Fleetwood Grille, Simmeria sold; new fast-food restaurant planned for 5th St; more food news

Fleetwood Grille, Simmeria sold

The Fleetwood Grille and Simmeria Cafe have been sold, according to a post on their official Facebook pages. Details were few, but the new owners are veterans of the restaurant business in Berks County. Here is the full post:

N and I thank you all for your patience, concerns, and kind notes!! I am EXTREMELY proud to announce that we have found a Berks County area family — decades successful in Berks County, that specializes in FRESH food, great beer selection, and the kind of service that can only come from a truly family run business, to reopen. This will be their second location, the first one (as I noted) wildly successful.

Over the course of the past few years, it became painfully obvious to N and I that absentee ownership simply does not work. We, therefore, focused our efforts on finding the “right” person(s) to bring what we have always believed our Community is craving, (finally) alive.

Please stay tuned for further details, some GREAT stuff (and awesome FRESH food and beer and wines and custom drinks — already honed to be some of Berks’ County’s Best), is coming VERY soon!

Popeye’s planned for 5th Street Highway

A new Popeye’s could be coming to the Fifth Street Highway, according to an article in the April 21 Reading Eagle. Plans for the restaurant were brought before the Muhlenberg Township Planning Commission. The restaurant would be built on the site of the vacant discount movie theater in Plaza 222.

Wild Fox Farm running Barnraiser campaign

Barto’s Wild Fox Farm is currently running a Barnraiser campaign to help the business reduce its carbon footprint. The Footprint Campaign seeks to raise $30,000 for the farm to install a walk-in freezer and solar panels to generate 50% of the farm’s energy needs. The farm supplies many area restaurants and is a regular at the Emmaus Farmers’ Market. You can watch the full campaign video below.

Food News

Road Trip – Zia Maria Eatery & Pub

zia-maria-exterior

Adamstown is so close to us that it feels like it should be in Berks County. It’s only 12 miles from the city of Reading and more than double that to Lancaster, yet it resides just over the county line.

It’s famous for its antique markets, drawing dealers and shoppers from all around to peruse the aisles of dozens of stores.

And when you’re in town, you have to eat. On our visit to town, that meant a stop at Zia Maria Eatery & Pub.

Zia Maria doesn’t feel like an Italian restaurant. The dining room, at least the one we were in, lacks a certain vibe that you expect.

zia-maria-interior

The walls were a boring cream with green trim. There were art prints on one wall, Reading Eagle covers from World War 2 on another, a television on another. Around the top was a small ledge that was filled with knickknacks.

We received the largest bread basket we have seen on our Berks County Eats adventures. Four garlic bread sticks, four garlic knots and two slices of Italian bread were delivered to us.

zia-maria-bread-basket

For a table of two, it was way too much. The garlic knots were great and the breadsticks were really good, too. One of each would have been enough to hold us over until our meal.

It was not until our bread basket arrived that I realized how bare the table was. There were no pre-set plates so we had to use the basket for our bread in between bites.

Both Julie and I ordered a cup of soup from the daily specials – I got chicken lemon with orzo while she got Tuscan crab.

zia-maria-chicken-lemon-orzo-soup

There was definitely more than a hint of lemon in the soup, with the lip-puckering citrus coming through in every sip of the thick soup. I enjoyed it, but it might have been too much for some people.

zia-maria-tuscan-crab-soup

Julie’s Tuscan crab was closer to a traditional vegetable soup, but with the addition of crab instead of beef. There was not a lot of crab, but enough to give it the distinct flavor you’d expect.

Our meals arrived a short time later, and they were as generously portioned as the bread basket.

Zia Maria has a build-your-own pasta option with your choice of six pastas and multiple sauces and meats. I went simple with fettuccine, meatballs and red sauce.

zia-maria-fettucine-and-meatballs

The sauce was light with a good amount of diced tomatoes — my favorite part — and a sprinkling of basil. I really enjoyed it, especially the little bursts of flavor that came with every piece of tomato.

