Plate of French toast with fresh cut strawberries and blueberries

Cafe Esperanza

Exterior of Cafe Esperanza at 105 W. Greenwich Street in Reading, PA

Of all the new restaurants that opened in 2021, Café Esperanza stands out.

First, the café is a non-profit, first envisioned by the congregation at Hope Lutheran Church on the opposite corner of Front and Greenwich Streets in Reading. And from concept to opening day took a decade of work.

The café and coffee shop has everything you expect – a selection of coffees and caffeinated beverages, breakfast and lunch options, comfortable seating and a cool vibe. It also has off-street parking, a rarity in the city (thanks to Hope’s parking lot). But it’s what’s missing that sets it apart from every other eatery in Berks County.

Cafe Esperanza order counter

Look at the menu board, and you’ll notice that there are no prices. That’s because Café Esperanza is unique among Berks County restaurants – unique among Pennsylvania restaurants, for that matter – as the region’s only pay-what-you-can café.

What does that mean? Exactly what it sounds like. Whether you have $10, $5, $2, or nothing, everyone is welcome to a meal at Café Esperanza. No one is turned away.

Table full of empty water glasses with a sign that reads "Coffee is the Best Idea Ever"

But don’t confuse Café Esperanza with other charities. This is a real café. When I walked in for breakfast on a Thursday morning, there were a couple other patrons there. I walked up to the counter and ordered a chai latte and French toast. (Unfortunately, I was then told they were out of chai, so I settled for a hot chocolate instead).

The only difference was that instead of being told how much I owed, I was asked, “how much change would you like?”.

A white coffee mug with the words "Si Yes Oui" sits on a wooden coffee table next to a planter

I walked back to the front of the dining area and took a seat on a sofa by the window. My hot chocolate arrived a short time later. It was very good, but hot chocolate always is. One thing to note: like all good cafes, customers have a choice of whole milk or non-dairy options for all drinks.

While the drink was good, the French toast was just about perfect. The presentation was better than most restaurants – three thick slices of French toast, dusted with powdered sugar, served on a plate with fresh strawberries and blueberries. The plate, itself, was served on a wooden board with a small cup of syrup.

A plate of French toast dusted in powdered sugar with fresh-cut strawberries and blueberries from Cafe Esperanza in Reading, PA

Best of all, it tasted as good as it looked.

The bread used for the French toast had a nutty flavor to it which I enjoyed greatly, and despite the fact that it required a knife and fork to cut, it was melt-in-your-mouth good. And the fresh fruit on the side made it a healthy meal (right?).

For me, though, it’s not just that it was a great meal, but it is a worthy cause as well. Yes, I probably paid double than what I would have for the same meal anywhere else, but I paid that knowing that one or two others who need a meal can get one.

And you can’t put a price on that.

BCE Rating
Food: Very Good
Service: Excellent
Ambiance: Excellent
Value: Priceless

Café Esperanza
105 W. Greenwich St
Reading, PA 19601

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops

Review: Klinger’s at the Airport

mural of various airplanes, pilots and flight attendants at Klinger's at the Airport

Long-time followers of Berks County Eats know how much we have enjoyed our visits to Klinger’s pubs across the county over the years. 

While I will always love the original Klinger’s on Carsonia, Klinger’s at the Airport has recently become our family’s go-to for both the food and the look on our son’s face when he sees a plane takeoff outside the window.

TV's hang near the bar area at Klinger's at the Airport

Our most recent visit reaffirmed how much we enjoy the restaurant by the runway at the Reading Regional Airport. Jump to Original Review from 2017

We stopped in on a Friday night around 5:30. The bar was full and the restaurant was bustling but there was still plenty of seating in the dining area and we were lucky enough to get a table by the window. 

Even though it was already dark outside, the lights of the planes illuminated them just enough so that Jakob could watch them take off while we waited for our food to arrive. 

basket with red and white checkered paper with a dozen wings, half in a dark barbecue sauce the other half covered in a creamy parm peppercorn

For my meal, I ordered Klinger’s boneless wings – half Parmesan peppercorn and half Jameson Whiskey BBQ. The boneless wings were always a favorite of mine at the Carsonia location and they did not disappoint. Klinger’s BBQ sauce is one of my favorite wing sauces I’ve found – smokey and sweet. And the Parmesan peppercorn was creamy and mild. 

The best part, I ordered 10 wings and got a full baker’s dozen in my basket. 

green triangular plate with a quesadilla, cups of salsa and sour cream for dipping and a cup of applesauce

Julie had the Cadillac quesadilla. The name is an homage to Klinger’s former location in Fleetwood and is a delicious take on a cheesesteak. In addition to the steak, cheese and grilled onions, the quesadilla is drizzled with barbecue sauce. 

