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We need to talk all of the markets people go to. Some of them are great, but all of them have their own weird vibes.

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For Father's Day, I'm taking the kids to Sesame Place, most because they know Elmo, and the Courtyard by Marriott, while not cheap, is nice, close by, and has a decent restaurant. We'll probably eat crap in the park anyway. Maybe later this summer we'll do Dutch Wonderland. Btw, I bought tickets for Sesame Place on Groupon for $35 each.

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What a great write-up, Kibbeh! Makes me want to go asap!

My own dealings with an Amish farmer in Lancaster County, from whom I get fresh, wholesome, sustainably produced food on a weekly basis, lead me to add a caution. When you're touring Amish Country, DO NOT photograph Amish people. Animals and equipment are OK, but not the people.

And another type of caution, courtesy of a visit to Dutch Country Farmers Market in Burtonsville:

They'll be at the old location through the end of August.

Soooo ... gotta love those smoked Amish chickens at Yoder's Bar-B-Que, right? ... Today while waiting for my order, I looked over at the back counter and saw, sitting among the raw chickens, an unopened package of chicken clearly marked ... Perdue.

Obviously, one cannot draw conclusions from a single package of chicken sitting on the counter, but at the very least it's funny (and in the unthinkable worst-case scenario, at least they're sourcing locally!) laugh.gif

Cheers,

Rocks.

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It's true that many Amish farmers use chemicals. The one from whom I buy my food has not used any chemicals on his farm for more than 15 years, probably close to 20. He had a misadventure with pesticides on his father's farm, and ultimately turned to the methods advocated by Joel Salatin. He laughed when he told us that his neighbors and family all thought he was nuts eschewing chemicals, but he did and it has paid off for him in being able to sell his products directly to a very discerning clientele, as opposed to selling wholesale to conglomerates.

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Chiming in -- I grew up in Lancaster, and I still have family there.

Dutch Wonderland is OK but touristy. It's like a mini-Disneyland take on what "Pennsylvania Dutch" might look like to tourists who have never been there before. If that's how you want to entertain your kids for a few hours, then also consider the 45 minute trip to Hershey Park.

My recommendation to anyone who wants to see Lancaster County and the Pennsylvania Dutch lifestyle is to get a map and hit the back roads of eastern Lancaster County. You'll find Amish buggies on the roads, Amish kids playing in the fields, horse- and mule-drawn farm equipment being used in real life, actual, sustainable, organic, farm-to-table agriculture (they don't know it's "cool"), and plenty of roadside stands with fresh produce (and an "honor system" bucket to drop your money in). You might stumble across a community barbecue, where the local Amish families are collecting money to pay the medical bills for someone who was injured or sick, and where you will eat no better barbecued chicken on this or any other planet. You'll pass many houses where quilts are for sale, or woodworking is for sale, or better yet, baked goods are for sale.

Two absolutely safe bets for anyone who wants to get a real taste of Lancaster County:

  • Go to Strasburg, and take a ride on the Strasburg railroad through Lancaster County. It's beautiful. After (or before) the railroad, hang out in downtown Strasburg (it's a borough of about 3000 people) and eat the fresh ice cream in the Strasburg Country Store.
  • Go to East Earl, and head to Shady Maple. It is Lancaster in a nutshell. Shady Maple is a single family owned "Wegman's on steroids" kind of place, of which Lancaster County has quite a few. It's all of a supermarket -- but it defies that description -- and a gift shop and a smorgasbord all rolled into one. And it even has mini-barn to tether and water the horses for the buggies that come there to shop and eat. You won't see a lot of chain supermarkets in Lancaster because Shady Maple, and Stouffer's of Kissel Hill, and John Herr's in Millersville, and Musser's and Darrenkamp's and many others all invented the concept of the single family owned food market. The quality of the food at these places is amazing, and the prices indicate that they don't realize a commercial world outside of Lancaster even exists.

Lancaster is an interesting place, only about two and a half hours from Washington DC, and seemingly on the other side of the world. But tourist Lancaster and real Lancaster are two different things, and I suggest you seek out the latter.

