Pennsylvania's signature dishes aren't usually cutting-edge or gourmet (you could even call some of the state's most famous staples "street food"), but you won't find them done better anywhere else.

1. Pretzels

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Pretzels. Photo:

A Pennsylvanian pretzel is the only pretzel you've ever had. Philadelphia is a city where you can find food carts selling soft pretzels all over the streets.

The pretzel has a long history in the state and has been a favorite food of the Pennsylvania Dutch. In fact, Southeast Pennsylvania is home to some of the nation's oldest pretzel bakeries.

2. Tomato Pie

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Tomato Pie. Photo:

The Pennsylvanian snack that most resembles a slice of pizza is tomato pie. In essence, it is a crust covered in cheese and red sauce. Southern Philadelphia's oldest Italian bakeries offer tomato pie by the slice, at room temperature. Visit the Tomato Pie Cafe in Harrisburg for the best tomato pie in the area.

3. Scrapple

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Scrapple. Photo:

Scrapple would be the breakfast food that was most distinctively Pennsylvanian. By combining leftover pork trimmings with cornmeal to form a loaf of meat that was then sliced and fried, it was originally created as a way to reduce food waste.

There aren't many breakfast establishments in the area that don't serve scrapple because, in our opinion, nothing pairs better with fried eggs than it does.

4. Philly Cheesesteak

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Philly Cheesesteak. Photo:

The Philly cheesesteak is a staple of Pennsylvania cuisine and must be included on any list. On a long roll, or hoagie as they are known in Pennsylvania, the Philly cheesesteak typically consists of thinly sliced, griddle-fried beef with American cheese, provolone, or Cheez Whiz. The cheesesteak comes in a few different forms, some of which include onions and peppers.

You won't have to look far to find a Philly cheesesteak in this state because they are so common. In addition to the Philadelphia Steak and Hoagie House in Mechanicsburg, Philadelphia Steaks & Hoagies and Philly Steak & Shake are both conveniently located nearby.

5. Roast Pork Sandwich

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Roast Pork Sandwich. Photo:

Even though the Philly cheesesteak may get all the attention for sandwiches, Pennsylvanians may prefer the roast pork sandwich just as much. The roast pork sandwich at John's Roast Pork in Philadelphia even received some national attention recently when it was named one of the best sandwiches in the nation by the New York Post.

The sandwich is incredibly straightforward—just slow-roasted pork on a roll or hoagie with a few optional toppings, like cheese or peppers—but the flavor is absolutely explosive.


The top 5 distinctive and famous foods in Pennsylvania are listed above; chances are, you've already tried them.

After all, food plays a significant role in what makes Pennsylvania unique. Consider this. With a delicious meal of pork and sauerkraut, we welcome the New Year.

And that's after witnessing a mushroom drop or a giant Hershey's kiss to mark the beginning of a new year. We travel to Hershey to learn how to make chocolate and to watch it being made. The rich culinary heritage of Pennsylvania doesn't end there.

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