Where to Eat Fried Cheese Curds in Philly Right Now
I sometimes wish I’d been born in Wisconsin. Not for the funny accents or the cows or the hats with the furry ear flaps (they have those, right?), but because, in my mind, Wisconsin is a magical land of rolling hills and green fields where fried cheese curds essentially grow on trees. They’re everywhere — bars and diners, fine-dining restaurants and gas stations. On every street corner, there’s a cart selling hot bags of them. In every home, a countertop deep fryer that’s never cold and never empty.
Sure, it’s a dream. But it’s my dream and I’m hanging onto it. Wisconsin is a deep-fried cheese heaven, but Philly now has several places around town offering fried cheese — both curd and otherwise — for those of us looking for a taste of the Midwest’s greatest culinary contribution to our edible culture.
So if you love fried cheese the way we love fried cheese, here’s where you should be eating it right now.
Fox & Son Fancy Corndogs
Reading Terminal Market
How exciting and awesome does a place have to be that the cheese curds are only the second most interesting thing on the menu? As exciting and awesome as Fox & Son, which is the newest stand in the Reading Terminal Market and one dedicated (essentially) to the joys of carnival food. We’re talking corndogs, funnel cake, stuffed baked potatoes and, of course, fried cheese curds made with cheese from Birchrun Hills Farm that’s so fresh it squeaks.
Bud & Marilyn’s
This is what I had to say about the fried cheese curds at Bud & Marilyn’s back when I reviewed Marcie Turney’s ode to her own Wisconsin childhood back in September of 2015: “She’s a woman who understands the glory of cheese curds in all their many forms (fried and not-fried). She serves her’s batter-fried, blistering hot, with a side of garlic scape ranch dressing (plus a salsa that can be completely ignored) and sprinkled with chopped parsley, like a joke. And if you don’t order at least one plate of these every single time you come here, you’re a damn fool and we have nothing further to say to each other.” I feel no differently today.
The Cow And The Curd
In a perfect world, a food truck serving nothing but fried cheese curds would follow me wherever I go. In this world, what I have is The Cow And The Curd, a food truck that sometimes seems to be wherever I go before I get there. Block parties, street festivals, concerts, events, this cheese curd food truck (using nothing but Wisconsin cheddar, with dipping sauces like sriracha mayo and smoked ketchup) always seems to be around. Which is one of the things I love about this town. One of the things I don’t? The lines.
Who would’ve guessed that a former French restaurant in a converted pumphouse would serve some of the best fried cheese curds in town? But La Peg is an odd duck, serving primarily American classics now, under the command of one of the city’s best French chefs, the fried curds are on the bar snacks menu, but should be a part of every balanced meal.
Bait & Switch
Cheese curds are used here in two different ways — as the comforting, familiar and delicious fried cheese curds, and then in an absolutely crazy-pants version of poutine involving a bowl of Old Bay fries, tossed with cheese curds and then topped with a steaming ladle full of hot New England clam chowder. It’s called the Bait Bucket, and it is either brilliant, crazy or both.
You know how you make one regional American classic better? Well, according to the crew at The Industry, you just mash it up with another regional American classic. Hence, the creation of Buffalo fried cheese curds, tossed with Franks Red Hot and served with blue cheese dressing.