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With its charming mix of old establishments and trendy hotspots, the Philadelphia restaurant scene is a longtime east coast favorite. The City of Brotherly Love will always be hailed for its famous cheesesteaks, authentic pizza, and scrapple (a tasty regional breakfast treat) but, these days, Philadelphia caterers are expanding beyond those hallmarks into more adventurous cuisine. In fact,  U.S. News and World Report  just named Philadelphia as the second best place to visit in the country, mentioning what they described as the city’s recent “culinary makeover”. Here are some exciting new Philadelphia catering and food trends that will spice up your next meeting or event.

Duck 3 Ways

Philly takes its waterfowl seriously and quite a few spots on the Philadelphia restaurant scene keep a duck dish on the menu to sate local appetite. SangKee Noodle House has been a Chinatown favorite for decades. Their sweet, lacquered, roasted ducks are delicious whole or stuffed into handheld rolls.  

With a touch of elegance,  The Blue Duck’s Everything Spiced Duck Breast will meet the expectations of the Julia Child set. Meanwhile, their Quack n’ Cheese adds grandeur to the old standby with shredded duck confit, smoked Gouda, roasted portobellos, dried cherries and panko breadcrumbs. But duck doesn’t have to be fussy- the Blue Duck Fries, tossed in duck fat and seasoned with shredded duck confit and Gouda, are also outrageously popular.

Vegan and Vegetarian Twists on Classics

To the delight of the health-conscious and allergen-aware, a new trend in  Philadelphia catering is to transform favorite comfort dishes into guilt-free cuisine. Witness the popularity of The Living Room Cafe’s vegan BLT. Topped with crunchy lettuce and sweet tomatoes, smoked tempeh makes its case against bacon and eggless mayo is a seamless swap for the usual condiment. If Asian food is in order, don’t miss the bean curd skin rolls at Mi Lah Vegetarian Catering. Their menu transforms traditionally meat-centric dishes, like Brazilian feijoada (black bean and pork stew) and shu mai steamed dumplings to savory vegetarian and vegan alternatives. For more traditional breakfast fare, the Vegan Breakfast Buffet at Frankie’s on Fairview swaps eggs for seasoned tofu scramble.

For vegan and gluten-free catering with Mediterranean flair try Zoe’s Kitchen. This beloved wholesome caterer does a brisk business in chicken sandwiches but it’s the spiced vegetarian kabobs and a Israeli-inspired cauliflower rice bowl (protein toppers available) that have customers talking.

The Pita Wrap

The foods of the Mediterranean are popular, in part, due to their keen focus on vegetables. But one of the most popular dishes gripping Philadelphia catering is the Mediterranean answer to the sandwich: the pita wrap. Driven by both the fast-casual movement and professionals’ need for grab-and-go meals, Philadelphia’s freshest takes on the sandwich come with this Greek or Mediterranean twist. For Middle Eastern flavor, The Pita Chip caters a shawarma wrap tray, a popular assortment of beef shawarma, chicken shawarma, and vegetarian falafel wraps. At Lale Turkish, the chicken and lamb gyro pita wraps arrive with all-American coleslaw and a pickle while at Tabouli, wraps are gilded with chopped cucumber, tomato, and cabbage.

Corn Makes a Comeback

For all the thrills in ethnic cuisine, a few chefs on the Philadelphia restaurant scene have been getting creative with a humble ingredient: corn. With kernels sourced from a local mill, Just Salad keeps it simple, serving a savory popcorn side to its popular custom salad bar and avocado toast platters. For a full-bodied entree, Common Wealth Old City serves up a classic Low Country breakfast with shrimp and grits with scrambled eggs and cheddar biscuits. And the gluten-free set, especially, will appreciate that Honest Tom’s Taco Shop  includes corn tortillas on its Taco Party Bar.  

Key Takeaways
  • Classic Philly dishes like scrapple, cheesesteak, and pizza are always on the menu in Philadelphia.
  • The fast-casual and healthful comfort foods movements are driving chefs to experiment with ingredients in new formats – rolls, wraps, and sandwiches.
  • A heritage ingredient produced locally inspires creativity, driving corn onto menus around town.

The Philadelphia restaurant scene is always on the move. Find a Philly caterer serving up the latest.

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Written by:

Christina Mueller

Christina Mueller is a San Francisco-based writer, epicurean adventurer, and culinary sleuth. Find her at http://christinamueller.com and follow her on Instagram @EatDrinkThink and Twitter @EatDrinkThink.

Posted in: Trends in FoodNeed to Know

Tagged with: Catering, Mediterranean, PA, Philadelphia, Vegetarian