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Harrisburg Chowhound shoutout!

  • j

Anybody else out there?

What's your take on Harriburg's ever-evolving restaurant scene? Winners? Losers? What's in store for the future?

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  1. OK, I'll bite. The dining scene in Harrisburg has improved tremendously over the past 10 years. That said, most of the new places on 2nd Street are primarily bars that cater to 20-somethings and have so-so food, at best. The tops in town for grown ups are:

    Bella Mundo
    Mangia Qui (and the upstairs tapas bar, Suba)
    Bricco (a collaboration between the cooking school at the community college and the Hilton. The food's terrific and the wine list's large enough and reasonable, but the service is sometimes a bit slow).

    Max's has a loud bar scene late at night, but the food is pretty good and the pizzas are very good. Skewers, a Middle-Eastern BYOB, is charming and the food is very nicely spiced. Skewers also has the best samosas that I have ever had.

    1. I was just as Stock's on 2nd a couple of weeks ago and the food there was pretty good. The French Onion soup was tasty as was the Chicken/Shrimp over saffron linguini. The peanut butter pie for dessert there is very good, waiter told me the owner's mom makes it.
      I was also at Leeds and didn't care for it as well as the Appalachian Brewing CO downtown. Average food but pretty good beer and the service wasn't too swift at times.
      I've heard the Progress Grill is pretty good as well and not sure if I'll go there next time I'm in town.
      Any other ideas for an out of towner?

      1. I agree that the 2nd scene has gravitated more toward nightlife than dining, but I'm fine with that as long as other options remain. Perhaps I feel this way because I am a 20-something AND a foodie. I agree with all of profjmm's suggestions for the discrimiating palette; they are the tops in town.

        I also agree with aldadshsta's assessment of ABC: so-so food and beer. However, the atmosphere in their facility is great, and they are basically the only place in town regularly promoting live music. Upstairs, they've got an excellent selection of Belgain Beers if that's your thing.

        I've been impressed by Bayou, located on 2nd in Midtown a world away from the nightlife. They serve up unpretenious, tasty cajun and southern cooking. Their sunday brunch is fun as well.

        Thank the gods we've got Troegs as well. Troegs has really developed into a top-notch brewery, as attested by the numerous awards their brews have won. Troegs is everything that ABC is not; they focus on the beer and just the beer. With such a quality product, there isn't much else for them to worry about.

        1. We moved out here to the Harrisburg area almost 9 years ago from the Philly area. I remember before we moved asking a saleman who was from this area what the good italian restaurants were and he just shook his head and said there weren't any. I found his general assessment of the dining situation pretty accurate once we were out here. It has gotten much better since that time. When we go downtown we usually eat at Scott's. Always had a good meal there (their linguine with clam sauce is top notch, the wife just dies for their crab cakes) and they know how to make a good martini, which for me is always key with a good meal.

          Al Mediteranneo in Hummelstown, out off 322 on the way to Hershey is one of my favorites.

          Just went to Gabriella on Jonestown road just a couple of blocks off 83 for the first time last weekend (the couple we were going out with suggested it). Excellent pasta (though the martini's were not great).

          Joshk - thanks for the heads up on Bayou, have to try it next time we go dowtown. I love cajun but the only decent cajun I ever had in central PA is at Prudhomme's Lost Cajun Kitchen in Columbia, off route 30 between York and Lancaster, but it is such a hike to get down there I haven't made the trip in ages.

          Profjmm - thanks for the heads up on Bricco - I'll definitely put that on the culinary to do list also. I've been meaninig to try it but we just have not been getting out as much as we would like lately, what with kids and babysitting and all that.

          Does it bother any other Central Pennsylvanians when you read the annual Partiot-News reader polls every year and see places like Outback, Olive Garden and Red Lobster listed as top chioces? Makes me want to hang my head in shame that I live here when I see that.

          1 Reply
          1. re: clam sauce

            clam sauce--

            Oh yeah! It bothers me to no end when I see that!! It also blows my mind that there's frequently an hour wait at the Olive Garden on a friday night. (The only reason I know is because I have a relative who insists on giving me an Olive Garden gift card for Christmas every year)

            Scott's is very good, although I've only been there once for dinner. However, it is my favorite place in Harrisburg for happy hour.

