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Places to eat in Lancaster Co., Pa.

If you're looking for good Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, it can be hard to find in restaurants. The locals who love this sort of food generally make it at home from family recipes. The mindset being: Why pay 4x as much for something you can do better yourself at home? So the Smorgasbords and other Route 30 restaurants, as CindyJ noted, tend to cater to tourists.

I think your best bet, if this is the type of food you're looking for, would be to find a small town family restaurant and order the right thing, since most of the menu won't be much better than the average diner. I've heard good things about Oregon Dairy Restaurant, and that may be worth a try. Or get it to go from a market like the Village Farm Market outside of Ephrata and load up your cooler.

There is a growing number of good restaurants in the area using fresh local ingredients. And I think that may the best of what Lancaster has to offer right now.

Maison
Citronnelle
John J Jeffries
Pour
The new Horse Inn

about 4 hours ago
ahab in Pennsylvania

How is Alma doing?

We (three of us) went last night for the first time. I had been looking forward to trying Alma for a while now, but was a little apprehensive going in after reading the mixed reviews on Yelp.

Our experience was very, very good. Of the ~nine courses served, a few dishes were outstanding, most others very good. One (a scallop dish that left a minerally, metallic aftertaste) didn't seem to work for any of us. But every dish was at the very least interesting, made us stop to think and taste and discuss the food in front of us. This is food as art and some of it challenges the diner -- either with new flavor combinations or with unusual ingredients. Rare pigeon is going to be too challenging for a lot of people. If you're the type of person who doesn't want to think about your food, who just wants to eat and enjoy (or that's the mood you're in at the time of your meal), Alma may not be the right fit for you. I know many more people who would hate the restaurant than I do who would love it. And I think that's why it's so polarizing and the reviews on Yelp are so mixed. The Bon Appetit review did probably draw too much attention from people who didn't know what they were in for.

The service we had was warm, personable and professional -- the best we've experienced in a long time. The pacing of the meal was fine. We liked the room and the overall atmosphere as well. All of these were points of contention on Yelp. Either they've made improvements there or we had expectations more in line with what Alma offers.

The final, frequent Yelp complaint seemed to be portion size and leaving feeling hungry. The move to a nine course tasting menu probably goes a long way towards fixing this. But this is not a heavy meal. Beyond a small piece of rye bread and butter, there are not a lot of filling carbs or fats -- it's modest portions of proteins and vegetables. All of us left satisfied, but content more than full. Again, it's about expectations. If you have a large appetite, I would not arrive famished.

Jul 30, 2014
ahab in Los Angeles Area

Lancaster BYOB suggestions

Either Maison or Citronnelle would be a great BYOB choice with the edge going to Maison.

As for the steak, I can't think of a good BYOB option in the area. I've read some nice things about The Stockyard which is just outside the city and probably the closest thing you will find to a traditional steakhouse here, but have not been there myself. John J Jeffries usually has a steak option. And Hunger n' Thirst has steak frites. But I haven't ordered the steak at either. There are always other dishes that interest me more. None of these are BYOB.

Jul 14, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

Akron Restaurant's red velvet- recipe??

She's been waiting for this recipe since 2005. Don't tease her (and us), post it already!

Jul 09, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

Restaurants in Lancaster

Well, with the addition of these restaurants and some others, dining certainly has improved in Lancaster since you lived in the area. A huge revival? I don't know. But it's more than just JJJ and Maison. Options are obviously still far more limited than in larger cities like Philly and Boston. But then options in Philly and Boston are more limited than in NY and LA... So, living in Lancaster (or anywhere), you make the most of what you have. In Lancaster, you pick up fresh organic vegetables from a co-op a couple of miles from your home on the farm where they were grown. You buy your meat from another nearby farm where the animals were raised and you know what they were fed. You cook a little more, eat out a little less, make some trips to Philly, NY, and DC, and appreciate when a good new restaurant comes along close to home.

Jun 04, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania
1

Friday night with some San Francisco foodies...where would you book?

I agree with most points. Can't comment on Volver or Ela as I haven't been. One thing I would consider is if entertaining friends from SF, I imagine there are likely good vegan/vegetarian options for them at home and something like Zahav may be harder to come by. But I think all three are good options.

My only meal at Serpico was the tasting menu and I regret not ordering off the board after reading raves about certain dishes and hearing comments of other diners near by. Nothing on the tasting menu really blew me away. Some very good dishes, but nothing made me say Wow.

I'd put Zahav and Vedge above Serpico based on my experiences at each. But, again, I think you really can't go wrong.

Jun 03, 2014
ahab in Philadelphia

Fine Dining in or near Lancaster- Dinner Recs?

