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Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Beyond Breakfast: Missy’s Arcade Restaurant | Titusville, PA

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“Breakfast is done!” we were told as our server seated us at Missy’s Arcade. That’s always a bummer to hear, but even though we couldn’t make this a breakfast stop, our experience and the atmosphere of Missy’s Arcade Restaurant are still noteworthy.

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We stopped by Missy’s for a full lunch after pre-gaming some donuts at Clark’s Donuts Plus nearby, and before climbing aboard the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad for a ride through the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside.

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Missy’s popped up on our radar when we searched for local lunch spots online, and it had all the marks of a retro diner, not the least of which is the old building front and the vertical neon sign. The structure fits with the historic nature of Titusville and nearby towns like Oil City and Franklin, which boomed in the 1860′s with the sinking of the world’s first oil well. The small urban centers surrounded by big mansions speak to the decades of oil wealth and the communities that sprung up around it.

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The interior of Missy’s has been refurbished. It’s honestly hard to tell how old the restaurant really is, but now at least, it reads like a Coca-Cola advertisement. Every available surface is plastered with Coke paraphernalia – some very old and some much newer.

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The Coke kitsch covers everything from walls to shelves to ceiling fan blades.

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Our server fit the vibe of old diner, too. She was certainly friendly, but she got right down to business. She was one of those servers whose territory is very well defined. You’re the customer, yes, but you’re in HER restaurant.

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The meals were simplicity itself; they were just the right type of comfort food you’d expect from an old restaurant like this. Like the cup of French onion soup and a salad.

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Chicken breast sandwich and fries.

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A kid’s of meal of grilled cheese and fries.

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The kid’s burger.

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The turkey reuben.

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And the classic reuben with the corned beef thick-sliced and nicely grilled. All in all, Missy’s is a simple place to fill yourself up. It’s small, comforting, and speaks to the history of the area.

If you want to visit:
Missy’s Arcade Restaurant
116 Diamond St. (map it!)
Titusville, PA 16354
(814) 827-8110

Missy's Arcade Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Clark’s Donuts Plus | Cranberry, PA

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Clark’s Donuts Plus (Facebook / @ClarksNo1Donuts)

7150 U.S. 322 (map it!)
Cranberry, PA 16319
(814) 677-7336
Open Mon-Fri until 3p; Sat until 12p (they open early while donuts are still being made)
Accepts cash & debit/credit

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Over Thanksgiving we were taking the kiddos to ride the Oil Creek & Titusville Railroad, a little historic train that rolls you through the beautiful Pennsylvania hills and past the world’s first oil well. But we can’t just go ride the train, especially when we find there are donuts nearby!

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My father-in-law knows the area well, and had seen cars lining up outside Clark’s Donuts many times, so we joined the throngs to see what all the fuss was about.

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It didn’t take long to find out why. Trays of donuts, that’s why. Trays and trays of fresh donuts.

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Note the “Plus” in the bakery’s name. That’s because Clark’s Donuts Plus is the secondary location of – you guessed it – Clark’s Donuts in nearby Titusville. The Plus store has been open for over 20 years, an employee told us, while the original Clark’s has been around for nearly 75 years.

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Like a true old-school donut shop, they’ve been getting by on the strength of their donuts and not the sophisticated digs or strong social media presence. People know about their donuts because of good old fashioned word of mouth.

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I mean, what’s not to like about seeing trays of donuty goodness? Clark’s was well-stocked, even mid-morning with a steady flow of customers.

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They had a tremendous variety of donuts, too. Cake donuts, fritters, giant bearclaws…

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…longjohns overflowing with creme.

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We boxed up a sample of nearly everything, because, you know… research.

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We didn’t meet a donut we didn’t like, but the longjohns were impressive, not to mention these iced donuts with toasted coconut.

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And these maple-iced beauties that were light and fluffy.

I love knowing that old donut shops like Clark’s are still thriving. The American culinary landscape would be poorer without them. So if you find yourself traveling through the Cranberry area, pick up a box. And grab one for me, too.

Clarks Donuts Plus on Urbanspoon

Lititz Family Cupboard Restaurant & Buffet | Lititz, PA

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Lititz Family Cupboard Restaurant & Buffet
12 W. Newport Rd. (map it!)
Lititiz, PA 17543
(717) 626-9102
Open Mon-Sat, 6a-8p (bfast buffets served Mon-Fri, 6:30-11:30a; Sat, 6-11a)
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? N/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 9:00 a.m.

