Eli Collins mixes up the culinary cultures in a positive sense, and that’s what makes his kitchen so special.

One rustic tip remains: the McGillin’s Olde Ale House – a figurehead and tourist magnet in Philadelphia. The oldest pub in the city was founded in 1860 and serves classic American cuisine with a large selection of beer. And something is guaranteed: While you’re here, you’ll realize once again how charmingly crazy the city and its open-minded people are. “Philly” is fun and tasty after work.

Mirko Reeh …

has already discovered Tel Aviv and places in Illinois for the Bleisure Traveller. Philadelphia is also his passion. More information about him and his books under

“Philadelphia – Kulinarische Reise mit Mirko Reeh”

In seinem Kochbuch bringt Mirko Reeh ein Stück des Freigeistes und der Liebe, die Philadelphia ausmachen, in die Bleisure-Küche. Dafür hat er die Rezepte und Erlebnisse der Hot Spots, die er besucht hat, zu seinen gemacht und aufgeschrieben. 156 Seiten (erhältlich unter www.mirko-reeh.com)

Fotos: © Mirko Reeh, © iStock.com/benedek, © iStock.com/TheCrimsonMonkey, © iStock.com/weaver123