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While Carlisle, PA isn’t terribly far from my home I don’t often head down there outside of work. Sometimes the whirlwind of daily routine can keep you from finding great things that are right in front of your nose! After staying late one day to finish up some research on CIP Compliance (everybody loves security compliance regulations and standards right?), I was surprised to see quite a commotion in downtown Carlisle on my ride home. Lots of people were walking into the square of Carlisle to an area where a number of tents and vendors had been stationed. Out of curiosity, I stopped in to see what event was going on there. Well, it just so happens that Farmers on the Square has been meeting every Wednesday in downtown Carlisle for months!farmers on the square, carlisle

Yea, completely missed that memo.

At any rate, these local vendors are fantastic! At the farmer’s market you’ll find a number of options for organic, pesticide free produce and meat. Among other things, you’ll also find fresh cut fries, honey, homemade birch beer, cookies, hot sauces, and lots more. I was amazed at the sheer volume of vegetable varieties. You’ll find way more types of tomatoes, peppers, and other veggies at Farmers on the Square than in your local grocery.  After sampling a number of local cheeses, hot sauces, and pickles, I ended up with a few bags worth of organic foods that turned out to be delicious. All of the vendors at Farmers on the Square are friendly and ready to help with any questions you might have. What I like best about the whole event is the focus on local. Why buy meats and produce from companies located in the midwest and beyond when central Pennsylvania is full of family farms?

You don’t have to go far to find good food here! Take a trip to Carlisle and check out Farmers on the Square every Wednesday beginning in May. If you’d like to learn more about the vendors or even be a vendor yourself there is loads of info on their website. They also have a learning center page, news section, upcoming events, and even volunteer opportunities. Check out Farmers on the Square, you won’t be disappointed!


So recently I was married, big deal right? Well, it certainly was for me but the point is my search for the perfect thank you gift to my parents resulted in a fantastic find.

This find happens to be an awesome day trip for anyone living in the Harrisburg area, or within driving range of greater Philadelphia for that matter. The company is called Bucks County Food Tours, and the trip is foodie Shangri-la.

I’m talking a guided tour through greater Philly’s best local food gems. Including, but not limited to, small batch ice cream, pastured meats, locally roasted coffee, cheeses, baked goods and more. Oh yes there is more and I’ve already booked my tickets to tasty town.

Next weekend I’ll be taking my parents and wife (shameless gift idea really) on a 5 hours trip through numerous stops and enjoying every bite of it. I’ll make sure to post photos and notes from the trip, well, post trip of course. 

If you’d like to learn more about Bucks County Food Toursfan their facebook page to stay in the loop.

Catch ya on the flip side!


Don’t miss out on the 6th Annual Hershey Soup Cook-Off presented by The Hershey Partnership this Saturday, October 3rd, 2009 from 11-2 at the Hershey Volunteer Fire Company Station!


I attended this event myself last year and had to post about it because it’s really worth the trip, no matter how far away you think Hershey is.

Last year they had one garage filled out with amateur cooks and the other with professional chefs from local restaurants, probably about 30 or 40 different participants in all, many with multiple soups for you to sample. You might think the pro chefs would be hands down better but I’ve got to say both sides of the contest made really amazing soups. Just really impressive, soup3not to mention creative!

I’m talking about cheesesteak soup, asparagus soup, lobster bisque, and oh so much more. They’ve also got a number of raffles going on, I believe last year they gave out a cruise as the main prize.

So how much to get into this incredible event?

$10 ! !

That’s it! Money well spent you will agree, see you there!

You can tell that Spring is soon upon us, if not from the changing weather or resetting of clocks, then certainly from the annual release of shamrock shakes. Luckily, Spring ushers in a much better treat for the taste buds than those strange green milk shakes – water ice.

I’ve always been a sucker for water ice, and besides National Mustard Day, my second favorite holiday has always been that one day maggiesof the year when water ice is free for the masses- the first day of Spring.

Of course, you can pick up a delicious free ice from any local Rita’s on March 20th, they’re everywhere nowadays, but for a more local favorite make sure to stop by Maggie’s Italian Ice in Mechanicsburg as they too will doll out free water ice to mark this festive occasion. I like Maggie’s for the ever changing unique menu of creative flavors: peanut butter fudge, blueberries ‘n cream, and mint chocolate chip are just a few of my personal favs.

There’s no better way to celebrate the end of snow, slush, salt, and cold car seats than a free water ice- yum.

