April 16, 2010
Maybe it’s because they’ve had 87 years to get it right. Maybe it’s because the intoxicating scent of its impossibly chewy, melt-on-your-fingers cookies has wafted its way into the very spirit of Reading Terminal. Maybe, simply, it’s because they are a Philadelphia institution: a Jewish-style corner delicatessen owned by the same family for three generations, warming bellies from early morning to night with so-good-you’ll groan comfort food. Whatever the reason, Famous Fourth Street Deli is the city’s best deli… and they’ve got a fantastic brunch to boot.
The challah French toast gives any diner, and brunch spot, a run for its money. Thick hunks of eggy challah bread are deep-fried so they’re crispy on the outside, velvety on the inside, and piled – I mean piled – on a plate served with Smucker’s syrup. Nothing the kitchen serves will be less than lip-lickingly good, but other reliable dishes include the corned beef hash – served steaming with chunks of potato and peppers, and matzoh ball soup, aburst with softball-sized matzoh balls boiled to the perfect density.
Mini chewy chocolate chip cookies replace dinner mints at this establishment, but don’t cheat yourself out of a trip to the sweets display case. All desserts are baked in-house, from the black and white cookies as wide as frisbees, to the feathery, nutty carrot cake coated in sweet cream cheese icing, sliced into slabs that nearly overfill a standard large Styrofoam container.
At first glance the prices seem high, but given the staggering portion size and culinary quality you’ll get more than you bargained for. Impress out-of-towners, cure a Sunday morning hangover, or just indulge in some stomach stuffing of your own at one of Philly’s shining restaurant stars.
Famous 4th Street Delicatessen
700 South 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147-3102