Shillington Farmers Market Bacon Egg Cheese

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe

In the past year, Berks County Eats has experienced the re-emergence of the Shillington Farmers Market through great meals. We’ve fallen in love with the Brocmar taco at Brocmar Smokehouse and rekindled our love of empanadas at Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe.

Among the dining options added to the market in past 12 months is the Shillington Farmers Market Cafe, a no-frills eatery tucked in a corner of the market behind Max Crema’s Coffee.

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe

The Cafe feels like a small diner. You can watch the meals being prepared in the tiny kitchen behind the counter as a wait staff of two takes care of the customers in front. It had a decent crowd during our visit, though there were tables available in the small dining room throughout our meal.

Julie, Jakob and I settled in at a table for four and menus were dropped off promptly and we were served soon after.

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe

I ordered three blueberry pancakes (the plan being that I would share my meal with Jakob, my nearly year-old son who recently discovered his love for pancakes).

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe Blueberry Pancakes

The pancakes were thick and fluffy with large whole blueberries inside. It was served with a cup of butter on the side (or on top, rather) and syrup. The pancakes were very good and there was plenty of fruit, but I did need the syrup. It was sweet enough without it, but a little dry. The syrup took care of that and the pancakes were a hit with both myself and Jakob.

Two-thirds of the way through, Jakob and I both had enough. It was then that our server said, “I’ve never seen anyone eat the whole thing.” I’m half-tempted to return now just to try to take on the three-pancake stack myself.

Shillington Farmers Market Bacon Egg Cheese

Julie was able to finish her fried egg, bacon and cheese on toast. From-scratch sandwiches like this are always better than the fast-food versions and Julie certainly enjoyed hers. She also was a fan of the hash browns which she said were done perfectly.

My corned beef hash – hash browns with sliced corned beef – were not cooked as perfectly. While I enjoyed the use of fresh sliced corned beef, the potatoes were burnt. Thankfully, I didn’t need it anyway.

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe Corned Beef Hash

Also, and I can’t believe this, but our meal was only $15. That was with an apple juice and an orange juice in addition to our food. That’s a good value, especially considering neither Julie nor I were hungry for lunch after such a robust breakfast.

The Cafe may not be the fanciest restaurant in Berks County, and it’s only open three days a week (Thursday through Saturday) with the Farmers Market, but it’s a good little spot for a no-fuss meal.

And with Brocmar Smokehouse and Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe, the Shillington Farmers Market is definitely worth a visit.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Fair
Value: Bargain

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe
10 S. Summit Ave
Shillington, PA 19607

Breakfast & Brunch Farmers Market Meals Reviews

Crossroads Family Restaurant

At the intersection of Routes 222 and 61 is one of Berks County’s busiest diners.

The stainless steel exterior of Crossroads Family Restaurant can’t be seen from 222, but driving north or south along Route 61, you can’t miss the shining building with the packed parking lot.

We visited on a recent Saturday morning and found the parking lot almost at capacity. Lucky for us there were a few select spaces left in the last row of the lot.

Crossroads is the quintessential diner. Rows of booths and tables span the large dining area. Two private rooms – one on either side of the building – are separated by glass windows. We watched as one of the rooms emptied out, and the windows were slid along a track in the ceiling to open up the space for more seating.

Despite its size, Crossroads had no problem filling the tables on this Saturday morning. We had a five minute wait when we arrived at 8:30, but as many people as were beginning to wait, just as many people were filing out to pay at the register, which was flanked on either side by cases full of tempting cakes, pies and baked goods. Behind the register, I was surprised to see a fully stocked bar.

After our brief wait, we were led into the main dining room where Julie and I sat at a booth with Jakob next to us, car seat atop a high chair. As usual, Jakob was the center of attention, with waitresses and other staff stopping by to take a peek at the four-month-old with us.

We perused the robust breakfast menu: skillets, French toast, pancakes, waffles, eggs and an array of sides. I joked about going big with my side and ordering the 14-ounce ham steak (no joke, this is a real side dish. As is the eight-ounce black diamond steak).

