Autumn harvest months are the best time of year to eat out in the famed Pennsylvania Dutch Country farm area. Vegetables are fresh-picked and meals are made with delicious traditional recipes. It’s even more enjoyable when visitors can gather family-style as each dish is brought to the tables in all-you-can-eat style. Meals will cost from $10 – $20 per person, offering a good value for good food.
Growing up in our hometown of Philadelphia, Lancaster County was just an hour’s drive away. Over the years, we’ve enjoyed many family-style dinners there. The Lancaster County area makes a great day trip from Philadelphia and also from the New York City area. These are some of our favorite Pennsylvania Dutch restaurants.
Plain & Fancy Farm & Dining Room (3121 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird in Hand) We’ve always left the dinner tables at this traditional Amish restaurant completely full and satisfied. Our favorites at the Plain & Fancy Farm & Dining Room are the homemade-style golden fried chicken with fresh-picked corn on the cob, and Lancaster County ham steak in cider sauce. Of course, we always enjoy the shoo fly pie (eggs, molasses and brown sugar), and apple pan dowdy (apples, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, pie crust and Grand Marnier liquor).
Good ‘N Plenty (150 Eastbrook Rd., Smoketown) We’ve been happy diners at this great family-style Lancaster County restaurant many times, now one of the largest in the area. When the Good ‘N Plenty first opened in 1969, just about 100 people could squeeze in and our son was only a year old. Now more than 600 are served at a time in the expanded dining room. However, it’s so popular, on busy Saturdays (closed Sundays, as are some other Amish-owned restaurants), there may be long lines of hungry tourists waiting to be seated.
Some of our favorites are their Pennsylvania Dutch pork broiled sausage, baked country ham and buttery mashed potatoes. As with most Lancaster County family-style restaurants, there’s an extensive take-out menu and souvenir shop.
Dienner’s Country Restaurant (2855 Lincoln Highway E, Ronks) The old saying about eating where the locals dine is well proven by this great family-style restaurant, with buffet on Saturday evenings. When we visit Dienner’s Country Restaurant, we often see Amish families there enjoying their night out together.
One favorite is roast chicken with homemade bread stuffing. Another is traditional creamed chipped beef and mashed potatoes. Of course, all the pies are fresh and full of just-picked berries, apples and apricots, we always used to bring home a blueberry and a cherry pie.
Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant (Route 772, 3716 E. Newport Rd., Intercourse) The town’s name has been the butt of many jokes, but dining at this great Amish family-style restaurant is a seriously enjoyable experience. Not everyone’s favorite dish, but we enjoy the Stoltzfus ham meatloaf, with sides of string beans and buttered noodles.
Of course, the meal at Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant wouldn’t be complete without Amish chow chow (green tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, cucumber, onions and other fresh vegetables, all chopped together, and cooked in vinegar).
Where to stay
We’ve always liked the Lancaster Host Resort and Conference Center (2300 Lincoln Highway E, Lancaster) and have stayed there many times over the years. It’s right across the street from the Dutch Wonderland amusement park, right in the center of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Rates start at $89 per night, midweek.
Follow travel writer Ted Sherman on Twitter @travel4seniors and check out his blog, travel4seniors.com.
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