            I admit that I do not get out to eat very often outside the downtown Harrisburg area, but that's because I live and work right in town. My favorite Italian is probably Sammy's right across from the Capitol.

            Who's got a good seafood restaurant recommendation?

          2. Thank you for the suggestions! I live between Harrisburg and Philly and usually am short on time when in town, so I frequently don't cruise around trying to discover where to eat.

            1. The H-burg resto scene has certainly improved in the last few years. Both Mangia Qui and Bricco have good menus which are really well executed. Both also have interesting and cheap wine lists, mostly Italian.

              Bella Mundo is also good, esp if you eat tapas at the bar.

              H-burg also has an exc taueria (surprise!), Tacos Mi Tierra on Perry St. Wonderful soft, fluffy tortillas where the filling is secondary, just as it is in the SW (get the barbacoa filling). Also Herbie's in nearby Steelton does a very good more traditional Tex-Mex.

              1. Do you have more specific directions to Tacos Mi Tierra? I'm very intrigued!

                2 Replies
                1. re: joshk

                  Yes, it's on Derry Street, east of downtown. Take 83 to the 13th street exit and make a right. It will be on the left hand side of the street.

                  1. re: profjmm

                    What I meant was take 13th Street to Derry and make a right on Derry.

                2. ahhh. DERRY st.

                  I was wondering where Perry St. was... ;)

                  1. It was closed (TMT) the last two times I was by there, but I will take not for the future!

                    1. for a good italian restaurant in altoona go to Lena's Cafe.
                      best italian food within a 100 mile radius

                      1. Pretty funny to see Derry street listed as a dining mecca. But I suppose it is. Tacos Mi terra has great Tortas and Cevice on Sunday. In the 1300 block of Derry there is a grocery store called the Union Market that has the best tacos but in order to eat there you actually have to walk through the kitchen. There is no menu and ordering is tough since nobody speaks english. Early in the week they have fresh Mexican pastries too.

                        Also in the 1300 block on Vernon there is an Ecudorian (sp) store that serve lunch when it's open. Damn good but no place to sit.

                        1. I'm also a transplant from Northern New Jersey (14 years ago) and I miss good Italian food. I agree that Manja Qui may be one of the best in the area. The Golden Sheaf in the Hilton was a pleasant surprise but very disappointed in the deserts. Couldn't anyone open a good deli with Pastrami and Corned beef sandwiches ?

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: pashibaboy

                            Sammy's across from the Capitol is a byob with good food.
                            I also recommend Sasha's Hideaway in Linglestown--off the beaten path.
                            Firehouse has good food too--and is worth a trip downtown.

                            I wish someone in this area would open a Greek restaurant.

                            1. re: steflink

                              A lot of Greeks own restaurants in Harrisburg, but none of the restaurants are billed as Greek. Theo's in Camp Hill has some good Greek items on the menu. And, for a once a year Greek food fix, you can always hit the Greek church fair in Camp Hill in May!

                              1. re: steflink

                                Sammy's must have gone downhill because we tried it on Friday night and it was INEDIBLE. Not just ok, but spit in your napkin terrible.

                                The stale bread was served with what appeared to be olive oil and balsamic but tasted like a bottled balsamic vinegarette that had not been shaken. Very watery, no flavor to the oil.

                                We ordered the special of fried oysters which were tiny little nuggets the size of garlic cloves which appeared to come from a frozen box. the plate was filled 20-25. I ate one and almost spit it out, it tasted very OFF. I ate another just to look like I was eating somethings.

                                The salad was mediocre but I could eat it. Nothing special but again we thought the cheese had a funny taste to it. We had some extra bread so we figured we wouldn't be too starving from missing out on the appetizer.

                                The entrees were both specials that were recommended by the waiter. Not sure if he was told to push or not. Doubtful since I asked his opinion between two dishes. Ended up with a crab fettucine with a light brandy sauce. The crab was shredded and possibly from a can with a very strong fishy taste and the sauce was very watery though creamy with NO flavor. I don't know where the brandy was or how even plain cream could have such little taste. It came with tomatoes whcih wer not listed in the decription. I ate the pasta and avoided the crab. I ate enough to look like I had eaten something and then pushed it around. My fiance got chicken and shrimp in a pesto sauce which was sort of brown and creamy. It tasted similar to the pasta we can get at the local pizza place for $12. Both were drenched in their sauces. I ate some of his, as it was the highight of the evening although still not "good". Each pasta dish was to the tune of 29.99 which seemed quite steep when we thought about where we would have eaten if we had not been walking by and always wanted to try Sammy's. A band was blocking the entrance to our favorite place when we stopped by there so we moved on.

