When I rolled into Philly last Friday, I only had one end goal in mind:
Since it was May (i.e.: high outdoor market season), I decided to hit up two of the city’s iconic –– and wildly different –– street festivals: The historic Italian Market Festival and the über-trendy Rittenhouse Square Row Festival.
The two are held only 20 or so blocks apart, but the differences couldn’t have been any more stark.
First, let's set the scene. The festivals are just over a mile apart, with the Italian Market Festival (A) further South and Rittenhouse Square (B) closer to downtown.
They couldn't be more different. The Italian Market is the oldest outdoor market in the country, open 7 days a week, year-round, smack in the middle of Philly's historically Italian (and increasingly hipster) 'hoods, Bella Vista and East Passyunk.
On a normal day, Rittenhouse Square is a quiet residential area. It's been one of the more upscale areas in the city since the mid-19th century, when it was home to Philly's Victorian aristocracy.
I started my day at the Italian Market, where people were already chowing down and packing the streets by 11:30 a.m.
City-favourite Isgro's was inundated with sweet-toothed customers vying for at taste of their famous cannolis.
They could have doubled their prices for the festival, but everything I ate was cheap and incredibly tasty –– like this $10 sausage sandwich from Paesano's. It was more than enough for two.
The best part was being able to step into the physical restaurant, which was conveniently right along the festival's route.
I had to poke my head inside Philly's famous cheese shop, Di Brunos Brothers. Throngs of people packed the shop and it smelled as close to heaven as I've ever come.
Not to mention the fact that they were serving up some seriously cheap and delicious eats for less than $5 right outside.
Not that any of that would fill you up, so go ahead and head on over for a mini taco –– $3.50 a pop.
But good luck trying to find a real cheesesteak. Mini Philly steaks and fajitas were about as close as you could come at the Rittenhouse festival.
The Di Brunos Bros table wasn't getting anywhere near as much love as their brethren at the Italian Market.
I wound up walking away with a $3 watermelon juice, feeling grateful that I'd filled up at the Italian Market beforehand.
And Rittenhouse's resident balloon artist had a bit more going on than puppies and princess crowns ...
At the end of the day, I can't pretend I didn't have a better time (and save more cash) eating my way through the Italian Market festival.
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