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Lancaster, PA

A friend of mine is coming to visit a past girlfriend in Lancaster, PA. He would like me to join the dinner, and asks me to see what the best is that Lancaster (and area) have to offer. I am turning to this board for advice. I don't think we want to go as far as Harrisburg or even Reading, but I leave it to your judgment if you think there are places that are really worth the trip.

One more constraint. Dinner will be next Monday. Places that you know are closed on Monday will not be useful to us (although I would still like to hear about them just for my own curiosity).

No limits on the kind of cuisine. BYO OK. No particular limit on cost, although we are not looking to be very extravagant.

Thanks in advance.


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  1. There are two places in Lancaster that I can recommend highly. Both are open on Monday. The first is Gibraltar -- fine dining, great seafood, great service and the pricier of these two restaurants. Gibraltar is right in town, adjacent to Franklin & Marshall College. http://www.kearesrestaurants.com/gibr...

    The other is a place I go to quite often. It's the Olive & Jasmine Asian Bistro, in the heart of the outlet district http://www.asianbistropa.com. If you like beautifully prepared, fresh sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese or Malaysian food, the Asian Bistro won't disappoint you. They are VERY accommodating there -- if there's something you'd like that's not on the menu, they'll be happy to prepare it for you. And you can always ask for their "sushi special" which is the chef's choice based on what's particularly good that day. That's not mentioned anywhere on the menu, but you can ask for it. The Asian Bistro is a "white tablecloth" restaurant where the prices are VERY reasonable, and, always a plus in my book, it's BYO. Just know that there are no wine stores anywhere near the restaurant.

    1. If you do a search on these boards, you'll find lots of similar threads w/ good ideas. My votes would be El Serrano's (Peruvian / Mexican food) or Fiorentino's (two locations; both good, but the airport location is a little more spacious). Not sure of their Monday schedules... Also, I've been to Olive & Jasmine -- it's much, much better than any of the surrounding chain choices. Have never been to Gibraltar -- I'm a vegetarian, so there's not much point for me -- but many of my friends in that area are big fans.

      1 Reply
      1. re: spyturtle008

        Another suggestion is the upstairs portion of El Serrano, a brand-new tapas bar that they're calling Culturas. We went this past weekend and were very happy with it.

      2. Across from the Rockville outlets there is the Lemongrass, I believe it's BYOB, but delish! Try the chu chee duck it's awsome. http://www.thailemongrass.com/
        Open daily: Lunch: 11:30 am to 3:00 pm Tuesday-Sunday
        Dinner: 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm (10:00 pm Friday & Saturday)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Whitethorn

          Thanks, all. I will confer with my friends and report back next week.


        2. I'll throw out Doneckers as place for you to consider. It's located in Ephrata, PA. Depending on where you're coming from in Lancaster, it may be closer than it sounds. Doneckers was more or less put on the culinary map when a former chef who trained at Le Bec Fin took it over back in the late 90's, I believe. The food is fantastic and place just puts you at ease. It's sometimes difficult to find that blend of a relaxed environment and fine food dining. Their website is: http://www.doneckers.com/restaurant/r...

          1 Reply
          1. re: ShootingShark

            Just an FYI, There are rumors flying that Donnecker's is closing. Right now, they are not taking reservations after June 30th.

          2. I second the Gibraltar's rec... its delicious . The fish is always fresh. Stuffy service sometimes.

            I am thrilled to see there is a good place for sushi in the area! (Olive and Jasmine Bistro)... maybe we'll give it a try soon!

            3 Replies
            1. re: stacienrt

              I've eaten at Olive & Jasmine's twice. It's a lovely, peaceful room, with good service. Both times, we had basic things like pad thai and noodle soup. The first visit was pretty good. The second, a few months later, was not so good. The food seemed greasier, the ingredients not so fresh. Both times, on weekdays, the place was virtually empty. The second time we ate there, the owner, practically sweating beads of desperation, pressed coupons on us and begged us to come back and bring our friends.

              I am not a sushi eater, but if I was, I'd be wary of eating raw fish in places that are not too busy.

              1. re: Vladimir Estragon

                Reporting back as promised folks. My friend was feeling generous, so we went to Gibraltar's. Professional atmosphere, nice service. I suspect Monday was a day off for the head chef, but we still had a good time.

                On the way out, we dropped in at a restaurant on Lititz Pike called Pho something (my friend's girlfriend's daughter was there having dinner with her grandparents) and I was impressed by the menu and by how popular the place was (did not eat anything, I had just had dinner).

                Thanks again to all for your kind advice.


                1. re: Vladimir Estragon

                  vladimir, i have to ask-- did you come up with your name on your own from the play, or were you inspired by the Village Voice's food writer back in the day?

              2. You must try Quips (maybe spelled Qwips) but it is one of the best kept secrets in the Lancaster area - well, I think it is technically Lititz!! Great bar atmosphere and the crabcakes are to die for - real lump crabcakes and the have tons of microbrews on tap and great specials every night of the week. Tons of great entrees (kitterbell's chicken is divine), fabulous salads, good food all the way around. Seems like a hole in the wall place, but the menu more than makes up for the dark english pub and makes for a great evening!! My sister lives in the area and it solidly is one of the better places to eat.

                2 Replies
                1. re: awelt

                  Quips is no were near Lititz, it is on New Holland Ave in the east end of Lancaster. Frankly, this review is a little overblown. It is a very nice bar with good selection of beer.

                  1. re: lancastermike

                    The food at Quips is pretty solid. Their burgers are always spot on, and I really enjoy their salads and dinner specials. It's also one of my favorite places because they usually have Fuller's ESB (or sometimes London Pride) on tap, in addition to many other English and Irish imports and a few microbrews.