Though it comes served with salsa and sour cream on the side, the barbecue sauce adds a sweetness to the dish that makes the other sauces almost unnecessary. 

basket with red and white checkered liner with a cup of pasta with red sauce and an order of tater tots

For Jakob’s meal, we got him pasta and tater tots. The pasta was curly noodles that he didn’t need to cut which made it easy for him to clear his bowl. He did the same with his tots, leaving just three left when he declared “I’m full” at the end of the meal. 

It took him a little longer than the rest of us to finish his food because there were at least 10 planes landing or taking off while we were there, and for a five-year-old, each one is an event that can’t be missed. 

yellow plate with a cheeseburger and an order of fries

Joining us on our visit was my mother-in-law, Peggy, who loves Klinger’s fries – beer-battered and crispy. She enjoyed them alongside her cheeseburger.

Overall, it was a great meal and a great experience – exactly what we were hoping for with this family meal. And for the four of us, our total was under $80 (and we had a $5 off coupon).

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

Klinger’s at the Airport
2385 Bernville Rd
Reading, PA 19605

Original Post – February 13, 2017

Every great movie franchise is built on the trilogy. Think Lord of the Rings, the Dark Knight and Star Wars (the originals, obviously). That formula apparently works for restaurants, too.

With the opening of Klinger’s at the Airport at the end of 2016, the Klinger’s trilogy is now complete.

Berks County Eats has already visited the original Klinger’s on Carsonia, and last year, we visited the new Klinger’s of Fleetwood.

If I were starting a restaurant, the Reading Regional Airport would not be my ideal location. The airport hasn’t had regular passenger service since 2004.

But with the closing of Malibooz early last year, the space was open and Klinger’s stepped in.

The lights were mostly off in the terminal when we arrived, but Klinger’s was alive and well, tucked in a corner on the left side of the building.

It looks like a hole in the wall, but the dining area opens up from the entrance. To the right is a 360-degree bar. A large mural dedicated to aviation history decorates the wall behind it.

The rest of the dining room is filled with booths and tables, definitely the largest dining area of the three Klinger’s restaurants.

Our table was by one of the windows overlooking the airstrip. During our visit – a Tuesday night where we played Challenge the Pub trivia – we saw exactly one plane out the window, though whether it was coming or going, I couldn’t say.

basket of BBQ wings with celery and ranch dressing from Klinger's at the Airport

Klinger’s is known for their bar food and for me, their wings are some of the best around. So we had to start our night with a basket – five Old Bay and five Jameson Whiskey BBQ.

Both flavors can be found at Klinger’s other restaurants, the Jameson Whiskey BBQ being the signature flavor. It’s sweet, and a little bitey. When I’ve had the wings at Carsonia, the sauce is laid on much thicker. This was lighter, but the flavor was still there. And the Old Bay is exactly what it sounds like, wings rubbed down in the classic seasoning, Julie’s favorite.

The menu looks similar to the other two locations, though each one has its own unique offerings. For instance, all three feature different varieties of chili. I had an opportunity to sample the habanero chili during the chili cook-off at this year’s Fire & Ice Festival and loved it. It was a little sweet with enough heat to make you take notice, but not enough to overpower everything else.

steak sandwich with fresh-cut fries from Klinger's at the Airport

Another twist comes with the sandwiches. All three locations have a section for steak sandwiches, but only Fleetwood and the Airport have the Lone Star Style steak sandwich featuring sautéed onions, barbecue sauce, beer cheese and bacon.

It is a phenomenal mix of ingredients. The steak meat – real cuts of meat, not Steak-Ums – is a great base. The beer cheese and the barbecue sauce blend together really well for a sweet and smoky flavor. The thick-cut bacon adds a salty note and more smokiness. And the sautéed onions are the perfect finish.

This is no Philly cheesesteak, but it is one of the best sandwiches that I have tried in more than three years of Berks County Eats.

stromboli with a bowl of marinara for dipping from Klinger's at the Airport

One of the only-at-the-airport menu additions is Stromboli – seven varieties made with beer dough. Julie decided to try the Classic – pepperoni, ham, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, mozzarella and marinara.

Klinger’s did a good job with this. The doughy shell is very good, though I couldn’t taste anything uniquely “beer dough” about it. What really stands out though is the sauce. It’s a thick, deep red sauce that is quite enjoyable for a place that doesn’t qualify as an “Italian restaurant.”

a large chocolate chip cookie flanked by two scoops of ice cream and two squirts of whipped cream all drizzled with chocolate

We were joined on our visit by our friends Matt and Hannah, who were very excited to see a cookie sundae on the dessert menu.

I have to say, after the meal, the sundae was a bit of a letdown. The chocolate chip cookie, though it looked cute with a faux face made of chocolate chunks – was disappointing. It was hard so it was difficult to cut and share. We finished off the ice cream and chocolate syrup but left some of the cookie behind.

