(Good) Touristy In Lancaster
Alright, I am bringing my husband to Lancaster for the first time in his life. I haven't been to Lancaster in 20 years, but when I was a kid my parents took me out to Lancaster several times a year. I always loved it. I would love to explore some of the more creative, interesting things going on foodwise in Lancaster...But I would also love to take Ian somewhere for relishes and Shoofly pie and other yummy things. Where would you go if you wanted such things in the Lancaster area? As a native Philadelphian who shamelessly admits to adoring cheesesteaks, hoagies, pepper pot soup and soft pretzels with spicy mustard (and has many, many opinions on where to get the best of such things) I hope I can get some help here! I also remember Reading and Lancaster as having some wonderful diners. Is this still true? If so, which ones are the best now? Thanks for helping!
I make shoo fly pie, I've never bought one in my life, but I hear that there is a bakery in Bird-in-Hand that does a good one. For PA Dutch food, I used to recommend Country Table in Mount Joy, but I haven't been in a really long time and have been hearing it's not so good lately. So, I suggest Oregon Dairy. I don't like the family style or "smorgasbord" places (and never understood the idea of a Swedish buffet in PA Dutch country). I wish I could recommend a diner but I really can't think of one that I truly love or think is special. I always thought NJ had better diners, LOL.
Where are you thinking of for "creative and interesting" in Lancaster?
+1 for Oregon Dairy - we were in that area under similar circumstances, and we went there based on recommendations on other CH boards. Our favorites were the sweet and sour ham balls (a specialty - more on the sweet side, but in a good way) and the special sundae option - their own vanilla ice cream with chopped local peaches, homemade shortbread (the poundcake style), and whipped cream. We were happy we had decided to split it - the waitress brought it in two dishes and it was enough for two full servings. The chicken with apple butter sauce and pepper cabbage were also good; the lettuce with bacon dressing (another local specialty) we didn't like as much.
Agree that Oregon Dairy is your best bet for PA Dutch fare, but always felt that it's still not what you're hoping for. Growing up here my whole life I really feel that driving through eastern Lancaster County (on Route 30 from Philly area) on the back roads are the best bet to get an idea of how the Amish live. The towns in that area have turned their town central into tourist meccas that I feel deprive tourists any real sense of what it's like here. I wouldn't even bother popping into the stores in these towns (Intercourse, Bird-in-Hand)...just take any of the streets out of the town center and onto farm roads and you'll see many farms with their own stands that have everythign from produce to homemade root beer to furnishings and quilts.
That being said - Quite a few restaurants are popping up in Downtown Lancaster that seek to highlight the farm to table concept. I highly recommend Maison in downtown Lancaster...it's BYO so I'm sure you can relate on the concept there.
Central Market on Tues/Fri/Sat is a must...and there are always new stands popping up which sell amazing breads, cheeses, PA dutch specialties...you name it.
The Pressroom has been around for years, and I hear there's a new chef there doing really great things. It's in the old Steinman Hardware Building.
For local brews I recommend The Tap Room or Lancaster Brewing Company. The Tap Room, Market, and Pressroom are all on the same block.
The Art Scene is really booming in Downtown Lancaster as well, many art galleries and boutique stores. If you can, schedule your trip around the first Friday of any month and walk the streets of Lancaster for a true local experience.
I agree Central Market is a must. My wife and I manage to get to Lancaster a couple of times a year. If we are there on a Friday, we always stop at Central Market to pick up a shoo fly pie and a few whoopie pies, among other things. There are a number of bakeries but, if you go in the entrance across from Lancaster Dispensing Company, turn right and go to the other end, on the right for shoo fly pie and on the left for whoopie pies -- our favorites, anyway.
Touristy, well not really. But one choice for good food is the Stockyard Inn. What amazes me about the Stockyard Inn is that after all the years they have been in operation their standards for quality food and service are still high. I think "old school" is fair and in their case not pejorative. While we love all the new food experiences the Philadelphia food scene offers us, we always look forward to a visit to The Stockyard Inn when in Lancaster. BTW they serve one of the best burgers I have had anywhere!
The Bakery in Bird in Hand would be the Bird in Hand BAKE SHOP on Gibbons Road(not to be confused with the similarly named Bird in Hand BAKERY on Route 340, which is decent, but not as good).
For relishes I like Intercourse Canning on 340 in Intercourse, which is not as crowded as the more Famous Kitchen Kettle, and in my opinion just as good
A nice drive would be along Route 772 between Route 30 in Gap and Route 23 in Leola not very touristy(except where you cross 340 in Intercourse) and many Amish farms, Farmstands and other Amish businesses.
Of course remember these will all be closed Sunday.