I understand what you're saying. And I think that the original poster and relatives could probably find something on the menu at any of the three -- Maison, Citronnelle or JJJ -- and be happy.. My favorite meal at Maison, though, was Porchetta Di Testa (rolled sliced pig's head) followed by a pasta with rabbit ragu. And I have plenty of friends and relatives who would never consider eating either. The small menu at Maison can get smaller pretty quickly when you have food aversions or aren't up to trying something new/different. Citronnelle has a similarly small menu, but may be a bit safer, especially if French is not too "ethnic". JJJ has a larger menu, though many dishes have Asian or Mexican slants. But my parents have eaten at JJJ and been happy and they are not adventurous eaters.

Apr 10, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

Fine Dining in or near Lancaster- Dinner Recs?

Maybe I'm getting too hung up on the words "typical American", but when I read that I think of a place like The Log Cabin (As it once was, at least. I haven't been there in decades.) where a baked potato is offered. And you wouldn't find a baked potato at Maison, Citronelle, or JJJ.

Apr 09, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

Fine Dining in or near Lancaster- Dinner Recs?

Wow. This is my list in the same order, except I have not been to Gibraltar. But I'm not sure I would call any typical American cuisine which is why I hesitated recommending them. All may have some good basic items on the menu but are at their best if you're adventurous

Apr 09, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

Lehigh Valley Eats

I'm rarely in that area, but I'll throw out a few ideas for others to comment on.

Aci Halal Meat & Turkish Restaurant (Allentown): Stopped in here for lunch once and had a kebab sandwich which was really, really good. Looking forward to going back for dinner.

Soumaya & Sons Bakery (Whitehall): Going to try to stop by here this weekend on my way through for takeout. Looks great from what I've read.

Taqueria El Carreton (Reading): Got some tacos here when I was killing time in Reading one day and they were great. The Beef Cheek and the Chroizo were my favorites. The other food I saw coming out looked interesting. Can't wait to try this place again.

Apr 08, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

good cheap eats and one good cheese steak

I'd prefer provolone on just about any other sandwich. But not on a cheesesteak. And it's not only a flavor thing, it's textural. The whiz mixed in with the steak and the onions pulls everything together. Provolone just hangs out on the side of the roll, reluctant to get involved.

As for the ingredients, it may not be cheese or food, but it is cheese food, and that's something.

good cheap eats and one good cheese steak

Jim's on South Street is the best I've had. But I've only ordered with whiz.

Also agree with previous posts recommending DiNics and Paesanos.

Apr 02, 2014
ahab in Philadelphia

good cheap eats and one good cheese steak

Why no whiz?

Apr 02, 2014
ahab in Philadelphia

Help fill in the blanks....Lancaster

I agree that the Fridge wouldn't be the best place for kids after a long day at DW. The original rec was for takeout. As an adult, after a long day at DW, I would welcome the chance to leave the rest of the family back at the hotel and make a trip downtown to pick up the pizza (and hope for a wait so I could enjoy a beer).

Mar 26, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

Help fill in the blanks....Lancaster

Great! The banh mi are pretty good, but on the smaller side. My wife and I usually split one and order some other things. You really can't go wrong with the basics here -- bun, soups, etc... But if you're in the mood for something different, we also like the following which are not on every Vietnamese menu (from their website):

CM 7. Xoi Ga Lap Xuong A steamed sweet sticky rice plate topped with stir-fried shredded chicken and yellow onions, Chinese pork sausage, green onions and fried shallots. Served with a special soy sauce on the side.

BC 1. Banh Uot Cha Chien Steamed flat rice noodles and fried Vietnamese pork bologna topped with bean sprouts, cucumbers, basil and fried shallots. Served with nuoc mam sauce on the side.

And by the way, this is the our kids' (age 4 and 6) favorite restaurant.

Mar 23, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

Help fill in the blanks....Lancaster

Never been to either bakery, so I don't know. Good luck and please report back on your trip!

Mar 23, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

Help fill in the blanks....Lancaster

Sounds like a good trip. The kids will have fun. Activities for the kids seem to be your focus, and with that you're going to be more limited with food options. (I can't think of much great in the way of food near Dutch Wonderland or the RR.) But I think you can still sneak in some good meals.

After a day at Dutch Wonderland I would need an adult beverage or two. The Fridge in Lancaster makes very good pizza (the best I've had in the area), and has a great selection of beer by the bottle to go. Looks like you can call ahead, get their pizza specials for the day and order to go. It's super thin pizza, so plan accordingly.

I think you'll enjoy Lititz, and Tomato Pie Cafe is a good lunch option. Lancaster to Lititz to Chocolate World to Lancaster is certainly doable, but the kids will probably be tired again, so if it were me I'd look for something on the casual side for dinner. JoBoy's in Manheim serves pretty good BBQ, is kid friendly and is not too far off the route on your way back.

As for your first night, if you're looking for something on the lighter side, I would recommend Rice & Noodles. Very good Vietnamese that looks like it would be on your way over to Dutch Wonderland. Get there on the earlier side (before 6:00) because it will get busy.

Mar 23, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

The General Sutter Inn - Lititz, PA

Wanted to make a note here for future reference... I just learned that the inn and pub just got a new executive chef at the end of 2013. Haven't been there myself, but met someone who works there and had great things to say.

