Whoopie Pies in/near Lancaster, PA?
Ok, so first the Whoopie pie question: I love the Whoopie pies from Bird-in Hand Bakery. I like the pumpkin and red velvet kinds the best. They have several locations including Root's market, which is a trip in itself. Also, if you go to Central Market downtown (Tues., Fri. or Sat.) there are a bunch of places that sell whoopie pies, all great. And, you just may get to meet the person who baked them! ;) Whoopie pies are sometimes called "Gobs," but that is usually only in the central to western parts of the state. However be aware: Whoopie pies and Moon pies ARE NOT the same thing. Whoopie pies are made of giant puffed cookies with a frosting filling. Moon pies are made from graham type cookies and then filled with marshmellow and covered with a variety of coatings (chocolate, bananna, vanilla etc). If you ask for a moon pie in Lancaster, you will be sent to the grocery store cookie aisle for the premade ones.
As for the where to eat question, that might need to be a different post. What type of food do you want? What area will you be in? How do you feel about going downtown? Do you want a deck? etc.
We just came back from there and I would definitely second the above recommendation to go to the Bird-In-Hand Bakery. That was the first time I had a whoppie pie which was delicious along with their shoo fly pie. I loved that they had samples to taste of a lot of the items they sell right there in the bakery. They had a lemon chiffon cake that was soooo good. Anyway, you will not be disappointed there.
Here is a link to their bakery website and I just noticed that they have several bakery locations so maybe one might be closer to where you will be. We stopped at the first one listed (I think, but, it could be the second one listed - they are right on the same road)which is the one in the picture they show.
For a non-chain restuarant I would highly recommend the Paul Revere Tavern. It is in Paradise. Their food is great and it has a lot of history to it.
As a native to south central PA, I can tell you that Whoopie Pies and Gobs are the same creature. When they only came in chocolate w/white cream, everyone made the cooked filling, but it seems that as different flavors came about, like pumpkin, cooks started using frostings like cream cheese that are better suited to the new flavors. And while they are good, I still LOVE the original chocolate with white cream filling. My mom used to make a double batch and freeze the extras, but us kids would just snatch them from the freezer and eat them frozen, great on a hot summer day!!
Don't have any input on the Whoopie Pies, but as for a place to eat that's not a chain in Lancaster, well, that's a tall order in that neck of the woods! It's always a battle to get away from the chains when dining with the in=laws, so I'm always thrilled when we can plant either of the following two suggestions.
El Serrano, 2151 Columbia Ave., Peruvian / Mexican
Fiorentino's, 1411 Columbia Ave. (there's also one at the airport, I think), Italian
Both are on the nicer side but not what I'd call fine-dining. If you're looking for something more casual, a good lunch / sandwich shop, I like Isaac's (although it's a local chain). There's three or four in the Lancaster area, so you're never all that far from one.
By a deck, I meant were you looking for outdoor dining. I agree with the above recs for El Serrano and Fiorentino's. Gibralter on Harrisburg Pike is nice, too. Annie Baily's on King Street downtown is an Irish pub with good food and a small outdoor deck. I like Isaac's, too. It's pretty funky inside. If you have time, go to one of the area's farmers markets for a walking/browsing/munching meal: Central market in downtown (Tues., Fri or Sat), Root's market just past East Petersburg on 72 (Tues.), or Green Dragon in Ephrata on 272 (Fri.) Plus, these meals are usually pretty cheap. Have a good time while you're here!