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Anywhere you find yourself in Amish/Pennsylvania Dutch country, you are bound to find the one or more of the large “Dutch-cooking” family restaurants. Across Ohio we have a handful of Der Dutchmen in addition to more stand-alone country cookin’ restaurants. If you’re traveling with a large group (like we were), then these restaurants are a godsend because they have huge seating areas, plenty of food that is restocked constantly, and servers that are accustomed to big families. Seriously, we walked up on a busy Saturday and asked for a table for 15 and the host didn’t even blink.

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One of the bonuses of finding an Amish-cooking restaurant: the donuts. You will generally find them in a restaurant and in a separate bakery space. They are soft, generously frosted, cream-filled delights, most likely because they’re made with lard.

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Prepare yourself for gratuitous breakfast buffet pictures ahead. There’s no easy way to capture the full buffet experience, with its stacks of plates and steaming trays and busy lines. So I snapped pictures of everything. They had all the standards: pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, toast.

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Plus the buffet version of French toast: sticks.

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What’s more interesting are the interesting regional specialties like pan pudding, cornmeal cakes, and chipped beef.

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What did draw our attention were the nutty cinnamon rolls. This is one of those rare moments when a buffet’s consistent heating of the food really pays off. The constant warmth keep the rolls soft and sticky, and the blend of cinnamon, sugar, and walnuts really hit the nail on the head.

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And if you’re in eastern PA then you need to have some scrapple. I was pleasantly surprised by the buffet scrapple. It was fried crispy without getting soggy, and it was seasoned well. Of course, if the scrapple is going to be good anywhere, it had better be in eastern Pennsylvania, buffet or not.

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Yessssssss! There were those donuts at the buffet, too! Worth the price of admission alone.

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Plate #1. Covering the basics, plus some cornmeal cakes and chipped beef gravy.

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Plate #2. French toast sticks, regular French toast, scrapple, and a cinnamon roll.

The Lititz Family Cupboard doesn’t stand out too much from similar restaurants, but it served our purpose and had a few bright spots. The servers were super on-the-spot, the buffet was stocked quickly, and it served up plenty of comfort food. It would be a great start to a day exploring Lititz, just named Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Town in America!

Lititz Family Cupboard Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Beyond Breakfast: Penn State Berkey Creamery

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What goes best with a little BBQ while you’re on the road in spring break? Ice cream! And if you happen to be on the road anywhere near central Pennsylvania, your best bet for ice cream has to be Penn State University’s Berkey Creamery.

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I know I know I know… I’m a blogger from Ohio, I teach at THE Ohio State University, Penn State is supposed to be a sworn enemy, blah blah blah. Columbus does ice cream well – we do it very well – but ice cream has been proven to transcend cultural, geographic, national, and yes, sometimes religious boundaries. So while we have lots of ice cream to be proud of in central Ohio, we’ve got to acknowledge the excellence of Penn State’s ice cream program. After all, our very own Jeni of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams attended Berkey Creamery.

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At the Berkey Creamery, it’s not just all ice cream. There’s sherbet, there’s cheese, and there are sticky buns from the local diner.

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In recent years the Creamery moved to a new space in the new Food Science Building. From what I barely remember of the old space (I only peaked in once), this is spot is bigger and more open. One corner of it is run like a good old fashioned convenience store, but a majority of the space is dedicated to the ice cream.

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Like any established ice cream shop, the Berkey Creamery has its share of famous flavors, like Peachy Paterno, Coconut Chip, and Mint Nittany. One of the more well known – and my personal favorite – is the Death By Chocolate.

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Death By Chocolate isn’t a really complex flavor, it’s just really, really great chocolate ice cream. It’s rich, it’s not over-the-top sweet, and it’s served in a generous heaping cup.

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We also “sampled” the cookies & cream and the peanut butter swirl.

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I’ve always had a soft spot for cookies and cream. It’s one of my go-tos at any ice cream parlor. The chunkier, the better.

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This would be a great way to go.

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Aside from eating ice cream on premises, we also visited with the purpose of loading up a cooler with half gallons. The creamery features an entire wall of freezers loaded top to bottom with ice cream, and they’ll pack it on dry ice for you.

For ice cream lovers or for casual travelers, the Berkery Creamery is a must-stop in central Pennsylvania. And don’t be intimidated by the campus location: it’s easy to access and a nearby parking garage has half hour spots dedicated to Creamery visitors.