I still went big, opting for the L.A. cinnamon roll French toast with a side of corned beef hash.

You may remember my cinnamon roll French toast from Jukebox Cafe in Boyertown where I enjoyed an actual cinnamon roll that was made a la French toast. This was different: two thick slices of cinnamon swirl bread with a vanilla glaze.

The glaze was light – not a thick icing but a subtle glaze that provided enough sweetness that butter or syrup would have been overkill. The cinnamon toast itself was very good with big cinnamon swirls.

The L.A. cinnamon roll French toast is not one of the breakfast items that is available all day, which is a shame because it would make a great dessert.

On the side, my corned beef hash was more than I needed. The hash was tightly formed and cut in half. It was good if a little on the salty side (though in fairness, I think I’m much more sensitive to salt than most). I would have been satisfied with half the order, but I finished it anyway.

Julie went with a more traditional breakfast of eggs, potatoes, toast and bacon. While she enjoys all of the above, she ordered it specifically for the homefries, which she requested deep-fried.

After visiting Crossroads several times with some of the ladies from our church, Julie had learned of the deep-fried homefries and couldn’t wait to order them. The deep-fried potatoes were crispier and more flavorful than if they had been pan-fried.

The combo meal was only $5.95 so Julie didn’t feel so guilty about leaving a couple slices of toast.

Both of us ate enough at breakfast to skip lunch so I would say the $20 we paid (I had a $2 orange juice on the bill as well) was more than fair.

It was my first visit to the restaurant, and I left impressed and full. There’s no doubt that Berks County has no shortage of places to grab a good breakfast, and Crossroads is definitely among them.

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

Crossroad Family Restaurant
4643 Pottsville Pk
Reading, PA 19605

Crossroads Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Diners Reviews
The Napoleon Dynamite at Mad Dogs

Mad Dogs

Mad Dogs

Editor’s Note: Julie took the lead on this blog, visiting Mad Dogs with her parents (leaving me behind, sadly).

One cold Friday in February, I was looking to get out of the house with Jakob. My parents are retired so I suggested that we go to Kutztown for old time’s sake. (Zach and I are both graduates of Kutztown University). I always enjoy driving down Main Street to see what is new and what has stayed the same.

Just off of Main Street on Constitution Boulevard sits a brick building with two parking lots on each side. There is an outside seating area shared with a cigar store. While it was too cold to eat outside, we walked in the large warehouse door that I had walked through many times before – but for the first time at Mad Dogs.

Mad Dogs Daily Specials

The building previously housed CC’s Wooden Grill, once one of my favorite BBQ joints in Berks County, and Potts U, a spinoff of the popular Lehigh Valley hot dog chain.

As we walked through the door, the space looked very familar. The order counter and tables were basically the same as the last time we had visited Potts nearly two years ago.

Inside Mad Dogs Kutztown

The only difference was a few drink coolers along one of the walls which held your typical soda products and my favorite: Pure Wild Tea. (Another Berks County business). There were hot dog signs leftover from Potts U and movie posters added to go along with Mad Dogs Hollywood-themed menu.

The Throwback Lounge at Mad Dogs

Through a doorway, in an area that was previously an office, is the Mad Dogs Throwback Lounge. It was pretty cool space that looked like a fun place to hang out. There were bean bag chairs, retro furniture and flat screen TVs.

We found a seat at one of the very familiar tables and browsed the extensive menu of 21 different specialty hot dogs. Mad Dogs’ menu also has a burger, pulled pork and various sides.

Plain Jane Hot Dog from Mad Dogs

The menu also includes combo specials, which my dad took advatange of. He’s not always the adventurous type when it comes to food, so he had one plain Jane hot dog with relish, ketchup and onions (toppings are 50 cents each), mac and cheese, and a drink. There isn’t much to say about the plain Jane hot dog, but he really enjoyed the mac and cheese.

