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Dining in Lancaster

We are heading to Lancaster for the 4th. We would like a mix of good dining options - some Amish, some local, and some adult oriented fine dining. Any suggestions?

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  1. I was born and raised there, and go back for regular visits. I can't say much about fine dining, but when I return I seek out the Pa. Dutch good grub places. Leola Diner has become a mainstay, as is the restaurant at the Oregon Dairy. Groff's Farm Restaurant in Mt. Joy is still pretty good -- Betty Groff has a bit of a national reputation.

    Over by Franklin and Marshall College is a restaurnat called Gibraltar, which is the favorite of my foodie friends for reasonably nice dining.

    1. I have been living in Lancaster for quite some time now and have found some wonderful dining options. There are a number of all-you-can-eat restaurants with family style seating, (mostly tourist-oriented) which offer up solid, well-cooked, country food with Pennsylvania German specialties - not bad if you like that kind of thing. These places are easy to find along Routes 30 and 340 east of the city, try Miller's, Good and Plenty, Plain and Fancy, or Stoltzfus's (which is a little smaller and off the main strip of 340 between Intercourse and Gordonville. Diners and family restaurants will also offer up typical local fare, such as ham loaf, chicken pot pie, scrapple (for breakfast), shoofly pie, and lemon sponge pie. Shady Maple Smorgasboard in East Earl is just as popular with the locals as with tourists and has a huge, newer restaurant.

      For ethnic food, try Asian Bistro on Route 30 in the commercialized shopping/hotel strip of Lancaster. It is one of the few non-chain restaurants in this busy area. The Asian Bistro sits behind the Appleby's and it is just wonderful with a mix of Thai, Japanese, and Malaysian food. A true oasis of calm with gracious service, lovely dining room (white table cloths!) and beautifully prepared food...and at very reasonable prices! The Thai Green Curry is to die for, and all of their noodle dishes are excellent. They also serve sushi and vegetarian dishes. We eat there at least once a month and have never been disappointed.

      For more upscale dining, the Log Cabin is located in an out of the way location; though the mailing address says Leola your best bet is to call them and then follow the signs as you are led through a charming, wooded residential area. The Log Cabin offers classic cuisine in a series of lovely dining rooms - my favorite meal is the salmon, though my husband swears by their steaks. Carr's in downtown Lancaster offers fresh new ideas with fresh ingredients; it is located off the famous Central Market area. Other good choices are The Belvedere (downtown) and Josephine's in the charming Victorian town of Marietta.

      For dressy casual try: El Serrano for Peruvian and South American food (on Rt 462, west end of Lancaster); The Symposium (on Centerville Road and 462, also on the west end of Lancaster) for Mediterranean offerings, though the musical acts on some nights can be loud; the former Netherlands Inn (I think it's been renamed Historic Strasburg Inn) in Strasburg for a definite European bistro flare.

      So many restaurants...so little time, so few notches left on my belt!

      13 Replies
      1. re: darcia

        I can totally second Josephines. Anytime we have an excuse to stay in Lancaster we take it just to go to Josephines. Doneckers is good but Josephines is a favorite.

        1. re: elayne5

          Doneckers Restaurant and the entire Doneckers complex will be closing.

          1. re: Marilyn

            Is there a way to find out where the pastry chef went? I wanted to order a wedding cake from Doneckers for my anniversary but the restuarant advised they don't have a pastry chef anymore (since they're closing in June). They didn't provide additional information

            1. re: sdhutch

              sdhutch.....I'll see if I can get some info about the pastry chef..

              1. re: Marilyn

                thanks - I appreciate the help!

                1. re: sdhutch

                  sdhitch.....the pastry chef is Andy and should be there until
                  the end of June. Doneckers is not taking any reservations after June 30th.

        2. re: darcia

          Seconding El Serrano -- also along those lines, I'm a fan of Fiorentino's (Italian, two locations; the one near the airport is larger / less crowded).

          1. re: darcia

            Not a fan of Log Cabin-- feel it is basic meat n potato meal. You are paying for a nice quiet wooded upscale atmosphere, not amazing food.

            My favorite upscale meal since moving here 6 years ago was Tony's Mining Company in Cornwall, PA (just over the Lebanon County border).

            Third El Serrano-- my BIL is Peruvian and even his parents who now live Miami and regularly eat at amazing restaurants, love it.

            1. re: darcia

              Am not a fan of Plain & Fancy. Went there several months ago & did the family-style dinner. Very small servings were brought out initially; for example, a small dish of chow chow for an entire table of 10. Had to ask continually for refills. Annoying.

              Also went to Shady Maple for the first time. Ya gotta do it at least once in your life. Be prepared to deal with a ton of Senior Citzens, some with walkers or motorized scooters, and a lot of "gaper delay" while people shuffle along and gape at the vast buffet. Not haute cuisine, but it IS an experience.

              Keep in mind that many places employ the Amish or Mennonite, so they are closed on the sabbath (Sunday).

              The Asian Bisto was very good. Also the family diner right across from Dutch Wonderland serves a very nice breakfast.

              Have you though of trying the Strasburg Rail Road? They offer wine and cheese train rides. http://www.strasburgrailroad.com/wine...