                                I will never go back to Sammy's. Not sure if it has gone downhill or if this has always been the norm but, WOW.

                                1. re: melpy

                                  Worth reviving this zombie thread to save others from the same awful and expensive experience you had at Sammy's. I wish you have sent all bad food back or at least advised them that you expected an adjustment! Just a bad night or gone down hill they should be held responsible for this! Thanks for the shot across their bow!

                                  1. re: Bacchus101

                                    Seemed like this was the norm and I am not very confrontational. I will simply not be going back. Amazing what places manage to stay ok and other decent places close.

                            2. I love Bricco, and I can't get enough of their butcher shop, Olewine's, and their bakery, Ciao. Olewine's carries some great local raw milk cheeses, and I'm so glad they're supporting locally-produced foods. They also do their own pancetta and mozzarella, and I've had them smoke a few ducks for me in the past month or so. They're always up for special requests, and I love that. The Chocolate Decandance cake at Ciao is worth seeking out, and their breads are very good.

                              I really enjoy Zia's at Red Door on 2nd St. Getting a few appetizer plates and a glass of wine is a great way to spend an evening, and the place is so intimate.

                              I also like Sophia's Seafood Restaurant on Walnut. I've always found the flavors to be really vivid...simple Italian cooking but so well done.

                              I had a good lunch at Max's but haven't been there for dinner.

                              I had heard bad things about The Quarter on 2nd Street, especially their chicken sandwiches, but was there for lunch and had an outstanding oysters Rockefeller. I'm interested in trying the dinner menu.

                              A hidden gem for lunch across the river in Camp Hill is Sophia's on Market, tucked away on the side of a shopping plaza near ABC. I remember Sophia's stand at the Broad Street Market a few years ago and fell for her fresh-baked breads and great sandwiches, and she's got her own breakfast and lunch spot with a great, fresh atmosphere and those tasty sandwiches and homemade pastries.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: lee.

                                I forgot about Bricco---consistently delicious.

                                1. re: steflink

                                  I love the food there! Service can be a little spotty (one waitress in particular, all others great!).

                              2. I'll agree with the list for fine dining, but for quickie lunches, I love the pho diner in the Little Saigon grocery store. A big bowl of pho and a cup of Vietnamese coffee. The only downer is that everyone smokes. Another ethnic favorite is the Thai place on Paxton Street. The name eludes me, but it's a small joint in a converted house. The last time I was there I had squid with jalapeƱos and fresh basil in a coconut sauce that was mighty tasty. Sahara, across from the Windsor Plaza in Mechanicsburg is nice, too. The sesame cookies and sweet mint tea at the close of each meal is a nice finish.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: PaintedHandFarm

                                  Thai place on Paxton --> Bangkok 56! I LOVE that place. It may not be the best Thai in the area, but it's the best I've ever experienced. I hear the Thai place in Dillsburg is great, but haven't made it down there yet.

                                  1. re: Bluesbabe

                                    Just tried Bangkok 56 for the first time on Saturday night. There wasn't a wait but that might have been because of the weather. Most of the small restaurant was full. It is easy to miss from the road and you do have to turn off Paxton to get into the small parking lot.

                                    We were starving so we ordered quite a bit but I like Thai leftovers. I had the chicken Tom Yum which was very spicy, and I like spice. My husband had the seafood dumplings. He enjoyed them and they looked better than Bangkok Wok which is our usual place. We also had the Thai egg roll which was good. Then we had the beef Pad Kee Mao, which is another of my go to dishes. I wish the peppers were a little small and that it didn't contain baby corn. The flavor was good but I think I still like Pakha's the best for drunken noodles. We also had the shrimp pad thai, which is probably the best int he area. Not too sweet, just the right amount of spice, nice quality shrimp. I will definitely be going back to get a taste of that! Overall we probably won't drive all the way out to Paxton often for it because we have decent Thai closer, but definitely holds its own. Don't let the exterior deter you. It is much nicer inside. Service was helpful and fast, perhaps a little abrupt.