My meatballs, listed as homemade, were okay, but weren’t the best that I have had. I regretted not opting for the sausage.

Julie went with one of the baked pasta options: penne Siciliana. The penne pasta was sautéed with ricotta, ground beef and tomato sauce, then topped with mozzarella and baked.

zia-maria-baked-penne-siciliana-pasta

The soft ricotta was reminiscent of lasagna, but the penne pasta and mozzarella on top made it eat more like baked ziti. It was an enjoyable cross between the two, one that Julie got to enjoy a second time for lunch the next day.

Our pastas were very reasonably priced, though our cups of soup drove up our final bill to $35. With such large portions of pasta (and overly generous bread basket), we didn’t really need the soup anyway.

Zia Maria is not a place for a fancy Italian dinner, but it is good. With so many great Italian restaurants around us, we wouldn’t go out of our way to visit Zia Maria.

But if we find ourselves in Adamstown around dinnertime, Zia Maria isn’t a bad option.

Zia Maria Italian Eatery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Italian Reviews

New name for Old San Juan’s new location; Wing Fling returning Oct. 1; and more food news

Old San Juan’s second location gets new name

The second restaurant from the owners of Old San Juan Cafe will have a new name. The new El Morro Cafe in West Reading will share a name with a 16th century citadel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The new restaurant is scheduled to open in early May.

Wanamakers General Store completes renovations, celebrating with open house

The Wanamakers General Store in nearby Lehigh County has recently completed renovations to its cafe, and is celebrating with an open house on May 7. The day begins at 8 a.m. with a ribbon cutting at 10:30 a.m. The day’s activities include live music, giveaways and the unique “Meet a Neighbor You Didn’t Know You Had” event that encourages visitors to unplug and disconnect from their phone during their visit.

Greshville Inn wins Boyertown chili cook-off

The Greshville Inn earned top prize in the annual chili cook-off during Boyertown’s Coming Out of Hibernation event on Saturday. According to the restaurant’s Facebook page, the prime rib chili was tops among the competitors.

Panevino wins top prize at Opp House Souper Bowl

Panvevino Restaurant’s corn chowder with lump crab soup was named best at the annual Opportunity House Souper Bowl on Monday, according to the April 20 Reading Eagle. The event raised around $42,000 to support the work of the Opportunity House in Reading.

Wing Fling returning October 1

The Reading Wing Fling will return to the Santander Arena on October 1, according to a post on the event’s official Facebook page. Ten restaurants, including defending People’s Choice champions, The Outside In. Also confirmed are:

Food News

Williams Family Restaurant at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market

williams-family-restaurant-exterior

There is no denying that the Fairgrounds Farmers Market has some great places to eat.

More than a dozen stands offer some kind of hot food service along with the many fresh produce and meat stands throughout.

Among all of the vendors, Williams Family Restaurant stands out.

Let’s be clear: William’s Family Restaurant is not a farmers market stand. It’s a diner that just happens to be in a farmers market.

williams-family-restaurant-interior

The restaurant has about 20 tables and a small lunch counter (almost as many seats as the rest of the market combined), all of which were full when we arrived a little before 9 a.m. There was one other couple in line in front of us, but it didn’t take long for a booth to open up.

In a room that was obviously filled with “regulars,” we were probably among the few people that our waittress didn’t know by name. Still, she was very attentive, and we never felt out of place.

Like all good diners, things happen quick at William’s. Only a little more than 10 minutes after we sat down, our breakfast was on the table.

williams-familiy-restaurant-stuffed-french-toast

I love sweets at breakfast. That’s why I ordered the stuffed French toast with strawberries.

Two thick slices of toast were sitting on my plate. They had been lined up so perfectly that I wasn’t sure whether they were actually stuffed until I slid the top layer off to reveal the bright red strawberry filling.

williams-family-restaurant-stuffed-french-toast-2

It was everything I was hoping for. Every bite was filled with strawberry and cream cheese for the sweetness I craved. And the two slices of French toast were done perfectly.