For Julie and I, our total bill was around $30 (that included our two entrees, wings and an iced tea as Matt and Hannah picked up the tab for the cookie). Good luck coming in under $30 for dinner at PHL.

The new Klinger’s, despite its location, should prove successful. It follows a similar formula as its two sister restaurants: a cool atmosphere, rotating craft beers for the bar crowd, and great food.

Now that they have the three-peat, will Klinger’s try for four?

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

Klinger’s at the Airport
2385 Bernville Rd
Reading, PA 19605

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Bars & Pubs Dessert Lunch & Dinner Reviews
The interior of the sunroom dining area with high top tables and cushioned benches at the Greenhouse Cafe

Our 10 Favorite Restaurants in Berks County

I get asked all the time, “What’s the best restaurant in Berks County?” The truth is, it’s impossible to choose “the best” restaurant – how do you compare great barbecue to fine dining? But with more than eight years and 400 reviews under my belt, I definitely have my favorites. Here are 10 that are on the top of my list. All of them are on the list for different reasons, but those are the reasons we keep going back.

Andy Peppers
Limekiln

I can’t say enough good things about Andy Pepper’s. The tiny eatery shares a building with the Limekiln Post Office and is out of the way for most people, but worth the visit for their inventive – and always delicious – breakfast and lunch.

chicken florentine pasta from Austin's

Austin’s Restaurant and Bar
West Lawn

This is a long-time favorite of ours. In our experience, Austin’s always puts out consistently good food – including some of my favorite ribs – with seasonal specials that never disappoint. And because the restaurant’s servers work as a team, you can get anything you need quickly.

A white brick wall painted with a yellow fork and the words "Fork & Ale"

Fork & Ale
Douglassville

This is a restaurant and bar that has impressed on every one of our visits. Fork & Ale serves what can best be described as elevated bar food – burgers and sandwiches that are just done a little better and hearty dinners that have a fine dining flair to them.

The interior of the sunroom dining area with high top tables and cushioned benches at the Greenhouse Cafe

Greenhouse Cafe
Wyomissing

I have liked the Greenhouse Cafe since it opened, but in 2021, the Greenhouse Cafe earned a place as one of my favorites, thanks in large part to the restaurant’s Soup CSA where I enjoyed 10 different soups across 10 weeks. But it’s more than just the soup that lands it on my list. It’s the ambiance, the service, and the fact that it is the best plant-based restaurant in Berks County.

Photo of a large wooden statue of a knight outside of Stokesay Castle in Reading, PA

The Knight’s Pub
Reading

Stokesay Castle – and specifically the Knight’s Pub – is a uniquely cool venue. It straddles the line between pub and fine dining, and what I appreciate most is that it is family friendly. Julie and I have dined at the Knight’s Pub for date nights and we’ve taken our pre-schooler along for a family meal. And the food and service is always excellent.

Photo of a banner hanging on a storefront that says "Let's Taco Bout It" with image of two cartoon tacos in a wrestling match.

Let’s Taco Bout It
West Reading

Let’s Taco Bout It is a family favorite, especially for my son. At two-and-a-half years old, his favorite food just might be Let’s Taco Bout It’s version of Mexican street corn. And we are all big fans of the restaurant’s “Luchadors,” oversized mash-ups of tacos and quesadillas.

A margharita pizza (pizza topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil)

Mangia! Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria
Mohnton

Mangia has been a family favorite. For a while, it felt like we were visiting every week. They have an extensive menu of pastas, sandwiches, and pizzas, but what sets Mangia apart for me is two dishes: the Pasta al Parmigiano Reggiano and Cacio e Peppe. These dishes are prepared tableside with pasta tossed in cheese wheels imported from Italy.

Photo of a pizza topped with cured ham, shaved cheese and arugula

Nonno Alby’s
West Reading

Nonno Alby’s has delicious wings and burgers, but the pizza is what lands Nonno Alby’s on this list. The restaurant’s artisan wood-fired pizzas are our favorite in Berks County. I’m particularly fond of the namesake Nonno Alby’s pie with sauteed rapini, Italian sausage and red pepper flakes.

A photo of a room with a stone wall one on side and a long dining table with wooden chairs

Savory Grille
Macungie

Our favorite fine dining in Berks County can be found at the Savory Grille. Though this country inn has a Macungie address, we are happy to say it is within Berks County’s borders. Savory Grille serves top-tier foods and their patio dining area can’t be beat.

empty dining room at Squawk Cafe in Wyomissing

Squawk Cafe
Wyomissing

Some of the best breakfast around, Squawk Cafe focuses on two things: sweet French toast and savory breakfast burritos. We’ve tried several variations of each, and Chef Patrick has never disappointed us.

