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
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.
When I was working in King of Prussia, there were options when I wanted Mediterranean food – schwarma, falafel, kebabs, etc. In Berks County, those are rarities on our restaurant menus.
But I did find all of those and more at Aladdin Mediterranean Restaurant in West Reading.
Aladdin has been around since 2009 when the restaurant renovated a former gas station adjacent to the West Reading Diner (now Americana Diner). More than 10 years later, Aladdin is still going strong, as we found out on a recent Saturday night.
We arrived around 5:30, a little early for dinner, and found just a couple other tables taken in the dining room. Aladdin offers two dining areas. We were seated in a booth by the window in the standard dining room. It featured a large fireplace at one side with photos of beautiful coastal towns, musical instruments and other keepsakes from the old country adorning the walls.
The second room (on the right-hand side when entering the restaurant) has a completely different feel to it. Red curtains cover the windows behind a long row of cushioned bench seats with red and black throw pillows to support diners.
I didn’t remember until I did a little research that the building that currently houses the restaurant was formerly a Getty gas station. It certainly shows no signs of that today.
At our table, I was struggling to make a decision as I looked over the menu. Aladdin promotes itself as offering the “best quality Lebanese and Mediterranean dishes,” and there are a lot to choose from. The one easy decision was choosing an appetizer – Julie and I agreed on stuffed grape leaves.
I first discovered stuffed grape leaves at the annual Greek Food Festival. I really enjoyed them there. And I enjoyed them even more at Aladdin.
The stuffed leaves were shaped – and sized – like cigars and filled with rice and seasoned ground beef (a vegetarian option is available). The filling was very good; the beef had hints of many different seasonings and spices that I couldn’t immediately identify. The tangy leaves were done well, and it was a great beginning to the meal. Even Jakob, our often fussy two-year-old, ate his (the filling, at least).
Deciding on the main course was more difficult. Entrees at Aladdin include kebabs; schwarma; rack of lamb and lamb chops; various sautes and a range of vegetarian options. I settled on the chicken saute.
Though it sounds boring, it was anything but. The chicken breast was sauteed with green peppers, onion and tomato in a garlic sauce. I really enjoyed the olive oil-based sauce. It had enough garlic to really pop without overpowering the flavors on the plate. The tomatoes really stood out for me, too. They were diced and cooked so tender that they practically melted away. The tomatoes were like little bites of marinara sauce throughout the dish.
Many of the entrees, including both mine and Julie’s, are served with rice pilaf. The pilaf was lightly seasoned, but good. I did enjoy using it to soak up some more of the garlic sauce at the end.
Because that wasn’t enough food, the meal also came with a side: your choice of hummus, baba ghannouj, tabbouleh or fattoush.
I love baba ghannouj and was excited to try Aladdin’s version. I didn’t have to wait long as it was actually served as an appetizer along with a basket of pitas. Baba ghannouj, if you’re not familiar, it is basically hummus but it’s made with pureed eggplant as the base instead of chickpeas. It’s more moist than hummus, a texture I like better. I also prefer the flavor as it’s less nutty.
Aladdin’s version was everything I wanted it to be.
While this was my first visit to Aladdin, Julie has actually been there twice for business lunches. And she has had the same thing on each visit: lamb kebabs.
The skewers feature large chunks of lamb mixed with onions, served over rice pilaf and choice of two sides. Lamb meat is so rich; I always enjoy it. But while it was grilled, it picked up this nice char that trapped in even more flavor. It was very good, and I understand why Julie loves it so much.
For her two sides, Julie ordered tabbouleh and hummus. The hummus came on the plate with the kebabs. It’s a very good hummus, but I still prefer the baba ghannouj (that’s just me, though).
The tabbouleh actually arrived early as an appetizer. Tabbouleh is a Mediterranean salad that uses parsley as the base green. Aladdin makes theirs with cracked wheat, tomato, oil and lemon juice (with some lettuce thrown in).
It’s really flavorful. I think the lemon juice shines nicely giving the whole salad a bright citrus flavor. I would order the salad as an entree on a return visit.
Not knowing how Jakob would take to the cuisine, we played it safe and ordered him chicken fingers and fries off the kids menu. We hadn’t anticipated that he would fill up on grape leaves and tabbouleh before it even arrived. Though he did eat some, we brought most of it home for him to have later in the week.
