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.
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.
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?”.
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.
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
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Five years ago, our family made the drive to the Oley Turnpike Dairy for the first time. The out-of-the-way diner was okay, but nothing special (the ice cream was great, though). The combination restaurant and ice cream parlor was open for 52 years before closing in August 2022.
But the space didn’t remain empty for long as the new Redvo Restaurant opened in February 2023. The restaurant is a new venture from the owners of Penn Steak & Fries, which operated in the Coventry Mall in Pottstown from 1989 until it closed prior to Redvo’s opening.
The space has certainly received an upgrade since our visit in 2018. The wood paneling has been painted a light gray and the dining area is much brighter. The wood-top tables are a big improvement over the vinyl tablecloths that I remember from our first visit.
On the other side of the building, what was once the ice cream parlor is now empty. But when I stopped in for lunch on a Tuesday afternoon, quite a few tables were full in the dining area.
The sign said “seat yourself” so I grabbed a booth at the far end of the room and was quickly greeted and offered a menu. A minute later she was back with my drink and my order was in.
With Redvo’s predecessor being Penn Steak & Fries, I was always going to order a cheesesteak. In addition to creative sandwiches like the pepperoni cheesesteak, spicy pesto chicken cheesesteak and chipotle chicken cheesesteak, Redvo has a build-your-own option with a dozen toppings, an equal number of sauces and three different cheeses.
Though I really wanted to try the spicy pesto, I decided to stick with a more traditional “Berks County” style cheesesteak with Provolone cheese, onions and marinara sauce.
After one bite, I was hooked. The sandwich was packed with perfectly prepared steak. The sauce was on the sweeter side which balanced nicely with the savory meat. And rather than a cold slice of cheese sitting on the bun, the Provolone was melted throughout so every taste was as good as the last.
The best part was that the fries were just as good. The fresh-cut style fries were crispy and flavorful – never once did I have to reach for the salt and pepper shaker. And they made for a great utensil to pick up the excess meat and onions that had fallen onto the plate.
Overall, I was really impressed by both the food and service – and the price was right at about $15 for my sandwich, fries and drink.
While the menu does offer more than just cheesesteaks (they even serve breakfast from 6 a.m. to 12 noon every day), there’s too many cheesesteak options to explore before I branch out from there.
And I can’t wait to try them all.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Service: Excellent Ambiance: Good Price: $
Redvo Restaurant 6213 Oley Turnpike Road Oley, PA 19547
Fastnachts are a Berks County tradition, enjoyed each year on Fat Tuesday – known locally as Fastnacht Day (or Fasnacht Day). The specialty donuts have already started arriving at bakeries across the county, and many local organizations will once again be hosting fastnacht fundraisers in time for Fastnacht Day on Tuesday, February 21. Here is our list of confirmed places to find fastnachts in Berks County in 2023:
Restaurants, Bakeries & Farm Markets
ACEC Farm & Market Shoemakersville
ACEC is adding homemade fastnachts to its offerings. Available in plain or sugared, the fastnachts can be pre-ordered for pickup on February 4, 11 or 18. Limited quantities may be available in the store, but pre-orders are guaranteed. More on Facebook
Brooks Cafe Douglassville
Every year, Brooks Cafe in Douglassville incorporates fastnachts into their February specials. This year, that has included fastnacht French toast. Watch their Facebook page for daily specials.
