takeout container with pork and sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and dinner roll

Where to Get Pork and Sauerkraut on New Year’s Day in Berks County

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

1787 Brewing Company

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

stainless steel diner with a sign out front that reads "5th Street Diner"

5th Street Diner

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

Stainless steel diner with a sign out front that reads "American Diner"

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

exterior of Americana Diner in Bechtelsville, PA

Americana Diner

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

A photo of the entryway of a diner with a hostess stand with painted black wood that matches the trim on the walls.

Berkshire Family Restaurant

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

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

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

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

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

Best Diner: Exeter Family Restaurant

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

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

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

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

exterior of Ozgood's Kutztown

Ozgood’s Grill & Bar

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

Order counter at a restaurant with a sign above that reads "the Creamery at Plum Creek"

Plum Creek Farm

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

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

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

Wyomissing Restaurant & Bakery

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

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

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

takeout container with pork and sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and dinner roll

The Inn at Centre Park

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

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

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

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

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 berkscountyeats@gmail.com and we will add it to the list!

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A view of the open kitchen, surrounded by a bar with stools at Judy's on Cherry

Where to Eat During Berks Jazz Fest 2022

Berks Jazz Fest returns to Greater Reading April 1-10, 2022 and nothing goes better with live music than great food. Here is Berks County Eats’ guide to where to eat during Berks Jazz Fest:

Dinner (and Brunch) with Live Music

DoubleTree Hotel by Hilton Reading – Cheer’s American Bistro

Downtown Reading’s DoubleTree Hotel features one of the city’s best restaurants, Cheer’s American Bistro. With multiple venues, the DoubleTree is going to be a busy place, and a great place for dinner if you can snag a table. In addition to nightly shows, the DoubleTree is also hosting Jazz Brunch on Sunday, April 3 and 10 in their Grand Ballroom.

Jimmie Kramer’s Peanut Bar

Reading’s most famous restaurant, the Peanut Bar hosts the traditional kick-off event for Jazz Fest, a lunchtime concert (this year on Friday, April 1 at 11:30 a.m.). Tip: The Peanut Bar has its own parking lot behind the restaurant on Cherry Street – no need for a parking meter.

The West Reading Motor Club will open in fall 2019 in the former A to Z Vacuum in West Reading

The Nitro Bar
West Reading

Known for its live music, West Reading’s Nitro Bar is hosting three concerts during Jazz Fest: Cullen and Company on April 5; Dirk Quinn Band on April 6; and Non-Zero Sum Guitar Trio on April 7.

More Great Restaurants Nearby

The exterior of Canal Street Pub features a large sign with their logo: a bridge over the Schuylkill River

Canal Street Pub & Restaurant

Canal Street is a favorite for craft beer lovers. It’s also a favorite spot during Jazz Fest.

Saucony Creek Franklin Station Brewpub Interior

Saucony Creek Franklin Station Brewpub

Saucony Creek’s Reading location is just a few short blocks away from the DoubleTree and a great option for a meal and drinks before the show.

A view of the open kitchen, surrounded by a bar with stools at Judy's on Cherry

Judy’s on Cherry

Judy’s on Cherry, one of Reading’s premier finer dining spots, has hosted Jazz Fest events in the past. Along with its sister restaurant, the Speckled Hen Cottage & Pub, it makes a great place for dinner and drinks before or after concerts at the city’s venues.

Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe

A staple of downtown Reading featuring authentic Caribbean cuisine, Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe is a great place for breakfast or lunch in the city.

Lang Restaurant in Reading, PA

Lang Restaurant

Enjoy authentic Vietnamese food at Lang Restaurant in Reading. Lang is located on 6th Street, just a block south of the Santander Performing Arts Center which is hosting a number of events during Jazz Fest.

Looking for more options? Check out our Berks County Restaurant Directory to see all 550 local dining options in Reading and Berks County, Pa.

Dining Guides Uncategorized
Assorted foods in takeout containers spread on a granite countertop

The 12 Days of Takeout

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

Styrofoam carryout container with a variety of Chinese food.

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.