We were all stuffed by the end of the meal and didn’t have room for the baklava sundae that we really wanted. We did splurge a little when we ordered rose tea for our drinks. The iced tea was given a little rose flavoring (I believe it was from a syrup). It was almost like sweet tea but with a little extra herbal flavor that we found refreshing.
I have to admit that the meal was more expensive than we had anticipated at $78. Part of that was our rose tea ($4 each) and also the fact that we ordered an appetizer ($12). The entrees were $22 and $25, respectively. When you look at the portion sizes, though, I didn’t feel cheated at all.
Aladdin’s food is serving a niche here in Berks County, and I’m glad for it. The next time I have a craving for baba ghannouj, I know where to turn.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Service: Very Good Ambiance: Very Good Price: A Little Pricey
Aladdin Mediterranean Restaurant 401 Penn Ave West Reading, PA 19611
Every year between January and February, I am challenged to
find some date-night worthy restaurants for Julie and I to visit. Her birthday
falls at the end of January, and Valentine’s Day follows closely behind.
These special occasions have provided us with some of our
best meals in six year of Berks County Eats reviews.
Our expectations were high for another memorable meal when
Julie and I made our first trip to Judy’s on Cherry for this year’s birthday
date night dinner.
Judy’s has been on our list of places to try since the blog
began. We did visit Judy’s seasonal restaurant, Plein Air, in 2014 and loved
it, but had never dined inside the Cherry Street restaurant.
We made a last-minute decision to go to Judy’s on a Saturday
night. Luckily, we called in the afternoon before service started and were able
to secure a reservation for 6 p.m. We parked in the lot across the street –
free parking after 5 p.m. – and headed inside.
It’s hard not to be impressed when walking into the
second-floor dining room. The brick walls. The vaulted ceilings. They don’t
build them like this anymore.
At our booth along the wall, the lighting was dimmed,
limited to a single table lamp. The dim lights didn’t bother us though (except
when I was trying to take pictures of the food). From our table, we had a great
view of the kitchen, which sits right in the center in the dining area. Some
lucky guests were sitting at the bar seats surrounding the kitchen, giving them
an even more up-close-and-personal look at everything.
We were greeted quickly by our waitress who went off to grab
a basket of bread to accompany our meal.
The bread basket turned out to be eight pieces of what
appeared to be pizza crust or flatbread. A small plate of oil was preset at the
table for dipping. The bread was very good with just enough herbs to give it a
nice earthy flavor and set it apart from a more traditional bread basket.
The building was once a farmers market – among other things
during its history – so it’s only appropriate that the menu includes a variety
of fresh ingredients. We tasted the freshness right away with our appetizer: browned
Brussels sprouts with truffle cream.
Judy’s menu included several small plates that we were
interested in, including stuffed figs, lamb meatballs and pumpkin ravioli, but
the Brussels sprouts won out, and we were not disappointed.
The plate of Brussels were nicely charred – not burnt – to
bring out a little bit of a smokiness. The sprouts were slightly bitter which
we thought contrasted nicely to the bright, rich cream sauce. And the addition
of fresh sage was welcomed throughout the dish.
We had ordered our appetizer not realizing that our meals
also included starter salads. In addition to Caesar salads, Judy’s offers mixed
green salads with a variety of vinaigrettes and other dressings. Julie stuck
with the Caesar while I tried the ranch dressing with basil.
Julie’s Caesar salad was very nicely prepared with plenty of
dressing, cheese and croutons. We both remarked about the size of the salads
being just right.
My salad was also excellently done. The addition of the
basil to the ranch dressing was perfect and was a nice differentiator. I also
appreciated that there were plenty of red onions, my favorite.
The entree menu was extensive and included several dishes
that I wanted to try, like the duck confit cassoulet (a bean casserole with
duck confit, sausage, ham and braised pork), winter root vegetable curry and
black pepper rubbed duck.
But the limoncello chicken with saffron aioli was my choice.
The chicken was baked in lemon basil broth and served over capellini, a
spaghetti-like pasta that was incredibly thin.
Everything about the dish was mouthwatering. The chicken had
a nice crust on it and was cooked beautifully. I enjoyed the aioli, but it was
the lemon basil broth that was the real star. The sweet basil worked
beautifully against the lemon. Sun-dried tomatoes added a little more sweetness
to the dish.
It came together as a single, composed, delicious dish.