This, all of this. It was so interesting driving around the county, being immersed in cornfields, and seeing rolling hill after rolling hill dotted with pin-neat barns and silos. We saw locals plowing with animals, getting around in buggies and on bikes, and also participating in ordinary life at stores and restaurants. We tried a couple smorgasbords - in the correct order. Yoder's then Shady Maple. We thought Yoder's was a big enough buffet, with endless kinds preparations of potatoes and other carbs, but Shady Maple is a behemoth of a restaurant and complex with fascinating people watching. Big people, small people, tourists, locals, and families, families, families, all packing away mountains of food. This is a place that had to get rid of its gastric-bypass discount! Instead, they have tips and deals on their website for guests that have had the surgery so they can come other folks and enjoy. The food at both places was fine - all the good, plain, Sunday dinner/Thanksgiving/Easter/comfort-eating dishes you can imagine. At Yoder's you can order a la carte if you don't feel like stuffing yourself. Shady Maple has a few really fun flourishes - Turkey Hill ice cream dispenser, local, cane-sugar soda machine (sarsaparilla! red birch beer!), a whipped topping machine, and lots of ladies willing to cut you a slice of the pies/cakes ready to come out for display, if the bordering-on-obscene variety of desserts doesn't appeal. Eating at two smorgasbords within a few days wasn't a terribly good idea - I felt heavy and dull for the rest of the week, but it was quite an experience!

We had sandwiches and ice cream at the Udder Choice in Ephrata, which is an old-fashioned, cute, and CHEAP spot for a meal, snack, or treat. The sandwiches are simple and satisfying, so I wouldn't get the salad, which is iceberg lettuce and tasteless tomato purgatory. The ice cream is acceptably creamy and a little chewy, just about the way I like my ordinary ice cream. We went back the next night for a second round of sundaes and banana splits.

Phoenix Noodle House in Ephrara was a place I really wanted to like, but all our dishes (spring rolls, pad se ew, pho) had overcooked, bland noodles :( Avoid.

Aromas Del Sur, however, is an exciting find. It's a family-run Colombian restaurant also in Ephrata, and all the family members will happily chat you up as long as you're willing to talk. We had empanadas which are different from those that I'd encountered before. They are a smaller and deep-fried but have flavorful, savory fillings. The bandeja paisa is a big plate of typical fare, with excellent beans and plantains, a tasty chorizo sausage, and slightly overdone pork belly strip and beef steak, all topped with an egg. With an extra cup of their spicy-but-not-hot salsa, it's a wonderful antidote to the the 5 food groups of Lancaster (salt, sugar, flour, corn, and chicken) :)

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Aromas Del Sur, however, is an exciting find. It's a family-run Colombian restaurant also in Ephrata, and all the family members will happily chat you up as long as you're willing to talk. We had empanadas which are different from those that I'd encountered before. They are a smaller and deep-fried but have flavorful, savory fillings. The bandeja paisa is a big plate of typical fare, with excellent beans and plantains, a tasty chorizo sausage, and slightly overdone pork belly strip and beef steak, all topped with an egg. With an extra cup of their spicy-but-not-hot salsa, it's a wonderful antidote to the the 5 food groups of Lancaster (salt, sugar, flour, corn, and chicken) :)

You can add ketchup to those food groups too. And don't forget dairy.

I hardly ventured out of Lancaster until my early 20s, so I didn't realize that scrapple and head cheese hadn't yet caught on across America, let alone would eventually become "cool." To us, it was totally natural to shop at the farm markets and roadside stands for the freshest produce and the hand-carved cuts of meat, not knowing that the rest of the country would catch on a few decades later. Corn that was picked an hour ago, usually about 15 ears for a dollar, and tomatoes that exploded in flavor -- we took these for granted. Today, it's like hipsters invented all of these things....

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You can add ketchup to those food groups too. And don't forget dairy.

 that scrapple ...................................................... would eventually become "cool."

To us, it was totally natural to shop at the farm markets and roadside stands for the freshest produce and the hand-carved cuts of meat, not knowing that the rest of the country would catch on a few decades later. Corn that was picked an hour ago, usually about 15 ears for a dollar, and tomatoes that exploded in flavor -- we took these for granted. Today, it's like hipsters invented all of these things....

Scrapple--> cool.  Never in my household.   How many times did I visit Lancaster, stay at the home of the parents of my best friend, and have scrapple for breakfast????    Too many.  Too many times after the first.  (and I was there a lot)--just great great great people.  The best.   I would never ever have complained.  Even if they weren't the best...but they were heads and shoulders better than the best.

