Allgyer’s BBQ Corner

Allgyer's BBQ Corner features two warming tables full of meats and sides.

A few years ago, I dedicated a month to exploring the Fairgrounds Farmers Market and trying some of the many restaurants and food stands that the crowded market offers.  But even with a few more visits thrown in, we’ve only covered about half the market.

When I started a new job in Muhlenberg Township, I knew that I would be spending many a Thursday and Friday in the market, revisiting meals from the past and checking off more places on my list.

One of the stands that I was anxious to try was Allgyer’s BBQ Corner.

Chipped meats, roasted potatoes, and baked beans are among the items available at Allgyer's.

Formerly known as the Country BBQ Corner, Allgyer’s sits next to Matt’s Coney Island near the center of the market. It’s a relatively large stand with two sets of warming tables holding an assortment of meats and sides.

I decided to make a pair of visits to the stand to get a broader taste of their offerings. On my first trip, I went with one of their dinner entrees – beef cubes.

Allgyer's served its beef cubes in a Styrofoam cup.

The cubes were served in a Styrofoam cup (either the server assumed I was taking it to go or she was afraid I wouldn’t find a seat and would need to take it to go).

Meals at Allgyer's are served with a dinner roll. They also offer fresh-brewed sweet tea.

It was packed with the chunks of roast beef of varying sizes. They weren’t bad, but I was hoping for a more tender meat. I had to use a knife to cut the larger pieces, not an easy task when they are in a cup. But the flavor was good, especially toward the bottom where the peppery spice had collected in the pool of juice. I would consider getting it again, but definitely not at lunch time, especially because it came served with two sides, a roll and a drink.

For my sides, I ordered carrots and potatoes.

The barbecue carrots were were rolled in aluminum foil to keep them hot.

The barbecue carrots were very similar to those that I’ve enjoyed at Fisher’s Barbecue at the PA Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomissing. They are my go-to at that stand, and I really enjoyed them here.

Instead of the standard fries or wedges, Allgyer's serves potato skins .

Allgyer’s potatoes were actually a little better than Fisher’s. Instead of cutting them into wedges or fries, they were cut more like potato skins so they had some size and depth to them. Fried up, they were still soft. They were probably my favorite part of this visit.

Two weeks later, I was back again. This time I was going to keep the meal a little lighter with a sandwich and one side.

Allgyer's pulled pork sandwich was topped with their homemade BBQ sauce.

The stand was advertising their new pulled pork sandwich with homemade barbecue sauce. I couldn’t resist.

It was a mixed bag for me. I liked the sauce – it was definitely on the sweeter side and very enjoyable. But the meat was otherwise dry. Instead of serving it with a cup of sauce on the side, my server put it on for me, and it wasn’t quite enough to overcome the dryness of the pork. If they had been tossed together or I had a little bit more sauce for dipping, I think it would have been a much better sandwich.

The sweet potatoes aren't much to look at, falling apart in the aluminum foil, but they were delicious.

But the sweet potatoes I had on the side made up for it. While they aren’t much to look at – so soft that they fell apart when wrapped in the foil – they were delicious. I love the flavor of sweet potatoes and Allgyer’s didn’t have to add much as far as seasoning. If I went back, it would be hard to decided between the regular and sweet potatoes for my side dish.

The best part of Allgyer’s, like many of the market stands, is the price. There’s so little overhead compared to a brick-and-mortar restaurant that stands can charge a much lower price. My two meals combined were less than $20.

Timing is everything with the line. Sometimes you have to take a number, othertimes you could be the only one at the counter and be served right away. I was lucky on both of my visits that I had no wait, leaving me plenty of time to find a seat and enjoy my lunch without having to rush to get back to the office.

Allgyer’s is another solid market stand, another piece of the diverse offerings at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market, and one that I would enjoy again.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Fair
Price: A Bargain

Allgyer’s BBQ Corner
Fairgrounds Farmers Market
2934 N. 5th Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605

Barbecue Farmers Market Meals Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Road Trip: Shady Maple Smorgasbord

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Berks County Eats crosses the county line to bring you some of the best dining both near and far. This edition takes us 23 miles southwest of Reading to East Earl, PA.

I think everyone has a birthday tradition.

For myself, and many people who live within driving distance of Lancaster County, that tradition includes a birthday feast at one of the best buffets in the entire country.

Every year on May 30, my wife and I make the short drive south to East Earl to join the throngs of thousands that pour into Shady Maple Smorgasbord daily.

East Earl, a community of just over 1,000 people, doubles in size during the evening dinner rush. That’s the way it has been since Shady Maple expanded its smorgasbord more than a decade ago to create the glorious food paradise it is today.

The only exceptions are on holidays and every Sunday when the restaurant is closed, perhaps so we can all atone for committing the deadly sin of gluttony during our visit.

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It’s easy to get lost among the food, which is why signs point the way to both the east and west buffet. Combined, there are 10 islands, four carving stations and three drink stations. A pair of dessert stands bookend the room. Walking from one end to the other is nearly impossible as you bob and weave your way around a hundred other people, all seemingly waiting in line for the same thing you are.

But with limited stomach to work with, scoping out the entire buffet is a must. Otherwise you may miss the carved-to-order prime rib or the ICEE machine.

As much as I appreciate a good salad, the two stations full of greens are off-limits during my visits. I can get a free salad with a meal anywhere.