Julie’s Frenched pork chop was another great choice. Served over a bed of mashed potatoes, it was topped with mushrooms, truffle cream and crispy prosciutto.
It, too, was a wonderfully composed dish. First, the pork
chops were done perfectly, still very juicy. (For those who don’t know – like
me – “Frenched” is the style where the rib bone is exposed). The
mushrooms had a nice earthiness to them. The prosciutto was crispy which gave
it a feel almost like bacon. And the potatoes were present in almost every
bite, bringing everything together.
Like my meal, it was an excellent dish, and one that Julie
Unfortunately as we polished off our entrees, we both
realized that we weren’t going to have room for dessert. “That’s OK,”
our waitress assured us. “You can come in again and just have
It’s a nice thought, but our meals were so good, I’m not
sure we would want to skip out on the main course. The price wasn’t bad either.
For our two meals, appetizer and my unsweetened iced tea, our total was $66.
We’ve paid more for similar portions before.
Our service was very good, too. We had a seasoned server
with a dry sense of humor that we both appreciated. She was attentive
throughout the night refilling our drinks and checking in on us while other
members of the team brought our meals.
It was one of our best meals we have had overall; it
certainly lived up to our high expectations.
We are already looking forward to our next visit.
Service: Very Good
Price: Reasonable for Finer Dining
In the last two years, I have found myself more and more at
the Shillington Farmers Market. The Farmers Market of Wyomissing – just a few
blocks from our house – is still our go-to for our fruits, vegetables, meat and
dairy, but it just can’t compare with Shillington when it comes to take-out
Last year, the market added a new stand that brought even
more variety to the market: Eve’s Thai Kitchen.
Eve’s Thai Kitchen opened in May, offering a selection of
made-to-order dishes from southeast Asia. The menu is limited but still offers
variety with both noodle and rice dishes and appetizers that include spring
rolls, cheese rolls, soup and chicken satay.
Like most farmers market stands, Eve’s has a pretty simple
setup. Guests order at the counter and wait, either hanging out until the food
is ready or making a couple stops around the market while the food is prepared.
Eve’s does have the advantage of having two dedicated tables with six chairs
across the aisle.
I made my first visit to Eve’s back in August and was very
impressed with both the service and my order of pineapple fried rice with
The dish is a great blend of savory and sweet. The pineapple
is wonderful and the fruit definitely stars in the dish. But there are more
hits of sweetness from the dried cranberries that were mixed in. Cashews added
some crunch while the addition of broccoli and carrots both added color and
made me feel less guilty about finishing the whole thing.
My first impression made me want to come back and try even
more, but it took several months before I found time to return. This time, I
brought along Julie and our little man, Jakob.
Like me, Julie couldn’t resist the pineapple fried rice. But
instead of chicken, she ordered hers with shrimp. And she enjoyed it just as
much as I had. She had enjoyed the addition of the shrimp.
She shared everything with Jakob. While he refused the
shrimp, he loved the rice and kept asking for more. He also liked the baby
corn, which I hadn’t remembered from my order of the pineapple rice. The baby
corn is a favorite of mine as well and was a nice addition.
For my second visit, I decided to try something different.
On the specials menu, I saw a basil stir-fry. It included your choice of meat
(chicken, for me), green beans, onion, carrots and bell peppers over white
It was very good and used fresh basil that gave the deep
brown sauce a nice herby flavor. I enjoyed everything about it. I especially
liked that it was served over white rice instead of fried. While fried rice is
good, I always prefer white rice because it soaks up the flavor of everything
around it so well. It makes for a much more complete dish, in my opinion, and
in this case it allowed the basil sauce, chicken and vegetables to really
Also, I should mention that Eve’s allows you to choose your
level of spice: none, mild, medium, hot or Thai hot. Julie went with
“none” while I went with “mild.” I didn’t find mild to be
very spicy at all, but that doesn’t mean I’m brave enough to raise my spice
level next time.
Our food didn’t take long either. Though it was obviously
made fresh, it wasn’t more than 15 minutes before it was ready for us. And the
price was right as well. Adding on two bottles of water, it was less than $25
for our meals.
On both of my visits, Eve’s Thai Kitchen really delivered
with impressive food done well – and done quickly – at a very reasonable price
(as you would expect at a farmers market stand).
And it fits in well at the Shillington Farmers Market, which
has become a destination for great food here in Berks.
