Amish Country in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County is somewhat of a bucket list location for people. Sure, it’s not the island of Fiji, but the amount of attention ‘Amish Country’ receives is reason enough alone to pique the interest of even the worldliest of travelers.
Farms with windmills, rolling hills and lush grass don the landscape. In many respects, thanks to the Amish people, this has not changed for over 300 years. You’ll find areas in Lancaster County where the sound of speeding cars on the highways changes to the sound of horses’ hooves on the pavement. These places are home to the Amish, people of a highly religious culture, void of modern conveniences, and live their lives much like their predecessors in the 18th century.
There’s a diverse menu selection in Amish Country. Visitors will find the essence of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking is in the farm-to-table ingredients. With Lancaster Central Market (the country’s oldest continuously operating farmers market) at their disposal, many restaurants in Lancaster City have been engaged in the farm-to-table concept since before it became a buzzword.
Here are some must-visit places in Lancaster’s Amish Country:
Shady Maple Smorgasbord
Serving over one million people every year, the Shady Maple Smorgasbord prides themselves in creating great traditions with friends and family, all around a unique dining experience — a 200 foot buffet! The menu features everything from traditional Amish fare to grilled salmon. You definitely want to be hungry when you go here.
Wacker Brewing Company
Dating back to 1853, Wacker Brewing Company is one of the four biggest breweries in Lancaster County. The company closed for a number of years, but reopened just last year in 2014 by the great grandson of one of the original brewery’s workers.
Plain and Fancy
This eatery has been a ‘farm to table’ establishment since 1959, before the concept was a trend. They’re Amish Country’s original “Amish Farm Feast” and offer full course, pass-the-platter dinner that includes appetizers, entrees, sides, breads and desserts. Plain and Fancy’s family style setting means you’re sure to leave with some new friends!
Commonwealth on Queen
This urban cookery uses only in-season ingredients from Lancaster and the Susquehanna River Valley. More modern in design, Commonwealth on Queen’s ‘farm to fork’ menu features breakfast, lunch and sweet treats that are made daily.
Rich in history, the Horse Inn used to be a speakeasy in a renovated second floor hayloft area. The original horse stalls were transported upstairs where wagon wheel chandeliers adorn the dining room. Since then, building improvements were made and two full bars added. Daily fresh ingredients navigate the menu, but their infamous tenderloin tips on toast will always remain front and center.
Thistle Finch Distillery
Lancaster County’s oldest distillery offers free site tours, free samples and also acts as a cocktail room, selling whiskey by the glass or bottle. Enjoy the social setting at Thistle Finch amongst friends and family (of age) when you’re visiting!
Good ‘N Plenty
Another family style restaurant, Good ‘N Plenty has been family owned and operated since 1969. The menu has something for everyone and they have three ways for guests to enjoy their traditional fare: all-you-can-eat family style, menu dining and a to-go program for takeout!
The Log Cabin
A fine dining establishment since 1929, The Log Cabin is located in a secluded area once known as the Lehoy Forest on a site that was once occupied by the Nanticoke Indians. According to sources, the original log cabin was built in the early 1900’s out of oak logs cut by hand from the surrounding forest. Now, there are 14 different dining areas under one roof, each with its own personality. So no matter what your particular tastes and needs are, you’re sure to find something here.
Bird-in-Hand Bake Shop
Located in the heart of Amish country, experience the authentic taste of Amish baking at Bird-in-Hand. Since 1972, the bake shop has remained family owned and operated. The family uses “tried and true,” made-from-scratch recipes that were passed down from generations. Daily menu items include baked bread and rolls, cinnamon rolls, whoopie pies and their trademark wet bottom shoo-fly pies, among many other options.