Mission BBQ Opens; Van’s Cafe Moving

Mission BBQ opens Wyomissing location

Mission BBQ’s new Wyomissing location is officially open for business. Monday was the first day for the newest location for the patriotic-themed barbecue restaurant chain. The new Mission BBQ is located in the former Hooter’s on Papermill Road.

Van’s Cafe Moving

West Reading’s Van’s Cafe will be moving, but fans of the Vietnamese restaurant will not have to go very far to find it. According to a window sign, Van’s Cafe will be moving to the 500 block of Penn Avenue, just one block west of its current location. No timetable has been announced for the move.

Food News

Road Trip: Buena Vista Mexican Restaurant

buena-vista-mexican-restaurant

As much as I love to plan out where and when to try a new restaurant, sometimes the best places are the ones I find by accident.

This is especially true when it comes to our road trips, those times when we have to find somewhere to eat outside of the comforts of Berks County.

That was the case a few weeks ago when Julie and I made a trip to Philly. We took the train from Malvern to Jefferson Station (nee Market East) with every intention of enjoying lunch at the Reading Terminal Market.

Those plans quickly changed after we walked in during the Saturday lunch rush. Unable to move, let alone find a place to sit and eat, we abandoned the market, went with a light lunch and decided to look for a bigger dinner when we returned to Malvern.

So after a long day in the city, we were starving for some good food in the suburbs. After consulting nearly every review site, we found ourselves in a strip mall along Lancaster Avenue.

Buena Vista Mexican Restaurant isn’t visible from the street. The shopping center that it sits in features three strips of shops and restaurants with Buena Vista tucked way in the back around a curve in one of the rows.

The walls were painted different colors, green on the sides, maroon in the middle. Bronze lizards, an Aztec sun sculpture and assorted paintings covered the wall. Somehow, the decor came together without feeling tacky.

buena-vista-chips-and-salsa

One of my favorite things about dining out for Mexican food is the chips and salsa, and Buena Vista may have the best that I have tried. Instead of the thin, Tostitos-style chips served at many restaurants, Buena Vista has thicker, deep-fried chips that are made in house. Combined with some fresh, mild salsa, I could have kept eating them all day.

And the meal just got better from there.

buena-vista-steak-fajitas

My steak fajitas were still steaming on top of the sizzling skillet when they were delivered to our table. Served atop the traditional bed of grilled onions and peppers, with a side of refried beans and all the fixings, I couldn’t wait to start piling on my tortillas.

There were no weaknesses on the plate as everything was really good, but what really set this dish apart was the guacamole. This was, hands down, the best guacamole that I have ever had. It tasted so fresh, with just the right amount of cilantro and other spices to complement. Adding it to my fajitas made all the difference.

buena-vista-chipotle-enchiladas

While I like to change things up whenever I go out, it is almost a sure bet that Julie will order enchiladas. This trip was no exception as she ordered some shredded beef enchiladas with chipotle sauce. A little spicy, but not too hot with plenty of meat.

When I get high quality food like we had at Buena Vista, I don’t mind paying a little more. The chips and salsa weren’t a free add-on like they are at most places, and our total bill came in just a little over $30.

Buena Vista was not a place that I had planned on eating, but it ended up being one of my favorite meals in a long time.

That’s why I will never stop looking for new places to eat.

Buena Vista Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lunch & Dinner Mexican Reviews

Wilson Iron Chef 2015

The Wilson Education Foundation held its second annual Wilson Iron Chef competition on Sunday, March 22. Berks County Eats was there among the sold out crowd of more than 800 hungry patrons, all of whom got to sample food from more than 40 vendors and enjoy a friendly, but intense, culinary competition.