I was and am WAY too polite to have ever said to them what I thought of that god for bidden miserable scrapple.  But I have to shout it out.....SCRAPPLE  --> never cool in my household!!!!!!!!

The rest of Lancaster---Cool.  Scrapple--> NEVER

(rant over)   :D

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On 4/28/2015 at 11:50 AM, Beto said:

Although we didn't eat there due to our schedule, Rice & Noodles is supposed to be phenomenal. It was opened by a family from New Orleans who was displaced by Katrina and set up shop in Lancaster.

My exposure to Thai is not wide, but I will quickly second this recommendation.  Rice & Noodles serves the best pho I have tasted.  I think some of the other options (maybe a spring roll?) were less impressive, but they do not stick well in the memory.  My last trip there was probably a good 18 months ago.

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Spent the weekend at Country Inn & Suites, across the street from  Dutch Wonderland.  I think we rode every form of transportation - pony, train, monorail, gondola, ski lift thingy - nothing that remotely elevated my pulse.  My biggest regret - not making a dinner reservation.  Every sit down joint on the main drag had people waiting outside.  70 minutes to eat at TX Roadhouse - hell no.  We ended up eating shit the first night.  I then made reservation for our second night at Checkers Bistro in Lancaster. ''Twas actually very good.  Parpardelle was firm and the roast chicken was moist. 

Country Inn was great- thin walls but separate bedroom from living space let the kids go to bed early while I worked over my liver.  

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In the Harrisburg area, Byblo's Mediterranean Grill is a very good fast casual place, based on our visit there yesterday.  Their chicken gyro made with laffa bread is one of the best gyros I have ever had.  

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If I ever touted Official BBQ and Burgers, also in Harrisburg, consider the endorsement removed.  They changed owners, the original staff left quickly thereafter, and the food sucked on our last two visits.  

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Knead in Broad Street Market is the best pizza we've sampled in central PA, by far.  Still not at best of MoCo level, but I'm glad to have found our local pizza place.

The Harrisburg branch of Mission BBQ is pretty good, possibly as good as Official BBQ and Burgers before the ownership switch.  My ribs are still way better though.

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On 8/13/2005 at 3:33 PM, MichelleW said:

Ok. I'm resurrecting this thread and turning it serious because my folks live in Lancaster and I've eaten a couple of really nice places up that way with them.
 

Skimmed several posts here.There are some delicious bits in this thread. 

 

On 7/19/2010 at 12:46 PM, Kibbee Nayee said:

Lancaster is a good 30 minutes out of the way of your route, but if you're looking for an interesting meal on the high end, I can recommend john.j.jeffries without hesitation....

http://www.johnjjeffries.com/

In fact, it's on the Old Harrisburg Pike, so it's a very direct 30 minutes out of your way.

I think, in all honesty, that this is one of the more interesting restaurants east of the Mississippi right now. It all starts with Lancaster County and its immediate environs, a somewhat undiscovered oasis of all that is good about growing produce and raising animals -- not because it's all-of-a-sudden trendy, but because they've done it that way for centuries and they don't know it's cool. You're going to get farm-to-table organic deliciousness with every bite.

I might add that this restaurant  is the Chez Panisse of Lancaster County. It was my first stop, and taste of Lancaster which led me on a path to find all of the culinary gems the city has available. Lancaster is certainly worth a trip if you happen to reside outside of Philadelphia, or are looking for a day trip in the Mid Atlantic region. I highly recommend it.

 

More than Amish,

kat

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On 4/28/2015 at 9:25 PM, Pool Boy said:

We need to talk all of the markets people go to. Some of them are great, but all of them have their own weird vibes.

I could talk for days on all the Markets in Lancaster County. There are thousands of them.

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On 1/18/2018 at 9:46 AM, kitkatpaddywak said:

I could talk for days on all the Markets in Lancaster County. There are thousands of them.

When you drive through the small towns near these markets, they are full of people wearing acid washed jeans from the early 90s and late 80s......

 

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On 4/28/2015 at 9:45 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

For Father's Day, I'm taking the kids to Sesame Place, most because they know Elmo, and the Courtyard by Marriott, while not cheap, is nice, close by, and has a decent restaurant. We'll probably eat crap in the park anyway. Maybe later this summer we'll do Dutch Wonderland. Btw, I bought tickets for Sesame Place on Groupon for $35 each.