                                    1. re: melpy

                                      Ordered the pork salad appetizer this week in addition to a few repeats. Very nice!

                                2. I work nights and don't get out for meals nearly as much as I would like, but I think Harrisburg is a very underrated restaurant city. I really like the new Nonna's which just opened up a couple of blocks from me on Reily St. Great Italian sandwiches and pasta specials. I love going out for Sunday brunch at Passage to India and making the trek out to Dillsburg for Saturday night take-out from Pakha's. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would find authentic Thai in Dillsburg. My other favorite spots are Firehouse and Sammy's. I also love Gabriella's for old-school red sauce Italian. Give me a bagel shop in midtown and I'm golden!

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: xnumberoneson

                                    Having been born and raised in Harrisburg but gone for about 20 years, I check the board when I'm coming through. I had a happy childhood, ate at the Hill cafe on Market St., Castiglia's across from the museum, Harry's, and the Subway Cafe. However, no matter how long I have been gone, I have two serious complaints about my hometown, so I ask your forgiveness in advance. First, everyone says this to whoever has gone away, and someone wrote something like it up above. "It's not as bad as it was when you used to live here. It's getting better." This sort of inbred inferiority always frustrates and disappoints me. Second, newcomers arrive, complain, then justify the reality by saying that the restaurant scene has improved. So here is my harsh, critical review. It hasn't improved. Despite all the positives you have correctly mentioned, the kudos to those doing a good job, overall, when compared to nearly any other place, the food improvement here is less obvious than it seems elsewhere.

                                    1. re: taiga

                                      Sorry but it is improving. More places are opening on a regular basis. Confit French Bistro in Camp Hill is great (I've only been there once so far) Sidney in East Berlin and Sheppard Mansion in Hanover would make it anywhere. (I know they aren't in Harrisburg, but well worth the trip. I live in Northern Adams County and work in Harrisburg) When I first moved out here almost 15 years ago, places of this quality were not available. The only choice for dining back then where Accomac Inn and Hershey Hotel. Unfortunatley Accomac has gone down hill. For someone looking for Italian, try La Cucina in Hanover, nothing fancy, extremley reasonable and BYOB but good solid food. I do agree with Taiga that compared with other places, the food does need improvement. I think though it is the mindset of many people in the area. Seems they are more interested in the volume or price of food as opposed to the quality. I would be afraid to open a restaraunt in this area. In the Biglerville there is a bakery called Gettysburg Baking company. Great breads (French, Sour Dough, Semolina's) and pastry and soon pizza from his brick oven. But many people are looking for just doughnuts and soft white bread (sigh :^(

                                      1. re: pashibaboy

                                        I think these comments are right on and want to add this. Some of my friends -- I'd better not name them -- instead of volume or price being the selling point, consider parking to be the clincher! I think that says it all!

                                        1. re: pashibaboy

                                          Confit is definitely worth a visit--great food!

                                      2. re: xnumberoneson

                                        I've heard such good things about the new Nonna's. I work so close by that I am amazed I haven't tried it yet. I just keep forgetting!

                                        Also, I just posted above about the Thai place in Dillsburg before I read your post! I really need to get down there. It looks like such a dump...the first time I saw it I immediately dismissed it based on the exterior. haha...

                                        1. re: Bluesbabe

                                          I personally would avoid the pad thai but everything else I've had is great in Dillsburg. Favorites include the drunken noodles, satay, tom ka gai and summer rolls.

                                      3. In my opinion the Left Bank is one of the best restaurants in Central Pennsylvania. I know it is located in York, and yes the drive is a drag, however it is well worth the trip.

                                        Not once have I ever had bad service or a disappointing meal. Top notch in my book:

                                        The Left Bank
                                        120 N George St
                                        York, PA 17401
                                        (717) 843-8010

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: pfrancisco

                                          There's a lot of good dining around here these days. A LOT of it. You just might have to get outside the city borders to find it.

                                          Juliana's on Carlisle Pike is our favorite now. Great Italian.

                                          Theo's, as was mentioned before, has some great Greek dishes scattered through a pretty comprehensive menu. Great atmosphere, too. Right by Capital City Mall.

                                          A sleeper, down in Newberry Twp., is Bumper Bob's, a seafood/steak place about a mile off the Newberrytown exit. Humongous servings, always quality preparation.

