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
While dining rooms across Pennsylvania were ordered to close through January 4, Berks County Eats continued to support local restaurants through takeout. During our 12 Days of Takeout, we visited 12 local eateries in 12 days between December 23 and January 3. Follow along below, and be sure to join the conversation by using #BerksCountyEats and #BerksCountyEatsTAKEOUT on Instagram and Facebook.
Day 12 – Russo Food Market
Finishing off our 12 Days of Takeout with lasagna and arancini from @russo_foodnmarket. Takeout lasagna doesn’t photograph very well, but it sure tastes good.
Day 11 – Farmers Market of Wyomissing
Day 11 of our 12 Days of Takeout saw us at the @padutchfmow for stuffed pretzels. The brisket pretzel is outstanding.
Day 10 – The Inn at Centre Park
Wishing you lots of luck in the new year – hoping this heaping helping of pork and sauerkraut (with mashed potatoes and a dinner roll) from @theinnatcentrepark does the trick. I don’t know about the luck part yet, but it was certainly a delicious start to the year.
Day 9 – Regal Buffet
Day 9 of our 12 Days of Takeout features a little bit of everything. The to-go buffet at Regal Buffet (formerly Jumbo Buffet) in Muhlenberg has everything you expect from a Chinese buffet and it’s all pretty good.
Day 8 – D&J Sandwich Shop
For Day 8 of our 12 Days of Takeout we visited D&J Sandwich Shop. Shown here is Gerry’s Special – ham, capicola, Provolone and pepperoni baked in the oven. 👍
Day 7 – The Original Mama’s Pizza and Grill
Today I asked my three-year-old what he wanted for lunch. He said pizza and French fries. How could I refuse? This gorgeous slice of holiday pizza with a side of fries came from @originalmamas in Wyomissing. And it’s Day 7 in our 12 Days of Takeout.
Day 6 – Simply BOLD Cafe
On Day 6 of our 12 Days of Takeout, it was #takeout for breakfast from @simplyboldcafe in West Reading. The burrito wrap (eggs, cheddar, salsa, beans, avocado and sour cream) was spot-on, and so was the inspirational quote on my latte.
Day 5 – Aladdin Restaurant
Our fifth day of takeout might be one of the most beautiful (and delicious) takeout meals you will see. Lamb kebabs, tabouleh and baba ghannouj from Aladdin in West Reading.
Day 4 – Andy Pepper’s
Day 4 of our 12 Days of Takeout had us at one of our favorites: @iloveandypeppers. The little place in Limekiln has some of the best food you will find anywhere. Pictured is the Hot Mozz (tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, pesto and olive oil on grilled flatbread) with a side of mashed potato bites with ranch dipping sauce. Simply perfection.
Day 3 – Austin’s Restaurant
Merry Christmas from our table to yours! Today’s holiday dinner was a take-and-make meal from @austinsrestaurant and featured ham with apricot glaze, whipped potatoes, green beans almandine and skillet cornbread. A delicious meal from one of our favorite places.
Day 2 – Dosie Dough
Good morning #BerksCounty! It’s Day 2 of our 12 Days of Takeout and today we are grabbing breakfast at Dosie Dough in Wyomissing. Donuts and an egg sandwich are on our menu on this Christmas Eve.
Day 1 – Dino’s Wings & Things
Today is our first day of 12 Days of Takeout, and we are starting off with a killer steak sandwich and fries from @dinos.wings.things. Thanks to everyone who suggested it after our recent visit to V&S. I definitely need more Dino’s in my life.
Join the #BerksCountyEatsTAKEOUT movement and support your local restaurants. Here’s how you can help:
Skip the chains and visit a local eatery – not only are you supporting a small business owner, but the food is probably going to be better and made with better ingredients.
CALL and order your to-go meals. Online ordering apps cost money and cut into profits.
If you can, go to the restaurant and pick up your order.
It’s going to save you money.
It’s going to save the restaurant money.
A kind word and a couple bucks in the tip jar go a long way.
If you have to do delivery, check to see the restaurant’s preferred delivery partner – or if they offer in-house delivery.
Sometimes it feels like there is an Italian restaurant on just about every corner.
While that is an exaggeration, there is no question that you can find good Italian food wherever you go in Berks County.
Like at Piero’s Pizzeria.
Piero’s is wedged in on the corner of Route 183 and Upper Van Reed Road in Leinbachs, just a short drive north of the Reading Airport and Route 222.