Dietrich’s Meats & Country Store Lenhartsville
Each year, Dietrich’s Meats add fastnachts to its expansive array of Pennsylvania Dutch offerings. Calling in for pre-orders is recommended. Visit Website
Dutch-Maid Bakery Temple
The Dutch Maid Bakery has fastnachts available at both of its locations – along Kutztown Road in Temple and at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market. The cost is $1.50 a piece, $8.00 per half-dozen and $13.50 for a dozen. More on Facebook
Echo Hill Country Store Fleetwood
Echo Hill is another country store that is known for carrying on the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition with fastnachts every year. Visit Website
Fox’s Country Tea House Stouchsburg
Fox’s Country Tea House is hosting its second annual Fastnacht Par-TEA on Saturday, March 4. The traditional four-course tea includes scones, German bean soup, Black Forest ham and swiss on rye, and fastnachts for dessert – all paired with your choice of tea (apple juice for the kids). The cost is $29.95 for adults, $14.95 for kids. More on Facebook
Frecon Farms Boyertown
Homemade fastnachts will once again be available at Frecon Farms in Boyertown starting February 11 through February 25. Pre-order a half-dozen for $8.99 or a dozen for $15.99 and pickup in-store. Official Website
Hershey Harvest Laureldale
Each year, Hershey Harvest brings back homemade fastnachts which they advertise are made with real mashed potatoes. Visit Website
Kirbyville Farm Market Kirbyville
The Kirbyville Farm Market (Route 222 south of Kutztown) is once again offering fastnachts, homemade from the market’s bakery. Fastnachts are available powdered or plain. More on Facebook
Nitro Bar West Reading
The Nitro Bar has added house-made fastnachts to the menu in advance of Fat Tuesday. Quantities are limited to check in advance for availability. Facebook Post
Other Farm BrewingCompany Boyertown
Boyertown’s Other Farm Brewing Company has added a range of fastnacht specials to the menu, including fastnacht bacon cheeseburgers, fastnacht chicken sandwich and fastnacht apple and sweet custard. Facebook Post
PA Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomissing Wyomissing
Becca’s Gourmet Coffee and Donuts at the Farmers Market of Wyomissing has fastnachts available – glazed, powdered or plain – for $1.25 each, $6.95 for a half-dozen, or $12.95 for a full dozen. More on Facebook
Plum Creek Farm Market Bernville
Plum Creek is offering four packs of fastnachts for pre-order with limited in-store availability on February 21. At $4.99 for four fastnachts, guests can choose from sugar, powdered sugar, glazed or plain – or a combination of all four. More on Facebook
Shady Mountain Market Fleetwood
Among the many baked goods available at Shady Mountain Market are fastnachts, which you can find in store every January and February. Visit Website
Weaver’s Orchard Morgantown
Fastnachts are back at Weaver’s Orchard and available in five varieties: plain, glazed, powdered, sugared, or cinnamon sugar. Facebook Post
Fastnacht Fundraisers & Events
Berks History Center Reading
The Berks History Center is hosting a Fastnacht Day program on February 21. The drop-in tasting event is $5 for members and $8 for non-members. Each guest will receive a half-dozen fastnachts to take home. More on Facebook
Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles Boyertown
For the first time since 2020, the Boyertown Museum of Historic Vehicles is bringing back its Fastnacht Day event. On Tuesday, February 21, museum-goers are invited to sit down in the historic Reading Diner, now part of the museum’s collection, for fastnachts and coffee. Fastnachts will be just 25 cents and coffee is available for just 5 cents with paid admission to the museum. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Event Page
Historic Joanna Furnace Plowville
The Hay Creek Valley Historical Association is once again hosting a fastnacht fundraiser. Pickup is February 21 at historic Joanna Furnace. Preorder by February 14. Cost is $10 per dozen and $6 per half-dozen. Event Page
Kutztown Fire Company Kutztown
One of several local fire companies hosting a fastnacht sale this year. Orders are due by Friday, February 17 and can be picked up during a drive-through pickup on Sunday, February 19. Fastnachts will also be at the Community Table at Renninger’s on Saturday, February 18. Event Page
Mt. Penn Fire Company Mt. Penn
For the 55th time, the Mt. Penn Fire Company is hosting its annual fastnacht sale. Fastnachts will be available for order for pickup on February 18-19. Event Page
Back in 2018, I discovered a restaurant in Lancaster County called Gracie’s on West Main. Located in the heart of Leola, it’s a fantastic place – especially for breakfast (with an entire menu section devoted to bacon). I’ve been there several times since, including taking the family there for dinner just a couple months ago.
So when it was announced in the spring that the owners of Gracie’s were taking over what was then known as Divot’s, I was very excited.
After a small update, the newly renamed Louie’s Kitchen & Bar opened in the space in May.
I actually made my first visit over the summer but never wrote about it because shortly afterward, the restaurant went through some changes in the kitchen and my chili huevos rancheros tacos were off the menu.