What are your favorite Berks County Restaurants? Share your favorites with us by email at berkscountyeats@gmail.com or on our Facebook page at facebook.com/berkscountyeats.

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A large soft shell taco on a plate with refried beans and yellow rice from Norte Sur

8 Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free in Berks County

Looking to save a little money on your next family night out? Our local restaurants are here to help! Check out these Berks County restaurants where kids eat free, and enjoy a family dinner without breaking the bank.

*Berks County Eats strives to provide the most up-to-date information but deals offered by restaurants are constantly changing. Always check with the restaurant to confirm the deals are still available.

strip mall restaurant with red lettering above the door that reads "Alebrije"

Alebrije
Exeter, Muhlenberg & Wyomissing

Kids eat free every Tuesday night at all three of Alebrije’s locations – Fifth Street Highway, Perkiomen Avenue and State Hill Road. Mexican-inspired options on the kids menu include tacos, grilled chicken with rice, quesadillas and enchiladas, but Alebrije also offers chicken nuggets and cheese pizza for the pickiest of eaters.

Austin’s
West Lawn

Every Sunday night, Austin’s Restaurant & Bar in West Lawn offers a free child’s meal with the purchase of an entrée. Kids meals at Austin’s include grilled cheese, chicken tenders and chicken sandwiches, pizza, and cheeseburgers.

Exterior view of a restaurant at night with blue lights that read "Coastal Grille"

Coastal Grille
Wyomissing

The sister restaurant to Austin’s, Coastal Grille, also hosts a kids-eat-free night every Sunday. In addition to mac and cheese and chicken tenders, Coastal Grille offers signature seafood items on the kids’ menu, including grilled shrimp, popcorn shrimp, and fish and chips.

Kempton Hotel
Kempton

Every Wednesday is kids’ day at the Kempton Hotel where you get a free children’s meal with the purchase of an adult entrée. Wednesday also features half-price appetizers from 4 to 6 p.m. so you can double-up on the discounts.

Salute Ristorante Italiano and Dante's 900

Salute Ristorante Italiano
Sinking Spring

At Salute Ristorante Italiano in Sinking Spring, kids orders of chicken Parmesan, spaghetti, fettucine alfredo and pizza typically run $10 but are free with adult entrée purchases on Sunday nights.

exterior shot of a restaurant with a sign out front that reads "Wyomissing Restaurant & Bakery"

Wyomissing Restaurant & Bakery
Wyomissing

Here’s a deal for parents with real little ones – Wyomissing Restaurant & Bakery offers free meals to any child age 3 or under with the purchase of an adult buffet.

Did we miss anyone on our list? Have a favorite place to take your kids? Email berkscountyeats@gmail.com and let us know!

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Crave Cafe gets my vote, partially because of the cool ambiance

8 Favorite Coffee Shops in Berks County

For many, the coffee shop is their comfort zone. Whether relaxing by the fireplace with a cup of coffee or plugging in to the Wi-Fi to answer emails, you’ll find a seat waiting for you these Berks County coffee shops where they are serving some of the best coffee, tea, breakfast and lunch that you’ll find in the county.

A brick wall with three shelves lined with old time railroad gear and coffee mugs

Brakeman’s Café
Boyertown

Located just two blocks from Boyertown’s bustling Philadelphia Avenue, Brakeman’s Café is perfect for a quiet cup of coffee alone or breakfast and lunch with the family. The café offers both indoor and outdoor seating where you can enjoy your cup of Twin Valley Coffee.

Cafe Esperanza Interior

Café Esperanza
Reading

My go-to for giving back, Café Esperanza is a pay-what-you-can café in the City of Reading helping to provide hot, nutritious meals to all those who want – or need – one. The cozy space has plenty of room and purchasing a meal here helps support those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford one.

Crave Café
Sinking Spring

Consistently voted among the best places for lunch in Berks County, Crave Café offers tables for two and four along with cozy couches and chairs where you can rest before starting your day.

Four Twelve Dining Room

Four Twelve
Hamburg

Featuring Passenger Coffee from Lancaster, PA, Four Twelve has been a favorite in northern Berks County since it opened in 2016. And if you’re looking for a hearty breakfast, Four Twelve has it – as long as you like waffles. The only menu items are waffle-based: waffle sandwiches, wafflets (omelets made on the waffle iron, Belgian waffles and waffle sticks for dipping.

The interior of the sunroom dining area with high top tables and cushioned benches at the Greenhouse Cafe

Greenhouse Café
Wyomissing

With vegan brunch options and specialty drinks featuring dairy alternatives, the Greenhouse Café is the go-to coffee house for those adhering to a plant-based diet. We love it for the authentic Indian cuisine like strata and kati rolls paired with a glass of chai.