The location has limited parking in the front and on the side of the building, more than enough especially if you’re just stopping in to grab takeout (though Piero’s does have a decent size dining area for those who would prefer to dine-in.)
Our order was prepared quick and was ready to go by the time we made our way from Wyomissing to pick it up.
Piero’s, like many Italian family restaurants, offers a little bit of everything on their menu, including pizza, subs, salads, fried appetizers, burgers and Italian dinners.
I was in the mood for pizza but didn’t want a whole pie so I opted instead for a calzone.
All of Piero’s calzones are stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella and served with a side of marinara sauce for dipping. I decided to add meatballs to mine, creating something between a pizza and a meatball sandwich.
I was not disappointed. It was really the ricotta that sets the calzone apart. The lighter and creamier cheese adds a different element than just mozzarella (as would have been in a Stromboli).
The calzone was also the perfect size for one, though I couldn’t help but order a side of fries. They were the battered kind, fried to a golden crisp and perfect for eating one after another without thinking about it.
Julie, meanwhile, had a tuna melt – her favorite sandwich order. The sandwich was stuffed with tuna and overflowing with lettuce and tomato. The roll was toasted perfectly. It was a very good sandwich, and Julie gave it her stamp of approval.
And our toddler approved of his slice of pizza. Jakob enjoyed his pepperoni pizza. The thin crust pie was a solid offering, and Jakob even ate the pepperoni slices. (He has been known, in the past, to not eat his pepperoni because it is “too spicy”).
We also couldn’t help but order a half dozen of Piero’s ham puffs. Ham puffs are basically pepperoni rolls – rolls of dough filled with cheese and meat – but with slices of ham instead of pepperoni inside. Piero’s uses a very good dough for all of their items and it was just as good in the ham puffs.
Our meal was enjoyable across the board. It wasn’t anything earth-shattering, but Piero’s delivered on everything that we tried.
For everything we got, it was right around $30, not a bad price at all for so much food.
And good food, at that.
BCE Rating Food: Good Service: Very Good Ambiance: Good Price: Reasonable
For nine years, Julie and I lived in the Berkshire Heights neighborhood of Wyomissing. We loved the location – close to the highway and within walking distance of all the great restaurants in West Reading.
We also had some great restaurants closer to home. Willoughby’s on Park is one of our favorites for fine dining. Mikura always had delicious Asian-inspired meals. And I had many chai tea lattes from the Park Road Café.
But the one place we had never visited was the restaurant that had been there the longest: Nino’s Pizzeria.
Nino’s is in their 26th year of serving Wyomissing and Berks County. When we knew we were going to be moving, Julie and I made a promise that we had to have dinner from Nino’s at least once before we left.
One night after packing boxes all day, we called in an order, and I walked down the street to the little Italian restaurant in the strip mall. On many of our walks, we would see people sitting inside enjoying their meals, but the chairs were all up on the tables when I walked in, a symptom of the COVID-19 pandemic and the tight restrictions on dine-in.
Talking with the owners, it was easy to understand their decision to focus exclusively on takeout and delivery. With such a small space, 25% capacity would only allow them to seat about 12 people. And with the extra protocols around cleaning and sanitizing tables, it just didn’t make financial sense to offer table service.
But the phone-in orders seemed to be coming in at a steady pace. And I was anxious to get the food back to the house to finally try it.
Julie and I had both opted for one of their Italian dinners. Julie went with her personal favorite, baked ziti, while I ordered the homemade lasagna.
Anytime I order from a restaurant that has a large menu – as Nino’s does – I am drawn to anything that says “homemade.” The connotation, at least, is that the dish takes time to make and it is one that the owners are proud to serve.
By the time I got home the lasagna was not much to look at – it shifted around in the foil packaging so it looked like a blob of cheese atop a blob of pasta and sauce – but it sure tasted good.
The menu describes the meat sauce as slightly sweet with a rich flavor, and I can’t describe it any better than that. The lasagna noodles weren’t the thinnest that I have seen, but they weren’t thick either. And there was plenty of cheese on top. It was definitely worthy of the “homemade” distinction.
Julie’s baked ziti was also very good (and also tasted much better than it looked in the to-go packaging). The tomato sauce was a little sweeter than the meat sauce on my lasagna, probably just because it didn’t have the extra savory element to it.
Both meals also came with a side salad and homemade bread. The side salads were pretty typical – lettuce with red onion, a slice of tomato and choice of dressing. But the bread was much more than typical.