              1. re: PattiCakes

                Man , either I'm too picky or it was a off night , but I wasn't that impressed by the Asian Bistro the time I went . Had the shrimp w. pine nuts & it was very bland & flavorless . Have never been to Gilbraltar's , but have heard nothing but good things about it . For Asian I'd choose either Rice & Noodles ( Vietnamese ) or Grand China . For Dutchy food , I'd be on the look out for any of the local fire companies having dinners . You could do a lot worse . Just check out any of the Lancaster county web sites for events in the area , there's bound to be something along those lines happening .

                1. re: PattiCakes

                  We serve small portions to start because we were experiencing a lot of waste and we had to make the hard decision to cut back on our serving size. Since we are an "all you can eat" property, our thought is that instead of throwing out tons of food each year, we'd be better off serving just what the guest wants. Also, the cost of food is hitting our industry very hard so when you see pounds of it thrown out, you want to keep the cost down. Otherwise, we'd be forced to raise prices to compensate for the waste.

                  1. re: jgroff2506

                    Are you speaking on behalf of Plain and Fancy? If so, there is a difference between "small portions" and miniscule. The bowls of chow-chow and apple better (to give a few examples) that were brought for a table of 10, were the size of a small berry bowl. I can understand the need to avoid waste, but the impression I got from the size of the serving AND from the servers was that they really didn't want to give you more -- kind of negated the "all you can eat" premise. It just became such an ordeal to order more that we stopped doing so -- even though we really did want more. I guess that was "mission accomplished" as far as the restaurant went.

                2. re: darcia

                  It was announced this weekend that log Cabin will be closing next week.

                3. Here's another nod for Gibraltar and also for the Asian Bistro. I have dinner at Asian Bistro, which is BYO, at least 3 times a month and always enjoy it. If you do go, ask for the owner, Swee (I don't know how to spell his name, but that's how it's pronounced), and tell him you got the dining recommendation from Chowhound. He's always interested in knowing how people find out about his restaurant. Also, I think there's a coupon on the restaurant's website.

                  1. This past weekend, we had a lovely dinner at the Old Greenfield Inn, near Isaac's on Greenfield Rd. in Lancaster. We were 10 adults and everyone enjoyed their meals. Lovely scallops and crab cakes in particular. Not overly pricey but not cheap either. I'd recommend it.

                    1. my recommendations are as follows-
                      for casual dining- waffle house,perkins or cracker barrel.i especially like cracker barrel's chicken fried steak. there is a sonic drive in across from tanger. i thought their food was better than mcdonalds or burger king,but you either sit at an outdoor table,eat in your car,or take it home.
                      lunch or dinner ( amish)-bird in hand family restaurant or millers smorgasboard.
                      adult oriented fine dining- asian bistro on route 30 and the belvidere inn in downtown lancaster.

                      another fun place is the texas roadhouse bbq in the same "restaurant park " as asian bistro.i like my steak,and the longhorn steakhouse in the park city mall gets the nod-its not in the tourist area.

                      lastly, refer to my review of "whole latte beans" cafe in ronks at route 30 and north ronks road. serving breakfast,lunch,and dinner its good food at very reasonable prices.

                      hope this helps you. bon appetit !!!

                      6 Replies
                        1. re: lancastermike

                          asian bistro and belvidere inn arent chains, nor are bird in hand family and millers. what others would you suggest? i plan on returning to the area either right before or right after labor day.

                          1. re: mrbeachy

                            mrbeachy.....are you from the Pittsburgh area ? Marilyn

                            1. re: Marilyn

                              nope..nowhere near there.from the tri-state metro ny region.

                        2. re: mrbeachy

                          I've got to admit, this is the first time I've seen any kind of a recommendation for Waffle House. Is the Waffle House in Lancaster different in some way from all the others?

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            I only ate there once, and I'm not inclined to go back. I don't think it's being snobbish to say that the Waffle House is pretty close to the worst sit-down restaurant in Lancaster. Even the waffles were lousy.

                        3. We live here. Our favorite for PA Dutch cooking is the Country Table in Mt. Joy. We also like the Asian Bistro, El Serrano, the Taj Mahal (Indian), Isaac's (sandwiches). Your Place is kind of a dive/bar, but they have good stromboli and chicken corn soup. There are a number of places in the area that make their own ice cream. We like: the Strasburg Creamery (don't go on a weekend during the summer), Maplehofe Farm Dairy, Coleman's. The Oregon Dairy is a grocery store that has a restaurant which serves PA Dutch food, has a playground, and ice cream made from their own milk. They send the milk to State College to be turned into ice cream. It's very good. The D&S Brasserie is pretty good for dressy casual.

                          1. For inspired fine dining I would recommend my all time fav, Gibraltar. Nationally recognized and the areas tops for excellent food and service according to Zagat and just about every other regional survey out there. Miller's does an outstanding job with all-you-can-eat Amish fare, the Strasburg Creamery is a great little stop for freshly made ice cream and sandwiches and the Belvedere is nice for after dinner drinks and jazz.

                            As for some of the other places mentioned, Donecker's was history when Greg Gable left a nearly 2 years ago, Josephine's is hit or miss, Log Cabin is overrated and overpriced and El Serrano is no better than the mexican spot in your own hometown. On the positive side, for upscale dining, Carr's and Old Greenfield do a very nice job as does Doc Holidays for families and great steak. Also have heard pretty good things about Asian Bistro but have never been. Have a great 4th!