The restaurant serves as the unofficial “19th hole” for the Flying Hills Golf Course. Located just steps from the clubhouse, I would imagine that it fills up quickly on warm days when the course is full. But with a chill in the air, the course is empty and Julie and I have the place mostly to ourselves.
Louie’s is unique to itself, but it has callbacks to Gracie’s. Most notably are the chalkboards throughout the dining room, each one adorned with inspirational quotes from sports legends like Babe Ruth, Emmitt Smith and Bo Jackson (plus fictional sports star Rocky Balboa).
The menus, however, diverge. Whereas Gracie’s is primarily known for its breakfast items, Louie’s is a lunch and dinner spot (though the restaurant did try breakfast, at first, and still does weekend brunches) so the menu is built upon burgers, wraps and sandwiches.
For my lunch, I went with chicken bacon avocado wrap with a side cup of chili.
The wrap is pretty basic and similar items can be found on menus around Berks County, but I enjoyed it.The wrap was filled with grilled chicken, red onion, lettuce, tomato, avocado and ranch dressing. It may not have been anything special, but it was done well and I enjoyed it, especially the bites that were loaded with avocado.
I was really impressed with the chili – the triple double chili, that is – which is one of the items that can also be found on the menu at Gracie’s. It gets its name because it includes three meats (ground beef, ground pork and bacon) and two beans (kidney and black). It’s hearty, for sure, and a bowl with some fries could easily be a meal. The chili, itself, was not too spicy but definitely had the familiar sting of chili pepper every now and then. Though the heaping helping of shredded cheese on top helped to tone it down.
Across the table from me, Julie enjoyed her Mediterranean pita and fries. The pita features chicken, hummus, olive tapenade, tomatoes, onion, cucumber and feta with tzatziki sauce. It was really good and really filling. The hummus was really good and helped make it a very filling dish.
The fries were a real highlight. Crisp, golden and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, Julie and I both kept going back for more even after we were already full.
Because Julie upgraded to fries and I added on the cup of chili (and splurged on a fresh fruit iced tea), our lunch was a little more expensive than we would typically aim for with our total coming in around $40.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Ambiance: Very Good Service: Very Good Price: $$
Louie’s Kitchen & Bar 12 Village Center Dr Reading, PA 19607
Some were old favorites. Some we never tried. Here’s a look back at the more than 20 restaurants and eateries in Berks County that closed in 2022.
Noom Nums Caribbean Kitchen
Shillington Farmers Market
With Saturday, December 31 as their last day, Noom Nums Caribbean Kitchen has closed at the Shillington Farmers Market. Noom Nums was sharing a stand with Southern Side Kitchen, which is continuing at the location. In a Facebook message, it was announced that Noom Nums was hiring as the business is restructuring. No additional details are available.
Chef Alan’s American Bistro
After 35 years in business, Chef Alan’s American Bistro in West Reading closed its doors for the final time on December 17. The namesake owner Chef Alan Rutter decided to close the restaurant as he retires from his role as chef. A cigar lounge is slated to open in the location early in the new year.
The Angry Anvil
After four years serving Birdsboro and Berks County, the Angry Anvil closed its doors in early November when their lease expired. The owners are continuing to operate the Oakbrook Brewing Company in Reading.
Canal Street Restaurant & Pub
A popular spot in the City of Reading since it opened in 1995, the Canal Street Pub is now closed. The owners announced in a Facebook post that the space has been sold and that Friday, November 4 was the last night in business for the restaurant. There is no word on who purchased the space or what they intend to do with it. The Pub owners said they will continue hosting already booked private events.
The Off Post Pub
After a short six-month run, the Off Post Pub in Bechtelsville has closed. The business shut its doors on October 31. The Off Post Pub occupied a historic inn at 2116 Old Route 100 since May 24. The building has housed a number of short-lived businesses in recent years incuding Cheers Tavern, Bandit’s Public House and 2116 Taproom.
The Market Cafe at Shillington Farmers Market
After five years, the Market Cafe at Shillington Farmers Market is now closed. The announcement came via a Facebook post dated September 24 with that being the business’ last day in operation. A new stand – The Shillington Market Breakfast & Brunch – opened in its place.