Normally when something comes with bread, I expect a slice or two. Both Julie and I got – essentially – a whole loaf of bread with our meals. We were happy to enjoy it with several more meals throughout the week.
I can say for sure that Nino’s didn’t skimp on quality or portions. And at around $35, we certainly got our money’s worth.
I’m really not sure why it took us so long to get to Nino’s – perhaps we just took for granted that it was there – but we wish we would have gone sooner.
The good news is, we didn’t move that far away so there’s nothing stopping us from going back again.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Service: Excellent Ambiance: Very Good Price: Reasonable
I was very excited when I heard Cherry’s Jamaican Delight was moving to West Reading at the beginning of the year. The new location would expose the restaurant – and the Jamaican culture that inspires the cuisine – to a whole new audience that otherwise may miss out.
Cherry’s shares a wall with Chen Vegetarian House in the 700 block of Penn Avenue. It’s a cozy location, one that previously housed small cafes. There’s limited inside seating – made more limited by current guidelines – with a few more yellow and green picnic tables set up out front.
For those not lucky enough to snag a table or those who prefer to eat at home, Cherry’s also offers takeout and delivery through GrubHub.
We decided to take advantage of the online ordering through the GrubHub app, but being just a short drive away, I opted for takeout and the opportunity to see one of West Reading’s newest restaurants.
I got a text notification that my order was ready for pickup early so I made the quick trip from our Wyomissing home into West Reading. Parking wasn’t an issue as I was able to snag a space right in front of the restaurant.
The restaurant’s renovation still feels fresh. Most of the walls are painted in a bright, vibrant yellow that is made more dramatic by the lack of tables.
My order was waiting behind the counter, and I was in-and-out and back home with my food in no time.
Cherry’s menu features Jamaican comfort food like Pepsi brown stew chicken, curried goat and several seafood options. But I had my sights on the brown oxtail stew.
Oxtail is a unique cut of meat. As the name suggests, it comes from the tail of a cow. It’s a gelatinous meat. The slow-cooking in the stew helps cook it down a bit but it still has a slightly chewy consistency, especially around the bone. But the flavor is rich, and it was enhanced by the brown stew sauce.
The sauce was dark and flavorful. And it was spread across the side of rice and peas (which are actually red beans), as well, adding those deep tones to the whole plate.
Arguably the most popular Jamaican dish in America – or at least the most familiar – is jerk chicken. And it’s also a favorite of my wife, Julie.
She was excited to try Cherry’s version of the dish and was not disappointed. The jerk spice, a little sweet and salty with a (very) mild heat, permeated through the perfectly cooked chicken.
Each of the meals also came with a nice little side of steamed cabbage and – my favorite – fried plantains.
And because every meal needs a little bit of sweet, we both decided to try the Calypso Mango, a delicious tropical lemonade that we haven’t seen anywhere else in our ventures.
In all, our dinners and drinks totaled a little less than $40, which isn’t a bad price when you consider we paid a premium for the convenience of online ordering.
Our first experience with Cherry’s Jamaican Delight definitely made us eager to try more. And hopefully others will be eager to give them a try, too.
BCE Rating: Food: Very Good Service: Very Good Ambiance: Good Price: Reasonable
On Friday, August 14, Barrio Alegría hosted its annual Delicioso Tour, a culinary tour that highlights some of downtown Reading’s best food businesses.
Normally, the Delicioso Tour is an actual tour with guests walking from restaurant to restaurant in the City of Reading to sample the cuisine of a diverse population and learn the stories behind the food and those who make it.
Rather than canceling the 2020 event, the tour went virtual. Instead of going from site to site, the food was delivered right to your door. And because we couldn’t meet the owners face-to-face, video introductions were included from each of the five restaurateurs giving tour-goers insight into their heritage and their food.
Stop #1 – Franklyn’s Breakfast, Burgers, and Shakes
The first “stop” on the tour was Franklyn’s (1007 Penn Street), one of downtown’s newer restaurants. Franklyn’s opened at the end of 2019, Franklyn’s has a simple menu that, as the name suggests, focuses on scratch-made breakfasts and lunch.
We were treated to our choice of milkshake from the diner. I chose strawberry-banana while Julie chose the Oreo shake.
This is one time when I was more than happy to eat dessert first. The shakes were amazing. Drinking my strawberry-banana shake was like drinking a banana split.