If you make your way in toward Jersey anytime soon, I may recommend Crayola Factory in Easton. And as far as places to eat, there are some great spots in Easton Public Market, and a quaint downtown.

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Since moving back to the area, I am in continual awe of the richness of culture and sites Lancaster County has to offer. Ranging from the bounty that is offered at Lancaster Central Market, to the range of cuisine that is available at an abundance of spots throughout  the city. Although the mystique of the Amish Community is what draws travelers to Lancaster County , there is a group of people that are looking to expand what you may think you know about their not so sleepy city.  Lokal pronouced , "lou-call" is looking beyond the traditional tour, but rather curating experiences through out the region of Lancaster County which mostly run under 3 hours, and one that spans 4 hours that centers around the movie, "Witness". 

I recently had an opportunity to speak to Phil Lapp, both founder and brand ambassador, of Lokal Experiences. He shared with me what led to creating a different platform of tourism for the Lancaster County. He was often asked to offer tours to people visiting the area, and took it beyond the standard Amish offerings that are often advertised all over town. The rich history of Lancaster County is what he focused on, and his father had a connection to the film, Witness, that was filmed on an actual Amish Farm. This gave birth to what will become, "the Witness Experience", which will be launching next month. I will be attending the launch of the Witness Experience , and will report back .  The experiences are featured on the website as well as listed on Airbnb. From what I know, Airbnb only features this service in major cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, etc, so having this feature is a healthy indication that the road for Lancaster, Pa to become a destination city is well on its way. 

Lititz is another area that soon may become another reason to visit this area of Pennsylvania. The live production campus of Rock Lititz has gained a bit of notoriety in the last few years. Bands from the likes of the Rolling Stones, and musicians arrive here to run sound checks, and practice their sets before heading out on tour. Recently, both Taylor Swift as well as Ariana Grande were spotted in Lancaster. The recent opening of Hotel Rock Lititz has certainly become a go to spot with design features tied into live production details, and while you are there be sure to dine at Per Diem

I have said this many times over. There is so much to explore in Lancaster County, and with the  ambitions Lokal Experiences , you may come to see the Amish, but stay to experience the bounty beyond what you may expect. 

 

Explore Lancaster,

kat

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13 minutes ago, curiouskitkatt said:

Explore Lancaster,

kat

Thanks for calling out my hometown. I grew up there, and while it has certainly changed over the years, it retains a charm that I haven't seen in very many places across the country.

A few points to add:

  • If you haven't taken a day trip to Lancaster in July-August-September with a cooler in your car, you are missing out on some of the best produce and meats within a 3 hour drive. In September, you can bring home a gallon of life-altering chicken corn soup, and Washington Boro tomatoes will make you spit out Jersey tomatoes.
  • In addition to Witness, the last 20 minutes of "Boys from Brazil" was filmed in Lancaster. The director, Franklin Schaffner, is a Franklin and Marshall grad, and gave the commencement speech when he was wrapping up the filming of the movie. (I am a Franklin and Marshall alumnus).
  • Before anyone knew anything about concert venue music, the Clair Brothers of Lititz invented it for the Rolling Stones and a number of other touring bands in the 1960s and 1970s. They gave birth to Rock Lititz, and as Kat points out, they host the great bands of the world for sound checks. In 1982, Bruce Springsteen did a surprise "pop-up" 20-minute set at the Village Nightclub in downtown Lancaster after working on the sound in Lititz. Imagine the crowd's reaction, and a few of my friends were in the audience.
  • The single-family-owned grocery markets dotted throughout Lancaster County have spoiled the local population. John Herr's in Millersville, Stouffer's of Kissel Hill, Shady Maple in East Earl, Oregon Dairy (on the Oregon Pike), Martin's in Ephrata, Yoder's in New Holland, and more ... Wegman's is a step down from these places, and yet Wegman's has just moved into Lancaster for some reason.

Yes, explore Lancaster.

KN

 

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I met friends for a weekend in Lancaster County in the fall. I recommend Gracie's on West Main in Leola for great breakfast in a very welcoming environment. The house made jams were especially good.

 

ETA looks like they are closed for renovations until June 4. http://www.gracieslancaster.com/

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1 hour ago, Kibbee Nayee said:

.