I had a more savory side with my corned beef hash. It didn’t look nearly as appetizing as the French toast (hash rarely does), but it was diner food at its best.

williams-family-restaurant-corned-beef-hash

It was a little greasy and nicely crisp from the grill. The meat was ground finer than some places, which made it look wetter. In reality, it just let the meat seep into every bite.

Julie also went sweet with her red, white and blue waffle.

williams-family-restaurant-red-white-and-blue-waffle

Strawberries (red), bananas (white) and blueberries (blue) topped a plate-sized Belgian waffle. The strawberries were in the same gooey syrup as my strawberry filling while the blueberries and bananas were fresh.

The whole thing was dusted with powdered sugar (it didn’t need it). The syrup helped the strawberry get into every nook and cranny so while she didn’t get all three fruits in every bite, she always had at least a little strawberry.

With as fast as they turned the tables over, we had our check as Julie was polishing off the last bites of her waffle.

At $17, it was one of the cheapest meals that we have ever had on a Berks County Eats trip. And we certainly got more than our money’s worth because I didn’t need to eat a lunch after finishing my meal.

By the time we were heading out the door, a large crowd had gathered outside. I’m sure they didn’t have to wait long.

William’s Family Restaurant is definitely not your typical farmers market stand. It’s a real old-fashioned diner with good food, good portions and great prices.

It just happens to be surrounded by a market.

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

Williams Family Restaurant at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market
2934 N. 5th Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605

Williams Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Diners Farmers Market Meals Reviews

Liberty Alehouse coming to Lancaster Ave; Sweet Ride opening Monday; Ulrich’s set to close; and more food news

The Liberty Alehouse to open on Lancaster Avenue

The Liberty Alehouse, a new sister restaurant to the Liberty Taproom, is coming to Lancaster Avenue. The new restaurant launched its own Facebook page last week to announce the news. The location at 1501 Lancaster Avenue is the former Avenue Bar & Grill. No opening date is available yet. Liberty Taproom has been open in Exeter Township since 2011.

Sweet Ride Ice Cream opening Monday

Sweet Ride Ice Cream is opening its new West Reading location on Monday, April 18, according to its official Facebook page. This will be the first permanent location for the mobile ice cream business. The new location is on the 500 block of Penn Avenue next to the West Reading Drug Store. Sweet Ride started as an ice cream cart in 2014 and debuted an ice cream truck last year.

Ulrich’s in Shoemakersville closing

Ulrich’s Sandwich Shop in Shoemakersville will close its doors on May 2, according to an article in the April 13 Reading Eagle. Ulrich’s has been serving Shomeakersville and the surrounding communities since 1985. According to the article, the owners are retiring and will not be selling the business, though the equipment and memorabilia will eventually go to auction.

Fleetwood Grille, Simmeria closed for remodeling

Simmeria Cafe and Bistro and the Fleetwood Grille at Simmeria are closed for remodeling, according to posts on both Facebook pages. No date has been announced for reopening. Simmeria opened on Main Street in Fleetwood in 2010, adding the Fleetwood Grille one year later.

Jambalaya J’s reopens after fire

Jambalaya J’s reopened on Friday, according to its official Facebook page. A small fire at the stand on April 7 forced the Fairgrounds Farmers Market to close the next day. All other stands were able to reopen, but Jambalaya J’s remained closed for cleaning and minor repairs.

Food News

Jason Hook is Iron Chef again; Crave opening ice cream stand; Buffalo Wild Wings moves forward; more food news

Chef Jason Hook wins Wilson Iron Chef

wilson-iron-chef-2016

Chef Jason Hook of h2o Kitchen earned his second consecutive victory in the Wilson Iron Chef competition on Sunday, beating out Chef David Shefter from the Penn Werner Hotel and Chef Joshua Haines from Beverly Hills Tavern. The three chefs competed to create the best dish using four secret ingredients: skirt steak, avocado, pickles and marshmallow Peeps.