Vendor Row

The doors opened at 1 p.m. and hundreds of people had poured in to the Wilson High School gym by the time I arrived a few minutes later. For the first two hours, vendor lane was open with more than 40 area restaurants and food businesses offering free samples of food and drinks.

paolo-cannoli

As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted by a server from Paolo’s Restaurant & Bar on Lancaster Avenue with an inviting dessert. It was the same mini pie shell and cream as last year, this time with chocolate chips (because, why not?)

paoli-stromboli-garlic-knot

At the first booth, Paolo’s was handing out samples of a pair of their dinner favorites: stromboli and garlic knots. I only wish they could have brought just a little sauce for the ham and cheese stromboli.

pat-s-shave-ice-vanilla

Eating dessert first is just something that seems to happen at Iron Chef as the next stand along the way belonged to Pat’s Hawaiian Shave Ice. The vanilla flavor tasted just like the vanilla twin pops I used to eat as a kid.

pilsudski-mustard

Next in line was Pilsudski Polish Style Mustard with samples of mustard, mustard with horseradish, and horseradish. I went for the mustard-horseradish mix, and that was more than strong enough for me.

perk-up-truck-smoothies

Thankfully the perk-up truck was there with some smoothies to help calm the taste buds. I had their banana smoothie once before at the VF Outlet Food Truck Festival, and was more than happy to enjoy it once again.

penn-werner-corn-chowder-soupThe Penn Werner Hotel, one of the participants in the actual Iron Chef competition, kept it simple with a tasty corn chowder at its booth.

salino-s-meatball-sausage-breadIn a repeat of last year, Salino’s once again brought along some of its Italian specialties including meatballs and sausage in tomato sauce.

moe-s-burritoMoe’s Southwest Grille was giving out some of the largest portions of anyone with 1/2 beef burritos up for grabs. As much as I love Moe’s, I had to refrain from eating the whole thing and ruining my appetite for the rest of the day.

velata-popcorn-spice-pulled-pork-crepe

Velata Kitchen Products had a variety available at their stand. Popcorn was seasoned with its brand of seasoning mix, pulled pork with Velata’s barbecue sauce, and crepes made with one of the company’s crepe makers were all available as the friendly staff talked about Velata’s home parties.

station-house-pulled-pork-taco

One of the best things I had while touring vendor lane was the pulled pork taco from Station House Grille. It was topped with the restaurant’s signature slaw, with a creaminess that really complimented the pork.

anthony-s-meatball

Another newcomer at this year’s Iron Chef was Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza who brought along samples of both their baked wings and meatballs. The meatball was a lot bigger than it looked so I decided to pass on the wings (and I had tried both at the restaurant a few weeks ago and loved everything I had).

elevation-burger

The most impressive stand on vendor row had to be Elevation Burger, who actually sent a cook to grill sliders to order. Unfortunately, this also had the effect of holding up the line, which because of placement, was actually two lines coming together. The burger was good (a little greasier than what it would probably be at the restaurant), but I can’t say that it was worth the wait.

reading-fightins-hot-dog

If you’re going to have a burger, you might as well have a hot dog too. The Reading Fightins’ were handing out half-portions of their famous ballpark hot dogs, still one of my favorite ballpark snacks.

anita-s-biscotti

Offering slightly smaller samples, Anita’s Biscottis was back with samples of their delicious Italian cookies.

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East-West Kitchen, a Fairgrounds Farmers Market stand specializing in Asian and American dishes, had samples of some delicious chili and pulled pork with Asian barbecue sauce.

dickey-s-pulled-pork-beans

More pulled pork was available from Dickey’s Barbecue, one of the newcomers to Berks County, which also offered samples of their ham and baked beans, as well as several of their sauces.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to every stand as it was just too full (both the lines and my stomach). Other vendors included Subway, Edible Arrangements, Isaac’s Famous Grilled Sandwiches, Slush Puppie, Mays Sandwich Shop, New York Bagelry, Mamas Pizza, Outback Steakhouse, the Pampered Chef and Sweet Ride Ice Cream.