Stop #2 – Loncheria y Panaderia Doña Tere
Doña Tere is located across from Reading High School (800 N. 13th Street), and as we found out with our second course, it is home to some of the best tacos anywhere.
We each had two tacos – one of our choice and one of their speciality taco, suadero. Suadero is a slow roasted or stewed beef that is then shredded similar to a pork carnitas. It had a similar flavor, too, but was just a little richer. For my other taco, I tried the adobada.
All of our tacos were served with a side of traditional toppings – cilantro and onion. I wouldn’t want them any other way because the meat was perfect and flavorful all on its own.
The tacos also came with a green salsa and a red salsa – both of them were a little too hot for our tastes. The flavors were great, but a little bit went a long way.
Stop #3 – El Tronco de Lily
El Tronco de Lily (101 S. 6th Street) was the “main course” of the meal. Julie had their rice and peas with ribs while I had the white rice with chicken.
I was not expecting to enjoy my chicken as much as I did. It had a nice flavor, almost like a barbecue chicken but with a Latin twist. And the spices seeped in so it was good all the way to the last bite.
While Julie’s yellow rice had the “peas” cooked with it, my white rice came with a dish of beans in a tomato sauce to pour over top. It was all very good, but way too much food for a five-course meal (we both saved about half of our rice for later).
The ribs were good, too. They weren’t the fall-off-the-bone ribs like you would find at a barbecue joint. They were a little tougher but still with plenty of flavor.
Stop #4 – Antojitos y Algo Mas
The dishes from Antojitos y Algo Mas (154 Walnut Street) were practically a meal of themselves. We knew were were getting chicharrón (pork rinds) and arepas (ground maize/corn, kind of like a fluffy corn tortilla) but the box also included some fried plantains, ribs and chorizo.
The latter were actually my favorites. Because of how they were fried, they almost had the texture of jerky which I enjoyed, especially as a change of pace to the other dishes we had tried.
Stop #5 – Homemade Cravings
Just when we thought the meal couldn’t get any better, Homemade Cravings (50 N. 5th Street) had tres leches cake. The milky cake was so rich and sweet, but neither of us had enough room to finish it.
That was OK though, because after a couple nights in the refrigerator, the cake had soaked in even more flavor from the creamy mixture it was sitting in.
And it also helped extend the tour for a couple days, which was great because we didn’t want it to end.
The food throughout was outstanding and it was great to experience so many new places – some that I was vaguely familiar with and others that I had never heard of.
I really hope that the tour happens in person next year because the only thing better than eating the amazing food would be to dine alongside others who are discovering new dishes and new restaurants, too.
But whether the next tour is in-person or virtual, you can count us in.
In the last few years, all the news around the Berkshire
Mall has been the negative – the closings of Sears and Bon-Ton at the top of
But even with their loss, the Mall remains the largest
shopping center in Berks County. And with the holidays approaching, the crowds
have returned once again.
We were among the crowds that headed to the mall on a Sunday
afternoon in early December. We were there to shop, but we were also there to
get a taste – at Latin Taste.
Latin Taste is one of a handful of options in the Berkshire Mall’s food court. It’s also the newest, having opened a little more than a year ago in November 2018 (Lola’s Ice having opened the month prior).
The stand features warming tables with most of the dishes ready-made
for eating in or taking home. And before you scoff at the idea of someone going
to the mall for take-out, consider that the Grub Hub delivery driver picked up
a large order while we were there.
We looked at everything on display, but in the end both Julie
and I went with our favorites: pollo al horno (baked chicken) for her, and
pernil (Spanish pulled pork) for me.
This was a very good version of my favorite Latin American
dish. The flavors from the seasoning and marinade were very strong and the
fatty parts were melt-in-you-mouth.
One thing I have always found with pernil is that it is
richer than an American barbecue pulled pork. This was no exception. As much as
I enjoyed it, I had to leave a little on my plate because it was just too much
Same with the rice. There was no skimping on the portions as
half the plate was covered in the yellow rice. I liked it, just as I like
almost all Spanish rice. It was just a lot.
Julie’s baked chicken, like my pernil, was very well
seasoned, with the flavors soaking through the skin into the meat. I’m not
normally a fan of baked chicken, but I found this to be flavorful and anything
but dry – always my biggest concern.