SusieQ’s Breakfast and Lunch Cafe
After three years in business, SusieQ’s in Birdsboro closed its doors for the final time on August 28. In a Facebook post to customers, the owners cited the “current economic state” as the reason for the closure. The location has gone through several restaurants over the years including The Cafe at Maple Springs and a second location for Dino’s Wings & Things.
Oley Turnpike Dairy
After more than five decades, the Oley Turnpike Dairy closed on August 20 with the owners announcing their retirement on social media. The closure includes the diner, ice cream bar and petting zoo.
The Tavern on Penn
After a 10-year run, the Tavern on Penn in West Lawn closed its doors on July 16. The restaurant’s owners put a heartfelt message on Facebook announcing the closing, saying “Owning and operating the TOP has been one of the greatest joys of our lives and made this decision all the more difficult to make. We feel this is the right time to walk away. Time with our family, children, and grandchildren has flown by before our eyes. It’s time to focus on those relationships and make them a priority. Out of the many trials the pandemic presented, there was one positive we found. The appreciation of time and the limited amount we have together.”
8899 Chinese Restaurant
8899 Restaurant, formerly located along Kutztown Road in Muhlenberg, closed in 2022 with little to no warning. The restaurant had aced its December health inspection (no violations), then closed in early summer.
Bad Biscuit Co.
After 15 months in business, Bad Biscuit Co. closed its doors on July 1. The restaurant opened in the former Fiesta Mexicana along Columbia Avenue in early 2021, focusing on breakfast and lunch, especially the scratch-made biscuits.
10 & 23 Tacos
10 & 23 Tacos, the small taco truck at the corner of the namesake routes in Morgantown, closed in June. The business opened in March 2021 and focused on quick service tacos and Mexican food.
Aunt Patti’s Tack Shack
Aunt Patti’s Tack Shack, inside the CITGO Gas Station on Lancaster Avenue, closed its doors in early June. According to a Facebook posting at the time, the closing stemmed from a falling out with the landlord. The Tack Shack was the reincarnation of Tack’s Sandwich Shop, which operated at the corner of 16th and Cottonwood in Reading for decades before closing in 2020. The owners say they are seeking a new location. In the meantime, pre-made subs, mac salads and more are available at select gas stations in Berks, Lancaster and Montgomery Counties.
Kelsey O’Shays Pub & Grille
Kelsey O’Shays, the Irish Pub along Route 724 in Douglassville, is listed as permanently closed on Google, Facebook and Yelp. The last update on the restaurant’s Facebook page came in April so the closure happened sometime in spring or early summer. There has been no word on any new business for the location.
After reopening under new ownership in 2021, the Stonersville Hotel closed its doors once again in May, at least for the forseeable future. The announcement came via Facebook that it is a “temporary closure” and that the woners “hope that this closure will not be permanent.” No other details were provided.
Mad Dogs Kutztown
Mad Dogs, the hot dog shop along Constitution Blvd in Kutztown, is now closed. The restaurant shut its doors on May 3. The business had been for sale since last year, but without any buyers, the owners have shut it down to focus on Mad Dogs’ Macungie location. The building has served as a restaurant for many years, formerly housing Potts U and before that CC’s Wood-Fired Girll.
Sazon Caribbean Restaurant
After just two months in business, Sazon Caribbean Restaurant in Blandon is closed. The announcement was made on the restaurant’s social media on May 4. In the post, it was alleged that two business partners left without warning, and there was no choice but to close. The restaurant was located in the former Main Street Pizza.
Circle S Ranch House
One of Berks County’s longest-running restaurants is now just a memory with the closing of Circle S Ranch House on April 8. The restaurant had been in business for 49 years. The owners cited a desire to spend more time with their families as the reason for the closing. The family continues to operate Schell’s and the Dairy Swirl in Temple. A new ownership group has reopened the space as Lilli’s Ranch House.
Sweet Street Baked
Sweet Street Baked, the Fairgrounds Farmers Market outpost of Cafe Sweet Street, closed its doors on January 11 after less than a year in business. The stand served a limited menu that failed to take off the same as the cafe.
Wild Sage Coffee & Kitchen
Reading & Muhlenberg
The first restaurant to close in 2022, Wild Sage Coffee & Kitchen announced the closure of both locations on January 9. Wild Sage ran a downtown Reading cafe and a second location at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market in Muhlenberg Township. The market location is now home to Oola Bowls while the Washington Street Cafe became home to Sweets Cafe & Juice Bar.