People’s Choice

The People’s Choice competition is probably my favorite part of the Iron Chef event. Fans got to choose their favorite dish from nine area restaurants, all of whom had to use the same ingredient: sweet potatoes.

crowne-plaza-sweet-potato-crusted-almond-chicken

The Crowne Plaza had the most visually appealing spread with sweet potato puree, sweet potato crusted almond chicken, a balsamic salad and sweet potato-infused lemonade. Everything was amazing (even the lemonade) except the salad, which really didn’t need to be there in the first place.

ganly-s-asian-sweet-potato-dip

Ganley’s went with an opposite approach and kept things simple with an Asian sweet potato dip with five-spice kettle chips. It was a very good dip (the chips were phenomenal) but it was always going to be hard to compare it to the other restaurants that went bigger.

hitching-post-sweet-potato-bites

The Hitching Post went really small, offering sweet potato bites: a sweet potato disc with roasted jalapeno and cilantro crema, and finshed with crispy bacon crumbles and chives. It packed a lot of punch for such a small dish, but it was a literal “bite” as it was gone in a hurry.

dan-s-sweet-potato-soup

One of the best items I tried all day was Dan’s at Green Hills “famous” sweet potato soup. It had lots of flavor, a great texture (with little diced sweet potatoes still inside) and a nice finish from the sour cream and chives on top.

adelphia-sweet-potato-gnocchi-seafood-newburg-sauce

Adelphia Seafood, who won the People’s Choice at the Hamburg Iron Chef earlier this year, brought sweet potato gnocchi in a lobster Newberg sauce. I loved the gnocchi, but I am just not a lobster fan (I know I am in the minority).

canal-street-sweet-potato-corn-chowder

Canal Street Pub brought a pair of items: sweet potato corn chowder and sweet potato beer bread. The chowder was good, but wasn’t quite on the same level as Dan’s. The beer bread was also good, but I didn’t taste much sweet potato in it.

tavern-on-penn-house-lager-bbq-sliders

The Tavern on Penn brought some pulled pork sliders with pickled slaw and sweet potato. I loved the sandwich, but I really couldn’t taste the sweet potato through the rest of the ingredients.

bernville-eagle-sweet-potato-flan

Another one of my favorites from the day was the sweet potato flan from Bernville Eagle Hotel.The flan was topped in bourbon-maple butter sauce with a candied pecan. It was great to get a sweet dish among all of the savory choices, and it really delivered a lot of flavor for such a small dish.

beverly-hills-tavern-sweet-potato-crusted-salmon-fritter

The final entrant into the People’s Choice competition was Beverly Hills Tavern with sweet potato encrusted salmon fritters. I’m not a seafood guy, but I loved the sweet potato crust. If this was chicken, I probably would have fallen in love with this dish, especially with the brown butter and pumpkin sage sauce.

My vote went to Dan’s at Green Hills, but it was a tough choice between Dan’s, Crowne Plaza and Bernville Eagle Hotel. Dan’s took home the top spot with Crowne Plaza second, meaning those two restaurants will be competing in next year’s Iron Chef.

Iron Chef Competition

The main event of the day was the Iron Chef cooking competition which pitted three of the area’s top chefs against each other in a 35-minute battle. The three chefs who competed were Jason Hook of H2O Kitchen, Raffale Cirandine of G.N.A. Ristorante, and defending champion David Shefter of the Penn Werner Hotel.

iron-chef-gummy-worms

The chefs all had to prepare a dish and side using four secret ingredients: turkey tenderloins, quinoa, patty pan squash and the real kicker, gummy worms.

Wilson-Iron-Chef-1

After 35 minutes of cooking, Chef Cirandine did not have his dish completely plated, which resulted in a points penalty on his final judging. That essentially left just two chefs with a chance to win, with Chef Jason Hook claiming the top prize.

That means that Jason Hook will compete next year against the chefs from Dan’s at Green Hills and the Crowne Plaza during the third annual Wilson Iron Chef competition, scheduled for next March.

If you were one of the more than 800 people in attendance, what was the favorite thing you tried? What did you think of the competition? Tell us in the comments section below.

Food Festivals & Events

H2O Kitchen Takes Iron Chef; Bella Italia damaged by car; more

Wilson-Iron-Chef-1

Jason Hook (H20 Kitchen) wins Wilson Iron Chef

Chef Jason Hook earned the title of Wilson Iron Chef during the second annual culinary competition at Wilson High School. Chef Hook defeated Chefs David Shefter (Penn Werner Hotel) and Raffaele Cirandine (G.N.A. Ristorante) in the 35-minute competition. In the People’s Choice contest, Dan’s at Green Hills and the Crowne Plaza took the top two spots. Chefs from those to restaurants will compete against Chef Jason Hook in next year’s competition.