Mad Dogs Mac and Cheese

It was a unique version of the dish with tri-color noodles that looked like carrots and peppers. But they were definitely noodles. There were also pieces of hamburger, onion and bacon mixed with what tasted like a Cheez Whiz sauce.

I really wanted to experience one of the specialty hot dogs so I got the Napoleon Dynamite. I have to be honest, I’m not a huge hot dog fan, but one of my favorite childhood food memories is of hot dogs stuffed with cheese and bacon wrapped around them. The Napoleon Dynamite was the closest to that memory.

The Napoleon Dynamite at Mad Dogs

It is a grilled dog with tater tots, bacon, cheese sauce and Mad Dog sauce. Overall it was a good hot dog. The bacon and hot dog rested in the roll with cheese sauce and three smashed tater tots drizzled with Mad Dog sauce. The Mad Dog sauce didn’t quite shine through with the other flavors on my dog so it is hard to say what that actually tasted like.

They have an interesting selection of sides including fried cauliflower and sweet potato fries. But I opted for basic fresh-cut Yukon Gold french fries. The menu says that they are tossed in a special seasoning, but I don’t remember tasting it. That aside, they were very good fries. I also ordered Maple Mayo dipping sauce (they have 9 different dipping sauces to choose from), but never received it and didn’t remember that I ordered it until I was in the car driving home.

Mad Dogs Hot Dog and Tater Tots

Lastly, my mom built her own plain Jane dog with bacon and baked beans on top with a side of tater tots. The bacon was chopped up and mixed with the baked beans. She liked all of her items as well.

My only complaint was the presentation, and it’s not something you will notice in my photos. The food was brought out in long wire baskets that looked really neat. The problem was they weren’t organized by meal. One basket had two dogs, another basket had a dog and side and the rest of the food came out without baskets. It would have been nice if my hot dog and fries would have been together, my dad’s hot dog and mac and cheese together, and my mom’s hot dog and tater tots together. It would have saved a lot of shuffling and confusion at the table.

Mad Dogs seems like it’s caught on in its first year – the restaurant celebrated its first anniversary in January – because as we were there I saw more people come through the front door than on any of our visits to CC’s or Potts.

They have a good product with interesting twists and customizable options fit for anyone looking for a good hot dog. And being that it is in a college town, I’d say it’s a good value for what you get (we spent about $25 for the three of us).

I hope the next time I make my way through the doors of this building that I am still eating at Mad Dogs.

Berks County Eats Rating:
Food: Very Good
Ambiance: Good
Service: Good
Value: Reasonable

Mad Dogs
100 N. Constitution Blvd
Kutztown, PA 19530

Lunch & Dinner Reviews Sandwich Shops

Brooks Cafe

Brooks Cafe in Douglassville, PA

It’s not often that Julie and I get to go out for breakfast.

During the week, my commute to King of Prussia is a major hindrance to enjoying a morning meal together so we end up going out for dinner much more often.

So we usually reserve breakfast trips for weekends and holidays. And on Labor Day, with Julie and I hosting dinner, we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast.

We needed a restaurant that was open, and one that we hadn’t yet checked off our list. The name at the top was Brooks Cafe.

The specials sound amazing too.

Brooks Cafe is tucked in a strip mall along westbound 422 in Douglassville. The location was formerly home to Don Julio Mexican Restaurant (whose logo still appears on the marquee along with Brooks’).

The breakfast-and-lunch joint took over the space in 2016 and has made it their own. Posters and portraits of Audrey Hepburn in her famous Breakfast at Tiffany’s style cover the walls around the dining area.

Brooks Cafe is much larger than it looks from the outside.

The dining room itself is much larger than expected. There is seating for at least 80 – fourteen tables, five booths and one combination of the two fill the room. Audrey watches over them all.

Also larger than expected: the menu. Breakfast is two full pages, with a wide selection of bowls, omelets, eggs, pancakes, waffles and French toast.

When I say a wide selection of French toast, I’m not just talking about toppings. I’m talking about French toasted croissants, banana nut bread, cinnamon buns, and my choice – Hawaiian bread.