  1. It’s going to save you money.
  2. It’s going to save the restaurant money.
  3. 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.

Takeout Uncategorized
A round foil to-go container with baked ziti topped with cheese.

Review: Nino’s Italian Ristorante of Wyomissing

strip mall restaurant with a yellow sign with red letters that reads "Nino's Italian Ristorante of Wyomissing"

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.

A photo of a brick pizza oven with a door next to it.

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.

A photo of a restaurant with chairs on top of tables and a picture of Italy hanging on the wall

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.

A round foil to-go container with a cheesey lasagna slice

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.

A round foil to-go container with baked ziti topped with cheese.

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.

A large loaf of Italian bread on a paper plate.

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

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Italian Lunch & Dinner Takeout Uncategorized
Assorted foods in takeout containers spread on a granite countertop

Review: Barrio Alegria Delicioso Tour

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.

Two chocolate milkshakes in clear plastic cups with still wrapped straws sitting on a countertop

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.

close-up photo of two tacos in corn tortillas covered with onions and cilantro

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.

Photo of two tacos, both with corn tortillas but one with shredded beef and the other with marinated pork filling.

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.

Photo of two tacos on corn tortillas. One is topped with beef and chorizo, the other is topped with shredded beef.

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.

Photo of a takeout container filled with rice and beans and pork ribs

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.

Photo of takeout container with white rice and a half breast of 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.

Photo of Spanish beans in tomato sauce.

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.

Photo of a plastic takeout container filled with assorted fried foods.

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.

close-up photo of a tres leche cake in a plastic takeout container topped with a cherry.

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.

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Caribbean & Latin American Dessert Lunch & Dinner Takeout Uncategorized
Three-chambered Styrofoam takeout container with lamb kabobs over rice, a fattoush salad, and hummus

Berks County Eats Update

selfie of a man with glasses wearing a checkered flag mask

Three months. That’s how long it has been since my last post on Berks County Eats.

A lot has happened since the stay-at-home order was announced in March. What hasn’t happened in that time: restaurant reviews.

It’s not for a lack of caring. If you follow us on Instagram, you know that we have been continuing to support restaurants in Berks County through takeout and delivery – supporting old favorites and trying new places.

I was planning to do reviews throughout. The first weekend of the stay-at-home order, we ordered from Brewers Bar & Grill in West Reading and a couple burgers delivered to the house.

close-up photo of waffle fries and a burger in a styrofoam takeout container

They were very good, everything that you could want in a pub burger. But when I went to write about our meal, it didn’t feel right. There wasn’t enough meat on the bone, so to speak, to do a true review. Yes, the food was great, but that’s was all I could say.

I couldn’t write about the ambiance because I never stepped foot inside the restaurant.

I couldn’t write about the service because I never saw an employee from the restaurant (shout out to Delivery Dudes who has provided amazing service every time we’ve ordered delivery, though).

I couldn’t write about the presentation because there’s nothing appealing about clamshell packaging.

I couldn’t write about any of the other things I would write about either: Were they busy? What is parking like? Are they kid-friendly? What makes them unique?

The last question – what makes a restaurant unique – is really the hardest part. As a writer, I am drawn to the details. Food is always a full sensory experience, but when I’m eating my meal at the same dining room table I take every other meal, my senses aren’t being stimulated enough.

Without enough to write about, I turned to Instagram. At least I could show that I was supporting our local restaurants. And we have been supporting our local restaurants, ordering takeout or delivery at least once a week (admittedly some of the meals weren’t Instagram-worthy).

If I would have had any motivation to write a blog that first week, it was quickly lost when I spiked a fever for three days. I tested negative for the flu and strep and then had to go through the discomfort of a COVID-19 test. I tested negative for that, too, but the pandemic became very real for us during that time and we’ve proceeded with caution ever since.

On the Move

Before all of this, Julie and I were in the process of looking for a new house and selling our own. We love where we live, but there are days when it feels like our house is bursting at the seams. The real estate industry, like many others, came to a standstill during the stay-at-home order. As soon as it reopened in May, we were back on the hunt.

