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Foodies in the Field: Philadelphia

By Jeremy Harlan, CNN
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • CNN's Jeremy Harlan talks about his favorite places to eat in Philadelphia
  • Reading Terminal Market is the "Las Vegas of food," Harlan says
  • Franklin Fountain is a cool escape back to early 20th-century soda fountain
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With Foodies in the Field, CNN staffers share restaurant tips for their home bases or places they've visited on assignment.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- I wore a path between Washington and Philly for interviews and shoots for our recent "Cheating Death" special with Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

In the field: Jeremy Harlan

My job as a photojournalist is to shoot and edit stories for CNN and make sure my news team eats well on the road.

On assignment: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Now, I love cheese steaks as much as the next guy. But my arteries can only take so much steak, cheese and peppers. So here are a few places that are great alternatives in the City of Brotherly Love.

Reading Terminal Market

Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

Cuisine: You name it, the market has it

How do I describe the Reading Terminal Market? It's like the Las Vegas of food. Everywhere you turn, there's something interesting to see, smell and taste. It is food sensory overload.

The hardest part of going to the market is not eating the very first thing you see. Give yourself 15 minutes to walk through the market before deciding where to spend your hard-earned lunch dollar.

The Reading Terminal Market is a "food sensory overload," Harlan says.
The Reading Terminal Market is a "food sensory overload," Harlan says.

I saw apple dumplings, muffalettas, spanakopita, pulled pork, snapper soup, strombolis, all the fresh veggies, meat and cheese you could throw in your fridge and of course cheese steaks.

I finally decided to stop at Dinic's Pork and Beef for the famous roast pork sandwich. The service was fast and friendly. The sandwich was fantastic, and if you sit at the counter long enough, you might hear one of Philly's finest talk about the crazy arrest of the day.

And make sure you save room for a smooth and creamy cupcake (or two) from the Flying Monkey.

Magic Carpet

Hours: 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Cuisine: Mediterranean/vegetarian

The Magic Carpet is a small vendor trailer just across from a hospital.
The Magic Carpet is a small vendor trailer just across from a hospital.

The first thing I ask our local contact on a story is where I'm eating lunch. If you ask Holly Auer, University of Pennsylvania Hospital's senior medical communications officer, she'll immediately say, "Magic Carpet."

This vegetarian culinary delight is actually a small vendor trailer just across from Penn Hospital. If you haven't been to Philly, you need to know this city takes its street vendor food pretty seriously.

I still scratch my head at how these folks make so much delicious food in such cramped quarters. My personal favorite at Magic Carpet is a pita sandwich stuffed with grape leaves. It's so good, I usually eat two.

Maybe the best part: The sandwiches are around five bucks. Definitely the worst part: the long line of neurosurgeons, med students, nurses and cardiologists waiting for their delicious ride on the Carpet, too.

The Franklin Fountain

Hours: noon-midnight

The Franklin Fountain is an early 20th century ice cream fountain shop.
The Franklin Fountain is an early 20th century ice cream fountain shop.

Cuisine: Ice cream

The Franklin Fountain is a cool escape back to the early 20th-century ice cream fountain shop. Although it opened in the summer of 2004, you would think it was 1944 when you walk in the door. The owners left no detail ignored in building this dairy delight.

The fountain offers sundaes, splits, ice cream waffle sandwiches, fresh pies, house-made cakes, phosphates and America's oldest soft drink, just to name a few.

Coffee lovers will enjoy the Lightning Rod sundae. Everyone will enjoy his or her trip back in time.