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Jun 4, 2006 11:14 PM

Smorgasborg in Lancaster County, PA

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Could someone recommend a good all-you-can-eat buffet-style smorgasborg in Lancaster County, PA? I found a list here
but I would like to know which ones are good and which ones I should avoid. Thanks.

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  1. f
    Fool for Food

    You are better off avoiding the smorgasbords, but if you must...Shady Maple is by far the most comprehensive and has some reasonably good food. Good and Plenty is also above average. Millers and Willow Valley are average but overpriced.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Fool for Food
      Main Line Tracey

      Shady Maple. Their selection is great (try the brown dried corn, it's wonderful) and they have a huge seating area. I have never had to wait too long, unless it is a weekend. ALERT! They are closed Sundays.

      1. re: Main Line Tracey
        Vladimir Estragon

        None of the buffet style restaurants in Lancaster are really worth writing home about. Shady Maple is the one that is usually singled out, but it's really not that pleasant an experience, most of the time. The place is absolutely enormous, with a buffet area about 200 feet long. There are dozens of different dishes, so there is always something for everyone. The food ranges from okay to pretty darn good.

        The place is always very crowded, though. The main dining room is gigantic, with a high ceiling, and no attempt is made to suppress the noise. It's row after row of closely packed tables, with nothing dividing them, and of course a constant flow of people moving to and from the buffet. There are smaller dining rooms along the side, which are a bit quieter, but they are quite far away from the food. The buffet area itself is a continuous mob scene, with kids always underfoot and a constant hustle and bustle that I find very discomforting.

        As with most buffets, they use all those subtle little money-saving strategies to prevent you from taking too much. Plates are small, drinks are serve-yourself in tiny little glasses, and there's no such thing as a tray to be found anywhere. I don't mind that so much, but the result is that I feel like I've spent far more time trekking between the buffet and my table and getting my food than I have eating it.

        I've spent a lot more time here talking about the atmosphere than the food, but that's because the atmosphere made a greater impression on me. I rather like the food at Shady Maple, but every time I've been there, I've come out annoyed and utterly exhausted. It's just not a relaxing meal experience for me. Your mileage may vary, of course. I don't like crowds in general and I'm not as mobile as I used to be.

        I find the Bird-In-Hand Family Restaurant or even Yoder's to be more my speed. The selection is nowhere near as big, but neither are the crowds, and the food is comparable in quality. Bird-in-Hand also has a separate kids buffet.

        1. re: Vladimir Estragon

          On a recommendation, I tried Dienner's Family Restaurant and it was actually surprisingly good!!!
          I hate to preface every Lancaster County restaurant review that I make with this statement, but Lancaster County is definitely NOT the place to visit for excellent dining.
          I have tried a few buffet style meals, including Shady Maple and Oregon Dairy. Dienner's was the best of the three. Very fresh food, great service, and not too bad PA Dutch food! (and trust me, I am not a fan of PA dutch food). It is Amish run, I believe, and the hours are very odd. They close at 6pm everyday except Friday, when they close at 8pm. Also, there are always waits to get in, so try eating during off peak hours.
          Just a recommendation!
          btw- its on 30, eastbound about 1 mile past the Rockvale outlets. Next to the big Windmill store.

          1. re: stacienrt

            We go to Lancaster 2-3 times a year mainly to shop. Food is kind of an afterthought mainly because most of the places are tourist traps. Dienner's is definately the best. Problems are that it is small and have odd hours and no Sundays like others have mentioned. No one has mentioned that the also are open for breakfast which to me I'd rather eat a good breakfast before walking it off the rest of the day. Breakfast is very good here. Behind Dienner's someone opend a BBQ joint. We tried to get in but it was really packed, Everyone coming out as we waited was raving about how good it was. Never got in so I don't know for sure.
            Othere recs are Shady Maple but it's huge. Here's a hint Go into the Shady Maple Supermarket, they have cafe and serve more or less the same food. It's not all you can eat but if you're looking just to get a quick bite it's good.
            I haven't been to Miller's in a long time but it gets too crowded for me and the last time I was there I thought the quality had gone down.
            Most recently (6months) we ate at Hershey Farm Restaurant, no not in Hershey, it's on the road to Strasburg can't remember name of the road but off US 30 by the Hess Station and that hotel that looks like a steamboat.. It was good, my boys raved about the fried chicken and everything I tasted was fresh and hot. Very pleasant service too.

            1. re: stacienrt

              Oh, thank you for mentioning the Oregon Dairy! I just went there after taking my little guy to Hands-On House - the Oregon Dairy was between HOH & the Turnpike.

              I really liked it for what it was. It was a diner-ish place, filled with senior citizens eating their dinners in the late afternoon. And there was a train that drove on a raised track through the restaurant. Needless to say, they are totally prepared for children.

              We skipped the buffet and ordered chicken pot pie and ice cream. Which was just right for a late lunch for a tired little kid and tired mama who misses Amish food.

              1. re: Mawrter

                We love OD. Not the most extravagant place. Buffet is reliable and good. Some Amish selections on the menu. But, good service, rarely a wait (even for a large party), noisy enough for the kids not to be disruptive, and fresh food.
                It's our go-to place for lunch.

      2. shady maple is good. you get what ya pay for. Check out their fried chicken, corn, chowder, but ugh we always eat tooooo much & feel gross. There is a great place we have not hit yet outside bird-in-hand that does a family style meal with sausage and fried chix. i forget the name, very stolfzfus - ish

        4 Replies
        1. re: keby

          I don't know, but for some reason I'd feel guilty about making any such recommendation. It's almost like giving someone advice on where to buy tainted fish. If you're looking for a nostaligic, glorified version of your school's eighth-grade lunchroom cafeteria food, look no further than Shady Maple.

          If you really feel the need to over-indulge on a variety of foods, find a decent Amish restaurant, pick a few apps and have everyone in your party each order a different entree. Ask your waitress to bring some empty plates and let everyone at the table dig in and share.

          1. re: ShootingShark

            Dude, or Dudess,
            Were do you propose this amish restaurant is located. I have live in lancaster a long time and no of no such place. I do agree that Shady Maple is no place to eat. Lots of stuff to eat but none of it particularly tasty or good

            1. re: lancastermike

              Here's what I said, "find a decent Amish restaurant, pick a few apps and have everyone in your party each order a different entree".

              You're telling me, in your opinion, there's not even one single decent Amish restaurant to be found in all of Lancaster?

              1. re: ShootingShark

                There is not even one Amish restaurant. There are lots of alleged Pa Dutch restaurants. Mostly operated by folks in the restaurant business who may or may not be Pa Dutch.