When I was working in King of Prussia, I had heard a lot about Annamarie’s Place in Royersford. By that point, the restaurant was 20 years old, cash-only, and had long since been known for its incredible breakfasts. Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to make it to Royersford for a taste.
Thankfully, Berks County has its own Annamarie’s now. Annamarie’s on Main opened in Birdsboro in early 2023, taking over the location that most recently housed Susie Q’s Breakfast & Lunch Cafe. Other restaurants that have come and gone from the space include Dino’s Wings & Things and the Maple Springs Café.
Julie and I visited the café for breakfast in May, making the short drive to Birdsboro after dropping Jakob off at daycare. We were the first customers to arrive and were seated toward the rear of the dining room.
I’m not sure how much work was done by Annamarie’s or how much was done previously, but the dining room was extremely inviting with wooden tables and chairs and brick accents on the interior walls. An oversized black and white photo of a tree loomed large on the opposite wall.
Our server was providing training to a new staff member so we had double the attention during our meal. They were at the table quickly, but with a large menu, we had to tell them to come back for our food order.
There are a seemingly endless number of omelets, French toast, pancakes, waffles and breakfast sandwiches to choose from, along with a laundry list of sides. Ultimately, I decided on the cinnamon swirl pecan stuffed French toast with a side of homefries.
The French toast came out stacked with one atop the other, but slightly askew (there was an option to get three slices, but I stuck with two). Where the two came together was a swirl of cinnamon-sugar sticky bun filling that was drizzled on top with pecans and powdered sugar.
One look at it and I knew there was no need for the bottle of syrup that was on the table. It was sweet enough without it, though not overly sweet. The cinnamon-sugar filling had a deeper flavor than I was expecting, but one that I enjoyed, especially when mixed with the nuts.
Did I need the homefries? No. But I couldn’t resist giving them a try and was glad that I did. The homefries were made with red skin potatoes which, in my mind, make any potato dish better. They were cooked to the perfect soft inside with just a little texture on the outside. Next time, I would look for a smaller main dish and definitely order the potatoes again.
Because I went French toast, Julie ordered pancakes – lemon ricotta blueberry poppy pancakes. For me, these were the best that we got between us. I especially love the pairing of the tart lemon with the slightly sweet ricotta. Adding the fresh blueberries on top made it even better. Julie gave me a taste, and I stole a few more bites at the end, too, because it was so good.
Overall, Annamarie’s provides a good value. Both my French toast and her pancakes were more specialty items, but even with the homefries we spent less than $25 between us. And you could easily spend less. A plain pancake (which the menu warns is the size of three pancakes in other places) is less than $6 for a single. The highest priced item on the breakfast menu is a Cajun shrimp benedict that comes in at $16.99.
I may not have made it to the original Annamarie’s yet, but I’ve now been to Annamarie’s on Main. And I can say that for me, it lived up to my expectations.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Service: Very Good Ambiance: Very Good Price: $
Annamarie’s on Main 339 W Main St Birdsboro, PA 19508
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Berks County’s main streets are lined with incredible restaurants. Penn Avenue in West Reading and Main Street in Kutztown come to mind. Boyertown has both Philadelphia and Reading Avenues with stores and restaurants along both. But delicious dining can be found off Boyertown’s main streets, too, as we discovered on our visit to Brakeman’s Café.
The café is located along Washington Street, across the street from the Colebrookdale Railroad’s passenger station (a brakeman being an old-time railroad worker). We visited on a cool November day – too cool to take advantage of the ample outdoor seating – and were lucky to find a table during the Saturday lunch rush.
Brakeman’s is the quintessential coffee shop. First, it has a cool vibe. Entering through the front door, you’re surrounded by historic railroad equipment in the brick-walled room. Yes, the décor is unique, but it feels like a coffee shop.
So, too, does the dining room, with its mix of tables all within proximity of the large fireplace. The dining room’s décor is less focused on the railroad and more focused on Boyertown history with old photos of downtown lining the walls.
While my typical coffee shop order includes a chai tea latte, Julie and I decided to give a try to their specialty lemonades – one Arnold Palmer and one guava lemonade. I really enjoyed my Arnold Palmer (half tea, half lemonade). It was just the right amount of sweet to be refreshing and still complement the meal.
Our lunch arrived shortly afterward. For me, it was the Italian pulled pork sandwich.
Instead of BBQ sauce, the sandwich was topped with pesto aioli and Provolone cheese. It was a delicious combination. The pesto aioli permeated throughout the sandwich and every bite had a nice bit of sharp cheese, all of it pairing perfectly with the melt-in-your-mouth pork.
Passing over the chips, I opted for the broccoli salad on the side. I always enjoy broccoli salad, especially one that was as creamy as this. It’s a nice change-of-pace from chips and other “snack food” sides.
Julie was also a big fan of the turkey and apple wrap. It was filled with sliced turkey, cheddar cheese, sliced apples, mixed greens and a cranberry aioli.
Not quite a “Gobbler”, it still had the turkey and cranberry flavors that blend so well together. The sliced apples provided additional sweetness (adding to the sour-sweet cranberry) a much-needed crunch. And the cheddar was the right choice of cheese to bring it all together.
While there’s not a “kids’ menu” so to speak, the PB&J serves as such, and Jakob was more than happy with his. It was a basic sandwich, but the multi-grain bread was a nice touch, and they didn’t skimp on the filling. Our finicky four-year-old was happy, and that’s all that mattered to us.
It was a winning meal all around. With tip, it cost us about $45, not a bad total for three meals considering we splurged on the lemonades.
Yes, Boyertown’s main streets are filled with great restaurants. But on this day, we were glad that we veered right and found our way to Brakeman’s Café.
Food: Very Good Ambiance: Very Good Service: Very Good
Brakeman’s Café 56 S. Washington St Boyertown, PA 19512