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May 1, 2010 12:19 PM

Head to the Pennsylvania Dutch Country.. where to eat

Hello Chowhounds!

My girlfriend and I are heading to the Pennsylvania Dutch country (not sure of home base) and I'm looking for recs both with the typical Dutch food (Shoofly Pie and such) and in general. Girlfriend does not do spicy very well. I've been to the area twice and both times were pretty far apart for me to remember anything outside of going to a Pretzel factory, an old train tour and Zinn's which is no longer there (I only remember this due to a photo with Amos). I know at one point we will be going to Hershey , maybe the Green Dragon, and I know we will do a Pretzel making tour (if anyone wnats to recommend what-to-dos as well that would help) unless you want to warn me of tourist traps. I realize this is a food only board, but we are above all a community that trusts one another to make recommendations. if you fear that your post will be wiped due to non food suggestions that is fine and I understand.

I also saw that food fest will be during our time of stay 26-31. Is that good?

Pennsylvania Dutch
Boothwyn PA, Boothwyn, PA

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  1. As for restaurants, just look over some of the more recent posts about the same area.
    These are usually listed at the bottom of you post page. (see below)
    For the pretzel stuff, that was probably the Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz.
    The downtown Lititz visitor site is

    There are links for Sturgis and Wilbur Chocolate, plus all the shops on Broad & Main Streets. Nice town to visit, but not many dining choices.

    4 Replies
    1. re: pacheeseguy

      THanks PA Cheeseguy. But we won't just be in Lititz. We'll be going to Hershey, Bird In Hand, Intercourse, and probably Strasburg.

      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        In Lititz, Cafe Chocolate is a nice and unique spot for lunch.

        In Hershey I like Devon Seafood Grill for finer dining, Isaac's for casual/deli, Fire Alley for a bar, and Hershey Pantry (if it weren't for the wait).

        Can't help much on Eastern Lancaster Co. restos, but traveling from Hershey to Lancaster on Rt. 283 you can stop at Mount Joy and go to the Country Table Restaurant for authentic local eats - except for maybe shoo-fly pie, I don't remember them having that, not that I look . . . . why buy it out when your own mom makes the best in the world! ;)

        Hershey Pantry
        801 E Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA 17033

        Fire Alley Restaurant & Bar
        1144 Cocoa Ave, Hershey, PA 17033

        1. re: centralpadiner

          Try TJ Rockwell's if it is nice out and enjoy their fabulous deck

          1. re: angie16

            Sorry, I live in E-town and Rockwell's deck may be a fun environment, but the food might as well be TGIFriday's

    2. You may want to check out lots of things to see, to eat and do in Pa Dutch country. Have fun on your trip!

      5 Replies
      1. re: Narnia9334

        Okay will do. I remember Miller's I think we went there when I was little. Typical buffet if I remember correctly. Of course we'd like a nice mix of nice and also eats that typify the dutch/german cuisine (like shoo fly pie). Stuff I won't get normally around the middle of NC.

        Thanks for the replies. We are staying off Lincoln Hwy in Lancaster.

        1. re: Narnia9334

          Does anyone know if there is a place that will let you milk cows? I saw something about Ice Cream place.. Lapp farms or something like that? Or recommendations for things dealing with cheese/cheesemaking?

          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

            Lapp's is an ice cream stand in Kitchen Kettle Village. September Farm is one local dairy that makes cheese and has a shop at the farm . . . but I don't know if you get to see any of the process.

            Kitchen Kettle Village
            RR 340, Intercourse, PA 17534

            1. re: centralpadiner

              Right but can't you also still go to the farm in Intercourse? So I guess it might be easier to ask what places should I avoid in general... and just aren't worth the time.

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                Lapp Valley still has their store on the farm off Mentzer Road, which is actually closer to New Holland. The ice cream is very good and the location scenic.
                I don't know of anyplace that lets tourists milk cows. Your best bet in this regard would probably be to stay at one of the working farm Band B's- many allow guest to participate in farm activities.

        2. In Strasburg, if you are going on the train ride, stay away from the food unless you are so famished you might faint. Bad bad bad. Get a bag of kettle corn to tide you over, then go someplace else. Issac's has good sandwiches, and is close by. Looks like they are in other Lancaster County locations as well.

          4 Replies
          1. re: PattiCakes

            The prices for the railroad seem a bit high for the out and back trip and so I wouldn't buy the food anyways. I don't recall them having people pay to mess around with the push and pull cart, but I guess those are the changes of the time.

            Can anyone help me out with the next question. This may be more in the Poconos than the area I'm thinking of... but when I went to the area when I was oh.. maybe 7 or so.. I remember going to a village with a grist mill and also a store that had a bunch of old RCA Victor items on display or for sale. I remember the mill being a grey stone type building and I think I remember a blacksmith as well. Sound familiar to anyone?