Among the many traditions in Berks County is the meal of pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. The Pennsylvania Dutch believe that eating the meal will bring good luck throughout the year. And if you are looking for pork and sauerkraut, you’re in luck because Berks County has plenty of options this year:
Restaurants Offering Pork & Sauerkraut
1787 Brewing Company Hamburg
1787 Brewing, one of two brewpubs in Hamburg, will be featuring a yet-to-be disclosed pork-and-sauerkraut inspired special on New Year’s Day. Last year the restaurant offered bratwurst with sauerkraut and two years ago it was a pulled pork Reuben. Facebook Page
5th Street Diner Temple
The New Year’s Day specials at the 5th Street Diner in Temple include a $12.95 pork and sauerkraut dinner. All New Year’s dinner specials at the restaurant include a cup of soup, two vegetables, rolls with butter and dessert. Facebook Post
American Diner West Reading
West Reading’s American Diner is honoring the New Year’s Day tradition with pork and sauerkraut on the specials menu. The cost is $11.99 at lunch and $17.99 at dinner. Also available on New Year’s Eve. Facebook Post
Americana Diner Bechtelsville
The Americana Diner has been offering pork and sauerkraut as a special leading up to January 1. The diner will be open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on New Year’s Day. Facebook Page
Austin’s Restaurant & Bar West Lawn
As has become tradition at the restaurant, Austin’s in West Lawn (along with its sister restaurant in Wyomissing, Coastal Grille) is offering a pork and sauerkraut special on New Year’s Day. The dinner is served with green beans and garlic whipped potatoes for $16.99. The restaurant is open from 3 to 8:30 p.m. on January 1 and takeout is available. Reservations and pre-orders are accepted. Facebook Post
Berkshire Family Restaurant Wyomissing
Wyomissing’s Berkshire Family Restaurant will have pork and sauerkraut on the menu for New Year’s Day, along with additional specials that include prime rib, shrimp or chicken alfredo, stuffed shrimp, and roast pork over stuffing. The restaurant is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on January 1. Facebook Page
Candy’s Homemade Ice Cream Shoemakersvillle
Best known for their ice cream, Candy’s in Shoemakersville also serves up meals year-round, including a pork and sauerkraut dinner for New Year’s. Meals are available December 31 and January 1 for $13 – dine-in or takeout. The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Facebook Post
Crossroads Family Restaurant Muhlenberg Township
Crossroads Family Restaurant – located at the “crossroads” of Routes 61 and 222 – will be offering pork and sauerkraut on January 1. The restaurant will post full details of their New Year’s specials in the coming days. Facebook Page
Deitsch Eck Lenhartsville
The Deitsch Eck, a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant in Lenhartsville, is offering a pork and sauerkraut special on Sunday, January 1 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The full menu will also be available that day. Facebook Page
Exeter Family Restaurant Exeter Township
The Exeter Family Restaurant is celebrating New Year’s Day with a special menu featuring pork and sauerkraut with homemade mashed potatoes for $15. Other specials for New Year’s include steak champigon, shrimp and scallops casino, and haddock imperial. Facebook Post
Falco’s Tavern Robesonia
Falco’s, the corner bar along Penn Avenue in Robesonia, is getting in on the pork and sauerkraut tradition by offering it as a special this weekend. Faceebook Post
Heidelberg Family Restaurant Robesonia
The Heidelberg is open New Year’s Day with an all-you-can-eat pork and sauerkraut dinner. Enjoy pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, soup and salad bar, and dinner rolls. Facebook Post
Kempton Kitchen Kempton
While the restaurant is closed on January 1, the Kempton Kitchen is offering pre-order takeout dinners for New Year’s. The cost is $30 for a half-pan of mashed potatoes, half-pan of pork and sauerkraut, rolls and butter and dessert. Pickup is December 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Facebook Post
Lilli’s Ranch House & Creamery West Lawn
The new Lilli’s Ranch House is bringing back an old tradition by offering pork and sauerkraut as one of the weekend specials this week. The dish comes served with mashed potatoes and salad for $18. Lilli’s is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on New Year’s Day. Facebook Post
Ozgood’s Grill & Bar Kutztown
While the restaurant is closed on New Year’s Day, the Kutztown location for Ozgood’s Grill & Bar is advertising a twist on pork and sauerkraut for its New Year’s Eve menu – a grilled boneless pork chop with brown sugar and apple sauerkraut, available from 4 to 9 p.m. Facebook Post