Bella Italia damaged by car

Bella Italia Pizza Restaurant in Oley was damaged when it was hit by a truck on Friday. Despite broken windows in the front of the building, the restaurant remained open and even had a little fun with the incident on social media, captioning a photo of the damage, “Sorry no drive thru. But we’re open for eat in or take out” and later posting, “Thanks everyone! We’re still cooking, everyone is ok. The guy said the pizza is so good he couldn’t stop himself wanted it ASAP.”

Bally Hotel temporarily closes kitchen

The Bally Hotel has temporarily closed its kitchen while in the process of remodeling. The kitchen is scheduled to re-open on Friday, March 27. The Bally Hotel’s bar will remain open during the renovations.

Food News

Hay Creek Snack Shack – CLOSED

hay-creek-snack-shack-exterior-1

Editor’s Note: Hay Creek Snack Shack closed its restaurant in October 2019. The business remains open as a caterer. They also offered their baked goods at the holidays. In the closing announcement, the owners left open the possibility of reopening again in the future.

All of the restaurants we visit for Berks County Eats are small businesses.

Though they vary in size, the biggest and busiest restaurants only employ a few dozen people at most between cooks, servers and assorted staff.

But some restaurants are smaller than others. Birdsboro’s Hay Creek Snack Shack, for instance, makes the average diner seem like a corporate enterprise.

The name is more apt than I thought because truly is not much more than a shack. Blink and you may miss the tiny building on 1st Street.

Most customers must take their orders to go because the dining room consists of five two-seat tables and a single round high-top and barstool in the back corner. The kitchen was at maximum capacity with the two people behind the counter.

hay-creek-snack-shack-menu-board

What the Snack Shack lacks in size, it makes up for in the size of its menu. The menu board, which includes both breakfast and lunch selections, runs the length of room. Three more dry erase boards display the day’s specials.

Scanning the menu, I saw a seemingly endless number of choices: pancakes, omelets and French toast on the breakfast side; burgers, paninis, tacos and sandwiches on the lunch side.

As I looked it over, the word “homemade” caught my eye in the description of the pulled pork sandwich, making my decision much easier.

hay-creek-snack-shack-pulled-pork

I knew I wasn’t going to be getting true smoked barbecue, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable. Drowning in an extra sweet sauce, the sandwich would have been a mess if not for the toasted roll that kept everything tucked neatly inside what was a very meaty sandwich.

Of course if you’re getting a sandwich at lunch, you have to get some fries. The Snack Shack’s fresh-cut fries varied in shade from yellow to brown. Fresh out of the fryer, they were still just a little oily, but that only added to the flavor.

hay-creek-snack-shack-chili-cheese-dog

The chili cheese dog caught Julie’s eye. The cheese sat atop the hot dog like liquid gold; the meaty chili poked through the edges. The hot dog, itself, was invisible beneath the toppings. It was as gooey and good as it looked.

With so many mouthwatering flavors of ice cream, and seeing as how it is now spring, we couldn’t resist treating ourselves to a sweet treat so we each ordered a small milkshake. I went with the maple walnut while Julie went all-out with the kitchen sink.

If you can name it, it’s probably in kitchen sink ice cream. Chunks of Oreo cookies and Reese’s Pieces were just the first two in a long list of goodies that eventually found their way into her shake. There was just a hint of mint mixed in somewhere, which is always a perfect match for chocolate.

Having few employees and little overhead, the Snack Shack’s prices remain small as well. Even with the splurge on milkshakes, we came in well below $20 for our visit.

There are plenty of old sayings I could use to describe the Hay Creek Snack Shack: “Good things come in small packages.” “Size doesn’t matter.” Whatever cliché you want to use, it.