Whether you’re looking for last minute holiday gifts, stockpiling future birthday presents or just want to reward yourself for all that hard work you’ve put in lately (of course we believe you), you don’t have to settle with a boring best buy gift card. You honestly don’t have to try too hard or look too far for some creative gifts that are sure to please. I’m personally a huge proponent of the whole buy local movement, it’s just a smart way to support your local economy and get more for your money, gifts are no different. More likely than not, wherever you live there is a unique little gift shop or food store, a local winery, a mom and pop shop that makes something you’ve never seen at Walmart.

In the greater Harrisburg area there exists a number of unique shops that are sure to be enjoyed, remembered, and most importantly used. The National Retail Association estimates that nearly 20% of gift cards vanut-020are never even used- pity. Instead try the Virginia Nut Shop, a family owned nut and candy specialty store since 1959 offering the absolute tastiest varieties of snacks, along with their famoustarnation37s ‘blisters.’ How about some incredible sauces? Torchbearer Sauces have a number of unique flavors for any type of cooking or food that requires something sticky. Harry’s House of Heat is another local sauce shop that offers some intense hot sauces for that extra tough guy uncle of yours (he will cry, trust me).  You can even find international gifts right here in Central PA, Oxford Hall Celtic Shop and Josie’s German Food Market and Delicatessen both offer authentic ethnic groceries, baked goods, sweets, and much more. Sinful baked goods are never hard to find around Harrisburg, my personal favorite is Ciao! Bakery, bring some peanut-butter truffles from this shop and you’re guaranteed to make friends at that holiday party. Of course, you can never go wrong with the gift of award winning wine, West Hanover Winery is a local business that is worthy of sharing (responsibly of course).

The list can really go on and on, please feel free to add your own favorite specialty shop if I’ve missed it. The idea here is simple: give something that actually has some thought or meaning behind it, give something that represents your locale, give anything besides that boring best buy gift card.

It has recently occurred to me after randomly stumbling upon a few wonderful ethnic grocery stores that Harrisburg has quite a few shops unfortunately existing under the radar for most people. As such, I’m starting a list of the shops that I’ve visited personally or am aware of around Harrisburg, please feel free to leave a comment with any additions you might have as I know I have probably missed a few. These places are truly unique and well worth trying for something new or unusual.

Choe’s Oriental Food Market, 829 State Street, Lemoyne. (Asian)

Dong My Asian Special Foods, Westshore Farmer’s Market, 900 Market Street, Lemoyne. 21

European Restaurant and Food Market, 5202 Simpson Ferry Road, Camp Hill. (Eastern Europe)

Fraulie’s German Delicatessen and Import Shop, 224 S 3rd Sreet, Lemoyne.

Fuji Do Japanese Market, 1701 Paxton Street, Harrisburg.

Goldy Market, 110 Old York Road, New Cumberland. (Eastern European)

Hampden Grocer – Asian Indian Grocery, 4704 Carlisle Pike, Mechanicsburg.

India Groceries and Fashion, 2650 Walnut Street, Harrisburg.

Josie’s German Food & Deli, 5238 East Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg.

Kim’s Oriental Food, 2501 Paxton Street, Harrisburg. (Asian)

La Kasbah Deli, 913 North 2nd Street, Harrisburg. (Moroccan)

Landau Jewelers & Antiques, Asian American Market, 3507 Simpson Ferry Road, Camp Hill. (Vietnamese/Asian)

Little Saigon Food Market, 2800 Paxton Street, Harrisburg. (Vietnamese/Asian)

Madina Halal Meat and Grocery, 407 North Front Street, Harrisburg. (Middle Eastern/North African)

Mid East Market, 829 State Street, Lemoyne. l2

Oxford Hall Celtic Shop, 315 Bridge Street, New Cumberland. (Brittish Isles)

Saint Thomas Village Store and Oriental Market, 5978 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg. (Filipino/Asian)

Shab’s Pita Stroller, 2269 Paxton Church Road, Harrisburg. (Mediterranean)

Tu Do Food and Gift, 2223 Derry Street, Harrisburg. (Vietnamese/Asian)

Tres Hermanos Taqueria, 216 N Front Street, Steelton. (Mexican/Latino)

Naturally, this is the continuation and counterpart to a previous list of Harrisburg’s best restaurants residing on the east shore of the beautiful Susquehanna River. As previously mentioned, don’t write off a restaurant without giving it a twice over and by all means, if you enjoyed your culinary experience somewhere make sure to write a positive review for them, great eateries deserve the promotion! There are countless websites where you can sing the praises of a deserving restaurant, my favorite local site is, and Yelp has a strong presence nationwide.
Here goes!