Penn Girlle West Lawn
The Penn Grille in West Lawn will be open on January 1 to celebrate both New Year’s Day and the seventh anniversary for the restaurant. Pork and sauerkraut will be on the menu for lunch, with the restaurant also open for breakfast starting at 9 a.m. (closing at 2 p.m.). Facebook Post
Plum Creek Farm Bernville
While Plum Creek is closed on Sundays, the restaurant is offering grab-and-go pork and sauerkraut platters with mashed potatoes in the market. The market closes at 2 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and is closed on January 1 and 2. Facebook Post
Whoo’s Cooking at the Boxcar Grill Robesonia
Whoo’s Cooking is offering takeout or dine-in pork and sauerkraut meals both December 31 (takeout only) and Jauary 1 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. There is also a sauerkraut-free roast pork dinner option. Meals start at $7.99. Facebook Page
Wyomissing Restaurant & Bakery Wyomissing
The brunch buffet at the Wyomissing Restaurant & Bakery is getting a lucky addition on January 1 as pork and sauerkraut will be added to the hot bar for New Year’s. The dish will also be available a la carte and is available for takeout in family-sized portions. The buffet is on from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Facebook Page
New Year’s Day Pork & Sauerkraut Dinners
Brecknock Township Volunteer Fire Department Mohnton
The Brecknock Fire Department is hosting a family style, all-you-can-eat pork and sauerkraut dinner from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on January 1. Adults are $13; seniors are $12; Children 6-12 are $10; children 5 and under are free; and takeout is available for $11. Event Page
Epler’s Church Leesport
Epler’s Church on W. Leesport Road is hosting a takeout dinner that includes roast pork, homemade sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, bread and dessert for $12 ($6 for a kids portion). Pre-orders are appreciated and can be made through their Facebook page. Event Page
The Inn at Centre Park Reading
The special events venue in Reading’s Centre Park Historic district hosts several meals each year, starting with pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. Meals are takeout only and include pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, roll and butter for $13. Pre orders are appreciated. Event Page
Pike Township Sportsmen’s Association Pike Township
The Pike Township Sportsman’s Association, located on Hill Church Road north of Route 73 (between Oley and Boyertown), is open to the public for pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, the Association is open early for breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Facebook Page
Ruscombmanor Volunteer Fire Company Pricetown
The Ruscombmanor Fire Company is hosting an all-you-can-eat pork and sauerkraut dinner on January 1 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Adults are $14; children ages 5-10 are $7. Takeout is also available from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Event Page
Shartlesville Fire Company Shartlesville
The Shartlesville Fire Company is hosting a pork and sauerkraut dinner on January 1 starting at 11 a.m. at the Social Quarters. Event Page
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Hamburg
St. John’s in Hamburg hosts its 16th annual pork and sauerkraut dinner from 3 to 6 p.m. on New Year’s Day. Dinners include pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, roll, applesauce and homemade desserts for $12 ($6 for children). Takeout available. Facebook Page
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Sinking Spring
St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sinking Spring is offering takeout dinners on New Year’s Day. For $12 ($6 for children), you get pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, dinner roll, applesauce and dessert. A link to preorder can be found on their Facebook event page.
St. Paul’s UCC Robesonia
St. Paul’s UCC in Robesonia hosts its annual pork and sauerkraut dinner from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on New Year’s Day. Dinners include pork, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, green beans, roll, applesauce, dessert and drink for $12 per person and $8 for children 6-12 (kids 5 and under are free). Dine-in or takeout. Event Page
West Lawn Methodist Church West Lawn
The West Lawn UMC is offering pork and sauerkraut with “all the trimmings” from 12 noon to 3 p.m. on January 1. Dine-in and takeout are available. Adults are $10 and children 12 and under are $5. Event Page
Did we miss your favorite pork and sauerkraut? Let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it to the list!