The Snack Shack is a little place that’s big on value and, more importantly, flavor.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Excellent
Ambiance: Fair
Price: Very Reasonable

Hay Creek Snack Shack
310 E. First St
Birdsboro, PA 19508

Cafes & Coffeeshops Dessert Lunch & Dinner Reviews

New Diner Coming to Leesport; More Openings Around Berks; and more Berks Food News

New diner under construction near Leesport

A new diner is being built outside of Leesport, according to a report in last Wednesday’s Reading Eagle. The property was purchased by TJ Restaurant Group and principal owner Bill Vardaxis, whose portfolio of restaurants also includes the 5th Street Diner in Muhlenberg Township. The Leesport Family Restaurant previously occupied the site at the corner of Routes 61 and 73 in Ontelaunee Township. No timetable has been given for completion of the building or opening of the restaurant

Alebrije opens new Wyomissing location

Alebrije Mexican Restaurant’s new Wyomissing location opened its doors earlier this week. Located in the former Ciabatta on State Hill Road, the location is much larger than the previous one, which was located down the road in the Berkshire Plaza strip mall.

Mission BBQ to open March 30

Mission BBQ has announced that it will open its Wyomissing location on March 30. The header on its official webpage says “Tick..Tick…Tick…Wyomissing, PA’s opening day is not far away. March 30.” And just a few days ago, Mission BBQ tweeted “We are almost at the finish line. Our Grand Opening is March 30 at noon. We hope to see you then. .” The location, behind the Crowne Plaza on Papermill Road, was formerly a Hooter’s. It has sat empty since Hooter’s closed in March 2013.

Blue Marsh Canteen damaged by car

The Blue Marsh Canteen in Penn Township suffered damage on Monday afternoon when a car backed into the side of the building. According to a Reading Eagle article, the drive hit the gas instead of the brake, backing a large SUV into the building. The restaurant, though scarred, is open and operating as usual.

Food News

Kutztown Tavern

kutztown-tavern

Kutztown’s Main Street is one of the busiest in Berks County. An array of storefronts: shopping, services and restaurants (with a few residences thrown in) line the blocks from the edge of Kutztown University’s campus to the railroad tracks that bisect the town.

The more than a dozen eateries along Main Street cover just about every type of cuisine you could want: Chinese, Italian, sushi, barbecue, sandwiches, salads: you name it, and you’re likely to find it.

One of the most popular restaurants downtown, the Kutztown Tavern offers one of the most diverse menus in town.

Known simply as “The Tavern” to residents and students, alike, the Kutztown Tavern is housed in one of the largest buildings on Main Street. With a seemingly endless bar, a nice sized dining room and large upstairs event space, the restaurant is expansive. In addition, the building (which is actually two connected buildings) includes Shorty’s Bar, the Tavern Take-Out counter service and the Golden Avalanche Brewing Company.

Brewery equipment becomes part of the decor in the bar area as the system of vats and pipes that create the signature brew are in plain view just inside the front door.

kutztown-tavern-cream-soda

Not being a fan of beer, myself, I was pleased to see Kutztown Red Cream Soda—a personal favorite of mine—on the beverage list.

A deep menu provides a wide range of appetizers, sandwiches and entrees. Everything from soft pretzels and 10 flavors of wings to Black Diamond steaks and seafood scampi. For me, a 9-ounce burger topped with Avalanche chili sounded like a winning combination.

kutztown-tavern-burger

The burger arrived on a toasted sesame seed bun. Chili poured over the edges and onto the plate below. All tavern burgers are served with lettuce, tomato and onion on the side, and I was more than happy to pile them on.

The burger was cooked perfectly with a nice little char around the outside. The mild chili added more flavor without being overwhelming (messy, yes; overpowering, no). And I certainly did not regret the curly fries, perfectly crisped, zesty additions to an already full plate.

Among the multitude of menu options are the “house smoked” offerings, three barbecue selections that are smoked in-house at the tavern. One of those—the brisket, cheddar and onion—caught Julie’s eye immediately.

kutztown-tavern-brisket

Meat and cheese more than filled the toasted ciabatta roll. The brisket was flavorful, with a fair amount of fat left on for extra flavor. The sharp cheddar worked well with the sweet barbecue sauce and grilled onions to create a delicious sandwich.