Morgantown Coffee House
Morgantown

In southern Berks County, near the Chester County border, the Morgantown Coffee House serves the Twin Valley area with their own Collective Coffee Project brand of drinks along with elevated breakfast and lunch dishes.

order counter at Simply BOLD Cafe in West Reading

Simply BOLD Café
West Reading

We’ve been frequenting Simply BOLD since its previous incarnation at Park Road Café in Wyomissing. The café uses its own signature blends with beans roasted in Shillington. In addition to a cozy dining room and tables for two by the window, Simply BOLD also has a small boutique with local and curated food, gifts and Simply BOLD swag.

empty dining room at Squawk Cafe in Wyomissing

Squawk Café
Wyomissing

The Squawk Café has turned what could have been a very humble space – the lobby of the Riverfront Federal Credit Union – into one of the best breakfast cafes around. Go for the coffee and tea (try the London fog), stay for the French toast and breakfast burritos.

Dining Guides
Plate of BBQ chicken and potato filling from Kauffman's in Bethel

Where to Get Potato Filling in Berks County

Berks County is still Pennsylvania Dutch country and there are few dishes that epitomize PA Dutch cooking like potato filling. Part mashed potatoes, part bread stuffing (with a whole lot of butter), the dish is comfort food to many who grew up here. And you can still get good potato filling in Berks County if you know where to look. Whether for the holidays or anytime, here is a guide to finding your favorite side dish:

Restaurants Serving Potato Filling

Sausage with potato filling covered in gravy from the Deitsch Eck

Deitsch Eck
Lenhartsville

The Deitsch Eck, literally translated as “The Dutch Corner”, is the last traditional Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant in Berks County. Step inside to see hex signs and distlefinks and taste PA Dutch cooking including potato filling, scrapple and chow chow. And don’t miss the shoo fly pie for dessert.

Plate of BBQ chicken and potato filling from Kauffman's in Bethel

Kauffman’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant
Bethel

Known for their barbecue chicken, Kauffman’s in Bethel also is one of the places serving up potato filling as a side dish all year-round. Though not on the main menu, other PA Dutch specialties appear on the rotating specials menu, including chicken pot pie and baked beef heart.

Two chicken croquettes and a side of potato filling, smothered in gravy, from Temple Family Restaurant

Temple Family Restaurant
Temple

Chicken croquettes, baked meatloaf, roast turkey – all of these and more are available with a side (or bed) of potato filling at the Temple Family Restaurant.

Airport Diner
Kutztown

Though there is no airport next door anymore, the Airport Diner still offers potato filling, at least as a seasonal side in the fall and winter.

Sign reading "Bowers Hotel Since 1820"

Bowers Hotel
Bowers

Another restaurant that has potato filling among the rotating sides, the Bowers Hotel often includes it among weekly specials as a side for pork chops, baked ham and other entrees.

Sign above the door to a restaurant that reads "Crossroads" with two intersecting lines

Crossroads Family Restaurant
Muhlenberg Township

Among the menu offerings, Crossroads Family Restaurant is serving potato filling as a side on the main menu. However, the dinner menu doesn’t offer much else in terms of Pennsylvania Dutch cooking.

Heidelberg Family Restaurant
Robesonia

Diners at the Heidelberg Family Restaurant can enjoy potato filling with their meal any night of the week. For more PA Dutch flavors, stop by on Monday for all-you-can-eat chicken pot pie.

Main Street Pub
Bally

There aren’t many places to get potato filling in eastern Berks County, but Main Street Pub is one of those options with the dish available as one of the many side options on the menu.

PA Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomissing
Wyomissing

You’ll find all kinds of local foods at the Wyomissing Farmers Market, including two stands offering potato filling. Enjoy it as a side with your dinner at Fisher’s BBQ (entrees include ribs, roast beef and pulled pork) or get it take and heat at home from Smucker’s Salads and Desserts.

Perry Restaurant
Shoemakersville

Another diner offering potato filling as one of the sides, Perry Restaurant features classic diner fare. Enjoy pork, chicken or turkey over a bed of filling, or order it as a side for your hot open face sandwich.

Route 61 Diner
Muhlenberg Township

The Route 61 Diner offers classic diner food – much of which comes served over potato filling, including chicken croquettes, smoked sausage, roast beef and roast turkey.

2022 Holiday Sales

Seisholtzville Fire Company
Hereford Township

The Seisholtzville Fire Company is taking pre-orders for potato filling in time for Christmas. Pre-orders will be open from November 20 to December 18 with pickup on December 24. Filling will be available in 1.5 and 2.5-pound containers.

Oley Fire Company
Oley

Pre-Orders Closed – The Oley Fire Company holds an annual filling sale every November where you can pre-order two-pound containers for your Thanksgiving meal.