            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

              The village you describe might have been Mill Bridge Village. It closed long ago.
              Landis Valley Farm Museum is a state run museum which recreates non-Amish) rural life of the 1800's. If you like that sort of thing it would be worth checking out.

            2. re: PattiCakes

              am i mistaken that strasburg is not far from delaware water gap? you might find some interesting places to munch around there; i seem to recall a family run place right off the highway that sold beatiful homemade fruit pies; if you're going east on 80 the exit is to the right and the pie place is on the left as you come into "town"; also a "middling" diner near-by

              1. re: betsydiver

                Common mistake - East Strasburg is a town near Delaware Water Gap in Northeastern PA. Strasburg is a much smaller community Southeast of Lancaster PA and home to the Strasburg RR.

            3. Not so much a where to eat response, but the highlights of our "Food Geeks' Tour of Lancaster County" were the Waltz Vineyards in Manhein - particularly the blended red and the rose:


              September Farms Dairy in Honey Brook - the Aged Cheddar was outstanding:


              Lancaster Brewing Company - love that Milk Stout:


              And, although I'm not quite sure if it's technically in Lancaster, is my favorite food-related spot in Central Pennsylvania - Stoudt's Brewery and the adjacent Black Angus restaurant, in Adamstown. They have a focus on local ingredients, fantastic beef, and is quite frankly one of the greatest places to try assorted food and beer pairings I've ever found.


              Lancaster Brewing Company
              302 N Plum St, Lancaster, PA 17602

              12 Replies
              1. re: MGZ

                Neither I nor my girlfriend really do any drinking but may check out LBC for the food.

                As for dining, here is a rundown from other resources we've looked through as to places to eat.. If you have experiences or have heard local things about any please share..

                Smorgasbord/Family Style
                Good and Plenty (which sounds like the Mike and Ike candies)
                Plain and Fancy
                Shady Maple
                Stoltzfus Farm
                Hershey Farm

                Non Smorgasbord (i.e. everything else)
                Character's Pub
                Belvedere Inn
                Annie Bailey's
                Iron Hill
                Dan's (which I believe is in Reading)
                Family Cupboard
                Haydn Zug
                Lily's On Main
                The Restaurant at Doneckers
                The Kling House (at Ketlle Village)
                Blue Pacific Sushi
                The Brasserie
                Doc Holliday's
                Horse Inn
                Lan Viet
                Lemon Grass
                Olde Greenfield Inn
                Olive and Jasmine
                Stockyard Inn
                Tobias Frogg
                1764 Restaurant
                The Catacombs
                The Watering Trough
                Revere Tavern

                Watering Trough
                905 W Main St, Mount Joy, PA 17552

                Belvedere Inn
                402 N Queen St, Lancaster, PA 17603

                Lemon Grass Cafe
                124 6th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

                Stockyard Inn
                1147 Lititz Pike Ste 1, Lancaster, PA 17601

                Lily's On Main
                124 E Main St, Ephrata, PA 17522

                Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant
                RR 772, Intercourse, PA 17534

                Character's Pub
                38 N Christian St Ste 100, Lancaster, PA 17602

                The Family Cupboard Restaurant
                3029 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird In Hand, PA 17505

                Kling House Restaurant
                3575 W Newport Rd, Ronks, PA 17572

                Horse Inn
                214 N Marshall St, Lancaster, PA 17602

                , Ephrata, PA 17522

                Haydn Zug's
                1987 State St, East Petersburg, PA 17520

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  Donecker's is closed, as is Doc Holidays'. The only other thing I can say is that your "everything else" list is really spread out geographically, and depending on where you are going to be, many of them are not worth a drive. It is also all over the place as far as style and price, so we could easily help you narrow it down if you let us know a little more of what you are looking for and where your non-food related travels will be taking you, budget, etc. It also seems to be a bit of an outdated list, so I'm not sure where you got it. Rice and Noodles is the hands-down best Vietnamese in Lancaster, if that is something you are specifically interested in.

                  , Ephrata, PA 17522

                  1. re: centralpadiner

                    Well we will be staying in Lancaster. We are going to travel to Lititz, Ephrata, Hershey, and Intercourse at points during our stay. Our budget.. eh not too expensive. We may snack during lunchtimes and save most of our dining money for dinner. We would probably do between 15 and 30/person for an entree. The list was compiled via the most recent Frommers and AAA books. I knew it was going to be all over the place. I slacked off in the organizing department.

                    I always try to sample the local wares first and then if there are just good representations of other foods, we'll go that route. Does Rice and Noodles make Bahn Mi?

                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      Yes, Rice and Noodles has bahn mi.... yummm...
                      It is located just north of Lancaster City.