Best sushi – Zen Japanese Cuisine, 5205 Simpson Ferry Rd, Mechanicsburg. Sorry Sapporo fans, this place is tops for me in the Japanese food category. Sushi, service, and ambiance here are wonderful.

Best PhoIssei Noodle, 54 W High Street, Carlisle. There aren’t as many Vietnamese options on the west shore but for a grand slam bowl of Pho this place does it best, really neat interior to the place as well.

Best Middle Eastern – Cedars Lebanese Restaurant, 2153 Market Street, Camp Hill. Incredible food, atmosphere and service!

Best Italian – Juliana’s Italian Restaurant, 6108 Carlisle Pike, Camp Hill. Hard to find, but completely worth the effort. This is a classy restaurant that couples great service with quality food.

Best Pizza – Pizza Grille, 3817 Gettysburg Road, Camp Hill. Gourmet pizza, full bar, and lovely interior makes this best pizza, Harrisburg Magazine voters have concurred for the past decade.

Best Korean – Spring Garden, 5 South 35th St., Camp Hill. Since discovering Spring Garden I think Korean food has become my favorite cuisine! You might not notice this place just from driving by, but its really nice inside and the food is definitely ‘best of’ material.

Best Thai – Bankok Wok, 125 Gateway Dr # 111, Mechanicsburg. This place lives up to the hype in every respect, the food is always impressive, the restaurant is completely top notch.enter1

Best BBQ – Memphis Blues, 5202 Simpson Ferry Rd, Camp Hill. Fun atmosphere, quality BBQ.

Best Overall – I’ve got to give it to Spring Garden, the food is really incredible, the owners are extremely helpful and friendly, and the restaurant is quite nice inside. I recommend the dumplings and Jaeyook Bokeum- pan fried pork with veggies in spicy sauce. Don’t forget the kimchi!

Honorable Mention: West Shore Farmers Market, 900 Market Street, Lemoyne. Another awesome farmers market, with plenty of wonderful places to eat and snack from on the first floor and quite a few shops on the second floor.

Think I missed any or disagree? Please use the comment box and let me know!

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Whether you grew up here, pass through on occasion for business, or just randomly find yourself in Harrisburg for mysterious reasons beyond your control, I’d like to point you in the right direction with the local restaurant scene. I’m not a professional food critic by any means, but I do love eating and with as much time and money I’ve spent trying every place to eat around here I could find,  I’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s what and who’s guaranteed to please.

You should first of all be aware that there are A LOT of dining options in and around Harrisburg, so don’t you dare consider Applebees! A good place to start is; is another great way to learn about the best places to eat from those who have already been there.

Now obviously opinions are merely that, so don’t write off any restaurant before you try it at least twice. Many people are quick to complain but slow to write reviews about positive experiences, so don’t take online critiques to be gospel. But enough of the preaching, you’re hungry right!? Well here goes:

Best Burger – The Jackson House, 1004 N 6th St. Lunch hours only and no credit cards but wow you’ll have a new favorite burger place after your first visit. Try the house Jackson Burger.

Best Sandwich – Nonna’s Delicioso, 263 Reily St. This little Italian delicatessen serves up amazing quality sandwiches and Italian side dishes.

Best Pizza – Brother Joe’s Pizza, 6051 Allentown Blvd. Thin ‘n crispy pies, this place looks like your average Joe’s Pizza but the quality is surprisingly noticeable.

Best Sushi – Okini Pan Asian Restaurant, 3402 Walnut St. With so many local sushi places to choose from it’s tough to name one the champion, but personally I’ve always been impressed with the sushi here. Yes it looks like a Pizza Hut from the outside.

Best Indian – Aangan Indian Cuisine, 3500 Walnut St. Never mind the ugly exterior of the building, the inside is really quite nice and the food is wonderful. They specialize in Indian and Nepali food and have a wonderful buffet. Quite a few Indian places around the burg but this place is tops.

Best Vietnamese – Rose’s Vietnamese Cuisine, 2306 Walnut Street. You’ll probably drive by the place the first time, but you’ll know why you turned around to find it after you taste the food. Not much to the interior of the place, but definitely my personal favorite for pho and other Vietnamese dishes.

Best Middle Eastern – La Kasbah, 913 N 2nd St. Incredible Moroccan food, order anything on the menu, but don’t forget to try the tea!

Best Latino- Las Delicias, 2060 Derry St. So it’s not the nicest part of the city to be sure, but for authentic Spanish-American food this is it. Nothing impressive about the look of the place inside or out but the food makes it all worth it.

Best Italian – Zia’s at Red Door, 110 North Second St.  A private and upscale atmosphere, high quality food, and extensive wine list make Zia’s a great pick for Italian.