Pioneer Grange
Topton

Sold Out – The Pioneer Grange of Topton hosts an annual filling sale in advance of Thanksgiving.

Zion Lutheran Church
Womelsdorf

Sold Out – Zion Lutheran Church in Womelsdorf offers pans of (frozen) homemade potato filling each November.

Dining Guides
A salmon BLT, toasted and cut in half, on a plate alongside a metal basket of fries at Doc & Bubba's in Mohnton, PA

Review: Doc & Bubba’s

Five years ago, I posted about La Cantina Restaurant, an Italian restaurant and bar along New Holland Road that I was frequenting during my poker-playing days. Fast-forward to July 2021 and La Cantina closed its doors.

A year later, Doc & Bubba’s has risen in its place.

While the barroom at La Cantina was very much of a dive, Doc & Bubba’s is anything but. The new restaurant is gorgeous and gives off a finer dining ambiance with dark wood tabletops and gray metal chairs with a modern flair.

A modern bar U-shaped with black liquor cabinets at Doc & Bubba's in Mohnton, PA

The bar, itself, has been set apart. Assorted bottles peek out from windows above the bar, watching over customers and the high-top tables that flank the bar area. (Our visit came in October so the bar was also adorned with ghosts that hung from the overhead liquor cabinets).

The outside patio – open year-round thanks to heat lamps – is the more casual space with a mix of standard dining tables along with Adirondacks and more relaxing seats. A second bar serves those sitting outside.

The outside patio at Doc & Bubba's in Mohnton, PA with tables for four on stone pavers beneath a tan awning

Julie and I visited for lunch and were among the first to arrive after it opened at 11, allowing us our choice of seats. We settled in at a table in the back of the dining room where we could look out the large picture windows and admire the back patio.

The lunch menu at Doc & Bubba’s consists of sandwiches, burgers, salads and pizza (with a few shareables). The menu is seasonal so items rotate on and off. During our visit, the sandwich calling my name was the South Philly roast pork – a traditional roast pork sandwich with broccoli rabe, Sharp provolone, but with the addition of pizzaioli sauce and roasted garlic aioli.

Roast pork sandwich with a small metal basket of fries from Doc & Bubba's in Mohnton, PA

It was good and hearty. Roast pork sandwiches typically aren’t served with sauce, but I liked the addition of the pizzaioli sauce on this. I actually wished there was a little more of it spread throughout so I could have gotten the flavor in every bite.

Julie really enjoyed her salmon BLT. Served on perfectly toasted bread, the salmon blended well with the traditional BLT. And it was perfectly portioned for lunch – not too light to leave her hungry, but not too heavy either.

A salmon BLT, toasted and cut in half, on a plate alongside a metal basket of fries at Doc & Bubba's in Mohnton, PA

We both enjoyed the fries which were served in their own little fryer basket along with an individual sized bottle of ketchup – a nice little added touch. The fries were topped with sea salt and pepper, but I found myself adding just a pinch more salt to them. Otherwise, they were nearly perfect.

At $40, our lunch was on the expensive side (I did also have an iced tea), but it didn’t feel like we had overpaid because the food was definitely a higher quality than we would get at many other lunch spots.

Dark wooden tables with gray chairs inside Doc & Bubba's in Mohnton, PA

The dinner prices are a little higher, but most entrees fall in the $20-$30 range with steaks and select seafood dishes coming in higher.

Doc & Bubba’s may not be weekly stop for me like La Cantina was at one time, but it’s we will definitely return – whether for an elevated lunch or a nice dinner.

BCE Rating
Food: Very Good
Ambiance: Excellent
Service: Good
Price: A Little Pricey

Doc & Bubba’s
4312 New Holland Rd
Mohnton, PA 19540

Finer Dining
Blue plate on a table with tacos, tortilla chips and salsa

Tacos, Guac & Bowl

exterior of a small storefront with a sign that reads Tacos Guac and Bowl

Recently, I have been making a concerted effort to try to get out and try some of the newer restaurants in Berks County, places that have been around for months rather than years, and places that I haven’t been to before.

With a more flexible lunch than I’ve had in years past, I’ve been taking that time to explore these places on my own, such was the case with a recent visit to Tacos, Guac & Bowl.

The restaurant is nestled in a small space at the corner of Lancaster and Baker Avenues at the south end of Reading. The space was formerly home to Giannotti’s Pizza & Subs, which closed in November 2020. Tacos, Guac & Bowl opened a year later (almost exactly) and has been serving up Mexican specialties ever since.

Inside is limited seating, but there wasn’t anyone using it when I got there. There were, however, several guests were enjoying the outside patio which had plenty of umbrella-covered tables to shield the summer sun.

