An inventive, international array of flavors fed by Amish farms.
Two hours’ drive west of Philadelphia, you’ll find this town of 60,000... but only after passing the farms (many of them Amish) that are putting produce on your tables here and feeding the constant, eclectic farmers markets that swarm the conspicuously quaint Downtown. No less an authority on hipness than, the, uh, New York Post has dubbed Lancaster “the new Brooklyn,” but that misses wide. If anything, Brooklyn would envy this much farm for its farm-to-table restaurants, and at such low prices for high-end dining.
Try, for instance, the Australian comfort food of Aussie and the Fox, which serves up beets on sandwiches and Australian meat pies. Himalayan dishes up the best Indian food I’ve ever found, and with a Monday buffet that works as a full survey course in the cuisine, perfect for anyone stuck in a tikka masala rut. Maybe the finest embodiment of Lancaster’s culture and terroir resides at slow-food champion Maison, the tiniest sliver of a restaurant (with fewer than ten tables and an open kitchen) on the ever-animated Prince Street. Order the handmade burrata, featuring crusty bread swimming in a burst pillow of gooey cheese. The seasonally changing gnocchi, studded variously with hen of the woods mushrooms or snow peas and ramps, has a fan in no less than Alton Brown.
Lancaster has also been defining itself as a specialty coffee city: Hit up cafes and roasters like Square One, Prince Street Cafe, or Passenger Coffee for the real deal. At cocktail hour (whenever you define it), swagger into Pour to browse its rapidly revolving seasonal cocktail menu, with clever creations like “A Discrete Nod From the Bartender” (Fernet-Branca, ginger beer, bitters, and an orange slice).
If you have just one meal: Scarf down the duck truffle pizza at The Pressroom Restaurant and Bar; the Aussie Burger at Aussie and the Fox; or the Svenska Pannkakor (Swedish pancakes) at On Orange. Chase it with a Go Big or Go Rob at Pour. -- Sammy Nickalls