The only part of our meal that I thought could have been better was the price. The $2.89 charge for fries (instead of the standard potato chips) brought our total bill up to $35.00 for the two of us. I guess that is the cost of quality, however, as we were treated to excellent food and surprisingly speedy service.

For the past 15 years, the Tavern has been a popular go-to spot along Main Street. After our visit, it was easy to see why. When food, location, ambiance and service come together all come together, it makes for a great restaurant.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Good
Ambiance: Good
Price: Reasonable

Kutztown Tavern
272 W. Main St
Kutztown, PA 19530

Kutztown Tavern on Urbanspoon

Bars & Pubs Breweries & Wineries Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Jukebox Cafe

jukebox-cafe

Growing up in the far western reaches of Berks County, Boyertown always felt like a world away. I only remember going there once when I was younger (for a double-digit loss in a Junior Legion baseball game). Even through more than a year of weekly reviews on Berks County Eats, the map of my visits had a noticeable gap in that part of the county.

It’s not for lack of wanting: a combination of bad timing and poor planning on my part had left the area as uncharted territory. I knew I had to make an extra effort to get there so my wife and I carved out time on a Saturday morning and headed east for a late morning visit to one of the more popular spots in town, the Jukebox Cafe.

The Jukebox Cafe sits along Reading Avenue to the south of downtown. The two-tiered parking lot was nearly full when we arrived, but we grabbed one of the few remaining spaces and took the stairs down to the front door.

The diner plays up on the jukebox theme with a decor reminiscent of a 1950s drive-in with a checkerboard trim, musical notes and records on every wall. Inside the front door was the namesake jukebox, though I have no idea if it actually works. With a number of groups waiting ahead of us for seats, no one would have been able to get to it if they wanted to.

We took a number and I grabbed a copy of the Boyertown Bulletin and passed the time reading about Amelia Earhart’s connection to Boyertown and brushing up on my Pennsylvania Dutch with an article on planting potatoes.

There is not a lot of seating in the dining area, but the tables were turned over quickly so we did not have to wait long before we were escorted to a corner booth.

Going in, I had every intention of ordering lunch; a burger and fries was sounding really good. I decided to take a look through the breakfast menu anyway (because like all great diners, they serve breakfast all day).

That’s when my eyes spotted four words I had never before seen together: cinnamon bun French toast. I realized then that my burger would have to wait another day.

jukebox-cafe-cinnamon-roll-french-toast

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting until the plate was laid in front of me. It turns out that it is exactly what it sounds like: two cinnamon rolls that have been put through an egg wash and grilled like French toast. A layer of whipped cream was sandwiched between the two rolls, and the whole thing was swimming in strawberry syrup with more whipped cream on the side.

With every forkful, the warm cinnamon filling oozed out of the center. Somehow it managed to taste both like a cinnamon roll and French toast without sacrificing either flavor. The strawberry topping was something I never tasted along side a cinnamon roll before, but those sweet, fruity notes were a perfect match. The whipped cream was just the icing on the cake (or cinnamon roll, as it were), adding one more layer to an already divine dish.

jukebox-cafe-homefries

To temper the sweetness of the main course, I also ordered a side of home fries with onions. For its home fries, Jukebox Cafe uses red skins potatoes which are so much more flavorful than yellow potatoes to start. With the mound of fried onions on top, it was a delicious, though unnecessary add-on as the cinnamon roll French toast would have been more than satisfying on its own.

jukebox-cafe-little-richard-omelette

Julie also opted for breakfast during our visit, ordering the Little Richard: an omelet filled with bacon, tomato and cheddar. The ingredients were finely chopped with a pool of cheddar inside to ensure a flavorful bite every time. Her meal also included home fries and toast for a hearty breakfast.

Everything we had was enjoyable and made the trip to Boyertown worthwhile. With a check totaling less than $20, the prices are pretty good too.

Whether the jukebox plays or not seems irrelevant because the real star at the Jukebox Cafe isn’t the jukebox, it’s the food.