I took advantage of the online ordering, and in the time it took me to drive to the restaurant from Wyomissing, my order was ready packed and ready for pickup. Mine was one of several orders that were ready at the takeout counter which is always reassuring to see.  

Blue plate on a table with tacos, tortilla chips and salsa

After a short drive back home and I was ready to dig in to my quesabirrias.

Quesabirrias are a cross between a taco a quesadilla and a taco – quesadilla-sized with cheese, choice of meet and the traditional taco toppings of onions and cilantro. All quesabirrias come with a cup of brothy birria sauce for dipping (if you haven’t had a birria taco and the accompanying sauce, it’s like an au jus but with some added spices and diced onions).

I got two – one with chorizo and one with the namesake birria (braised beef). The chorizo was good – a little spicy but not too bad – but the birria was amazing. The braised beef was so tender and flavorful. Both paired well with the dipping sauce, but it was clearly made to complement the birria and it did so very well.

close-up of a birria taco dipped in sauce

Just because I could, I also added on an order of chips and salsa. The website says the chips are made fresh every day from masa, and I believe it. They have a little different texture – slightly softer than a manufactured chip. I would have liked a little more salt on them, but they were still good and the salsa was very good, too.

My meal only cost about $15 (or it would have if I hadn’t made an impulse buy of a Jarritos when I got there, tacking on another $3). I certainly didn’t feel cheated, and I had tortilla chips with my lunch for a couple days after that, too.

Next time, I’ll have to give the bowls a try – maybe even splurge for the guacamole, too.

And there will definitely be a next time. I was impressed by the food, the service, and the price. I recommend it for anyone looking for a quick, delicious lunch or dinner.

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

Tacos, Guac & Bowl
1040 Lancaster Ave
Reading, PA 19607

Lunch & Dinner Mexican

Matt’s Chicken at the Shillington Farmers Market

Farmers Market stand with a sign that reads "Matt's Chicken"

The Shillington Farmers Market is home to some amazing vendors. I’ve enjoyed some great meals from Eve’s Thai Kitchen and the Market Café (and Brocmar Smokehouse and Mi Casa Su Casa when they were still open), but one of the great things about all of Berks County’s farmers markets is that there is always more to try.

Recently, I stopped at the market for lunch to try out one of those newer stands – Matt’s Chicken.

Matt’s opened in the fall of 2021 and focuses on – you guessed it – chicken dishes. It’s actually quite refreshing to see a menu so focused. While there are weekly specials, the core menu on the board when I visited was pretty simple: chicken sandwiches (classic or spicy), chicken nuggets and the fried chicken Caesar salad. The only two sides on the menu board were fries and fried Brussels sprouts.

I’ve had many Caesar salads with grilled chicken, but never with fried chicken so I was anxious to give the dish a try. I ordered at the counter and waited about 10 minutes until it was ready before carrying it to the market’s upstairs seating area.

A cardboard takeout box with sliced fried chicken atop a Caesar salad on a table with a cup of fries

Opening the box, I found quite the salad in front of me with a sliced chicken breast, big romaine leaves and oversized croutons with a cup of dressing.

For a takeout salad, it looked fine. But the flavor was way beyond what I expected. Specifically, the chicken breast had just the right amount of seasoning in the breading and was cooked perfectly so it was still juicy. And it just went so well with the dressing that I could have skipped the salad and just dipped the chicken in the dressing for lunch.

Wanting to give more of the menu a try, I also grabbed a cup of fries and unsurprisingly they were also delicious. They were well-salted, not too much to make me overly thirsty but enough that I wanted to keep shoveling them down.

Overall, I was impressed. For a small stand, the food packed some big flavor. And it was pretty reasonably priced at less than $15 for my lunch.

Matt’s is definitely a place that I will return to. I’m sure I will enjoy the sandwiches just as much. And when I do, I’ll let everyone know.

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

Matt’s Chicken
Shillington Farmers Market
10 S. Summit Ave
Shillington, PA 19607

Farmers Market Meals Lunch & Dinner Takeout
Hand holding a wrap, cut in half, filled with broccoli and rice

Betty’s Wraps

oval sign hanging from a brick building that reads "betty's wraps, smoothies, salads, soups"

During my college career at Kutztown, I had a chance to enjoy most of the restaurants in downtown, but sadly there were a few that I overlooked back then. I regret it now, but thankfully there’s still time to go back and make up for those missed opportunities.

One restaurant I regret never visiting back then is Betty’s.

In a college town filled with unhealthy choices (I still miss Spuds), Betty’s stood apart with a lighter menu of wraps, soups, salads and smoothies. Now that I’m inching closer to 40, that kind of food speaks to me a lot more than it did back then.

counter seating at a restaurant with a sign on the wall that says "Betty's"

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend a day in Kutztown, and when it came time for lunch, I made the short walk down Main Street to Betty’s.

