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Aug 18, 2014 05:07 PM

Places to eat in Lancaster Co., Pa.

We make several trips a year down to Lancaster, Pa., aka Amish Country. It's an area that's supposed to be a wonderful place to eat simple, fresh, and local foodstuffs, but since it's become such a tourist area I've been fairly disappointed in most places we've dined.
Can anyone recommend places they've enjoyed?

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  1. If you do a search for "Lancaster" on this board, you'll find that quite a bit has been written about restaurants in and around the town.

    3 Replies
    1. re: CindyJ

      Thanks Cindy. I'm having a heck of a time navigating the boards as I can only access them from my phone (computer refuses to log in), and even with that I have to read posts in a huge font unless I make adjustments just for this site.
      I was hoping it would be easier for me just to ask a question, but I understand the effort involved in re-posting info.
      Thanks again.

      1. re: buckytom

        I understand. I think if you were to sort through the restaurant recommendations for the Lancaster area here on Chowhound, you'd have to look hard to find something positive about any of the big smorgasboard or family-style restaurants that are scattered throughout. At those places it's more about quantity than quality of the food, and they do cater mostly to tourists.

        The city of Lancaster has several restaurants that are often recommended here. Off the top of my head, for fine dining they include Ma(i)son, John J. Jeffries, Citronelle and Gibralter

        For pub food and a great beer selection, I really like the Federal Taphouse Also good are Iron Hill Brewery Lancaster Brewing Company and Annie Bailey's Hunger 'n Thirst seems to be well regarded (I've never been there)

        For Asian food -- Rice & Noodles and Saigon Cafe!index are often recommended.

        Maybe these CH links will help you:

        And there’s this article written by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s food critic:

        1. re: CindyJ

          Informative and comprehensive, good job! Thanks.

    2. I've had decent meals at the Lancaster Brewing Company. There's some PA Dutch cooking on the menu, but it leans towards the pure Germanic. That said, it was decent and the beer was good.

      1. ....this is where I'd suggest finding Melinda and Daniels house.
        Melinda would cook you up a storm of a meal but that's while you help Daniel tend to the herd.

        ok, so that's not feasible. Cochranville is the only town we've been to there and only ever eaten at one place (other than M&D's) at a tiny strip mall that was very good, but no idea of name of it. small and quaint good food. sorry for not helping.

        2 Replies
        1. re: iL Divo

          Next time you head to Melinda and Daniel's place, invite me along!

          Cochranville...? Really...? I didn't think there were anything but Amish farms out that way. In fact, I recently drove to one of those farms to buy glass milk bottles to use for my (locally-purcased) farm-bought cream and half & half. I sometimes struggle with the caps they use on their containers. I love the glass bottles!

          1. re: CindyJ

            hahaha, we head there about every year and a half. love the area, beautiful. love the offerings there even other than food. we were just very fortunate to meet this incredible family and they took to us and we to them. they make all their butter, cream, yogurt, sour cream etc which I'm fascinated with.

        2. If you're looking for good Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, it can be hard to find in restaurants. The locals who love this sort of food generally make it at home from family recipes. The mindset being: Why pay 4x as much for something you can do better yourself at home? So the Smorgasbords and other Route 30 restaurants, as CindyJ noted, tend to cater to tourists.

          I think your best bet, if this is the type of food you're looking for, would be to find a small town family restaurant and order the right thing, since most of the menu won't be much better than the average diner. I've heard good things about Oregon Dairy Restaurant, and that may be worth a try. Or get it to go from a market like the Village Farm Market outside of Ephrata and load up your cooler.

          There is a growing number of good restaurants in the area using fresh local ingredients. And I think that may the best of what Lancaster has to offer right now.

          John J Jeffries
          The new Horse Inn

          8 Replies
          1. re: ahab

            The Horse Inn is the only place on your list I'm not familiar with. Can't tell much (anything) about the menu from their website. Have you been there, ahab?

            1. re: CindyJ

              Yes, we were just there a couple of weeks ago. And it probably deserves a post of its own, which I've been meaning to write. The restaurant has been around forever, but very recently changed hands. My family used to go there when I was young, and I went back with my wife for nostalgic reasons last year. The tenderloin tips (for which they were famous) were good, and the atmosphere brought back memories, but the menu was of the iceberg salad and baked potato sort that doesn't really excite me. I thought that was a shame because the space is great -- a back-alley, second floor place with old wood and a ton of character. I spent half the meal daydreaming about opening a new restaurant in the same space. Then, this year, I read that someone had done just that. So we went back.

              Right now it has the feeling of an experiment, and I love it. Creative cocktails. A great list of canned craft beer -- no bottles, no draughts, just cans. A small menu on a chalkboard, and another chalkboard listing local farms supplying the food. The room is essentially the same, but the food is very different. The tenderloin tips are still there, but nothing else. We had fried green tomatoes, grilled peaches with blue cheese, a bowl of clams, and shrimp and grits. Everything was very good. The menu is small and eclectic, including a cheeseburger sub that seems out of place, but is intriguing for that very reason. The room was about half full – and from the looks of it I would estimate a good number of people were long-time Horse Inn patrons. I wondered how they felt about the new menu. I have the feeling that something is going to change here -- it’s not going to be the same place two years from now that it is today. I’m excited to see it evolve. We’ll definitely be back for a cocktail, a canned beer, and to explore the menu more. Hopefully soon.

              1. re: ahab

                Thanks, ahab. That's helpful.

                1. re: ahab

                  Thanks...I had no idea. Sounds intriguing.

                  1. re: ahab

                    Our first job directly out of college was with NCR on Lincoln Hwy. East. The Horse Inn was a lunch time favorite of the entire NCR crew. The place was strange and special with good standard food. Good memories, thanks

                  2. re: CindyJ

                    BTW, I had the same problem getting information online. Check out their facebook page and you can see pictures of some recent menus.

                    1. re: ahab

                      Just checked out their fb page. Looks awesome. Great concept. Can't wait to check it out.

                      1. re: sballard

                        Please report back. I'm interested to hear what you think. I really hope they do well since there's nothing quite like it in the area.

                2. BT -

                  not exactly in Lancaster Cty, but first exit off Rt 30 in York Cty - try

                  it's a place you'd expect to find in Williamsburg if Wmbg wasn't a tourist trap.....

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: PSRaT

                    I think this kind of highlights the problem There are plenty of great restaurants in Lancaster Co., Dauphin Co. and a few in York Co. (Accomac certainly being one.) But we get so many visitors that never leave the eastern Lancaster Co. corridor of Amish tourism, cheep buffets, and chain restaurants, that they think that is all we have.

                    I haven't given any recommendations on this thread for a couple reasons. One, I've been avoiding Chowhound since some of the recent changes. Two, it helps to know where the OP has been in the past, what they haven't liked, where in the area they want to be, and how much they want to spend. With kids, without? Special occasion, casual? etc.

                    There are numerous threads describing the excellent restaurants in Lancaster City, if people are willing to make the effort to go into town.