The best restaurants in Lancaster, Pennsylvania offer travelers unique foods, which lead to a memorable dining experience. The area is best known for its traditional Amish and Mennonite population, who, have preserved the region's German culinary heritage, as well as traditional farming practices.
Lancaster is in eastern central Pennsylvania, nearby airports are Harrisburg (MDT)
, about 30 miles away, and Philadelphia(PHL)
, about 70 miles away. It's an easy weekend trip from New York City and Washington DC -- the drive should take around three hours.
Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
Central Market is a downtown Lancaster tradition. On Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, while locals stock up on staples, you'll get a good window into the Amish kitchen, which eschews modern prepared foods in favor of freshly made baked goods, canned and preserved vegetables, smoked meats and more. Read a review of Central Market here
, and check out food photos in this Central Market gallery
Lancaster Brewing Company's Many Beers on Tap. Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
Beer has long roots in Lancaster County, but today, the only brewery still in operation is the Lancaster Brewing Company. It's not only an active brewery that offers free tours, it's also a brew pub serving lunch, dinner and of course, suds and snacks. Read a review of Lancaster Brewing company here.
3. Sample Farm-to-Table Cuisine
Entrance to John J.Jeffries restaurant in the Lancaster Arts Hotel. Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
John J. Jeffries
is a restaurant specializes in sophisticated food sourced within a 25-mile radius from its location -- from hydroponic lettuce, to bison, to beer, to cheese. The restaurant has an urban-hip vibe, and it happens to be in the most sophisticated hotel in town, the boutique Lancaster Arts Hotel
. Other choices for farm-to-table is the more traditional Carr's Restaurant
, near Central Market. (There's also a Carr's stand in Central Market
4. Dine Family Style
Lancaster's family-style restaurants are a bit touristy, but for quantities of hearty farm-style food, they're still an institution. Most of these restaurants will let you order off an a la carte menu, so it's not quite like home, but Good n' Plenty restaurant still serves it the old fashioned way: you'll sit at a big table and please-pass-the-plate with other diners.
5. Visit a Traditional Chocolate Factory
Wilbur Chocolate Company in Lititz, Penn. Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
Pennsylvania's best-known chocolate attraction is, of course, Hershey's
, which was actually founded in Lancaster in 1894. Hershey's operations moved elsewhere in Pennsylvania, but Wilbur Chocolate Company
, which was founded in Philadelphia in 1865, and now has its factory in the charming town of Lititz, not far from downtown Lancaster. Wilbur Chocolate Company has a museum with a chocolate kitchen, as well as a factory store. Try a free samples of its famous "Wilbur Buds", which are chocolate drops in the shape of flower buds, and are considered by some to be a superior version of Hershey's Kisses.
6. Learn to Make Traditional Amish Jelly & Preserves
At Kitchen Kettle Village
in the town of Intercourse, Penn., teams of Amish women can and preserve everything from horseradish to beets to corn, and make homemade jam and jelly out of everything from figs, plums, and elderberries -- and they do it all by hand. Sign up for a one-hour "Cannin’ & Jammin’ Tour", in which you'll learn to make your very own jelly. Cost is $20 per person, group rates are available. Information: (800) 732-3538.