Mmm...Hawaiian bread French toast

Brooks’ Hawaiian bread French toast featured three slices of Hawaiian bread (duh) topped with stripes of pineapple, toasted coconut and yogurt.

The meal was also served with a cup of pancake syrup that I found entirely unnecessary. Hawaiian bread has a sweeter flavor to begin. The pineapple – and to a lesser extent, the coconut – added to that. And the yogurt gave it the same consistency.

It was a filling and enjoyable start to the day – quite a pick-me-up.

The best kind of homefries

Not being able to help myself, I also ordered a side of homefries. Everyone does homefries a little bit differently, and these were the kind that I like best – large slices of potato that are browned on one side and perfectly soft on the other.

While I always go for the French toast, Julie leans toward pancakes. And at Brooks, it was banana nut pancakes.

The pancakes had walnuts cooked into them with slices of banana and a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Banana nut pancakes and bacon. Don't forget the bacon.

I always enjoy walnuts in pancakes – for both the flavor and the crunchy texture that they add. It contrasts nicely with the soft banana slices and melt-in-your-mouth pancakes.

Unlike me, Julie was not shy about adding syrup to her pancakes. Either way, they were also very good.

She also couldn’t resist an order of bacon. Crispy, savory bacon. There’s not much else to say about them.

The only other thing left to say about Brooks Cafe is that it is priced perfectly. We both had excellent breakfasts, left feeling full (too full for a real lunch) and spent less than $20.

Everything combined to make our first visit to Brooks one to remember.

And while Julie and I may not dine out for breakfast as often as we would like, Brooks is on my way to work. So I will definitely stop in again.

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

Brooks Cafe
1139 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Douglassville, PA 19518

Brooks Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Reviews
Indian Fort Inn Jagerschnitzel

Indian Fort Inn

Indian Fort Inn, Hamburg, PA

Most weeks on Berks County Eats, you’ll read about the culinary adventures of my wife (Julie) and I. But from time-to-time, other family members and friends will make cameo appearances, depending on the occasion and location.

Recently, I got together with my brother Matt, his wife Lauren and my friend Dennis for a night out in the Hamburg area.

We made the short drive west of town along Old Route 22 to the Indian Fort Inn.

Dennis and I had never visited before, but my brother and Lauren had been there often as my brother shot pool in the bar room regularly.

Indian Fort Inn

In just a few years, he said, the restaurant had been greatly improved. The food had always been good, but the dining room was always empty while everyone was in the bar.

Outside, it looks like a large stone house with a giant parking lot. There’s a patio out front that looked jam-packed during our visit. Inside, the wood walls, wooden tables and chairs, and dim lighting give the feel of an upgraded hunting cabin.

The meal did not start out well. First, they were out of the meal I really wanted to try: the German lasagna (which was made up of kielbasa, sauerkraut and other German favorites in a mushroom cream sauce).

Then, the salad was a swing-and-a-miss. I was the only person at the table to order an entree and the only person to get a starter salad.

Indian Fort Inn Salad...except they forgot the dressing.

It arrived quick enough, but without the salad dressing. Our waiter disappeared into the back before I realized the mistake so I had wait patiently for him to return to the dining room to wait on our neighboring table to flag him down, then wait for him to reemerge with my cup of ranch dressing.  He may or may not have brought me blue cheese instead.

Otherwise, the salad was unremarkable, standard greens with cherry tomatoes and croutons.

I was already in a slightly sour mood because I couldn’t try the German lasagna; this wasn’t helping things. For my entree, I settled on the Jagerschntizel.

Lucky for me, it redeemed the meal.

Indian Fort Inn Jagerschnitzel

The jagerschnitzel was a weekend special and included two deep fried pork cutlets smothered in mushroom gravy.

It was excellent. The cutlets were fried to a perfect golden brown that peeked out ever so slightly from beneath the mushroom cream sauce. The breading was fantastic and amplified the flavor of the pork. The cream sauce was very good as well, making the dish go down easily.