It’s a small storefront with no more than 20 chairs, including a handful of stools along a counter by the kitchen. The tables they do have are actually pretty cool, decorated with cartoon-ish drawings that just make you feel a little happier.

Table that is painted with a cartoon drawing of a busy cafe

The menu at Betty’s may be healthier, but it’s definitely not small. There are more than 20 wrap options when you count all the hot wraps, cold wraps, specialty wraps and snack wraps. (Plus, the hot wraps can all be made into burrito bowls).  It makes it hard to choose just one.

But I settled on the Thai wrap. One of the hot wrap options, the Thai wrap came stuffed with broccoli, carrots, red pepper and rice with a soy peanut sauce.

The first thing you taste when you bite in is the peanut sauce which comes through strong, but then you get a little of the salty sweetness of the soy. The rice really soaked up a lot of the sauce, ensuring flavor in every bite.

Hand holding a wrap, cut in half, filled with broccoli and rice

The wrap was overstuffed with vegetables and after one bite there was rice and broccoli sitting in a pool of sauce on the unfolded wrapper.

Not wanting to go overboard with a smoothie, I settled instead for a flavored iced tea – peach – which was sweet and refreshing.

The food was out quick, despite the fact that I had ordered behind a group of KU field hockey players who had arrived just before me, and at around $10, the price was right.

Most of the customers that I saw coming through were doing takeout, and I would probably do the same in the future. Not that it was bad inside, but the dining area is definitely cramped and quite frankly there are plenty of beautiful open spaces in Kutztown to enjoy a meal.

And there are plenty more places – like Betty’s – that I definitely still need to try in town.

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

Betty’s
129 W. Main St
Kutztown, PA 19530

Lunch & Dinner Sandwich Shops
Fastnacht sitting on a blue plate next to an empty box that says Stoudt's Bakery

Where to Find Fastnachts in Berks County 2022

Fastnachts are a Berks County tradition, enjoyed each year on Fat Tuesday – known locally at fastnacht day. The specialty donuts have already started arriving at bakeries across the county, and many local organizations will once again be hosting fastnacht fundraisers. Here is our list of confirmed places to find fastnachts in Berks County in 2022:

Fastnacht Fundraisers

Mt. Penn Fire Company
The Mt. Penn Fire Company is hosting its 54th Annual Fastnacht Sale on February 26. Full details have yet to be announced. In 2021, the cost was $10 per dozen.

Historic Joanna Furnace
The Hay Creek Valley Historical Association will be hosting a fastnacht sale on March 1. The cost is $10 per dozen. Pre-order by February 23.

Bakeries, Farmers Markets

Brook’s Cafe
Fasnachts are back at Brook’s Cafe in Douglassville. The restaurant will have fastnachts for sale along with fastnacht-inspired specials like the fastnacht burger available for a limited time.

Dutch Maid Bakery
Both locations of Dutch Maid Bakery – the Temple bakery and the Fairgrounds Farmers Market – have fastnachts available. According to their Facebook post, the cost is $1.25 each, six for $7.25, or a dozen for $12.50.

Frecon Farms
Frecon Farms will once again be offering fastnachts from their bakery this year. The cost is $8.99 for a half dozen and $14.99 per dozen. Pre-order for pick-up on Frecon Farms’ website.

Kimberton Whole Foods
Kimberton Whole Foods in Douglassville is also offering fastnachts from Frecon Farms. They will be available through Tuesday or until they are sold out.

Kirbyville Farm Market
The Kirbyville Farm Market (Route 222 south of Kutztown) is once again offering fastnachts, homemade from the market’s bakery.

Nesting Box Farm Market & Cramery
The Nesting Box in Kempton is selling fastnachts from The Buttered Crumb, a bakery in Lehigh County. Deliveries are limited so they may not be available every day.

PA Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomissing
Becca’s Gourmet Coffee & Donuts at the Wyomissing Farmers Market is offering fastnachts three ways: plain, glazed, and powdered. The cost is $6.95 for a half dozen or $12.95 for a dozen.  

Plum Creek Farm Market
For the first time, Plum Creek Farm Market is offering fresh-baked fastnachts. Pre-orders are available on their website with pickup available on Tuesday, March 1.

Shady Mountain Market
Another farm market in the area offering fastnachts (along with other delicious baked goods), Shady Mountain Market is located on Dryville Road outside of Fleetwood.

Twilight Acres Creamery & Bakery
Twilight Acres in Stouchsburg is advertising that they have fastnacths available along with their selection of traditional donuts.

Weaver’s Orchard
From now until Fastnacht Day, Weaver’s Orchard near Morgantown is serving homemade fastnachts both plain and powdered.

Dining Guides