If you want to visit:
Berkey Creamery
119 Food Science Building (map it!)
University Park, PA 16802
creamery.psu.edu
See also on Facebook and @PSUCreamery

Berkey Creamery on Urbanspoon

Beyond Breakfast: Gio’s BBQ

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Spring break yielded some culinary adventures for us, as we trekked across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. What about a little bit of road food?

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The best road food shows up in the most unexpected places. In this case it was a barbecue joint… inside a gas station… a little ways outside State College, PA at the intersection of routes 970 and 322. If you’re traveling to or from Penn State on the western side, chances are you’ll pass by this gas station. And when you do, you can stop for lunch.

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The building itself is half gas station convenience store and half restaurant. Dead center is the counter with hand-written menus on bright orange cardstock. The moral here is not to let the simple exterior fool you: this food goes far beyond the typical gas station Slim Jims and overcooked hotdogs. The wafting smell of smoky barbecue and the small army of cooks in the kitchen tell you that locals and travelers alike keep this place busy, and for a reason.

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Case in point: the beef brisket sandwich. Smoky and flavorful, sliced thin and piled on a bun with cole slaw and a Carolina-style sauce.

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The pulled pork sandwich smothered in sauteed veggies.

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The half rack of ribs with a generous mound of pulled pork hidden below.

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The ribs were a tad on the dry side but smoked appropriately. They pulled apart easily and were sauced without being drowned. In other words, the meat was given a chance to shine, rather than having its flaws hidden by slopping on the condiments.

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A small beef brisket platter. All of the sides were done well, but the side of sauce with each dish really stood out to me. It was rich, tomatoey (that’s a word, right?), and surprisingly tangy. Made for excellent dipping of said sliced brisket.

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We caught the restaurant before a big lunch rush, but even so there were always 2-3 people at the counter, getting BBQ in-house or to-go.

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Gio’s sells their sauce, too. A big sign above the display boasts of the awards they’ve won. Side note: maybe I don’t know BBQ well enough, but sometimes awards for BBQ seem like Grammy’s. So many people are awarded so many different prizes that I don’t know if it really counts for something. Not that I’m holding this against Gio’s in particular. Just making an observation.

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Overall, a worthy stop if you’re trekking up and around the foothills of central Pennsylvania. Gio’s knows their audience well, with specific signage to address Penn State aficionados.

If you want to visit:
Gio’s BBQ
2829 Woodland Bigler Highway (map it!)
Woodland, PA 16881
(814) 857-714
giosbbq.com

Gio's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Photos: The Cuisine of Eastern Pennsylvania

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Over my recent spring break we headed east to visit Mrs. Bfast w/Nick’s family. Most of her family hails from Pennsylvania, with one whole contingent from the southeast corner of the state in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania Dutch territory. This region, like every region with a good identity, sports some very unique eating. First up: pickled beet eggs. My wife’s grammie has always made them, and I never knew or loved them until I had hers. The beets and eggs (hard-boiled) are pickled together in the beet juice, vinegar, and sugar. They’re a little sweet and they stain your fingers.

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At a family dinner we also had a dish called corn pie.

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This is a very basic mixture of corn, hard-boiled eggs, milk, and butter in a pie crust, flavored with salt and pepper. It’s simple, easy-to-like comfort food.

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Pizza is pizza, but it always tastes better when it’s a little sentimental. This is a slice of the meat lovers from P&J Pizza in Womelsdorf. P&J was my wife’s grandfathers favorite pizza place; the family that owned the place always called him “Charlie,” even though that’s not his name. When Pop passed away a couple years ago, we actually had to make the call to P&J to let them know that Charlie had passed, and they were genuinely disappointed to lose a friend.

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We spent a morning in the adorable and vibrant small town of Lititz, including breakfast at a home-cooking buffet (blog post coming soon!). Lititz was just voted Coolest Small Town in America by Budget Travel, and from what I’ve seen that’s a worthy title. Storefronts are not only occupied by small businesses, but they’re busy, too. There’s a healthy mix of history and some modern invention, and the town overall is very well-kept. We visited two food-related places that are steeped in history.

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The first stop was the Julius Sturgis pretzel factory, first pretzel bakery in the U.S. The small stone building still houses the old equipment and ovens, although they only make soft pretzels on site. The twice-baked pretzels are made at a larger factory nearby.

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On the tour you learn to roll and twist your own pretzel.

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And then there’s the obligatory sampling of the fresh soft pretzels.IMG_3236

Around the corner from Julius Sturgis is Wilbur Chocolate Company, still making chocolate in their original production space. The lower level is a shop and museum, but on the floors above you can hear the equipment thumping away.