In the People’s Choice competition, nine area restaurants and vendors competed for a chance to make next year’s competition by crafting their best bacon dish. The Crowne Plaza earned top honors with bacon wrapped pork, crab cakes and bacon shooters. The Bernville Eagle Hotel was named runner-up with their maple bacon crunch ice cream. Those two restaurants are invited to compete in next year’s Iron Chef competition.

Crave Cafe opening ice cream stand

Crave Cafe will be opening an ice cream stand later this spring, according to a post on the restaurant’s Facebook page. The ice cream stand will be separate from the cafe in a stand-alone shack across the parking lot. No opening date has been set yet.

Buffalo Wild Wings takes step forward

Wyomissing is one step closer to getting a Buffalo Wild Wings. The new restaurant, which is slated to be built on the parking lot of the Berkshire Mall, has posted its liquor license application on the corner of State Hill and Woodland Roads. The application lists “Blazin’ Wings, Inc.,” the doing business as name for Buffalo Wild Wings, as the applicant. No construction has begun yet.

Fairgrounds Market reopens after fire; Jambalaya J’s still cleaning

Jambalaya J’s is still cleaning up after a small fire at the stand Thursday night forced the Fairgrounds Farmers Market to close on Friday. The market reopened on Saturday, but Jambalaya J’s remains closed, with hopes to reopen this week, according to a post on the stand’s Facebook page.

Rumba Martini Lounge evicted

Property owners have evicted the Rumba Martini Lounge in Cumru Township, according to an article in the April 1 Reading Eagle. The eviction notice came days after a shooting occurred outside the bar in front of township police, the second such incident in the past 13 months. At least one scheduled event for the lounge was moved to the 724 Lounge on Franklin Street in Reading, according to Rumba’s Facebook page.

Food News

Let’s Taco Bout It

let-s-taco-bout-it

The great thing about West Reading is the sheer number of great restaurants that the town offers.

I didn’t know how great that was until Julie and I were told there was a 45-minute wait for a table at the restaurant we had planned on for dinner.

Forty-five minutes is a long time when you’re hungry. So we went a few doors down to one of Penn Avenue’s newest offerings, Let’s Taco Bout It.

The sister restaurant to Reading’s Taqueria Jimenez  opened in February in the former Caggs Caffe Liberta and Cafe Harmony. But Let’s Taco Bout It takes the space in a whole new direction with its Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) theme.

let-s-taco-bout-it-thumb-wrestling

Each of the 10 tables has a Pro Thumb Wrestling Arena sitting atop the salt and pepper shakers. Vintage movie posters adorn the wall, each one promoting a campy movie from the 1960s or 70s starring Santo.

let-s-taco-bout-it-santo-movie-posters

In the posters, Santo is seen facing increasingly fearsome foes:  the mafia, vampire women, Martians and more. Amazingly, all of his supernatural foes are adept at hammerlocks, dropkicks and sleeper holds (but Santo knows how to counter them all!).

Julie and I had a pair of thumb wrestling matches (I let her win one so we could have a pleasant meal) before our drinks arrived. I went with my standard pineapple Jarritos, but Julie was a little more adventurous, opting for a horchata.

let-s-taco-bout-it-horchata

Horchata is cinnamon rice drink, and Let’s Taco Bout It does a homemade version. It was so different than anything either of us have tried before. It was a little bit like drinking tapioca pudding, but the cinnamon gave spice to an otherwise refreshing drink.

let-s-taco-bout-it-chips-and-guacamole

We couldn’t help starting our meal with an order of “Holy Guacamole and Cheeps.” The guacamole is homemade, and that makes all the difference. It had fresh cilantro, onion and red pepper. It was smooth and flavorful, but we didn’t have enough to get through the pile of chips.

Let’s Taco Bout It offers a limited menu for your entree. There are tacos (of course), as well as a burrito, a quesadilla and a torta. Then, there are the “luchadors.”

let-s-taco-bout-it-luchador

Available in six varieties, “luchadors” are basically tacos on steroids (not accusing Mexican wrestlers of using steroids, it’s just a metaphor). Each comes on an oversized, grilled homemade tortilla with cheese, cilantro, onions, avocado and your choice of featured ingredient.

