While I certainly had non-food points of interest on my itinerary, priority number one once I had my train booked was stopping by the dedicated gluten-free Fox & Son and get my hands on their gloriously golden menagerie of fried foods. If you've been missing corn dogs, loaded fries, fried cheese curds, or funnel cake from your free-from-gluten life, Fox & Son has you covered. Located in the vibrant and bustling Reading Terminal Market, this food stand not only has the gluten-free goods, it's nestled among an epicurean wonderland of produce, prepared foods, and kitchen wares.
As I waited in line, and there was quite a line when I stopped by, I deliberated what of their many tempting offerings to order. Because I was stopping by for a late lunch, I knew I needed some substance so I focused on their savory options, which didn't do much to narrow my options. Vegan items are available, and non-vegan items can be made dairy-free, just consult with the staff and request that your items are made with the vegan batter.
Of course seeing a display of their food and watching people walk away with what they ordered didn't help in making a decision!
Ultimately I ordered two turkey corn dogs (with vegan batter), and the crispy fried broccoli, which are marked as vegan. Once my order came up, I practically swooned when I saw this delicious spread, and luckily was able to grab a table (a near-impossible feat for the Market) to sit down and enjoy it.
I'll admit that I am not a huge corn dog person, and have had only one other variety since going gluten-free. As my first experience with this carnival favorite, I was won over by my first bite. The golden, corny shell surrounding the turkey hot dog had a perfect texture and was crispy near the crust and soft and cornbread-like on the inside. It was generously salted, and crucially held up over several bites, not crumbling or disintegrate as some gluten-free products tend to do. The turkey dog was cooked perfectly and was a delicious contrast to the salty-sweetness of the batter.
Because I knew I couldn't feast on cornbread alone, the side of fried broccoli added a vegetable to the meal, albeit one that was fried to a crispy perfection! I adored these savory, salty bites, which kept the flavor and texture of the broccoli intact with an added outer layer of golden goodness. Here, the batter was crispier than it was for the corndog, and with such a satisfying crunch I quickly polished off my whole serving of bites.
Because my hotel that night was near Reading Terminal Market, I realized I could catch Fox & Son the following day for another sample of their menu (because they open at 9:30am daily). This proved to be the perfect excuse for me to order their vegan banana funnel cake for breakfast, which is something I never thought I'd be able to do since going gluten-free. Unlike my first visit, I ordered this dish to-go, as I was on my way to Philadelphia's famed art museum later that morning.
The funnel cake is fried to a crunchy perfection, maybe even a tad overdone, but you'll hear no complaints from me. The banana flavor of the batter is definitely detectable, but not too overpowering. Generously powdered with sugar, it definitely was quite a wake-me-up that morning, and I polished the whole thing off, though I did feel a bit of fried food overload by the time I got to the last bite. Though it may have been a little too much of a shock to my body, I couldn't have passed up an opportunity to eat my first gluten-free funnel cake, and have absolutely no regrets!
If you have the fortune to find yourself in Philly, a stop at Fox & Son is truly a must-do. Gluten-free folks can order with abandon since the whole stall is gluten-free, and vegans and dairy-free folks can certainly find plenty of options too. I really loved everything I ordered, and am already looking for excuses to return to the city to give it a second go. Fox & Son's staff and management clearly care about delivering safe and top quality fare, ultimately reuniting (or introducing) fair and festival favorites to those of us who too often have to go without.