                      In Ephrata, Lily's is probably your best bet now that Donecker's is gone. There is also an Isaac's located in a shopping center on Rt. 272 near the hospital. That is a deli, so good for casual eats.
                      In fact, Isaac's is a regional chain located in or near many of the places you are visiting, so it could be an option on multiple occasions.

                      In Lititz, I already mentioned Cafe Chocolate as an option downtown. I think I'd avoid the General Sutter. It pains me to say that because when we lived in town it was a great place to eat, but I have heard nothing but bad since we left. You can get PA Dutch eats north of town at The LItitz Family Cupboard. I have no idea if it is connected to the other Family Cupboard, but I always enjoyed it when in the mood for that sort of thing.
                      There is also an Italian place up there - Cappricio's (there is a sit-down side, and a pizza take-out side, go to the sit down side). One problem may be that they recently opened up another restaurant and may be stretched a bit. My mother told me that something seemed a bit off the last time she was there. South of town is a pan-asian rest. I enjoy, called Mojo Asian cuisine. I enjoy their sushi rolls, but they also have Thai and the standard Chinese restaurant stuff. They are owned by the same people that own Cafe East in Centreville, so the menu is similar, but with the different sushi chefs, the special rolls are not the same.
                      There is also a Fiorentino's location south of Lititz - actually located inside the Lancaster Airport. We enjoy Fiorentino's very much for your standard Italian fare. Both locale's are good.

                      I think I already posted a list for Hershey. The Chocolate Ave. Grill is a popular place right downtown that I haven't been to. I still think a stop in Mount Joy if you want PA Dutch - you won't find any in Hershey.

                      In downtown Lancaster, the options are so many and so varied, it really depends on your mood. I can't think of any place to get good PA Dutch food. I tend to go for ethnic, "special night out" or "bar scene with friends" while downtown.

                      As for your list, aside from the one's I already mentioned as closed, I would avoid:
                      Blue Pacific Sushi (you can get better and while I am usually forgiving of bad health inspections . . . not with sushi places
                      )Tobias Frog
                      1764 (this is the official name of the rest. at General Sutter Inn in Lititz)
                      The Catacombs (another place my husband and I used to frequent that has nose-dived in recent years)
                      The Watering Trough (you couldn't actually pay me to eat the food here)

                      Nothing wrong with Haydn Zug's (probably a little pricey and fancy for what you want) or Symposium, but I don't see you getting to those areas and they aren't so spectacular that you need to leave Lancaster for them.

                      Watering Trough
                      905 W Main St, Mount Joy, PA 17552

                      Cafe East
                      594 Centerville Rd, Lancaster, PA 17601

                      Family Cupboard Restaurant
                      PO Box 556, Intercourse, PA 17534

                      , Ephrata, PA 17522

                      Haydn Zug's
                      1987 State St, East Petersburg, PA 17520

                      1. re: centralpadiner

                        Thanks I use the boards to cross reference what the tourbooks say as they are geared to tourists (which we are), but necessarily towards tourist who want to eat well or eat where the locals would know better. I believe we'll get some PA Dutch food in their either by way of markets, the place in Mount Joy or smorgasbord/family style dining. Just depends.

                        Thanks again. If anyone else has suggestions, in general, doesn't have to be Lancaster but in the Amish country region feel free.

                        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                          Forget the buffets unless you're really big eaters or you have finicky children. The food is rarely better than okay and they are not a bargain anymore. So-called PA Dutch places like Good & Plenty are tourist joints. Some of them make you sit at big common tables, so you can socialize with whatever strangers just got off the bus. Not for me. If you want local flavor, you should definitely hit the Lancaster Central Market, though it's only open two or three days a week and you have to go early. Cucina Mexicana, Spyro Gyro, and Rice & Noodles are all decent, inexpensive ethnic places in or near downtown.

                          Rice & Noodles Restaurant
                          1238 Lititz Pike, Lancaster, PA 17601

                          1. re: Vladimir Estragon

                            Will keep the buffet remarks in mind. Luckily our place does a continental breakfast.. so we don't have to worry about that unless we choose to. And will look into other places to sample regional faire.

                          2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                            general suggestions: in the home of junk food: visit supermarkets! lebanon bologna, martin's potato bread, grandma utz potato chips (costco only, they're freshest there!)

                            1. re: Chowrin

                              Now you're talkin'! You might try Martin's Country Store, in Morgantown.

                          3. re: centralpadiner

                            For the Lititz area:
                            The Sutter recently opened a new British Pub, The Bull's Head.
                            Nice place to enjoy lunch or casual dinner.
                            It's located on Main Street, with it's own separate entrance.
                            Has a traditional pub menu.