  • The single-family-owned grocery markets dotted throughout Lancaster County have spoiled the local population. John Herr's in Millersville, Stouffer's of Kissel Hill, Shady Maple in East Earl, Oregon Dairy (on the Oregon Pike), Martin's in Ephrata, Yoder's in New Holland, and more ... Wegman's is a step down from these places, and yet Wegman's has just moved into Lancaster for some reason.

Yes, explore Lancaster.

KN

 

I admit I was initially excited to see Wegman's move into Lancaster, but the more I have the opportunity of visiting these local grocery shops, the more I realize that the shine  of the big shops lose their appeal. Pine View is a fav, as well as all you have mentioned, and I think the tomato barn in Washington Borough is a gem. 

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On 5/28/2019 at 2:46 PM, curiouskitkatt said:

Since moving back to the area, I am in continual awe of the richness of culture and sites Lancaster County has to offer. Ranging from the bounty that is offered at Lancaster Central Market, to the range of cuisine that is available at an abundance of spots throughout  the city. Although the mystique of the Amish Community is what draws travelers to Lancaster County , there is a group of people that are looking to expand what you may think you know about their not so sleepy city.  Lokal pronouced , "lou-call" is looking beyond the traditional tour, but rather curating experiences through out the region of Lancaster County which mostly run under 3 hours, and one that spans 4 hours that centers around the movie, "Witness". 

I recently had an opportunity to speak to Phil Lapp, both founder and brand ambassador, of Lokal Experiences. He shared with me what led to creating a different platform of tourism for the Lancaster County. He was often asked to offer tours to people visiting the area, and took it beyond the standard Amish offerings that are often advertised all over town. The rich history of Lancaster County is what he focused on, and his father had a connection to the film, Witness, that was filmed on an actual Amish Farm. This gave birth to what will become, "the Witness Experience", which will be launching next month. I will be attending the launch of the Witness Experience , and will report back .  The experiences are featured on the website as well as listed on Airbnb. From what I know, Airbnb only features this service in major cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, etc, so having this feature is a healthy indication that the road for Lancaster, Pa to become a destination city is well on its way. 

Lititz is another area that soon may become another reason to visit this area of Pennsylvania. The live production campus of Rock Lititz has gained a bit of notoriety in the last few years. Bands from the likes of the Rolling Stones, and musicians arrive here to run sound checks, and practice their sets before heading out on tour. Recently, both Taylor Swift as well as Ariana Grande were spotted in Lancaster. The recent opening of Hotel Rock Lititz has certainly become a go to spot with design features tied into live production details, and while you are there be sure to dine at Per Diem

I have said this many times over. There is so much to explore in Lancaster County, and with the  ambitions Lokal Experiences , you may come to see the Amish, but stay to experience the bounty beyond what you may expect. 

 

Explore Lancaster,

kat

Experience-based company LoKal to offer 'Witness' screening, farm tour,  Lancasteronline.com

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On 5/28/2019 at 2:46 PM, curiouskitkatt said:

Since moving back to the area, I am in continual awe of the richness of culture and sites Lancaster County has to offer. Ranging from the bounty that is offered at Lancaster Central Market, to the range of cuisine that is available at an abundance of spots throughout  the city. Although the mystique of the Amish Community is what draws travelers to Lancaster County , there is a group of people that are looking to expand what you may think you know about their not so sleepy city.  Lokal pronouced , "lou-call" is looking beyond the traditional tour, but rather curating experiences through out the region of Lancaster County which mostly run under 3 hours, and one that spans 4 hours that centers around the movie, "Witness".

I recently had an opportunity to speak to Phil Lapp, both founder and brand ambassador, of Lokal Experiences. He shared with me what led to creating a different platform of tourism for the Lancaster County. He was often asked to offer tours to people visiting the area, and took it beyond the standard Amish offerings that are often advertised all over town. The rich history of Lancaster County is what he focused on, and his father had a connection to the film, Witness, that was filmed on an actual Amish Farm. This gave birth to what will become, "the Witness Experience", which will be launching next month. I will be attending the launch of the Witness Experience , and will report back .  The experiences are featured on the website as well as listed on Airbnb. From what I know, Airbnb only features this service in major cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, etc, so having this feature is a healthy indication that the road for Lancaster, Pa to become a destination city is well on its way. 

 

On Saturday, ‘experience’ the Lancaster County farm where Harrison Ford’s ‘Witness’ was filmed, www.inquirer.com 6-13-19

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