                                          To drive a little further, I've always found a trip to the Gettysburg square to be worth it with The Pub. Great food.

                                          Piatto's in Carlisle. Sapporo East by Hampden Commons.

                                          You just have to cross the bridge once in a while, people. ;)

                                          1. re: jrshooter

                                            i agree with MOST of the above. I have relatives who own a bar/restaurant on 2nd st and tried to do good food-but it wasn't being received. They now focus on the nightlife/happy hour. Still serving "bar food" (burgers, wings,etc). I agree with the Sammy's recommendation. I have yet to make it to Bricco.

                                            But I mostly agree with the above post: CROSS THE BRIDGE! I have lived here (on the West Shore) all my life and am flummoxed by the psychological hold any of the Susquehanna River bridges have on people. We have GREAT stuff over here. Piatto is amazing, Sapporo East the BEST sushi around, Bangkok Wok is phenomenal Thai ( in strip mall by TJMaxx), Flinchy's has a great deck and fun food (their drinks are some of the best poured/mixed around, Sophia's on Market as well as Juice & Java have awesome lunches.

                                            The Sheppard Mansion is on my must do list for this year. Chef Andy Little has a great blog.

                                            OK-done ranting. maybe my morning joe will settle me. :)

                                            1. re: foodie_mama

                                              My new favorite sushi place is Okini, the sushi guy is from Fuji Do. Their other foods are a nice mix. Also in Carlisle, Issei Noodle is great !! Good food and very reasonable (not a big menu choice). I like Piatto, been there a couple of times but their menu was not varying too much so I really just got bored. Confit must have changed their chef, my last visit was "different" and I could tell the difference. Not a bad experience but I liked the way things were prepared more originally, Seemed a bit "heavier" with sauces :^(.... Anyone here interested in starting a Harrisburg Area foodie group ??

                                              1. re: foodie_mama

                                                There is a lot of history involving the shores and that river you speak of; much of it is painful for longtime residents, especially of the East Shore. The East Shore was always the province of a sort of multicultural salad bowl and the urban poor; the West Shore was not, though there were the rural poor, especially in Perry County. Pockets of both shores were pockets of monoculture, like 6th Street uptown, the Hill, Camp Hill, etc. Strangers were not easily embraced. It has changed a lot, but the divisions are still remembered by lots. I could expand, but this is a food page.

                                                The food "advances" if you can call them that, have been erratic to say the least. Way back in the day, Harrisburg proper had several great old school spots -- Harry's Tavern, Castiglia's, The Hill Cafe, and Subway Cafe, which still exists in a sort of incarnation. The Paxtang Grill is another throwback out on Derry Street. The West Shore had virtually nothing, but Rillo's ruled for a while with great food. These days, it's really hit or miss in Central PA, and anyone who ever spends time in bigger cities knows this.

                                          2. I'm still struggling after moving here from Baltimore. If you want chow-chow (whew, that stuff scares me, scrapple and chicken pot pie this is your place! - I actually love chicken pot pie!)

                                            Have not found good Italian here but will drive to Lebanon to Fratelli's........great food. We are going to Sheppard Mansion later in the month so I am looking forward to that. I second Foodie Mama's thoughts on Chef Andy's blog - I love his most recent slam on Rachel Ray! (Also, I think what you said about driving over that Susquehanna River is hysterical. Someone said to me yesterday.....no lie....we have "our shore" and you have "your shore" - I live in Camp Hill and am still waiting for the Loch Ness to come up and get me on my drive into Harrisburg). I must say, I am a thai food junkie and I was not flipped over Bangkok Wok - I thought Thai Palace in Camp Hill was better. Maybe it was an off night. Loved Bricco - one of the best steaks I've had was there. Mangia Qui has always delivered a great meal, and Char's Bella Mundo is fabulous. I have not been the the Firehouse but have heard from others it is worth a stop. Confit makes me happy one week, and sad the next - inconsistent food and some of the consistently slowest service I've had. We keep going back though and when it is good, it is worth it! I enjoy reading everyones comments - gives me some recommendations I can trust while I navigate the wonderful culinary creations of central pa!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: federalhilldogs