Suba Tapas Bar

Suba Tapas Bar

Best overall – Suba Tapas Bar, 272 North Street. Suba is the upstairs part of an Italian restaurant called Mangia Qui and they share the same kitchen. Both places are incredible, but Suba gets my personal nod for best overall place in Harrisburg to eat. It’s not cheap, but the atmosphere, service, drinks, and tapas are so worth it.

Overall Runner Up – Bricco, South 3rd & Chestnut Streets. A close second behind Suba, Bricco is an upscale Mediterranean restaurant with an elegant atmosphere and outrageously delicious cuisine. You will leave impressed from a dinner at Bricco.

Honorable Mention – Broad Street Market, 1233 N 3rd St. I love this market plain and simple. The hours are a little funny so check before you go, but there is such a wonderfully diverse collection of food available for purchase at the market. One building is for food vendors, the other is for groceries and miscellaneous goods.

Think I missed any or disagree? Drop a comment.

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After winning a $50 gift card from a contest facilitated by the {now defunct} local events calendar, my lovely girlfriend and I stopped in for a romantic evening at the most talked about restaurant in Harrisburg. I will say that I’ve been here a number of times for lunch and always left impressed, but I still had this feeling that somehow the place was over hyped.

I could not have been more wrong.

If you’ve never been inside Bricco, the place has a classy and modern New York City type of feel to it. You quickly feel relaxed and comfortable as you peruse the menu and extensive wine list. The lighting, music, and pace of the restaurant is just perfect. Our server for the evening was nothing less; attentive, courteous, and knowledgeable of every single aspect of the drink and food menus. Very impressive, in fact, I’ll go so far as to say I’ve never had better service anywhere, ever.

After a few complimentary samples from the wine list we decided on drinks and focused our attention to appetizers. We decided on 3 cold small plates, similar to tapas; house made pickled vegetables, grilled asparagus, and eggplant with raisins, pine nuts, and roasted peppers. All three dishes were exquisite, and I especially enjoyed the pickled vegetables, they were just exceptional and bursting with flavor.

Following the appetizers, I decided on the Bricco Bolognese and my counterpart ordered the Sage Pappardelle. Wow. I can hardly express how impressed I was with the quality and flavor of these extraordinary dishes. The Bricco Bolognese was a combination of house made sausage, meatballs, pancetta, chicken, mortadella, tomato sauce and polenta that was just amazing down to the very last bite. The portion was rather large and loaded with meat but believe me there was not a bite spared when all was said and done. The Sage Pappardelle was a more delicate dish, but no less incredible. The raised duck, red wine and pancetta ragout just melted in your mouth and was so succulent that we couldn’t help but finish the entire plate. We enjoyed the food so much that we unfortunately left no room for dessert!

That will have to wait for another day, but I am certain I’ll return to Bricco. While the lunch menu is wonderful you really must make a dinner visit to truly experience the brilliance of the food and atmosphere of the restaurant. Bricco has firmly established itself in my mind as setting the standard for fine dinning well beyond Harrisburg.

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If you’re into unique dining experiences, themed feasts, quality beer, or pirates, you need to put a visit to Bube’s Brewery on your to do list. Located in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, this 19th century brewery and museum contains 4 extraordinary restaurants, live events, an unusual store, and an art gallery displaying works from local artists. Bube’s, (interestingly enough pronounced “boo bees”) has a very rustic, vintage atmosphere, as everything has been preserved as it existed years ago.

My experience with Bube’s was in the Catacombs, an incredible restaurant located 43 feet underground in the old stone cellars where enormous wooden casks used to be full of aging beer. The atmosphere is beyond unique, as the quiet stone caverns are lighted only by candlelight atop a number of dinner tables. What an experience! Not to mention that the food was great and the service superb. They even provided a free dessert to help us celebrate a birthday in our dining party. I tried a few of the house brewed beers- an IPA that really threw me off because of it’s unique maltiness and a red ale that was just perfect. My date tried a caramel apple martini that was equally delicious, and the prices for everything on the menu were very reasonable. Both the swordfish and the seafood mornay were wonderful.

All in all, dining in the Catacombs was an experience I will not soon forget, and I am already planning a return visit to try the other dining establishments at Bube’s Brewery. Those include the original bar called Alois, the Bottling Works, and the outdoor Biergarten. Themed dinners also include Murder Mysteries, Roman Feasts, Medieval Feasts, Pirate Feasts, Halloween and Christmas Feasts.

Bube’s is truly a must, try it for a romantic dinner, a fun themed evening, or just for something altogether different.

You can check out their upcoming events, menus and more at:

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