Food: Very Good
Service: Very Good
Price: Very Reasonable
Eve’s Thai Kitchen
10 S. Summit Ave
Shillington, PA 19607
I have always enjoyed a good diner, but I’ve found that I
appreciate them even more since becoming a father because I know they are a
safe bet for a night out with my son.
Diners always have plenty of seating (including high
chairs), the service is quick and there are always kids options on the menu.
So when we were struggling to decide on a place to go for a
family dinner on a Sunday in December, my mind went to diners. And that’s how
we ended up at the Temple Family Restaurant.
It had been years since Julie and I last visited Temple
Family Restaurant – at least five because we hadn’t been back since Berks
County Eats became a thing. We had always enjoyed it, but with so many places
to visit, it had fallen off our radar.
Julie, Jakob and I arrived around 5 p.m. and found the
restaurant to be busy, but not crowded. The dining area is very large with
booths lining every wall and free-standing tables in the middle.
Our waitress was very attentive, arriving at our table
within moments of being seated. She was happy to help as we worked to keep
Jakob occupied – providing us with an extra menu for him to entertain himself
with and also ensuring that his applesauce arrived with our salads.
The menu is large and varied, but all of the “American Classics,” “Pasta Specialties,” and “Steaks and Chops” are served with a choice of soup or salad.
The salads were simple, mostly greens and croutons topped
with shredded cheese, onions, green pepper slices and cherry tomatoes. It also
came with more than enough salad dressing – at least twice as much in the cup
than we usually see with diners.
Our meals were also served with fresh rolls and butter. The
rolls were served warm and were very good. They also came with a pile of butter
packets (I think I used half of a packet for mine).
For my entree, I chose the chicken croquettes. I have always
enjoyed the fried chicken dish, but it’s not something I order very often. I
was, however, very glad that I ordered it here.
The croquettes were delicious. The breading was nicely
seasoned and the chicken had a great flavor to it. And as simple as it was, the
bed of mashed potatoes the croquettes were served on were a perfect complement.
And the croquettes were huge. I decided to save one for later rather than
overdoing it at the restaurant.
Was it a steak dinner at a five-star restaurant? Absolutely
not. Was it delicious comfort food? Absolutely.
Not taking the time to study the menu as much as I should
have, I ordered potato filling as a side – even though the meal already came
with mashed potatoes. (Full disclosure: when I was a teenager, I would do this
on purpose when we went to diners. That was not the case here). The filling was
fine, but nothing special. I actually enjoyed the mashed potatoes a little bit
Julie had ordered the chicken Parmesan (both of our meals
were listed as “homemade” in the menu and had pictures to further
sway us on our decisions). It, too, was very good. The chicken breast had a
crisp breading on the outside. The sauce was a little sweet and a little
thicker than some places. But I thought it all came together very well.
And it was also huge. The chicken breast covered nearly the
full length of the oblong plate. Julie didn’t even attempt to finish the whole
thing, bringing home half for a later meal.
Her meal also came with a slice of garlic toast. It was not
as good as the dinner roll. I thought it tasted more like Texas toast. Either
way, it was completely unnecessary given the size of the chicken breast and the
fact that we already had bread at the table.
The kids menu isn’t huge, but there are enough choices to keep most children happy. Jakob was pleased with his personal pan pizza. It didn’t look like anything I would eat, but Jakob finished every bite so I guess it served its purpose well.
He did not want his applesauce, though, so I ended up giving
him my buttered corn, which he happily ate for me.
At the end of the meal, having saved a little bit of room,
Julie decided to splurge for some rice pudding for her and Jakob. It came
topped with whipped cream and was dusted with cinnamon. Rice pudding is not my
favorite – it’s a texture thing for me, mostly – but Julie loves it, especially
at diners. Jakob didn’t have much interest in anything other than the whipped
cream so I ended up eating most of his share.
We certainly got a lot for our money during our meal as our
two entrees, kids meal and rice pudding cost us $31.
It was an enjoyable meal, and kid-friendly at that. Mommy,
daddy and Jakob all enjoyed our food and were happy with our decision.
Diners are once again moving to the forefront for me. And
Temple Family Restaurant has earned a place near the top of our list.
Food: Good to Very Good
Service: Very Good
Price: Very Reasonable
4949 N. 5th Street Hwy
Temple, PA 19560
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
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