The housing market is crazy right now, which added quite a bit of stress to our lives. That stress increased after we lost out on a house that we loved even after making what we thought was a very generous offer.

Then we put our current house on the market, thinking it would take several weeks of showings before it would sell. Instead we had 20 showings in a weekend and had an offer at our asking price by Sunday evening.

The good news for us is that we found another house, one that we love. And the best news is we’re not going far. We’ll be staying in the Wyomissing area. Our new home will be a little bit larger with more rooms (I get my own office!).

My favorite part about the new house is that it has an incredible kitchen. Julie and I are both looking forward to having more space to be creative at mealtime. Maybe we’ll even be able to show off some of our work on the blog.

(There’s also a dishwasher, something we haven’t had in the nearly nine years that we’ve been in this house).

We settle on both houses in mid-August so we will be a little busy between now and then.

More Distractions

In the absence of Berks County Eats, I filled my time with more distractions, some productive, some not.

I’ve spent a lot of time doing more creative writing projects. I started a novel – the dream of every writer. We’ll see if I ever finish it or if it ever sees the light of day. Either way, it has felt good to broaden my horizons, and I would like to think that it has made me a better writer as a result.

During the pandemic, I have also taken full advantage of Penn State Extension’s free course offer. I completed a course in grant writing and am in the process of completing a course called Food for Profit, all about starting your own food business.

No, I’m not going to start a food business, but the course has given me a new perspective on many facets of the industry – health and safety regulations, start-up costs, pricing and more. It has been a bear of a course, but one that has been worth the time and energy.

Then there is the fact that I have a 2 1/2 year-old at home. A very active 2 1/2 year old. He spends his days with his grandmother where he is a perfect angel. Then he comes home and is a (sometimes uncontrollable) ball of energy for mommy and daddy. By the time we get him to bed around 8-8:30, neither of us have the energy to focus on much else.

Berks County Eats Moving Forward

Through the beginning of March, I was so excited about Berks County Eats.

Launching the new website last year gave me a renewed enthusiasm about the blog. Then we started this year with some really great meals at places like Judy’s on Cherry and Aladdin Mediterranean Restaurant, the Greenhouse Cafe, and even a cooking class at the Culinary Kitchen.

2020 was going to be the best year ever for Berks County Eats. And then it all stopped. When the blogs stopped, I kept up with the news for another week or two, but then I stopped that as well. That’s my biggest regret throughout this – not keeping up with the industry like I had done for the last six years.

We lost some great restaurant as a result of the pandemic, including Winedown Cafe, but I know of only three such closures that can be attributed to the pandemic. Of course there are many more temporary closures, and the fallout is likely not over. But Berks County is resiliant. New restaurants opened before (and even during the pandemic).

Unfortunately I wasn’t there to share their stories. I had disconnected totally and while I can’t say I’m fully reconnected, I’m well on the way. Our news pages have been updated. Our directory now features tags on every post based on their current status: open for takeout, delivery available, outdoor dining, or temporarily closed (for those where the information can be confirmed).

I’m not going to promise weekly blogs anytime soon, but I will promise that Berks County Eats will once again be the resource I have promised it will be. We will once again be on top of all the news in the Berks County restaurant scene with updates on Facebook as we hear about them.

With outdoor dining already an option now and indoor dining (with restrictions) returning with the green phase, you will start seeing some blogs pop up here and there, but it won’t be weekly. Not yet, anyway.

We’ll definitely still be supporting our local restaurants, and we hope you will be, too. Takeout. Delivery. In-person dining. However you can support our restaurateurs, we hope you do.

And we promise to do the same.

Photo of two milkshakes in styrofoam cups

Review: Lori’s Candy Station

pink awning with the words "Lori's Candy Station" over the doorway of a narrow building

“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” All Dorothy Gale had to do was repeat those words and click her heels to be rescued from Oz and returned to her aunt and uncle’s farm.

For me, it means a 20-minute drive along Route 422 from Wyomissing to Robesonia.

And no trip home is complete without a stop at Lori’s Candy Station and a specialty shake.

three stainless steel milkshake cups upside down on a counter

It’s a true taste of home for me. You see, Lori is my mom, and I invented the secret milkshake menu.