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Part of the gift shop serves as a small museum, with displays of old packaging, equipment, and photos.

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Out of sheer curiosity, I picked up a bag of Wilbur’s coffee. The package noted that the beans are dusted with cocoa, and they seriously weren’t kidding.

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If you’re eating in eastern Pennsylvania, you’ve got to have some scrapple! Scrapple is made from the butcher’s meat scraps, mixed with cornmeal and seasonings, then sliced and fried. When it’s done well, it’s good. When it’s not done well… it’s hard to forget what goes into it. This was the version served at our buffet breakfast in Lititz, and it was quite good. Crispy and well-seasoned.

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We finished the weekend with breakfast at a local diner called Risser’s Family Restaurant. You have to love small town diners and their placemats with local advertising.

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At Risser’s I tried their eggs benedict with a couple hash brown patties. All very good – the hollandaise was a little on the thick side – but all in all it was a fitting end to a weekend of comfort food.

Beyond Breakfast: Kauffman’s BBQ Restaurant | Bethel, PA

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Okay, one more post related to October’s NYC trip. On our way back from the city, my wife and I swung through eastern Pennsylvania to visit her Grammie. She lives in a very rural area, close to Reading, and nearly every time we visit, we go to Kauffman’s BBQ Restaurant. Kauffman’s (sometimes just referred to as “the chicken place”) is near and dear to our hearts because it serves straight-up comfort food, but even more so because it makes us think of Pop-Pop. He passed away a couple years ago, and this was one of his favorite spots. I still remember the first time we ever went, about six years ago. He was very dedicated to showing us the process of ordering, what to order, and how to maximize your bowl at the salad bar (hint: don’t put too much lettuce in it).

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So needless to say that, while Kauffman’s isn’t fancy by any means, it’s still a very special experience when we visit. The building itself sits on a winding country road, a few towns away from where Grammie lives. That part of eastern Pennsylvania, Berks County, is a series of small, old towns with German names. Driving through that country, you come over a hill outside Bethel and suddenly there’s Kauffman’s, with its long, low building aside a wide parking lot, miniature golf course (I’m not kidding), and a big fiberglass chicken out front.

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I mentioned that we also know Kauffman’s as “the chicken place,” right? Well, before you even get to the menu, you’re treated to a view of racks upon racks of roasting chickens. They turn slowly under the heat, dripping their juices down onto each other and the rows of skewered potatoes lined up underneath.

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On our last visit, Grammie told us that Pop loved seeing these because he once used this same equipment years ago when he ran a poultry shop in Philadelphia.

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Kauffman’s is run cafeteria style. A wall-sized menu hangs on one side of the large entry room.

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Then you step through a small door into a long, thin hallway. You grab a tray and order pretty much directly from the kitchen. Although Kauffman’s serves steaks and fish and sandwiches, the real feature is the chicken. You can order a 1/4 or 1/2 chicken. The platters come with a potato, rolls & butter, plus a run at the salad bar.

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Once you order, you’re given the proper cup for your drink (depending whether you ordered soda or just water), you get your roll and butter plus your bowl for the salad bar, and then you take a number for your meal and find a seat in the expansive dining rooms.

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Soon enough, they call your number and your chicken is ready.

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Look at this beautiful plate of comfort food! Roasted chicken! Fresh rolls! Macaroni salad! Potato filling (aka mashed potatoes and gravy)!

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On this visit, I decided to mix things up and order the chicken croquettes, which are shredded, breaded, fried, and covered in gravy. Again, nothing’s fancy, but the food and – more importantly – the company is the ultimate in comfort.

If you’re in the area and you want to visit:

Kauffman’s BBQ Restaurant (Facebook)
33 Gravel Pit Rd. (map it!)
Bethel, PA 19507
(717) 933-8415
Open Wed-Fri, 4-9p; Sat & Sun, 11a-9p
kauffmansbbqrestaurant.com

The Corral Drive-In | Hermitage, PA

Like it or not, summer is slowly winding down. Kids are going back to school, the weather is (maybe) turning cooler, football is starting, we begin thinking of donuts, apple cider, and all things harvesty. It also marks the time when The Corral closes for the summer. The Corral Drive-In is one of those many decades-old eateries that dot the American landscape. You can find it in western Pennsylvania where Mrs. Breakfast With Nick grew up. The restaurant is open only during the warmer months, so we automatically associate it with summertime ice cream stops or lunch after spending time out on the boat.