BCE Rating
Food: Very Good
Service: Good
Ambiance: Very Good
Price: Very Reasonable

Jukebox Cafe
535 S. Reading Ave
Boyertown, PA 19512

Jukebox Cafe on Urbanspoon

Breakfast & Brunch Diners Reviews

Long-time restaurateur passes; Gourmand Cafe opens

Restaurateur “Big John” Ulrich passes away

John Ulrich, long-time Berks County restaurant owner, has passed away at the age of 84. Ulrich, best known as “Big John,” was the owner of Big John’s restaurant and catering business on Schuylkill Avenue in Reading. Big John’s was in business for 40 years before Ulrich retired in 2012. For more information, see WFMZ 69 News’ tribute that ran on Monday: Click Here.

Gourmand Cafe Opens in Wyomissing

Gourmand Cafe has officially opened in the former West Side Cafe in Wyomissing. The cafe’s soft launch was Friday, according to the restaurant’s official Facebook page. The cafe is the second physical location for Gourmand, which started as a food truck but also operates a cafe at Body Zone. So far official hours have not been announced, though the restaurant was open from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on opening day and the menu includes both breakfast and lunch items.

CD’s Place closed for renovations

CD’s Place Restaurant & Catering in Boyertown is temporarily closed for renovations, according to a post on the restaurant’s official Facebook page. CD’s Place will be closed for the next two weeks, reopening on March 14 with new menu items.

Food News

Jambalaya J’s – Fairgrounds Farmers Market

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I have explored many of Berks County’s culinary hot spots: places like West Reading, Wyomissing and Kutztown have been good to me since starting this blog.

But there is one place in the county that has a higher concentration of restaurants than anywhere else. No, it’s not a town. It’s the Boscov’s Fairgrounds Farmers Market.

The 60 stands at the market feature fresh produce, butchered meats and bulk foods. But among the poultry and vegetable stands are more than a dozen places to enjoy a hot meal on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

One of those stands is located right inside the front door, and is the place I was eyeing up for my first market meal: Jambalaya J’s.

Jambalaya J’s is one of 60 stands inside the market. Opened in 2000, the stand has been offering Cajun fare for 15 years.

jambalaya-j-menu

The menu is narrowly focused with only a few options every week. The constants are jambalaya and crab cakes, two items that appear weekly on the menu board. The rest of the offerings are constantly changing. A range of po’ boy sandwiches, soups, sides and barbecue are offered each week.

We placed our order at the counter and the food was ready in a snap. The challenge was finding a pair of seats. The stand, itself, only offers a couple counter seats and a two-seat table that felt like it was a mile long. Thankfully there was a small table open in the seating area across the aisle.

I pulled up a chair and dug into my meal: a pulled pork sandwich combo with jambalaya and cole slaw.

jambalaya-j-pulled-pork

The sandwich was gargantuan, served on an oversized, dusted kaiser roll. The sauce, sweet and rich, made a mess of my hands as it dripped out of the bun. The pork didn’t need much help as it was very flavorful on its own. With the sauce, it was up there with some of the best pulled pork I have tried.

With a name like Jambalaya J’s, the jambalaya has to be good. And this did not disappoint. While the Andouille sausage added some kick, it was not overly spicy. Instead, the thick rice creation was a little sweet. It was only when I got a little piece of dried chile pepper that I really got hit with the heat. That’s when the cooling, creamy cole slaw came in handy.

jambalaya-j-crab-cake

Julie’s Blue Plate Special was also covered in jambalaya, but with the addition of a pair of crab cakes topped with remoulade sauce. The remoulade really made the dish, adding a sweet and spicy element to the perfectly fried cakes.

The Cajun cuisine was not only delicious, but nicely priced as we only spent $20 for what was a very filling meal.

My first meal at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market did not disappoint. It was a delicious, filling meal that I would definitely order again.

But it might be a while until I get to try it again. After all, I still have dozens of other stands to visit.

BCE Rating
Food: Very Good
Service: Very Good
Ambaince: Good
Price: Very Reasonable

Jambalaya J’s
2930 N. 5th Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605

Jambalaya J's on Urbanspoon

Farmers Market Meals Lunch & Dinner Reviews