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Instead, my first plate included a cup of tomato basil soup, broccoli, a pierogi and a sweet and sour meatball. The soup was a beautiful shade of light orange, a result of the added cream that gave it its rich flavor. A heaping helping of peppers and onions came along with the pierogi, but it could easily stand on its own. And the meatball was more like a miniature meatloaf, packed with spices in a ketchup-based barbecue sauce. I also added on an onion biscuit, just for good measure.

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Plate number two was all about the meat as I took a slab of beef brisket and a heaping helping of roast beef. A fistful of carrots and a drop of bread filling helped balance out the plate. The brisket was a featured meat at one of the carving stations. Unfortunately the heat lamps at carving stations rarely keep meats hot, and this was no exception. It was lukewarm, and the fact that it was oven-roasted made it taste more like an ordinary slice of beef. The actual roast beef, however, was amazing. It was tender and moist, everything the brisket was not.

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My third plate was my “healthy” vegetable plate. It featured baked lima beans, which were done in a very nice, thick barbecue sauce (I wish I that for the brisket); mashed potatoes; mashed sweet potatoes, which were topped with raisins and nuts; and some of the best (and wettest) dried corn I have ever tried. All the juice you see on the plate was from the dried corn, and it was excellent.

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Dessert was a (small) slice of shoofly pie and a dish of raspberry and vanilla soft serve. The wet-bottom pie was alright, but it had obviously been chilled which hurt the filling a little bit.

After dinner, Shady Maple encourages their guests to work off their dinners and shop off some dollars in the expansive gift shop, located beneath the smorgasbord. The store is as large as the buffet, filled to the brim with everything from wind chimes and bird houses to Elvis collectibles and Pennsylvania Dutch cookbooks.

If you’re looking for a little taste of Shady Maple to take home, the farmer’s market offers a large selection of fresh produce and many of the smorgasbord’s famous desserts.

Even if you don’t have a birthday coming up, Shady Maple is worth the price of admission. Dinner buffets vary depending on the featured entrees, but average around $20.00 per person. If you do happen to be celebrating, all you need is your ID and a paying guest and you’ve got your very own birthday feast on the house.

Shady Maple Farm Market & Smorgasbord on Urbanspoon

Buffets Dessert Lunch & Dinner Reviews

PA Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomissing

Sunrise GrilleThere are hundreds of farmers markets across the state of Pennsylvania, with dozens of them spread throughout Berks County.

From roadside stands to indoor/outdoor markets with 100s of vendors, all of these markets deliver fresh produce, locally raised meats and delicious baked goods.

Farmers markets support area farm families, boost the local economy and help customers find healthy ingredients for home-cooked meals.

They are also a great place to get amazing meals.

I am lucky enough to live within walking distance of Berks County’s best farmers markets. Now in its third year, the PA Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomissing only has 14 stands, but every one of them is different.

There’s a stand for seafood, one for bulk foods, another for soft pretzels and separate stands for beef, poultry, seafood, deli meats and organics. The same is true for their dine-in options: the Sunrise Grill and Fisher’s BBQ.

The two stands are set directly across from each other at the back of the market. Fisher’s sits in the far-right corner. Beef brisket, ribs and barbecued chicken swelter under the heat lamps in the display case.

Everything is hot and ready-to-serve. Catch the stand at the wrong time though, and you may need to wait a while. Friday nights are all-you-can-eat nights, and the line backs up quickly.

IMG_2959The best entree on the menu has to be the pulled pork. It’s cliché, but the meat really is tender and juicy. Instead of loading the meat up with barbecue sauce, I mix it with a side of green beans, which are mixed with a little bit of sauce and bacon. The beans are delicious, and the juice helps bring out more flavor in the pork.

Every platter at Fisher’s comes with two sides so for your second, I recommend the carrots. The carrots have a crispy outer coating, with charred black edges, but inside they are a beautiful vibrant orange and sweet as honey. And if that’s not sweet enough for you, grab a cup of fresh-brewed sweet tea to complete your meal.

Across the aisle, the Sunrise Grill serves up some great breakfast options like French toast, omelets and pancakes, but I love it for lunch.

Sunrise Grille 3Sunrise offers some great cold and hot sub options for lunch and dinner. They’re sausage sandwiches are excellent (especially if you get the pepper and onion sausage) and come with a “barbecue” sauce, a thin sauce with a taste closer to ketchup than barbecue, but perfect for the sandwich.

IMG_1372But my favorite meal at Sunrise Grill is their hot roast beef. The meat is so tender, more like pot roast than the slabs of roast beef you get at some diners, and it is piled high on top of a Kaiser roll.

I rarely get something at Sunrise Grill without a side of fries. They are fresh cut, not frozen fast food fries. For me, these are the kind of fries that just taste that much better with a spritz of vinegar.

Like every farmers market, the prices at these two stands are very reasonable. Platters at Fisher’s range between $8-12, and a sandwich, fries and drink at Sunrise Grill comes in right around the $10 mark.

The biggest downside to the market, and any farmers market for that matter, is the hours. The market is only open three days a week, Thursdays through Saturdays, and only have evening hours on Friday nights. If you have a supersized appetite, Friday night is the best time to go because Fisher’s offers some great all-you-can-eat specials for the price of a single meal.

BCE Rating – Fisher’s BBQ
Food: Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Good
Price: Very Reasonable

BCE Rating – Sunrise Grille
Food: Good
Service: Fair
Ambiance: Good
Price: Reasonable

PA Dutch Farmer’s Market of Wyomissing
845 Woodland Rd
Wyomissing, PA 19610

Barbecue Diners Farmers Market Meals Lunch & Dinner Reviews