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Apr 5, 2009 07:00 PM

Great Chow off of I-78 West? In Harrisburg?

NY Metro Chowhounds need recs from PA contingent. We are heading to Harrisburg PA next weekend for an overnight and need some good places to stop on the way there and back and also in Harrisburg itself. We'll be leaving NY early Saturday morning from Westchester County heading to Harrisburg PA for an event in the evening, post dinner time, and returning to NY morning/midday Sunday so would appreciate recs for the following:

Off I-78 btween NJ and Harrisburg: breakfast, lunch, snacks
In Harrisburg: lunch, dinner, snacks. We are staying at the Crowne Plaza but will definitely drive 30-45mins for good grub. ts.

We are open to all cuisines but, if ethnic, prefer that it be specific to the region (not sure what that is in Harrisburg - German? Polish?). Excellent BBQ would be wonderful. Please no "touristy" - if there is such a thing as touristy -is not. We're not into fussy, upscale or expensive for this trip and would prefer casual, down home type of places. Even holes-in-the-wall with excellent food are great. We know we are close to Hershey no national franchises or chains please. We have enough of those that we don't eat in close to home.

Also RoadFood questions:
Is Jimmy's Hotdogs (Roadfood rec) in Easton,PA worth a stop?
What about the Fairgrounds in Allentown?

Oh, if I may, one last thing... my husband is from Maryland and really likes scrapple which we don't have in NY so if there's anywhere with great scrapple, please tell but only if other things are great too as I can't tolerate the stuff.

Thanks all!!

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  1. For truly very good scrapple stop-on your way back- at Dietrich's meats off the Krumsville exit of 78 (they have billboards, and you can see the store from 78) An old fashioned Pennsylvania dutch butcher. All the meats are excellant and the home baked pies are very good as well

    1 Reply
    1. re: brookquarry

      Ditto Dietrich's meat. We love the various wursts and bacon. We always stop on the ride back north from Western NC.

    2. Just re-read your post and realized that it appers you are looking for a place to order scrapple as a meal, not to take home.
      Virtually every diner from the Pennsylvania/New Jersey state line to Harrisburg will have scrapple on its breakfast menu. This will generally be from mass market producers such as Habersets, Kunzler or Hatfield- all very acceptable.
      My reccomended diner breakfast in the Lehigh Valley would be Billys Downtown Diner in Bethlehem- which will probably be a little out of your way. ('I'll let others post about choices in the Harrisburg area)
      Two interesting Pennsylvania dutch type places with good (but not great) food close to I-78 would be Das Eick House in Lenhartsville and Haags hotel in Shartlesville.
      Haags is dining at large tables sitting next to other diners. It's what the large Family style places in Lancaster County (Millers, Plain and Fancy, used to be like before they became too touristy).

      With regard to your specific questions the Fairgrounds market in Allentown is worth a stop- although I don't think its any better than the farmers market in Harrisburg, so you may want to see which fits your schedule better.
      Jimmy's is an Easton tradition and I love them, but be aware it is a very limited menu (hot dogs and bagged potato chips is about it) so unless you are willing to have three hot dogs and a bag of chips for lunch you might skip it.
      Actually the best hot dogs in the Lehigh Valley are at Charleys Pool room in Alpha NJ
      The review on Roadfod gives a very accurate description of the place.
      Three possible negatives:
      1. It is hard to find (the Roadfood map is some help).
      2 Since each dog is individually fried only after being ordered, be prepared to wait- especially if they are busy. Although many people will tell you that sitting and talking to John and Joe Fencz is part of the charm.
      3. They are closed Sunday.

      Hope this helps

      1. Thanks brook. Will check Harrisburg farmer's market. Any restaurant recs for Harrisburg itself? Will need dinner and probably next day breakfast there.

        4 Replies
        1. re: laylag

          sorry, its been years since I ate in Harrisburg proper. Suggest you search the board- There have been some recent threads.

            1. re: spopodopolis

              Thanks spopodopolis. it sounds good but since we have a ton of excellent Italian food and pizza in NY would prefer to explore something more regional to the area. Any thoughts?

              1. re: laylag

                One thing that is not outstanding in the NY metro is Mexican, and strangely enough there is outstanding Mexican in Harrisburg at Herby's El Mexicano. It's about a 10 minute drive from the Crowne Plaza. For local color, you could try the Glass Lounge on N. Front Street, just north of I-81. It's a redneck steakhouse. Dirt cheap, couldn't be more casual.

          1. What to avoid? I think it's called the Skyline Inn. There's a sign visible from I-78. Mediocre. Very scary bright yellow congealed gravy.