On the side were “Saratoga chips” and mixed vegetables. Real Saratoga chips are basically potato chips served warm (think Dutch fries, for anyone who visits the Kutztown Fairgrounds), but these were thick cut potato cubes, deep-fried and salted. I have zero complaints about them,  but they weren’t anything noteworthy.

Indian Fort Inn Bacon Bleu Cheeseburger

To my right, Dennis was enjoying his bacon and bleu cheese burger. It was topped with a roasted red pepper aioli that he thought played well with the bleu cheese crumble. Overall, he found it to be a very good burger.

Indian Fort Inn Bacon Cheddar Chicken Sandwich

To my left, my brother was digging into to a chicken sandwich with melted cheddar and bacon. Instead of a sliced cheddar, it was a blend of shredded cheddar. It was a good sandwich, but I know my brother’s favorite thing on his plate was the coleslaw (and I would have to agree, it was a well-made slaw, though I would have a hard time picking out exactly what made it better than most).

While my Saratoga chips were okay, the French fries were exceptional. Both Dennis and Matt ordered a side of fries with their sandwiches. The side of fries was a full basket, one that Julie and I would have needed to split had we been out for a dinner-for-two.

Indian Fort Inn French Fries

The fries were the fresh-cut style with skins still on the edges, and they were cooked perfectly. I got to try one or two of my brother’s fries. Otherwise, he took down the whole basket himself (Dennis left just a few in the bottom of his).

Indian Fort Inn Loaded Fries

Lauren ordered a plate of loaded fries and made it her meal. It was your typical baked potato toppings – bacon, sour cream, chives. Her plate was even larger so she couldn’t finish all of hers, but she did enjoy them.

Our server was kind enough to split the checks for us. I spent about $16 for my meal and glass of iced tea. Most of the dinners were around the same price with some of the steak offerings reaching the low-to-mid-$20 range.

It was a good meal made better by good friends and conversation. And The Fort just seemed like the right place for that.

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

Indian Fort Inn
1343 Hex Highway
Hamburg, PA 19526

Indian Fort Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars & Pubs Lunch & Dinner Reviews

WOW Wagon

wow-wagon

One of my favorite events every year is the Garden Party at the Reading Hospital.

In addition to benefitting a great cause, the organizers always bring in some of the best in local eats. This year, they brought in some of the area’s best food trucks, including Gourmand, the Potato Coop, Scott’s Hot Spot and the Gilbertsville-based WOW Wagon.

Julie and I made our way through the sea of people, trying to decide where to go. The WOW Wagon was at the end of the row, and with no line, it was an easy choice for two people who were ready to eat.

wow-wagon-white-pizza

I first tried the WOW Wagon a year ago at the VF Outlet Center Food Truck Festival. That day’s menu featured artisan pizzas, like the white pizza with broccoli, green peppers and sun-dried tomatoes that I got to enjoy.

But the menu is ever-changing, and at the Garden Party, there were no pizzas to be had.

Instead, they offered a six-item, limited menu that included an item called Pig Dippers that sounded too good to pass up.

wow-wagon-pig-dippers

The fair food-inspired treats featured candied maple bacon, rolled in funnel cake batter and deep-fried (topped with obligatory powdered sugar).

Pig Dippers are also sometimes referred to simply as cholesterol. Delicious cholesterol.

Biting into one is a truly unique taste experience. First, you have that familiar funnel cake flavor. Then you get the bacon, with strong maple overtones. It’s a sweet and savory explosion. Together, it was almost reminiscent of breakfast.

They came in orders of two. I thought when I finished that I would need something else to eat. I didn’t. I felt great after eating one. The second one was almost too much, too heavy (but I finished it anyway).

wow-wagon-lobster-roll

Also on the menu during our visit was something completely different: lobster rolls.

The New England specialty was meaty and delicious. The roll was overstuffed with chunks of lobster meat and one lone slice of lettuce to add a bit of crunch.