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Editor’s Note: The Greenhouse Cafe closed in February 2023 after three years in business at their Wyomissing location. The owners chose not to renew the lease because of stipulations around hours of operation. As they seek a new location, they are partnering with Hill Road Coffee Roasters to provide a location for preorder pickups on weekends.
It’s been nearly three years since I first visited the Greenhouse Café, the vegan coffee shop and eatery in Wyomissing. That visit came in early 2020, shortly after the café opened. Since then, the Greenhouse has become one of my favorite restaurants.
I love sitting in the namesake “greenhouse” dining area. Surrounded by windows, the room is always bright and sunny and a great place to sit down with my laptop and doing some work-from-home away from home.
The room has changed since the cafe opened – gone are the sofa, the round metal table, and the narrow high-top table. In their place are more functional seating – four tables for two along the brick wall and two larger tables that can seat six by the windows. What hasn’t changed is the quality of the food.
But I didn’t become a regular until the fall of 2021 when I signed up for their “soup CSA.” I pre-paid for 10 quarts of soup – a different variety each week. There were some really great ones along the way like mung bean, kale and coconut (pictured); adzuki bean chili; carrot ginger; and chickpea and rice. There were so many delicious offerings that I signed up for a second round in the beginning of 2022.
Then earlier this year, Julie and I attended the Greenhouse Cafe’s “Intro to Chai” event where owners Uday and Nikki offered tastings of three variations of chai along with a variety of traditional foods (and some unique offerings, as well).
But the regular meals at Greenhouse are just as good. In early 2022, the cafe cut back its hours. Instead of offering breakfast and lunch, the cafe serves brunch daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (closed Mondays).
Through my many visits, I’ve been able to try many menu items, and I definitely have some favorites.
On the breakfast side, I really enjoy their French toast. Each order comes with four thick slices dusted with powdered sugar and swimming in syrup. The French toast has a nutty flavor to it that I enjoy and sets it apart from the usual.
On the lunch side, I’ve found three dishes that I prefer above the rest. My favorite among them is probably the kati rolls.
Filled with chana masala – chickpea stewed with tomatoes, onions and spices– and topped with pickled red onion, it features a flaky, crunchy roll. It’s like a crunchier version of a pita or naan. The dish comes together really well. It’s a little savory and the pickled onions really pop. And the two rolls are filling on their own (it doesn’t mean I won’t splurge for a cup of soup on the side, though).
Another favorite is the falafel wrap. Falafel is a lot easier to find around Berks County than chana masala, but Greenhouse does a very good version of the dish with hummus, vegetables and tahini. While the falafel and wrap are on the dry side, the hummus and tahini give it a sauciness and help to bind everything together.
During the Intro to Chai event, I had the chance to try another menu item for the first time – strata. It’s a baked dish that uses chickpea flour that has a grainy, but not unpleasant texture. At the event, it was served plain, but on the menu it comes beneath a creamy herb sauce.
Without the sauce, the strata is good, but dry. With the sauce, it’s a very good dish that goes down easy. Non-dairy cream sauces can be hit or miss, but the Greenhouse Café’s is definitely a hit. And unlike the other menu items, the strata comes with a side of herbed potatoes that shine on their own.
Though they haven’t offered the soup CSA again this year, I always get a cup of soup with my lunch orders. A recent favorite is the quinoa bean soup, a hearty soup that made a great plant-based chili.
And whether I’m ordering breakfast or lunch, it’s always accompanied by a large mug of chai. This isn’t a Starbucks-style chai that’s loaded with sugar and syrup, it’s a homemade black tea blended with oat milk with spices that’s warming and satisfying.
I love a good burger as much of the next person, but I also love Greenhouse Café so whether you’re a practicing vegan or just looking for a unique meal in a cool setting, the Greenhouse should be near the top of your list.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Service: Excellent
Ambiance: Excellent Price: $$
The Greenhouse Cafe 18 State Hill Rd Wyomissing, PA 19610
Original Post – March 2, 2020
The arrival of a new restaurant to Berks County is always welcomed. But when that eatery offers something different – when it adds a little more variety to the dining scene – it’s a little more exciting.
A little something different is exactly what the Greenhouse Cafe promises as Berks County’s newest vegan spot.