It started a few years ago when she started with a new ice cream wholesaler, JAS (Just About Sinful), who also own Ice Cream World in Allentown). The new supplier meant new flavors and new flavor combinations.

My go-to is a mango shake. It’s a scoop of mango water ice with vanilla ice cream, blended up for a thick, brain freeze-inducing treat.

The mango ice is naturally sweet and the vanilla helps tone it down just enough. It works with just about any flavor of Italian ice (except vanilla, that would just be weird), but give me the mango every time.

two milkshakes in styrofoam cups with the lids off, one with chocolate the other with vanilla and mango

Julie also has her own milkshake creation that she likes to call the chocolate covered strawberry – dips of strawberry and death by chocolate ice cream.

Death by chocolate ice cream is a monster of itself. It consists of chocolate ice cream, chocolate chips and brownie chunks. Blended with the strawberry ice cream, it really does give the flavor of a chocolate covered strawberry, only more refreshing and less messy.

If you order it, make sure you get a straw and a spoon. With death by chocolate ice cream, there is always a few bits of brownie waiting at the bottom of the cup.

man and woman take a selfie holding milkshake containers

But you don’t have to mix and match to get a great milkshake. Salty caramel, mint chocolate chip, cookie dough and teaberry are all delectable on their own.

We had mediums — in my younger day, I would take down the 32 oz. large, but not anymore — and they were more than enough, and just $7 for the pair.

Other treats at the little shop include waffle cones dipped in chocolate, floats, chocolate-covered bananas, and some of the most decadent ice cream cakes you will find anywhere.

tray of chocolate-covered caramel discs - milk and dark chocolate - topped with sea salt

And we can’t forget about the famous homemade chocolates.

Made from soft ice cream and the best mix-ins, the ice cream cakes from JAS are available for special order with at least a week’s advance notice.

Yes, I’m biased. But I will always love going to Lori’s Candy Station for a milkshake. They’re just like mom used to make.

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Food & Festivals: Greek Food Bazaar

cover of a program book for the Sts. Constantine & Helen's church Greek Food Bazaar

It’s not uncommon to see a Berks County church hosting a food festival.

Throughout the year, you can find peach festivals, strawberry festivals, blueberry festivals, and more.

At the very least, just about every church will host a public dinner at some point throughout the year.

At Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church, they just do things on a much larger scale.

Now in it’s 44th year, the Greek Food Bazaar is not your typical church function. Thousands of patrons walk through the doors of the three-day event, which is why  some of the area’s largest corporations and businesses—including Redner’s Warehouse Markets, the Reading Fightin’ Phils and 69 News Berks Edition—are advertising in the 50-page program book.

musician playing traditional Greek music

And this year’s festival is larger than ever with the addition of an outdoor market and “Opa Tent” with plenty of space for dining and dancing.

Great food can be found throughout the church grounds, every room offering something different than the previous.

There is the Taverna, probably the most in-demand room in the building, where patrons enjoy traditional Greek tavern food, served with ouzo and wine. A gyro window serves a variety of sandwiches. Gyros and other appetizers were also available inside the Opa Tent. The kafeneio serves as an on-site coffee shop.

For hungry food bloggers, light fare and appetizers are just not enough. That’s why you will find me in the Estiatorio.

The church’s social hall is transformed into a sit-down restaurant where they are serving full dinner plates, like their Athenian chicken.

takeout container with a half chicken, rice pilaf, green beans, side salad and a slice of bread

Served with rice pilaf (or pastitsio), salad cup, and green beans cooked in tomatoes, the half chicken is more barbecued than baked. The lightly salted skin is reminiscent of the chicken I had at Kauffman’s, but a little crispier and not quite as spicy. And the spices are more than skin deep (pun intended), giving the meat a nice flavor of its own.

The pilaf and green beans are the perfect compliments to the meat. The beans are swimming in a sweet tomato sauce that’s much thinner and sweeter than an Italian marinara, while the pilaf was the necessary starch that balanced it out.

plate with triangles of spanakopita atop a pita cut into four pieces

I took my dinner into the Opa Tent where Julie was waiting with her spanakopita. The spinach and feta were mixed in bite size filo dough pockets and served atop a full pita. Even with the lightness of filo, it was heavy enough that the pita was unnecessary, and we ended up bringing most of it home with us.