It wasn’t quite like getting a fresh lobster roll in Maine, but it was darn good for Pennsylvania.

During the Garden Party, all purchases are made in tickets, but our total worked out to be around $20 (this did not include drinks, which had to be purchased from another stand).

The WOW Wagon definitely brought a wow factor to its items on this day.

I don’t know that my heart could take another order of Pig Dippers, but I will definitely keep an eye out for the WOW Wagon at future events.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Good
Ambiance: N/A
Price: Reasonable

Food Trucks Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Andy Pepper’s

andy-pepper-s-exterior

Berks County Eats has taken me to a lot of crazy places. I’ve been to castles, strip malls, diners, dinner theaters, farmers markets, fire companies and food trucks.

But never did I expect to find Julie and I eating lunch in a post office.

To be fair, Andy Pepper’s isn’t exactly in the Limekiln Post Office. The two share a building — USPS on the left, restaurant on the right — just off of Oley Turnpike Road in the tiny village of Limekiln.

It’s an interesting location on a number of levels. Forget the awkward roommate, Limekiln is as off the beaten path as you can get in Berks County.

Yet when we arrived around lunchtime, the parking lot was busy as customers were coming and going through the front door.

For a small place, there was more seating than I expected, mostly at long, high-top tables with white tiled counter tops and purple trim.

andy-pepper-s-chocolate-milk-cranberry-lemonade

Three black menu boards hang at the order counter. The first lists the drinks (including the homemade chocolate milk and the cranberry lemonade that we got); the second, breakfast; the third, sandwiches.

One of the great things about Andy Pepper’s, as a place that serves only breakfast and lunch, the entire menu is always available so I got lunch while Julie got breakfast.

Bonus points go to Andy Pepper’s for the creative names for the sandwiches (the Joanie loves Srirachi is easily the most clever). My healthful flatbread was aptly named the Thin Lizzy.

andy-pepper-s-thin-lizzy

The Thin Lizzy features baby spinach, provolone, tomatoes, pesto and guacamole on a grilled flatbread. I’m not normally one for meatless meals, but I absolutely loved this sandwich.

It was simple, but the spinach and tomatoes were bright and fresh. The provolone was sliced thin so it had a nice sharp bite without being overpowering. The pesto was flavorful, and the guacamole was piled on so that delicious avocado and cilantro flavor was in every bite.

andy-pepper-s-potato-chips

On the side, I ordered warm, seasoned potato chips. The bag behind the counter said they were from the Billy Goat Chip Company in St. Louis, one of the few things at Andy Pepper’s that wasn’t homemade.

They were good chips, but warming them made them even better. It was a light seasoning (onion, garlic, spices and sugar, according to the company website), but it added a unique flavor that I really enjoyed.

andy-pepper-s-lemon-poppy-pancake-and-bacon

Julie went with breakfast for lunch, unable to resist one of the seasonal pancake flavors: lemon poppy seed.

We were warned that the pancakes usually come in orders of two, plate-sized pancakes so she just had a half order, and it was plenty. It was as big as advertised, and really soaked up the syrup. The citrusy flavor of the lemon gave the hearty pancake a light, summery flavor.

And what breakfast would be complete without bacon? Julie asked for a side of it and received four crispy, delicious slices on top of her pancake.

andy-pepper-s-zucchini-cornbread

In addition to our meals, we grabbed a couple slices of locally baked zucchini cornbread and a homemade blueberry sage jam. I only got a hint of zucchini, but the cornbread was more moist than most. The jam was amazing. It was very sweet, and it didn’t take much of it to get a lot of flavor.

That brought our total bill up to about $25. It was a little higher than we like to pay for lunch, but worth every penny.

Everything we had was either homemade or made with the freshest ingredients, and that makes all of the difference.

We enjoyed everything that we had on our visit and look forward to going back again for another meal at the post office.

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

Andy Pepper’s
820 Limekiln Rd
Limekiln, PA 19535

Andy Pepper's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Lunch & Dinner Reviews