DINING: Making a meal at City Market

All through April, I’ve been exploring the newly spruced-up City Market. But in each of those columns, I’ve ignored one of the fundamental pleasures of the Market dining experience. That is: It affords the opportunity to craft your own piecemeal meal. So this week, rather than settle for multi-courses from one vendor, I opted to pick and choose.  

city-market-all Above, top to bottom, Corey Beatus makes a black mambo at Natural Born Juicers, Brecy Carman packages chips at Amazing Potato Chip Company, Deborah Fox ladels up potato soup at Circle City Soups, and Brett Wolfsie holds up a row of pretzels at A Taste of Philly. (IBJ Photos/ Perry Reichanadter)

I started at Natural Born Juicers, where I had the berry baristas mix up a Black Mambo smoothie ($5 for 12 ounces, $6 for 16, and $7 for 20). It might look like an oil spill, but it proved refreshingly thick with blueberries and bananas augmented with the nutritional supplement Spirulina and mixed with a choice of almond or oat milk. The small nearly served as a meal in itself.

Any health benefit I might have gained from the smoothie was wiped out by a bag of good-but-not-exceptional sliced spuds ($1.50) from Amazing Potato Chip Co. Perhaps I shouldn’t have expected hot in addition to fresh. They also came housed in a metallic bag, which seemed excessive and worked against the fresh feel.

I used the chips to side a Pick Two ($6) combo from Circle City Soups. The salads and the sandwiches stay fairly consistent on the CCS menu but the soups here can change out daily. On my visit, the Tomato Seafood Stew was a satisfying choice, with its rich broth dominating and the seafood giving accent to every spoonful. The Sage Aioli Chicken Salad sandwich I paired it with didn’t hold together well (half a ciabatta doesn’t make for a strong foundation), but the chicken was chunky and the mayo mild.

Dessert? Yes, there are plenty of treat options at Circle City Sweets or Just Cookies. But having spent many years in Philadelphia, I have trouble resisting a bag-o-dough from A Taste of Philly to nosh on while I walk back to the office. Here, a trio of soft pretzels (still attached to one another), will set you back $3. A bag of nuggets—since it’s nice to share—costs $2. Warning: While usually pretty close to Philadelphia quality, I’ve occasionally found the pretzels here a bit undercooked.•

—Lou Harry


Last in a month-long series of reviews of eateries in and around City Market.

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