Of course wherever there is a church festival, there are always desserts, and Sts. Constantine and Helen does not disappoint. A classroom is converted into the zaxaroplasteio, or Greek bakery.

white board with a list of items available at the Greek Food Festival

On the whiteboard is a tally of all the baking done for this year’s bazaar: 3,840 baklava, 1,539 loaves of bread, and 7,080 twist cookies. At $2 each, we picked out five of their most appealing options: two floyeris, one baklava, one finikia, and one kataifa.

assorted pastries in a takeout container from the Greek Food Festival

Greek pastries generally revolve around two ingredients: filo dough and honey. All but the finikia, which is a honey dipped cookie sprinkled with nuts, were made with the thin dough, while all were sweetened with the honey syrup.

The most unique of the four had to be the kataifi, a honey and walnut filled pastry that is made with shredded filo. Having only bought one, we had to cut it in half, at which point the honey began oozing out, leaving us with what looked like piles of angel hair pasta that was doused in gooey sweetness.

In all, we spent about $30 on food. The only thing we missed out on this year was the loukoumades, the church’s famous Greek honey balls. Every year, the deep fried, honey flavored dough balls are a big hit with the crowds. This year was no exception, and by the time we got to the window on Friday night, the day’s batch was already sold out.

That sounds like a good reason to return next year.

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Blue and white banner that says "welcome to Oktoberfest"

Food & Festivals: Oktoberfest at Reading Liederkranz

polka band onstage at the Reading Liederkranz

Germany is my blood.

Like so many Berks Countians, I can trace my family history back to the Fatherland. Before we were Pennsylvania Germans, we were just Germans.

One night every year, I take the time to celebrate my family heritage with a visit to the Oktoberfest celebration at the Reading Liederkranz.

Though it is a private club, the Liederkranz welcomes the public for special events throughout the year, but none are bigger than Oktoberfest.

And Oktoberfest is a big deal. An article on BusinessInsider.com rates it among the nine best places in the world to celebrate the annual event. So many people attend the event each year that the Liederkranz has to sell reserved parking spaces at their Mt. Penn headquarters.

For the rest of us, that means a 10-minute ride on a school bus from the Antietam Valley Recreation & Community Center. With the twisty turns on the mountainside, the trip feels a lot longer than it actually is (the 1.5-mile trip feels like it takes 10 minutes).

blue and white sign reads "Welcome to Reading Liederkranz Oktoberfest Celebration"

Stepping off at the top, a large banner hangs above the entrance to the grove and beer garden. Record crowds walked beneath that sign this year, according to the Liederkranz website. Even on our trip Thursday, day two of the five-day festival, the lines for food and beer were lengthy.

When it comes to the food options, there is no wrong choice, but if you are looking for something different, this event is the one place I have found for a delicious bowl of goulash.

bowl of beef over noodles in gravy

Even in a disposable bowl, it’s easy to see why the goulash is such an appealing dish. The beef cubes are slow cooked in a slightly spicy sauce, served over a bed of egg noodles, which sop up the sauce so well.

With separate lines for each food option, Julie and I had to divide and conquer to get our food. While I was feasting on goulash, she picked up a roast pork meal with German potato salad and sauerkraut.

roast pork, sauerkraut and German potato salad on a disposable plate

The pork was juicy and tender, but for me, the best part are the sides. The potato salad, with large chunks of spuds and plenty of herbs is the best that I have tried. And the sauerkraut is just as good with a sourness that’s noticeable, but not too overpowering.

potato pancakes

Patrons must buy tickets for all food and drink purchases, and if you do the math wrong (like food bloggers tend to do), you either end up with too few or too many tickets. In this case, we had enough extra tickets for an order of potato pancakes. Three large pancakes are served with cups of applesauce and sour cream for dipping.

man playing accordion at the Reading Liederkranz

As we sat and enjoyed our dinner, we were serenaded by the polka sounds of The Continentals, and in between sets, the accordion stylings of Kermit Ohlinger, who wandered through the crowd playing polka versions of “Margaritaville” and “Hot Dog Man.”

