In November, the Reading Eagle handed out its annual Reader’s Choice awards where subscribers voted for their favorite local businesses. Exeter Family Restaurant earned the title of “Best Diner.”
A month later, Berks County Living Magazine handed out its annual Best of Berks awards, and once again, “Best Diner” honors went to Exeter Family Restaurant.
It’s hard to get Berks Countians to agree on anything (i.e. Christmas Trees) so the fact that Exeter Family Restaurant was such a clear favorite to win Best Diner from two publications, I knew it was a place that Berks County Eats needed to visit.
Exeter Family Restaurant is a shining example of a traditional diner, literally. The chrome exterior helps the diner stand out from among the boring brands that surround it.
The parking lot was filling up when we arrived for lunch, but there was plenty of seating spread among the two dining rooms. Once at our booth, I took a look through the whole menu, and what caught my eye wasn’t an entree, but the Exeter Family Restaurant Declaration:
We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men and women are created with equal appetites; That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are:
The right to eat breakfast whenever the heck they please (like 4 in the morning);
The right to wear running shorts, pajamas, or last night’s clothes to Sunday breakfast;
And most importantly…The right to eat out in Berks County without breaking the bank.
Now those are words I can stand behind.
At first glance, there isn’t much to distinguish Exeter Family Restaurant’s menu from other diners. Burgers and sandwiches are plentiful, comfort food abounds, and breakfast is served 24 hours a day.
I’m always looking for something a little different from the norm, and I found it under the “Fiery Sauté Pan” section.
My Memphis steak tips were seasoned pieces of sirloin laid on a bed of dirty rice, topped with barbecue sauce. The rice could have served as a meal in itself as it was “dirtied” with bits of ground beef and bacon. The steak was cooked to order and came out nicely seared. I only wish there was a little more of the sauce. I didn’t get it in every bite, but when I did it added a sweetness that brought the whole dish together.
Another original menu item is the cheesy mac and pulled pork panini, which caught Julie’s eyes right away. The panini was piled high with tender pulled pork, six-cheese mac and cheese, pickles, gouda and barbecue sauce.
Despite it’s name, the sandwich was not overly cheesy. Instead, the flavor of the pork was the star, with just hints of sauce and cheese. The macaroni added a unique texture to the sandwich that helped it stand out.
All sandwiches come with a cup of soup, while entrees come with a trip to the salad bar which has everything you could want including multiple greens, nearly every salad dressing you could ask for, and three fresh-baked loaves of bread from which diners can cut their own slices.
As the Exeter Family Restaurant Declaration implies, our meals were also very affordable, coming in at just a tick more than $20 for the two of us.
While I have a long way to go before I can say I have tried all of the diners in Berks County, I can tell you that Exeter Family Restaurant earned those Best Diner titles honestly.
And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more in their future.