                                              I hear you on the Italian food in the area. I'm from norther NJ and grew up in an italian neighborhood so I'm not so happy when going out but I learned how to cook most dishes (my wife is italian also). While in Hanover, try La Cucina, their Zuppa Di Pesce is great and consistant. Its a BYOB. Their menu is here http://www.lacucinaitalian.com/menus/... Can't say I like their breads, pizza or deserts though, just their entrees (Hint, go on weekends when the owner is sure to be there and watching the staff for better food and service)

                                            2. Harrisburg has come a long way in just a short time but it seems now that things are becoming a little stagnant. It would appear that certain things have been found to work and are popular but they are just circulating and being slightly changed. I am always in search of something new and exciting but it is becoming harder and harder in this town. Chains are becoming more and more abundant and that is just making the situation more and more difficult. Cuisines are becoming stereotyped and cookie cutter formulas. To create a dish and can be called "Japanese" it must contain ginger, wasabi (which no one in Harrisburg serves, its all dried horseradish with green food coloring), soy sauce, sesame and on and on. Many people profess to love Japanese food but few know what Dashi is; even though it is to Japanese as basic chicken stock is to French. Many have been to Indian resturants but few know that curry is "The" blend of spices not "A" blend of spices.
                                              But I would say winners-
                                              Mangia Qui and Suba.- You can tell that their hearts are in the place
                                              Stock's on Second- a corner stone and age old standard. It's obvious why
                                              Zia's at the red door- Always a wild card. Good Italian Cooking but the features are always changing and pushing fusion boundaries... sometimes too far.
                                              Bayou- When Chef Black was there it was better but still good... at times

                                              Losers-
                                              Spice- Food is rather dull and unflavorful
                                              Carly's- Not living up to the hype
                                              Cafe Fresco- Enough with the routine. Fusion cooking is not as rigid as you make it seem
                                              Max's or Carmella's or what ever you call it now- three different things in the same space in under two years... think you missed your calling.

                                              1. Wow, am I ever glad I found this site. I just moved here 2 months ago and have been, um, at a loss for good food, especially ethnic. Has anyone tried Nonna's in New Cumberland, right next to the cool old movie theatre? What's the best Indian on the West Shore or in Hburg? Thanks for any ideas.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: KimbaLion

                                                  Best Indian restaurant is probably Passage to India on Front St in Harrisburg. If you want something a bit cheaper, I would recommend Bombay Junction on the Carlisle Pike in Mechanicsburg, which is more of a take-out restaurant that specializes in South Indian food.

                                                  1. re: CjH

                                                    Best Indian food on either East Shore or West Shore is Bombay Junction located at Shoppes of Silver Spring on the Carlisle Pike. Let me start off by stating that I am Indian so my review is based on the authentic indian taste profile. Passage is good and has it's place but when it comes to authentic Indian food Bombay Junction is on par to any place I have eaten from New York, LA, London or in Mumbai itself.

                                                    Do yourself a favour and try their weekend buffet. They have indo-chinese, south indian, north indian and places in between on the buffet. I sometimes choose not to go back home on the weekends just so I can eat at the buffet. My work ordered food late one night and I thought it would be the typical type of food being passed off as Indian food by all the other places. To my amazement this food was awesome. The biryani was actually cooked Dum style with the chicken in rice. It was amazing. Needless to say I am a big fan. Do yourself a favour and go try what indian authentic indian food should tatse like. I promise your taste buds will love you...

                                                    1. re: jaypatel

                                                      There seems to be no end to the controversy over which Indian restaurant in the Harrisburg area is the best. Some people around here say it is Aangan. I've enjoyed dinner there, although its lunch buffet isn't as good as it once was. Passage to India is reliable and probably has the best ambience, as they recently redecorated. I haven't been to Bombay Junction yet, but your enthusiastic recommendation puts it on my "must try" list!

                                                      1. re: cheesemaestro

                                                        I tried Bombay Junction and it's sauces are as good as Aangan had been before some of the recipes changed slightly. Haven't tried on yet but the owner was really pushing us to get a dosa.

                                                      2. re: jaypatel

                                                        Thanks jaypatel for the recommendation I'll put that on my list. I have leftover Palak Paneer in the frig, looking to build a meal around it. There is a new Indian restaurant in Harrisburg, the Taj Palace Indian Cuisine quite a large menu. I haven't tried it yet.