My father-in-law used to go here when he was younger, and not much has changed since then. He said that the biggest changes are the occasional repaint, and an enclosure covering the order windows. And that’s about it. The menu features burgers, fries, hot dogs, ice cream, all the favorite roadside eats.

The waiting area consists of old school desks.

The Corral is the definition of roadside: it’s a little shack sitting in a gravel parking lot along Route 18 in western Pennsylvania’s Shenango Valley.

Across the street are corn fields.

Everything is done by hand. Your order is taken by one of the local high school kids working there for the summer.

They figure out tax using one of the tables taped to the counter.

After you pay (cash only), you’ll get your order number. You can wait inside or outside in your car or at one of the picture tables nearby, until they call your name over the tinny, way-too-loud speakers.

The food isn’t fancy at the Corral, but chances are you weren’t looking for fancy. One of their features is the hi-boy, essentially a double-burger with lettuce, onions, ketchup.

You could also order the lo-boy, a single burger, and some fried mushrooms.

Or corn dogs and fries.

This is how you know the fries are good.

One of the draws of the Corral is the coffee stir, which is essentially a coffee milkshake. It’s rich and sweet. Perfect for a caffeine kick on a hot day.

But one of the main reasons people visit the Corral is for the soft serve. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been driving by the Corral and have been detoured by the comment, “Do you want some ice cream?” They serve chocolate, vanilla, and twist, and any experienced Corraler will warn you the portions are obscenely huge. I almost always order a small or a baby size. The photo above compares the large (on the left) to the baby cone (on the right). During the summer, I think it’s nearly impossible to finish a large without it melting away.

But that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

If you’re in the area, the Corral will still be open for while, so you still have a chance to say a good-bye (or two or three) to summer.

If you want to visit:
The Corral Drive-In
2190 N. Hermitage Rd. (map it!)
Hermitage, PA 16148
(724) 962-5392

Corral on Urbanspoon

Greenville Dinor | Greenville, PA

Greenville Dinor
7 S. Mercer St. (map it!)
Greenville, PA 16125
(724) 588-8820
Open Sun-Wed, 6a-8p; Thurs-Sat, 6a-9p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? N/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Saturday, December 24, 2011 at 9:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: It’s easy to be mean to small-town diners. I’ll admit, I’ve done it. They’re small, their food is often lowest common denominator, and let’s face it, if  you’re someone who lives in a big city like me, we often smugly enjoy the “quaintness” of small town life. Or we romanticize the feeling that “there aren’t enough of these left in the world!” Despite growing up in a medium-sized city, currently living in a larger one, and often visiting smaller ones, I experience all of these feelings when visiting small-town diners.

Or maybe I’m over-thinking it. Small-town diners are the hub of community and good food, just like any other diner across the country. They mean something to the community, and their charm comes from the rough edges and the little local flair. Okay, I’m over-thinking this. Let’s start again…

On Christmas Eve my brother-in-law and I finally visited a small diner in my wife’s hometown. The Greenville Dinor (yes, it is spelled with an “o” and I don’t know why) has been around for decades, off a side-street in downtown Greenville, just up from their magnificent pre-Depression post office building (see pictures here). We found the entrance to the dinor through a back door off the municipal parking lot.

ATMOSPHERE: The interior is a mix of small diner and dive bar. There’s carpeted floor. Low ceilings. Christmas lights and neon signs. TV sets. A checkered pattern across the counter, with a handful of swiveling stools. At one end of the restaurant is a series of beer coolers.

The main seating is a long row of booths along the front window. On a chilly, slightly snowy Christmas Eve, it was surprisingly cozy.

The front of the menu claims 80 years in business, which is nothing to sneeze at. In addition to breakfast, they serve lunch, dinner, and drinks; the menu brags about sandwiches, burgers, Robbie’s soups, wings, and fish.

FOOD: The one-page breakfast menu has a decent variety of things. I glanced over it too quickly to notice that they actually serve eggs benedict. But they’ve got you covered with omelets, pancakes, French toast, corned beef hash, even chipped beef on toast, which you don’t see that often. The benedict is actually listed under the omelets, which is why I missed it completely.

First order: diner coffee served in those glorious brown mugs. I’m guessing there’s a law somewhere stating that diners must use these mugs for coffee service.

My brother-in-law ordered the eggs benedict, and said he enjoyed it. The egg yolks looked a tad over-done, and the hollandaise a little light, but otherwise it’s a decent version of the dish. Came with some nice crispy hash browns.