If you’re going to order a luchador, why not order the greatest one?  That’s why I got the El Santo. The primary ingredient was chorizo, the mildly spicy Mexican sausage.

let-s-taco-bout-it-chorizo

I could taste the difference in the homemade tortilla immediately. It was a little thicker and had more flavor depth than an average tortilla. It was also packed with more chorizo than I thought could fit. The avocado provided a nice cooling contrast to the meat in what was a delicious dinner.

let-s-taco-bout-it-pork

Julie went with the “Dynasty,” which was filled with pork marinated in pineapple juice. The pork was tender, but she never really got that pineapple flavor. Still, it was very good, and very filling, meal.

Both of us took home a quarter of our luchador (we each could have finished our own if we had not ordered the guacamole). And we certainly did not feel cheated out of the $32 that was spent on dinner.

Let’s Taco Bout It may not have been our first choice for dinner, but it was the right choice.

It’s another standout restaurant for West Reading, and one that I look forward to visiting again.

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

Let’s Taco Bout It
616 Penn Ave
West Reading, PA 19611

Lunch & Dinner Mexican Reviews

Spring Township looking for food vendors for Winefest

savory-fusion

Spring Township is looking for food vendors for its upcoming Savory Fusion Winefest. The event is scheduled for Sunday, May 1 at the Green Valley Chateau. Here are the details:

The Township of Spring Parks and Recreation Department, would like to invite you to be a part of the 2016 Savory Fusion Wine Fest, offering a unique no-cost marketing opportunity.  Join us for an afternoon of wine, food and music.  In order to showcase the great wines of your business, we ask you to provide wine samples.  A staff member or staff members should attend the event for proper presentation and to market your business.

Due to our partnership with the Reading Eagle, all vendors will be included in multi-media advertising in the Reading Eagle and WEEU 830 AM radio, prior to the event at no cost to you.

As a thank you for participating, you will receive one complementary ticket. Event staff members working the event do not need a ticket.  Also, your business will be recognized in the 2016 Fall Township of Spring Parks and Recreation publication, distributed to over 18,000 households.

Proceeds from this event will help provide safe, attractive and well maintained park facilities, youth playground and adult programs.

Your support is greatly appreciated.

If you would like to attend, you are asked to return the participant form and return by April 6th so your company name can be included in the advertising.  You can email Teri Hettinger or fax (610) 678-4571.

Food News

Andy Pepper’s

andy-pepper-s-exterior

Berks County Eats has taken me to a lot of crazy places. I’ve been to castles, strip malls, diners, dinner theaters, farmers markets, fire companies and food trucks.

But never did I expect to find Julie and I eating lunch in a post office.

To be fair, Andy Pepper’s isn’t exactly in the Limekiln Post Office. The two share a building — USPS on the left, restaurant on the right — just off of Oley Turnpike Road in the tiny village of Limekiln.

It’s an interesting location on a number of levels. Forget the awkward roommate, Limekiln is as off the beaten path as you can get in Berks County.

Yet when we arrived around lunchtime, the parking lot was busy as customers were coming and going through the front door.

For a small place, there was more seating than I expected, mostly at long, high-top tables with white tiled counter tops and purple trim.

andy-pepper-s-chocolate-milk-cranberry-lemonade

Three black menu boards hang at the order counter. The first lists the drinks (including the homemade chocolate milk and the cranberry lemonade that we got); the second, breakfast; the third, sandwiches.

One of the great things about Andy Pepper’s, as a place that serves only breakfast and lunch, the entire menu is always available so I got lunch while Julie got breakfast.

Bonus points go to Andy Pepper’s for the creative names for the sandwiches (the Joanie loves Srirachi is easily the most clever). My healthful flatbread was aptly named the Thin Lizzy.

andy-pepper-s-thin-lizzy

The Thin Lizzy features baby spinach, provolone, tomatoes, pesto and guacamole on a grilled flatbread. I’m not normally one for meatless meals, but I absolutely loved this sandwich.