                            Nearby, about 5 miles SW of Lititz, is a new small development,
                            Richmond Square. It has two very good restaurants.
                            Ciro's is Italian, great brick oven pizzas!

                            Coerulea is Asian cuisine & Sushi, also very good.

                            And the Fiorentinos at the airport is decent too.

                            In downtown Lititz,
                            Glassmyer's is great for a inexpensive, traditional breakfast or lunch.
                            I'd strongly suggest avoiding Choc. Cafe.
                            Very expensive for tasteless microwaved meals.

                            Glassmyer's Restaurant
                            23 N Broad St, Lititz, PA 17543

                            1. re: pacheeseguy

                              So I think where we are going is Lititz, Ephrata, Hershey, Intercourse, and Strasburg.

                              We want to do a buggy ride but aren't sure which companies are better than others. We will go to a Barnstormer's game and probably hit up Wheatland. Out of those areas and thigns that tourists may think about doing and seeing.. What would you suggest against and what would you suggest that might not have been thought of? We are also thinking about doing one of the covered bridge tours and hitting up Flavorfest.

                              1. re: pacheeseguy

                                Yes to Bull's Head in Lititz. We found it after driving around the county for hours in the snow, finding everything else closed for the winter. We hoped for Sutter's Inn (next door) but found it also closed mid-afternoon between the lunch and dinner slots. Bull's Head can get hectic with no waitstaff but we rode it out seated at the bar and were rewarded with several truly good draft beers and a late lunch of scotch eggs and steak pie. Not exactly the PA Dutch we were looking for but satisfying just the same.

                    2. Hi there!
                      It sounds like you have lots of great ideas, but I am surprised no one mentioned John J. Jeffries at the Lancaster Arts Hotel. I ate there about a month ago and it's one of the best meals I've had in a long time. They use mostly local ingredients from area farms, the service was excellent and the atmosphere was relaxing but classy. I'd highly recommend it for a nice dinner out. Enjoy your trip!


                      5 Replies
                      1. re: katiedid31

                        In the original post, I was given the impression he wanted traditional PA Dutch cuisine. But for upscale dining in downtown Lancaster, I completely agree. John J. Jeffries is easily my favorite place in Lancaster right now, and I have said so on this board many, many times.

                        1. re: katiedid31

                          I think we have listed that as one place to dine. Well I think we want a sample of the region and one of those things will be traditional Dutch Country food. I only definitely remember Shoo Fly Pie. I mean I'm coming from the South and so some things may not seem different (like hams or corn soup). We may pick up some dutch treats just grazing at the markets.

                          1. re: katiedid31

                            I think we plan to hit John J.'s. So far we've done Iron Hill and Glassmeyers. Tonight we are looking at Italian probably somewhere in the Lancaster area. Ciro's, Fiorentino's or I see something about Lombardo's are the ones I've come across since being up here.

                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                              Other Italian options could be Rosa Rosa - very popular, but to be honest not my favorite, it is very close to John J.'s. Mazzi is very upscale and in Leola if you don't want to go into Lancaster City (I don't recall where you are staying). If location is not important, I would probably choose Fiorentino's - Columbia Ave. location over Airport location.


                              Rosa Rosa Cafe & Bar
                              1040 Harrisburg Ave, Lancaster, PA 17603

                              1. re: centralpadiner

                                So here is where we ate/grazed if I can remember the order...
                                Lapp Valley Farm (fun and tasty)
                                Samples at Kitchen Kettle Village
                                Iron Hill (Good but a bit loud)

                                Samples at Sturgis Pretzel Factory
                                Samples at Wilbur (though I wouldn't waste time with the "tour")
                                Glassmeyer (nice and slow paced and cheap)
                                Cupcakes in Lititz (Rachel's)
                                Fiorentino's (left much to be desired)
                                Carmen & David's (yummy!)

                                Whoopie Pies, Pretzels, and Dried Fruit at Green Dragon
                                John J. Jefferies (hip and delicious)

                                Flavorfest snacks (Mostly different types of sauces to sample.. I hope this becomes something better... It was more or less wine)
                                Snacks at townsquare in Strasburg and singerle cookies
                                Rachel's Cafe and Creperie for dinner
                                Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Dumpling from Green Dragon for dessert.

                                Snacks and light lunch in Hershey
                                Choc. Ave Grill was closed and What If looked too expensive... forgot about Devon Seafood...
                                Ate at Friendly's in Lancaster as it was open late and closer than Olive Garden.

                                Thank you for your help and suggestions.

                                Olive Garden
                                83 E City Ave, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004

                                Kitchen Kettle Village
                                RR 340, Intercourse, PA 17534

                                What If Cafe
                                845 E Chocolate Ave, Hershey, PA 17033