Good Eats close to the PA Turnpike, between Pittsburgh and Lancaster
I've traveling this route twice a month for the past two year. For the last six month or so I've been consistently going to Passage to India and Herby's Mexican in Harrisburg. They're both excellent but I've worked through the menus of both places pretty well and I'm ready for something new. I'll drive up to a half hour or so off of the turnpike and it doesn't matter which exit I get off at. I can use both lunch and dinner time suggestions as I never leave for Lancaster at the same time on any of my trips out. I'll be a solo diner just dressed in jeans and a T shirt. I'd like to keep it under $30, without alcohol. I like all kinds of food. I'll take anything from roadside BBQ to something somewhat upscale like Passage to India. It was from this board that I found both Passage to India and Herby's, so I'm hoping to find some more great places.
Thanks for the help!
Man, that is a stretch of road with some pretty poor dining options. I have driven it hundreds of times.
My usual stop is Ed's Steak House in Bedford. Nothing fancy at all. really just a step above diner food, but they do have a decent steak and it won't break your wallet.
Who else remembers when the PA turnpike was the HOJO highway? hooo that was some bad bad stuff.
It would be worth your while to check out Pakha's Thai House, right on Rt. 15 in Dillsburg, left side of the road. Might be 10 or 15 minutes off the Gettysburg Exit. Insanely tasty food, with great fish specials.
There's a nice Italian place called Tuscano in the new TecPort Business Complex near the Harrisburg Mall off I-83. Just take the Harrisburg East exit, I think. The dinner menu has some nice, not too ordinary items, though the lunch is quite enjoyable, too. http://www.tuscanotrattoria.com/index1.html
And there's also a couple of other restaurants in that same complex that are enjoyable, like Hollee's Cafe and Creamery. A new Mexican place just opened there, too. Great atmosphere, though the food is average. Herby's is better.
Pesce, on Eisenhower Blvd off the Harrisburg East exit, is very good for seafood and intriguing dishes. It's in a crummy little strip mall beside a Chinese buffet, but don't be deceived by the outside.
Here is my take on this, having driven this stretch too many times but not in the past seven months.
New Stanton -- La Tavola -- worth getting off the Turnpike to eat here.
Donegal -- Rowdybuck -- good burger and beer place. Eat in the bar upstairs as the downstairs is like a cave.
Bedford -- The Arena in the Quality Inn was decent at dinner. At Ed's, my NY steak was good but my wife's filet was definitely not. There was a nice restaurant downtown but the name escapes me. It is in a historical building. The Jean Bonnet Tavern west of the Bedford exit was pretty good, too.
That is the best I can do. Hopefully, all are still in business. From what you and one of the others say, it sounds like Harrisburg is the place to stop (but surely there is a good restaurant in Carlisle, too).
Some other turnpike ideas
Bedford: Jean Bonnet Tavern which is about 10 min or so east on Rt 30- Good for lunch
Donegal: Leslys is really good but you may feel out of place in jeans and a t shirt and is on the higher end of your price range. Also near Donegal is Tee Pee Tim's BBQ just south on 711. I haven't eaten at this location but he also had one in New Stanton and the BBQ was tasty and it was an actual Tee Pee as well. Rowdybuck is now closed and I can't recommend the concept in the building, Flying Bear's Dinner Den. I'd also stay away from Brady's in Acme, just west of Donegal on 31.
Carlisle: Little John's Family Restaurant is pleasantly surprising.
Check out Fisaga in Harrisburg. I think it's at 2nd & Market. It's not that much further north into town than Passage to India. Good food, reasonable prices, good selection. Dining solo, depending what you eat, you could eat for less than $20 with tip. If you go on a weekend night, you may need to wait a while for a table.
That area of 2nd street is known as Restaurant Row now. There's a good selection of chow in that part of town.