In addition to rice, Julie had a side of macaroni salad,
which actually was a macaroni and tuna salad. It was creamy and very good. The
tuna was just a little unexpected. (Even Jakob, our two-year-old, didn’t mind
the tuna as he ate almost all of the salad that Julie shared with him).
Unable to resist, we had also ordered a side of sweet
plantains. There were none ready on the warming table so this was one item that
was made fresh for us. They were also very good, but you don’t have to do a
whole lot to plantains (other than cook them) to make a delicious side.
Overall, we were more than satisfied with everything that we
ordered. The price was right, too. Our bill was $25, but we had a coupon for $7
off a $25 order so we got everything for $18. (Next time you get the Valpak
coupons in the mail, at least pull out the one for Latin Taste. It’s a great
While the Berkshire Mall may not draw the crowds it did when
it opened, and there are two very noticeable empty spaces, the mall still has a
lot to offer. Especially if what you’re looking for is good Latin food.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Service: Very Good Ambiance: Good Price: Reasonable
Latin Taste Berkshire Mall 1665 State Hill Rd Wyomissing, PA 19610
For many, an important part of dining out is truly knowing
what you’re eating – knowing that the food is made from the highest quality
By using high-quality, locally sourced, organic ingredients,
Good Life Organics makes it easy for you to feel good about what you’re putting
in your body.
The juice bar and eatery promises that everything is as
close to 100% organic as possible, and the menu gives special mention to the
local businesses and farms that the ingredients are sourced from.
Good Life Organics also makes it easy on their customers by offering the convenience of online ordering through Toast Tab, the same platform we used for our recent lunch at Comalli Taqueria. Not only does it make it easy to order ahead, but there are pictures of most menu items which helped the decision-making process.
After completing the order, I made the short drive to the
Good Life Companies headquarters on Lancaster Pike, just outside Shillington. Good
Life Organics is located in what is essentially the lobby of the corporate
Enter through the main doors, and Good Life Organics is on
the left. There is plenty of seating between the tables and a pair of armchairs
by the window. Across from the counter are the coffee, tea and kombucha taps.
In the corner is the Good Life Grab ‘N Go, a small marketplace filled with
organic goodies that are also found on the menu as toppings and blends.
It wasn’t long after I arrived that my order was ready and I
was back on the road headed home.
With a large menu, we decided to try a variety of their
lunch and dinner offerings. For me, it started with the hummus veggie flatbread.
In addition to garlic hummus, it came topped with sautéed
mushrooms, onions, garlic, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and extra virgin olive
oil. I enjoyed everything, but the garlic hummus really shone through. It
wasn’t overly garlicky, but the hint was just enough. The caramelized onions
were a very nice touch, too, providing all the sweetness that the flatbread
Good Life has a rotation of seasonal soups available
(according to the menu, they are sourced from the Half Dozen Cafe and Dove Song
Dairy). The one that caught my attention was the sweet potato, black bean and
kale. And I was not disappointed. The sweet potatoes popped with flavor and
along with the black beans made it a hearty, and delicious side.
To get the full experience, I also tried one of Good Life’s
juices (sourced from Rijuice in Lancaster). The “Orange You Glad” is
a combination of mandarin orange, apple, lime and lemon juices with turmeric. It
was good, but I have to admit the turmeric takes some getting used to and may
not be for everyone.
There are eight sandwich options on the menu at Good Life, including
the vegan black bean and sweet potato burger that Julie ordered. It was topped with
greens, Fabanaise (vegan mayo) and guacamole.
It was a good “burger.” The patty was very
flavorful with both the flavor of black bean and the sweet potato coming
through. It was soft, but it stayed together throughout. And guacamole is
always a welcome addition to any dish.
Julie also ordered the most intriguing-looking smoothie on
the menu, the blue spirulina bliss. It included banana, avocado, maple syrup,
vanilla chai multi-collagen protein, vanilla extract and E3 Live Blue Majik
Spirulina, which gives the juice its bright blue hue.
Spirulina, for those that aren’t familiar (like I wasn’t
before looking it up) is a type of algae that has been used in foods for
centuries, and now because of its high protein content and other nutrients,
it’s become increasingly more common in things like protein bars and smoothies.
It may have given the smoothie its distinctive color, but
the flavor was dominated by the banana. It was actually surprising to take a
sip from a blue smoothie and have the strongest flavor be the familiar yellow
fruit. If you can get past the color, it’s delicious.