Feb 14, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania
1

Chinese in Lancaster

Let's keep this thread alive! I'd love to find a good Chinese restaurant in the area.

Tried Mojo near Lititz recently with friends and came away unimpressed for a second time. A little bit of everything I tend to dislike about Chinese in the area -- a little too sweet, a little too saucy, no real depth. The textures and flavors that make great Chinese great just weren't there.

But I'm willing to push on. Has anyone had any experience with Hong Kong Garden or Yang's. They've been on my radar for a while, but would love any opinions before we take the plunge.

Feb 05, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

Aussie and the Fox - Lancaster

Thanks for the report! I've been really curious about this place. It's a shame when poor or slow service saps the enjoyment out of a meal. Definitely going to check it out and cross my fingers that we hit them at a good time with the service. That burger sounds interesting... Never order the turkey sandwich! It will always lead to disappointment.

Feb 05, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

Hunger n Thirst (Lancaster) - Nice Meal, Great Baguette

Had our first meal at Hunger n Thirst this weekend and overall we were impressed.

Arrived at around 7:30 and the room was full until we left. The beer selection was great and the food was definitely good enough to bring us back for another visit. The tuna tartare taco was the least popular item of the night. The filling was nice, but we felt that the flour tortilla didn't work with it. Too chewy and flavorless, awkward and distracting. My mussels were good and a side of fries was excellent. Really, really good fries. A couple of people at the table had the vegetarian meal and enjoyed it. A burger disappeared from another plate before I even had a chance to look it over. There are a bunch of items on the menu that looked interesting and my wife and I might have ordered the prix fixe (3 courses, $35) if we weren't there with a group.

Attached to the restaurant is a market and bottle shop, which were closed when we were there for dinner. But we were driving by the next day and stopped in. Couldn't resist taking a baguette home. Had no plan for it, but it looked too good to pass up. Wound up standing around the kitchen with my wife and kids devouring it mid-afternoon. Crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside and still slightly warm. Seriously the best bread I've had in a long, long time. Wow.

Will definitely be back over and over for that baguette and to try some of the meats and cheeses from the market. Glad to have this place in Lancaster.

Jan 26, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

Chinese in Lancaster

Looking forward to any suggestions. Since moving back to the area, we haven't explored the local Chinese out of fear/expectation of disappointment. Would love to learn of some good options. Worst case scenario you can take a short road trip to R&Z's Ping Pong in Wayne. We stop there on every trip to Trader Joe's.

Jan 24, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

New(ish) ethnic eats in Lancaster?

It wouldn't be mentioned on this specific thread because it doesn't fall into the "ethnic" category.

As far as being mentioned in other posts, my guess is that it just doesn't generate that much excitement. It's a beautiful place, but I found the menu and food to be a bit boring during my one visit. (Not bad I should say, just boring.) If I'm going out for a fairly expensive dinner in Lancaster (or anywhere) I want the possibility of being blown away. And that's much more likely to happen at a restaurant like Maison or a few others. I'd almost certainly receive more pleasure from a meal at any of the above "ethnic" restaurants than at Cork & Cap -- and at 1/3 the price, saving enough for the occasional splurge at Maison, Citronelle, etc. At least that's my pleasure maximization calculation! Everyone's is different.

Jan 21, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

New(ish) ethnic eats in Lancaster?

Thanks. Will definitely make another visit! The pork chop sounds great.

Jan 19, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

New(ish) ethnic eats in Lancaster?

What are your favorite dishes there? We were there once, but it didn't leave a lasting impression either way. Will definitely give it another try!

Jan 18, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

New(ish) ethnic eats in Lancaster?

We tried Le Viet Bistro tonight for the first time and were pretty impressed. Banh Mi was great. Absolutely perfect bread for the sandwich! Didn't love the noodles in my Bun Bo Hue (is this what your husband had?), but liked it overall. Kids loved the pho, and the spoonful of broth I had was good and brightly flavored. Other food coming out of the kitchen looked interesting, especially the crepes. Good to have an alternative to Rice and Noodles (which we love) and will definitely be back.

Jan 17, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

New(ish) ethnic eats in Lancaster?

Called earlier today, and they're still open.

Jan 17, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

New(ish) ethnic eats in Lancaster?

Ha! We've only been there for lunch, and never has there been more than one other table of diners. We figured they must do a killer dinner business. Looks like they're still around, but I wonder how they survive. I think they've started doing the rotisserie chicken only at night now, so we may have to go back for dinner and check it out. Shame they're not busier. Their food really is good.

Jan 16, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

New(ish) ethnic eats in Lancaster?

Hope they all live up to my recommendation. One more note: I don't believe that any of the above serve alcohol. So if that's important, you may want to confirm and BYO if allowed.

Jan 15, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania

New(ish) ethnic eats in Lancaster?

Should have warned in my post above that Khom's is primarily takeout. One or two small tables inside which are fine for a quick lunch, but not much more.

Jan 15, 2014
ahab in Pennsylvania