The Cafe is located in an outbuilding on the property of the Bell Tower Salon & Spa in Wyomissing (just off of State Hill Road near the intersection with Penn Avenue). I have never had a reason to go to Bell Tower myself, but Julie tells me the space was at least partially a retail store previously.
Walking in the door, you don’t get the Greenhouse feeling. It’s very minimalist with plain brown walls and simple silver-colored tables and chairs opposite the large windows. The dining room to the right is where you really feel the Greenhouse and feel at home. Natural light pours in from the sides and from above. The seating is varied with both high-tops and more relaxed sitting areas. We sat on cushioned benches around a low-top table. A faux fireplace was unlit on the wall next to us.
With the opening of the Greenhouse Cafe, Berks County now has four fully dedicated vegan eateries with Chen Vegetarian House in West Reading, the Firefly Cafe in Boyertown and HIVE in Kutztown being the other three.
The Cafe opened at the end of November with just drinks and baked goods. They slowly expanded their food offerings to include hummus and soups. The full lunch menu debuted on February 15.
Small plates include hummus and bean dips. There are several homemade dressings for your salad or grain bowl (including lemon tahini and ginger sesame). And entrees include chickpea by the sea (mock tuna), an egg-less salad sandwich and hummus and veggie sandwich.
When it came to deciding on an entree, I was torn between the hummus sandwich and the rotating special, a chana masala sandwich. The special sounded too good to pass up.
Masala is an Indian tomato sauce (chicken tikka masala is probably the most well-known version of the dish in America); chana masala features chickpeas as the primary “protein” in the dish. For the special, the chana masala came served on a hoagie roll topped with pickled cabbage.
It was an excellent entree. The masala sauce was very nice and the chickpeas were cooked well but still had texture to them. There were times while eating the dish where the sauce and the roll reminded me of a Berks County cheesesteak. (The roll was delicious, by the way).
The sandwich came served with a side of cucumber salad. It was good, but there wasn’t much to it.
Julie made a meal out of a small plate of hummus and a side grain bowl of edamame, chickpeas, cranberry and quinoa.
The bowl came out first with my sandwich. The server then appeared with a hummus sandwich only to retreat back into the kitchen for the plate of hummus that Julie had ordered.
Julie started on the bowl, which was very good. We make a quinoa dish at home with dried cranberries that we really like and this was even better. The edamame was softened just enough that it wasn’t crunchy but was still a little firm. The cranberries and (surprise) golden raisins added the sweetness that it needed to tie everything together.
When Julie’s hummus plate arrived a few minutes later, it was worth the wait. The hummus was much thicker and more textured than store-bought hummus. It was also more flavorful with a nice dusting of spices on top. Julie was excited to come back and buy some hummus to-go so she could enjoy it at home, too.
It wasn’t just the hummus, though. The pita it was served with was as good, if not better, than we have found elsewhere. It was more dense than others and was packed with flavors (of course neither of us could put our fingers on what those flavors were that were shining through). We loved everything about it.
The only thing that was a little confusing to me was the menu said it was topped with shawarma. I only know shawarma as the meat that is sliced from the spit. I can only assume that it was a shawarma spice that was on top.
Beyond the food, I was very excited to try their house blend chai tea.
I don’t drink coffee, but I love a good chai latte. The Greenhouse has their own special chai spice blend and they use oat milk to keep it vegan. It didn’t have a foamy head like a lot of chai that I’ve had, but it had a nice aroma and flavor from the spices. The oat milk even added a little bit of an earthy flavor as well that I really enjoyed.
The sizing of our drinks didn’t make much sense, though. Julie ordered a small while I ordered a large. They were served in the exact same size cups. Hers was just filled slightly less than my own.
Our lunch was a little on the pricey side at $37 (about $10 of that were the drinks), but we thought it was worth it. The service was definitely a little off. It wasn’t just the sandwich/hummus plate mix-up either. As we were leaving, a line was growing as two employees looked over the screen of their point-of-sale system trying to find the menu item the customer wanted to order.
Those hiccups will get better with more time and practice. The food is already on-point, and that’s the most important part.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Ambiance: Excellent (in the Greenhouse Dining Area) Service: Good Price: A Little Pricey
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.