The food and drinks were very good, but I have to say that
we had a little bit of sticker shock at the price. The smoothie and the juice,
especially, are a little pricy by Berks County standards. All smoothies are 16
ounces and cost $8.95. My 12-ounce juice was $6.75. In all, our total was
around $45. The food was around $30, which is more in line with what we are
used to paying.
And we would pay it again because Julie’s vegan burger along
with my flatbread and soup were all very good. And they were made with foods
that made us feel good about eating them.
Good Life Organics definitely made a good first impression.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Service: Excellent Ambiance: Very Good Price: A Little Pricy
Good Life Organics 2395 Lancaster Pk Reading, PA 19607
In 2017, I got my first taste of 1 Potato Two and their signature spudwich. It was so unique – and delicious – that I named it one of my five favorite entrees of 2017.
The stand was still brand new at the Boscov’s Fairgrounds
Farmers Market when I visited. Now, about two-and-a-half years later, 1 Potato
Two is gone.
But the space has already been filled by San’s Asian Food.
San’s opened in August in the already crowded market, taking
over the former site of 1 Potato Two at the Mall end of the Market. Unlike
their predecessor, San’s has taken full advantage of a less-than-desirable
space. A warming table and sushi cooler faces the main aisle. In the space
between San’s and the next stand, they have added a pair of two-seat tables to
complement the counter seating.
The new stand has a little bit of everything: a warming
table with your standard Chinese food fare and rotating specials, a cooler
filled with sushi (for those looking for a sushi review, I’m sorry. I am not a
seafood fan so you would not want to hear from me), and a full menu to order
from if you don’t mind waiting.
I made two visits to San’s – both for lunch – so I could get
a better taste for their food.
On my first visit, I wanted to try the classics. Among the
limited selections waiting on the warming table were General Tso’s chicken and
sesame chicken, two of my favorites. I got the two-entree lunch combo with a
side of fried rice.
The General’s chicken was interesting. Usually it’s a sweet
and spicy dish, but this had more of a tangy flavor to it. It wasn’t bad – I
actually did enjoy it – but it wasn’t what I was anticipating. Unfortunately
the sesame chicken was a let down for me. There wasn’t much of a sauce, and
what little I had didn’t have a whole lot of flavor. It wasn’t bad tasting, it
just didn’t have much of a taste.
I did enjoy the rice, which had what seemed to be fresh
vegetables in the form of carrots, peas and onions (there was also just a little
bit of meat). It wasn’t flashy, but it was a good side.
Both entrees used real white meat chicken, which is something
I really appreciated. I’ve cut into too many pieces of General’s chicken only
to find a mix of processed white and dark meat. That was not the case at San’s,
which set it apart.
On my second trip, I changed it up and ordered teriyaki
chicken and lo-mein.
All around, it was a better meal than my first visit. The
chicken had a very good flavor to it – salty and a little sweet as expected
from a teriyaki base. The actual meat, though, was the stereotypical
“pieces” that you find most often with the dish. It brought it down a
little bit for me, but again, the flavor was really strong – probably the best
of the three chicken dishes that I tried at San’s.
I also enjoyed the lo mein. It was tossed with broccoli,
cabbage and other vegetables. The noodles were good and I enjoyed all of the
vegetables. It was simple, but good.
In addition to the warming table, San’s does have a full
menu so you can order your meal fresh. With limited time on my lunch, I
appreciated the ready-made meals. If I had more time – say at dinner – I would
love to go back and see how much better the food would be if it was made fresh.
Also, the small prices are a big plus. The two-meat combo is
less than $10 (the single is $7).
San’s may not have jumped to the top of my list for Asian
food in Berks County, but that’s ok. It has some good offerings at a very good
price. It’s also really convenient.
That’s the makings of a farmers market stand built to last.
BCE Rating Food: Good Service: Very Good Ambiance: Fair Price: Very Reasonable
San’s Asian Food Boscov’s Fairgrounds Farmers Market 2934 N. 5th Street Hwy Reading, PA 19605
The transition from food truck to brick-and-mortar restaurant is something we’ve seen before in Berks County. Two notables come to mind: Gourmand and Sweet Ride. Gourmand now operates a Wyomissing cafe in addition to the food truck, while Sweet Ride has it’s ice cream parlor in West Reading (where they are now making their own ice cream) to go along with a truck and the original ice cream cart.
With its recent opening in West Reading, you can now add Comalli Taqueria to that list.