It was simple, but the spinach and tomatoes were bright and fresh. The provolone was sliced thin so it had a nice sharp bite without being overpowering. The pesto was flavorful, and the guacamole was piled on so that delicious avocado and cilantro flavor was in every bite.

andy-pepper-s-potato-chips

On the side, I ordered warm, seasoned potato chips. The bag behind the counter said they were from the Billy Goat Chip Company in St. Louis, one of the few things at Andy Pepper’s that wasn’t homemade.

They were good chips, but warming them made them even better. It was a light seasoning (onion, garlic, spices and sugar, according to the company website), but it added a unique flavor that I really enjoyed.

andy-pepper-s-lemon-poppy-pancake-and-bacon

Julie went with breakfast for lunch, unable to resist one of the seasonal pancake flavors: lemon poppy seed.

We were warned that the pancakes usually come in orders of two, plate-sized pancakes so she just had a half order, and it was plenty. It was as big as advertised, and really soaked up the syrup. The citrusy flavor of the lemon gave the hearty pancake a light, summery flavor.

And what breakfast would be complete without bacon? Julie asked for a side of it and received four crispy, delicious slices on top of her pancake.

andy-pepper-s-zucchini-cornbread

In addition to our meals, we grabbed a couple slices of locally baked zucchini cornbread and a homemade blueberry sage jam. I only got a hint of zucchini, but the cornbread was more moist than most. The jam was amazing. It was very sweet, and it didn’t take much of it to get a lot of flavor.

That brought our total bill up to about $25. It was a little higher than we like to pay for lunch, but worth every penny.

Everything we had was either homemade or made with the freshest ingredients, and that makes all of the difference.

We enjoyed everything that we had on our visit and look forward to going back again for another meal at the post office.

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

Andy Pepper’s
820 Limekiln Rd
Limekiln, PA 19535

Andy Pepper's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Lunch & Dinner Reviews

New concept steakhouse coming to Wyomissing – April Fool’s

fogo de chow chow

A new concept restaurant is coming to the former Old Country Buffet in Wyomissing. The unique restaurant blends the feel of a Brazilian steakhouse with Pennsylvania Dutch cooking.

Fogo de Chow Chow is the brainchild of Bobby “B.S.” Stoltzfus, who said he got the idea after eating at a Brazilian steakhouse near Philadelphia.

“I ain’t never seen anything like it,” he said. “We used to go the smorgasbords, but they were too much work. You had to get up and fetch some more food every time.

“Then I went to this Brazilian place and they brought everything to me and didn’t stop once now.”

fogo-de-chow-chow-3

Fogo de Chow Chow takes the Brazilian steakhouse and Dutchifies it, as Stoltzfus says.

“We give everyone a card with a hex sign on it,” he said. “When you want more, just turn up the green side. And when you’re done, just turn up the red side.

“But we’ll keep bringing more anyhow because even when you say ‘I’m full,’ we know you can eat it.”

At many Brazilian steakhouses, the meat is delivered on skewers or swords, but Stoltzfus says his servers, dressed in suspenders and straw hats, will deliver it on pitchforks.

fogo-de-chow-chow-1

“We’ll have steaks and pork chops done Dutchy style — always well done with a little salt…heck, we salt everything, even the salad…Then we’ll give you some of our specialties like ham balls, scrapple and stuffed pig’s stomach. And you’ll get to taste fancy foods like groundhog legs and roast pigeon.”

But what about the namesake chow chow? Stoltzfus says you won’t be disappointed.

“Our salad bar’s got lots of good stuff like chow chow, dandelions with hot bacon dressing, and waffles for your chicken.”

Then there’s dessert: shoo-fly pie, funny cake, A.P. and lots of it.

“If you leave here hungry, you ain’t right.”

The restaurant expects to open sometime this summer, though a soft opening could come as early as June.

“I can’t wait for everyone to try our food,” said Stoltzfus. “You’ll get plenty of bull at our steakhaus, or  my name ain’t B.S.”

Happy April Fool’s Day, Berks County.

Food News