15 Philly Foods and Drinks to Help You Survive Cold Season

Because it's official, people: Cold season has arrived.

Metropolitan Cafe's Thai Vegetable Soup // Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Cafe

Metropolitan Bakery’s Thai Vegetable Soup // Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Bakery

It’s official, people: Cold season has begun. As I type this, I am sitting at my desk, tea mug in hand and last night’s leftover soup sitting in the office fridge, feeling like death. And I am not the only one. In the past week, it seems everyone and their mother has contracted some sort of cold that’s left the city a sniffly, sneezy, straight-up hot mess. And where antibiotics can be of no use (darn you, viruses!), there is only one solution: food. Sick food, to be more specific.

We asked around to find the best Philly foods and drinks to reach for when you’re drowning in your own snot and tears. From soup (lots of soup!) to smoothies to saag paneer, what we suggest you reach for when nothing — not even a day-long Law & Order marathon! — is making you feel better. 

Where to go: Stock, 308 East Girard Avenue, Fishtown
What to order: Khao Poon

The discovery of this coconut curry soup literally saved my soul last night. I was knee-deep in used tissues and self-pity when my lovely boyfriend ordered me a nice big bowl of this noodle soup. Spicy enough to clear your nose and loaded with good stuff like Thai chili, mint, lime and coconut milk, it is seriously a sick person’s dream come true. And bonus: One order will leave you with leftovers for the next day’s lunch! Their mushroom pho (topped off with all the Sriracha one human can handle) isn’t a bad choice either.

Where to go: Rachael’s Nosheri, 120 South 19th Street, Rittenhouse
What to order: Matzo Ball Soup

When I told one coworker I’d never had matzo ball soup, she made the kind of sad, sighing sound you make when someone tells you they’ve never had ice cream or been to Disneyland. Clearly, I’m missing out. And according to her, Rachael’s is the place to get it, especially on a sick day.

Where to go: Sip-N-Glo, 932 South Street, Bella Vista and 257 South 20th Street Rittenhouse (Opening the week of September 21st)
What to order: Honeylove smoothie and an Immunity shot

It’s no secret that Sip-N-Glo is a favorite around the Philly Mag office, but I was surprised to find many of my coworkers reach for a Sip-N-Glo smoothie or juice when they’re feeling under the weather. But it makes sense, right? Gotta get those liquids in! The Honeylove smoothie is a feel-good blend loaded with good-for-you spinach, banana, honey and almond milk and the Immunity shot is loaded with lemon, ginger, echinacea, elderberry and zinc to give your immune system a kick in the pants.

Where to go: Soup Kitchen Cafe, 2146 East Susquehanna Avenue, Fishtown
What to order: Tomato soup with Grilled Cheese

This is comfort food at its finest. Prepare yourself for the stringiest grilled cheese ever (Mmmm) and a creamy tomato soup that so beats the Campbell’s can your mom would throw on the stove for you when you were sick as a kid.

Where to go: Dizengoff, 1625 Sansom Street, Rittenhouse
What to order: Tehina Hummus

For when you can’t stomach much of anything, this hummusiya’s simplest version of the beloved chickpea dip — the best damn hummus you’ll ever eat, if I do say so myself — paired with their house-made pita (hopefully still hot from the oven) is a winner.

Where to go: Famous 4th Street Delicatessen, 700 South 4th Street, Queen Village
What to order: Chicken or Matzo Ball Soup

People swear by the curing powers of this deli’s soups, the chicken (which you can get with noodles, rice or kasha) and the matzo ball especially.

Where to go: Cafes and Markets all over town
What to order: Inspired Brews Kombucha

There’s just something about drinking a bubbly, full-of-probiotics, good-for-your-gut kombucha that makes you feel healthier. This local company, which we told you about awhile back, slings seasonal, creative kombucha varieties from spots all over town. Think: Philly Harvest Matcha, Philly Salted Watermelon with Honey, and more. You can find the full rundown of places that carry them here.

Where to go: Nom Nom Ramen, 20 South 18th Street, Rittenhouse and 3401 Walnut Street, University City
What to order: Karai Miso

One Philly Mag staffer who shall not be named hits up this ramen spot at least three times a week — sick or not. The spicy miso soup, loaded with veggies and bamboo shoots (so crunchy, so good), has been known to work wonders on cold, sniffly days.

Where to go: Little Baby’s Ice Cream, 4903 Catherine Street, West Philly and 2311 Frankford Avenue, Fishtown
What to order: A pint of vegan Thai Iced Tea

This one, my friends, is for when your fever breaks. I started sweating like a maniac midday yesterday and luckily I had a pint of Little Baby’s vegan Thai Iced Tea ice cream waiting for me in my freezer. It’s refreshing, soothing to a sore throat and dairy-free — meaning you won’t get all phlegmy and gross after a few bites. #Winning

Where to go: Nan Zhou Hand Drawn Noodle House, 1022 Race Street, Chinatown
What to order: Any of the noodle dishes

Take your pick of warming noodle dishes at this Chinatown noodle house. The list, which ranges from noodle soups to stir-fried noodles to dry noodles, is pretty much endless. And each and every one of them will make you forget you want to die, at least for a few minutes.

Where to go: Metropolitan Bakery, Multiple locations
What to order: Thai Vegetable Soup

Metropolitan, known best for its breads, is home to a slew of lesser-known but equally delicious gluten-free and vegan soups. Who knew? They make their delicious, perfectly spicy, oh-so-coconutty Thai veggie soup year round, but they switch up the veggies in it based on the season. It tastes like a warm hug in a bowl, which I’m guessing you could use if you’re reading this list.

Where to go: Tiffin, Multiple locations
What to order: Saag Paneer

This meal is basically creamed spinach, which makes it easy on a scratchy throat and requires barely no chewing. Because when you’re really sick, even chewing feels hard. And you won’t even have to leave your couch for it: Just put in your order through GrubHub, adjust the spicy level on your saag paneer to “high” — trust us, it’ll get all the gunk out of your nose — and sit back and wait for your doorbell to ring.

Where to go: Viet Huong, 1100 Washington Avenue, Bella Vista
What to order: Vermicelli

When it comes to sick days, Emily, our lovely Be Well editor, is a fan of this spot’s rice noodle dishes, loaded with all sorts of good stuff like mint and sprouts and topped off with warm broth.

Where to go: El Rey, 2013 Chestnut Street, Rittenhouse
What to order: Sopa de Hongos

Full disclosure: I worked at this restaurant all throughout college. And during that time, I spent many a sick day sipping on this delicious wild mushroom soup. I could drink the broth — vegetarian, by the way — alone, it’s that flavorful. But the spoonfuls of mushrooms make the soup both soothing and filling.

Where to go: Wawa, Multiple locations
What to order: Mac & Cheese

Yep, you read that right: Wawa. Lauren McGrath, assistant editor at Philly Mag’s Shoppist, put it best when she said, “Honestly, Wawa mac n cheese rules. Call me a peasant, but there’s no way I’m going to a restaurant (even if it’s just for takeout) if I’m dying.” We’ve all been there, right? Just try not to go too crazy: A measly medium side will run you 500 calories.

Got any favorite Philly sick foods to add to the list? Shout ’em out in the comments. And pssst: For more soup suggestions around town, check out Foobooz’s nice, long lists here and here.

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