Editor’s Note: The Oley Turnpike Dairy – the diner, ice cream bar and petting zoo – is now closed. The owners announced their retirement in August 2022 after more than 50 years serving the Oley Valley.
Sometimes on Berks County Eats, I find a place that is just…unique. A place that has no real comparison in Berks County or elsewhere.
I found another one of those places when Julie, Jakob and I made our first visit to the Oley Turnpike Dairy Diner.
The Oley Turnpike Dairy Diner is about as old school as it gets. It’s a true diner in every sense – just with wood paneling where one would expect to find stainless steel. And there’s an ice cream parlor. And a small antiques store. And a petting zoo.
OK, so maybe it’s not the stereotypical diner, but I think Julie said it best when she said, “This is Berks County.”
We arrived for lunch on a Sunday afternoon. Though not full, there was a steady “post-church” crowd filing through while we were there. We sat ourselves at one of the booths – the slightly tattered black benches were wide enough for Jakob’s car seat – leaving the eight-person tables with the popsicle tablecloths for someone else.
The service was quick. We had our order placed and our drinks on the table in no time. It wasn’t long before our lunches arrived, either.
The menu included all of the comfort food classics you expect from a diner – burgers, sandwiches, $12 steaks, etc. I went with one of those only-at-a-diner meals: an open-faced meatloaf sandwich with mashed potatoes.
I’m not going to a diner expecting anything more than a satisfying, high-Calorie meal. And that’s what I got. The open-faced sandwich had four slices of white bread and two slabs of meatloaf loaded with beef gravy. I enjoyed it and thought the gravy and (surprisingly) the bread were very flavorful. Meatloaf is meatloaf, but the other elements added to it. The mashed potatoes were fine, though I found them to be a little dry, and there wasn’t quite enough gravy to make up for it.
Julie also went with a simple meal – an Italian wrap with a side of chips. The Italian wrap featured Capicola, cooked and hard salami, Provolone cheese, the option for LTO (Julie skipped the onion) and pickles on the side. It was a typical wrap on a larger flour tortilla. But it was done right, and Julie enjoyed it.
It was also served with a bag of Lay’s potato chips on the side that went unfinished.
We came to the Dairy not just for lunch but for dessert. And when we found out that they served Nelson’s Ice Cream – the same Royersford, Montgomery County, brand served at Sweet Ride in West Reading – we were excited. (Though we did find it ironic that a dairy had to bring in outside ice cream).
I can’t speak to whether there are more options at the ice cream counter, but in the diner, guests can enjoy cones or cups, milkshakes, floats, banana splits, sundaes and apple dumplings a la mode.
Both Julie and I decided on sundaes – hers was a dusty road sundae with chocolate raspberry chip ice cream, mine was a pineapple sundae with vanilla fudge.
The hallmark of a dusty road sundae is malted milk. The powder was dusted on top of the of the ice cream, which sat on a bed of chocolate syrup (with another helping on top). The chocolate raspberry chip is a delicious flavor on its own with black raspberry ice cream and chocolate chips. The syrup and whipped cream added more sweetness. The malted milk helped balance it out and add just a little bit of needed texture.
I haven’t had a pineapple sundae in a long time, but it seemed like a good fit for vanilla fudge ice cream. With the fudge already in the ice cream, there was no need to drench it in syrup. Instead, it played perfect with the pineapple. It was definitely a good fit and a great decision.
As an old-school diner, the Oley Turnpike Dairy Diner also offers all of this at great prices. For two lunches, two sundaes and an iced tea, our total was just $27. That’s hard to beat at a full-service restaurant.
Our only regret on the day was that Jakob was not cooperative enough for us to visit the petting zoo – another bargain with $1 admission and $1.50 feed. But knowing that we can enjoy a meal (and ice cream) at such a great price, there is no doubt that we will return when our little one’s attention span is a little longer.
Oley Turnpike Dairy Diner
6213 Oley Turnpike Rd
Oley, PA 19547