After dinner, we took a brief walk through the German market, a collection of vendors selling German-made and -inspired products.

Really, this short walk was just a way to kill time before my favorite part of the evening: dessert.

slice of german chocolate cake

The Liederkranz offers an assortment of goodies to choose from, including a decadent chocolate cake with rich, creamy chocolate ice cream.

apple streudel with ice cream and custard

But for me, no trip to Oktoberfest is complete without their famous apple strudel.

Served atop a bed of warm custard and (optionally) topped with vanilla ice cream, the strudel is a culinary masterpiece. The ice cream melts quickly, mixing with the custard to create a sweet, soupy pool for the light, flaky pastry. The strudel is so popular that there is often a line waiting for the next batch to emerge from the clubhouse.

Of course, there is also the beer (and wine) and lots of it. It is Oktoberfest, after all.

But for me, Oktoberfest is a celebration of my heritage and a celebration of delicious food.

And it’s why I will continue to return each year.

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Review: Island Pizza

large building with a neon sign palm tree and the words "Island Pizza"

No one would ever confuse Berks County for the Caribbean.

Reading is a long way from Aruba. Birdsboro is very different from Barbados.

But there is a place in eastern Berks County that at least tries to make it feel a little more like the islands.

Island Pizza sits along Route 422, about 10 minutes east of the city. The building sits on an “island,” its neon palm tree shining bright atop a hill high above the highway.

With the divided highway, the only way to reach it from the west is through one of those jug handle turns that are a rarity in Berks County.

But there is more different about this place than turning right to go left.

mural with an iguana and parrot in an orange sky with the sun in the upper right

Inside, every square inch of the walls are covered in bright murals depicting parrots, flowers and iguanas. An underwater scene adorns the short wall at the kitchen counter, with crabs and clownfish and others brought to life in vivid color.

order counter with a painted mural of multi-colored fish

The menu is a lot larger than I would have thought. In addition to more than 20 specialty pizza options— most of them featuring island names like the Martinique (chicken, red onion, tomatoes, bell peppers and mozzarella) and the Bermuda (white pizza with fresh garlic, broccoli and spinach)—the restaurant features burgers, steak sandwiches and hoagies.

Island Pizza is also “crazy about fries” with 18 styles that range from Cajun and seasoned fries to ranch bacon cheese and pulled pork BBQ. We decided to go with something a little more Italian in nature with the Parmesan garlic fries.

basket of fries topped with parmesan and minced garlic

Too hungry to wait for our pizza, we asked to have our fries first. The crispy fries were dusted with in powdery Parmesan; a small pool of oil had gathered at the bottom of the basket. The fries at the bottom were too soggy to pick up without a fork, but using a fork was only a minor inconvenience.

The fries were greasy and good, and the garlicky sauce was doubly good, serving as a convenient dipping sauce for the pizza yet to come.

stuffed pizza with a cup of tomato sauce for dipping

For our pizza, we decided to go all-out with a gourmet stuffed pizza, the Aruba.

stuffed pizza with the top peeled back to show the sausage and cheese inside

Peeling back the doughy lid revealed a meat-lovers dream, filled with meatballs, sausage, pepperoni, ham, bacon and mozzarella.

Everything about it was excellent. All of the meats worked well together with the pepperoni adding just a hint of spice to the pie. The sauce, served in a bowl on the side, was thick marinara that added just a little sweetness. in the end though, I dipped more into the garlic sauce from the fries than I did in the marinara.

The pizza, which cost about $20, was enough to easily feed a family of four. After we each finished two of the oversized slices (mine were bigger than Julie’s, of course), we still had two slices left for lunch later in the week.

It may not be the Caribbean,  but Island Pizza is an oasis of sorts, a relaxing place friendly service.

And some darn good pizza.

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

Island Pizza
3060 Limekiln Rd
Birdsboro, PA 19508

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