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Good Lancaster Food with some conditions

sommrluv Jul 19, 2010 01:35 PM

I'm traveling to Lancaster for a long weekend with a very good friend and her little girl, whom is special needs. She can be quite loud at times, so I'm hoping to find some places where that wouldn't be a big deal, but yet have good food.

It would be great to take them out to at least one "really nice" dinner if at all possible.

I was also thinking about high tea at a local tea house.

We're staying near Fertility, and in an ideal world will not go near the "city" of Lancaster. Buffets are fine, tourist traps are fine. Also, if there's any good grocery stores nearby, we'll want to pick up snacks.

I've been a few times but not having children of my own, I can admit I'm oblivious to what would be good/bad. We did go to a popular dutch/american buffet once when helping a friend move to the area, and we were all VERY sick...it was recc. to us by her local roommates and was in a strip mall area, and sadly I don't remember the name. So I'd like to avoid it, if I can remember where it was! :)

Appreciate any ideas.

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    centralpadiner RE: sommrluv Jul 19, 2010 02:55 PM

    This is a tough one, because kids and good food can be difficult in itself, but good food and Rt. 30 east of Lancaster City is pretty much an oxymoron. And I say this as a local that has kids. I should also admit that I have pretty much made it my life's mission (and been successful) to not go to any of the tourist trap "Amish restaurants" in the area. Not because I don't like Dutchy food - the opposite, actually.

    Honestly, on the (rare) occasions that I head out that way with my kids, I tend to just stick to the chains. Since we are usually there for Dutch Wonderland or back-to-school shopping at the outlets, it is just most convenient. Our faves in that vein are: Five Guys, Cracker Barrel, or Ruby Tuesdays.

    Isaac's is a regional chain that I recommend often to those visiting with kids. We really like it and there is one in Strasburg and off the Greenfield Rd. exit of Rt. 30. It is a deli, and the sandwiches can be big and messy (they have soups and salads as well). Apparently, this is not some peoples' cup of tea but it works for us and I think the food there is decent. I will say that service and quality vary from site to site, and those specific locations are not one's that I frequent.

    For PA Dutch food I get away from the primary tourist areas and head to Oregon Dairy (about 5 mi. NE of the city) and Country Table in Mount Joy. Both are kid friendly. Oregon Dairy also has a playground, deer in a pen, a little deck with an ice cream shoppe, and it is all connected to a grocery store. Country Table is connected to a bakery and if you order off the kids menu, you get a wooden nickel to go get a cookie (a snickerdoodle).

    None of these are upscale by any means, I am not sure what you are hoping for as a "really nice" dinner. I wouldn't do tea, personally. My MIL tried to do this with my relatively well behaved daughter when she was 4 and it didn't go very well.

    5 Replies
    1. re: centralpadiner
      centralpadiner RE: centralpadiner Jul 19, 2010 02:56 PM

      Sorry, I meant to post links.


      1. re: centralpadiner
        sommrluv RE: centralpadiner Jul 19, 2010 08:19 PM

        Thank you so much for the links. I'm basically just trying to avoid the tract housing section of Lancaster.

        The tea was nixed by my friend also...ah well. LOL

        1. re: sommrluv
          centralpadiner RE: sommrluv Jul 20, 2010 12:57 PM

          The key to eating at nicer places with kids is to eat early - say 5:30. I can't think of any place that nice restaurants are located in Lancaster City that I would consider unsafe, if that is what you meant. We find that bars/pubs at an early time are actually a good fit for us. It just has to be one of the nicer establishments. Iron Hill Brewery is a favorite of ours, it is located across from F&M College and Annie Bailey's would fit that category as well - right down from the square. They work for us because noise is rarely a problem in a pub and they always have kid-friendly food of some sort (burgers, fish & chips, etc.) In fact, Iron Hill has a very nice kids menu. Ethnic food is good too, but not everyone's kids are willing to do that. Mexican and Chinese restaurants are always a hit with my kids and they like sushi as well. I have not taken my kids, but have seen children at Gibralter. Also located near F&M, this is considered one of the nicer restaurants in the city, they focus on seafood. You may want to call ahead and double check. And like I said, plan on eating early. So, that's some downtown ideas. See what kind of thing has worked for your friend in the past and let that be your guide.


          1. re: centralpadiner
            Bob W RE: centralpadiner Jul 20, 2010 01:08 PM

            We took our twins (almost 6) to Checkers Bistro on West James St for dinner at 5 PM on Saturday and while we would not call the place "kid friendly" despite reading that somewhere (one of the kids was asked to turn down her Leapster despite the conversation from other tables being louder), the food was kid friendly. The pasta was incredibly good -- homemade tagliatelle. One kid had it with red sauce, the other with butter.

            Next year I hope to try Gibraltar.

            Checkers Bistro
            300 W James St, Lancaster, PA 17603

            1. re: Bob W
              centralpadiner RE: Bob W Jul 20, 2010 05:17 PM

              When my husband got his masters degree we had our celebratory dinner at Lily's on Main in Ephrata. My oldest was a toddler at the time. They had high chairs and no one seemed put out by it. But, that was 7.5 yrs. ago. :)

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