It was last fall that Comalli Taqueria debuted its food truck, crisscrossing the county and the region serving artisan tacos. We first gave them a try early this summer at the inaugural Berks County Taco Fest.
We enjoyed everything that we tried so when it was announced
that Comalli would be opening a small restaurant in West Reading, it got us
The restaurant celebrated a grand opening on November 2, and
one week later, we were stopping by to get take-out for the first time.
Comalli offers online ordering so I took advantage of that,
placing an order for pick-up “ASAP.” Originally, I was given an
estimate of 35 minutes. I got a text message that it was ready less than 20
minutes later (thankfully, I was actually pulling into a parking space in front
of the building at the time, taking a chance that it would be ready a little
While we weren’t dining inside, there was a couple sitting
at one of the four tables in the dining room. It’s a nice space, if not a
little understated. A few decorations hang on the walls and from the ceilings,
but along with blue accent walls, they provide the only real bursts of color in
an otherwise monotone space. I think it’s more pronounced because there was
actually a large empty space in the room that could hold a few more tables and
My food was being packed up when I arrived, and a minute or
so later I was back out the door and headed home with six tacos – one of each
variety offered – and a quesadilla for our toddler. (Comalli also offers a
limited selection of sides, including chips with guacamole, rice and beans).
Julie and I each chose three tacos. For me, it was the al pastor, el Nopal, and el Brulee.
The el Nopal was
the first one that I had tried at the Taco Fest. It features grilled cactus
with pico de gallo and avocado. The cactus has a little bit of a kick to it,
which I remembered from before. I like the flavor, but I have to admit, I still
haven’t quite gotten used to the texture of the plant. It’s a little gummy, but
once you get past that, it’s very good.
Julie had the al
pastor at the festival so I gave it a try this time. The corn tortillas
(all of the tacos were served on grilled corn tortillas) were filled with
marinated pork and pineapple with cilantro and onion. I really enjoyed the
tender meat, and I am always a fan of pairing pork and pineapple. The simple
onion and cilantro were understated additions to the sweet and savory tacos.
I do love the combination of sweet and savory, and that’s
why I was really excited to try the el
brulee. The el brulee is topped
with pulled chicken, rice, mole poblano, double cream queso fresco and – here’s
the kicker – brulle bananas.
After eating it, I may have a new favorite taco. All of the
ingredients were loaded with flavor. The mole poblano (my favorite sauce) had a
nice sweet heat which contrasted beautifully with the cool, creamy queso
fresco. The pulled chicken and rice both were well-seasoned. And then there
were those bananas. They added so much flavor and there were enough that I
found some in every bite. It was a great taco.
As I was savoring my three tacos, Julie was tasting the
other half of Comalli’s menu.
The el jefe
featured steak with onion and cilantro. It’s the simplest taco on the menu, but
when you’re dealing with quality steak meat, you don’t want to hide that flavor.
And this was quality, the base of a very good taco.
Her chicken tinga taco
was another that we had tried at the food truck. The tinga features chicken that has been slow-cooked in a chipotle,
onion and tomato sauce topped with onion and cilantro. The marinade for the
chicken is, as I described it before, perfect.
For both of these, Julie added a little bit of the mild
avocado salsa (not to be confused with guacamole – the salsa was much more
sauce-like) that Comalli offers. It was a little spicier than she expected, but
very good and a nice change of pace from the standard tomato salsa.
But Julie’s favorite was the elgallo. It had a lot
of flavors with chorizo sausage in whipped eggs with pico de gallo, queso
fresco and avocado. The creamy cheese and the avocado paired well with the
mildly spicy chorizo. It was delicious.
For Jakob, we had ordered a plain quesadilla. The cheese
came packed in between two of Comalli’s signature corn tortillas. Julie and I
really enjoyed them. Jakob, however, didn’t care for them, but he opened up the
quesadilla and ate all of the cheese. That’s a two-year-old for you.
At least Julie and I really enjoyed our meal. And not only
was it convenient, but it was reasonably priced, too. For six tacos and a
quesadilla, it cost us $25. Most of the tacos (and the quesadilla) were $3
apiece. The more “premium” tacos like the el gallo and el brulee
were $4. That’s not a bad price to pay for quality.
With the food truck, we probably would have visited again if
the line wasn’t too long. With the restaurant, we will definitely be back again
Comalli Taqueria is just that good.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Ambiance: Good Service: Very Good Price: Reasonable
Comalli Taqueria 701 Court St West Reading, PA 19611