I was in more of a combo mood, so I went with pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Easy-to-like pancakes – buttery and browned nicely, they soaked up the syrup. Good scrambled eggs, and the bacon was crispy. I don’t realize this often enough, but I really like bacon that’s crispy, almost to the point of being dry. This bacon hit the spot.

Plus I had more coffee. It was cold and early. Bring it on.

SERVICE: The servers were quick to take our orders and quick to bring it out. Checked in on us frequently. Kept the coffee refills coming. I had that feeling that if I gave them some sass, they’d give it right back.

OVERALL: Between the big city smugness and the small town romanticizing, I’ll land on the side of romanticizing. The Greenville Dinor is a tiny eatery that not many people know about outside of the Shenango Valley in western Pennsylvania, but all the same it has a dedicated clientele who have frequented for decades. I may not rush to visit again the next time we’re in town, but it’s nice to know that it’s there, and that places like this still exist.

OTHER LINKS:

-> listen to Harrod & Funck talk about eating at the Dinor (at the end of the song)

Greenville Diner on Urbanspoon

Risser’s Family Restaurant | Womelsdorf, PA

Risser’s Family Restaurant (Facebook)
4055 Conrad Wesier Parkway (map it!)
Womelsdorf, PA 10567
(610) 589-4570
Open Tues-Sat, 6:00 am – 7:30 pm; Sun, 6:00 am – 1:30 pm
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Date of Visit: Sunday, November 7, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.

IMPRESSIONS: The “family restaurant.” Now there’s a phrase packed with connotations! What does it bring to mind for you? For me, it recalls small one-off restaurants. Found in small towns around America. Usually close to highways. Definitely family-friendly. Often crowded with regulars. Serving one or two regional specialties but otherwise generally decent food. Family restaurants are close to diners, but bigger. Larger dining rooms. More room for big groups and buffet lines. Many of them, like Ernie Risser’s Family Restaurant, have a small diner side – if you want that type of experience – plus an extensive dining room if the whole family’s come to dine.

ATMOSPHERE: When it comes to the definition of family restaurants, Risser’s is all of the above. Some of my wife’s family is from eastern Pennsylvania, and they discovered it on a visit, parked along Highway 422 between the small towns of Womelsdorf and Myerstown. (Can we say German influences?)

On our visit, we opted for the diner side of things. Truly a tight squeeze. Small stools at the counter, snug little booths. Shiny chrome here and there. Sassy servers.

But the dining room offers more open seating and room for big families. (We returned on a later trip with a group of 15; they easily tucked us into the dining room.)

FOOD: Risser’s gives you all the family restaurant breakfast favorites: eggs, home fries, omelets, French toast, sausage gravy and biscuits. Plus a few not-as-common things: pancakes (called “hotcakes”) loaded with all sorts of fruit. Not just blueberries, but apples and cherries, too. Or there’s the dried chipped beef on toast (aka, an SOS). But no scrapple on the menu.

As we were visiting in the fall, they had a couple seasonal favorites on their specials menu. These include the apple hotcakes, which have apples and cinnamon in them, and the pumpkin pancakes, which are what you’d expect. Or you can go all harvest-crazy and do the autumn hotcakes: apples and cinnamon in… wait for it… pumpkin pancakes.

Good diner coffee. I like the big blue mugs.

We tried the sausage gravy casserole: two eggs, cheddar cheese, home fries, coated in gravy. Sure, it was good. Chunky potatoes. Mostly flavorful gravy. Nothing to write home about, but if you’re a fan of the little-bit-of-everything dishes, this your guy.

Here’s the creamed dried beef on toast. Pretty rich gravy drowning the toast. Nice meaty chunks. But nothing amazing.

A plain old blueberry pancake for my son. Big blueberries. A small lake of melted butter.

And of course, we had to have the autumn hotcakes. Not the greatest pancakes ever, but there’s really nothing to dislike here. I mean, come on… tasty pumpkin pancakes, chunks of apples baked into them, generous dusting of cinnamon sugar, plus a melted pad of butter. Oh, and you pour syrup on it. They’re fitting for the season: warm, sweet, and filling.

SERVICE: Our server was great. The right amount of sass, tempered by quick coffee refills and fast turnaround on our order.

Oh, and this is another mainstay of the family restaurant: the paper place mat with local advertisers.

OVERALL: If you’re traveling down Route 422 in rural eastern Pennsylvania, find a way to stop at Risser’s. It’s good road food – like the Kumm Esse Diner down the road – that offers you a few specialties in the midst of an otherwise ordinary, but solid, breakfast.

Risser's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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