                                                        -----
                                                        Taj Palace Indian Cuisine
                                                        405 Walnut St Ste Frnt, Harrisburg, PA 17101

                                                        1. re: kpaumer

                                                          Taj Palace is pretty good. Very spicy (as in hot!) when requested. I have had butter chicken, chicken tikka and they had Keema Samosa but I haven't seen them on the menu as of late. On par with all the other big H-burg contenders. Small though with no parking lot. I wouldn't call it new, I used to go there a couple years ago.

                                                          -----
                                                          Taj Palace Indian Cuisine
                                                          405 Walnut St Ste Frnt, Harrisburg, PA 17101

                                                  2. I moved to south-central PA about 40 miles outside Harrisburg in 1993 after having lived in Mpls/St. Paul, Ohio, and Missouri (and my dad's from Philly), and I've travelled a lot and love dining out, yet I'm still amazed at how uniformly bad the dining scene is in this area. Once in a while a good restaurant comes around, but usually within a year it either folds or severely dumbs down its menu. Sports bars and "home cooking" joints abound--you can get fistfuls of fries everywhere--but seriously good food? You'll need to drive a couple hours to Philly, DC, or Baltimore. The best restaurant ever in this region was the Empire in Carlisle--but it closed. It had some problems (mostly in terms of service), but the food was stellar, the chef was a CIA-grad, and the setting was lovely. The one place that remains almost as good as when it opened is Bricco. It used ot have a great wine-pricing policy (only $10 over cost), but now it seems to charge 150-300% markup, which brings it way down in my book. Still, the food there is on a par with the kind of dining out experience you find in any major city. Once in a while a place like Char's Bella Mundo or Mangia Qui comes close--but mostly no cigar--both of these places are way overpriced, and their approach to food is outdated and bland. The Spanish tapas place, Suba, is way better than Mangia Qui. Cafe Sol (across from Bricco) is probably the best Mexican in the area. The El Rodeo chain that you'll find everywhere is OK, but iffy. Some around here might not agree with me, but Passage to India has always served consistently good Indian food--have not been to Bombay Junction, but look forward to it. Don't know why everyone likes the Firehouse--big and loud, serving huge plates of overstuffed bar food. When this thread started in 2006, the 2nd St. revivial promised great things--but now 2nd St. is mostly a string of flashy bars catering to young office workers looking to hook up but most likely puking on their ties in the alleys. It's depressing. A couple of the new restaurants in 2006 tried to offer fine dining, but the Hbg crowds wanted big screen TVs, giant cosmos, and cheap beers. As many in this thread have noted there are some very good places in out of the way places on both West and East Shores--but while the food is decent, the settings tend to be drab, hard to find, and BYOB (because of PA's antediluvian liquor laws). Bangkok Wok is OK--probably the best Thai you can find in the area--but it's pretty lame in comparison to Thai places in other metros. There's a new Indian place in Chambersburg (on Wayne Ave.) that's pretty decent. Bistro 71 in Chambersburg has an excellent chef, but the owners are utterly clueless about wine. The menu's overpriced, but the food has always been expertly prepared with excellent ingredients--I had one of the best tuna tartare dishes I've ever had there, and their osso bucco special could go toe-to-toe with any big city joint. Cafe Bruges in Carlisle has some excellent food (beef carbonnade) and their beer menu is fabulous--but service is spotty and the steak frites, which is one of their big draws, is barely average. Other than that, I either have to settle for bar food (in various guises--Stock's is just gussied up pub grub really), drive a long way, or cook my own meals (which is usually the best option).

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                                                    Char's Bella Mundo
                                                    540 Race St, Harrisburg, PA 17104

                                                    Mangia Qui
                                                    268 North St, Harrisburg, PA 17101

                                                    Cafe Bruges
                                                    16 N Pitt St, Carlisle, PA 17013

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: mwb126

                                                      Unfortunately -- I think mwb is right on target.

                                                    2. Has anyone been to Mounthill Tavern?

                                                      1. Has anyone been to El Sol Express, opened by Cap City Mall? A fantastic alternative to heading to the flag ship or "settling" for one of the microwave plate joints.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: tolkiennut

                                                          I need to put that on my list to try. For a pretty good Indian BYOB in that same area, you should try Masala Bistro. We've always enjoyed their weekend lunch buffet.

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                                                          Masala Bistro
                                                          3401 Hartzdale Dr Ste 120, Camp Hill, PA 17011