6th Street Deli

sixth-street-deli

Most times, I only get to visit a restaurant once before writing a review. But in the past two months, I have had two meetings in downtown Reading — one over breakfast and one over lunch — and both were at the previously unknown-to-me 6th Street Deli.

You won’t find the 6th Street Deli on Yelp. Or TripAdvisor. Or Zomato. They have a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated since 2012 and a website that isn’t much newer.

My first visit came on a Wednesday morning in early December. It was late in the breakfast service, about 9 a.m. Everyone was already at work leaving the restaurant mostly empty.

The hot bar was only about half-full and probably wouldn’t be restocked until lunch. I filled a Styrofoam clamshell with a little bit of everything. Meals are priced out by weight at the counter so I kept that in the back of my mind while dipping out my meal.

After paying a little more than $5 at the register (I also had a Clover Farms chocolate milk), I retreated to the back of the restaurant where most of the seating is located.

Six or seven round tables are set in the dining area (a handful of two-person tables are in the front as well). A TV on the wall was playing an old direct-to-video holiday special that I didn’t recognize.

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My meal was a mix of familiar and unfamiliar breakfast foods. Nothing is labeled so I am still not exactly sure about everything that was on my plate.

What I did recognize were the breakfast potatoes, yucca and the sausage patty. The potatoes were good, diced and cooked like a typical American diner would do them.

The yucca was very different. It was cooked in the Dominican style with onions and vinegar that gives it a slightly sour taste. But it’s an enjoyable sour in the same way as sauerkraut. I also took a scoop of mashed yucca, which had pickled onions, but a little less pungent flavor.

Also on the plate was queso frito, a fried cheese dish that is another Dominican breakfast staple. It looks kind of like the insides of a mozzarella stick, but was surprisingly tasty. I wish I had gotten there when it was fresh out of the pan because it would probably would have been my favorite thing on the plate.

A month later and I returned to the 6th Street Deli for another meeting, this time over lunch. It was a rare opportunity for me to experience two meals at a restaurant before writing a review.

I’m glad I waited because lunch was delicious.

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It was about 1 p.m. when I arrived, and the lunch rush was still in full swing. The hot bar was fully stocked, as was the salad bar on the opposite wall which I hadn’t even noticed on my first visit.

Skipping the salad, I filled up on a variety of hot items including rice and beans, meatballs in marinara sauce, candied sweet potatoes, fried plantains, baked beans and more yucca.

The rice and beans were excellent, as was the soupy, baked-bean like dish that I found next to it. The candied sweet potatoes were very good as well (especially with the little bit of marshmallow I found with it). The yucca was just as good as I remembered. And the plantains were a sweet little ending to the meal.

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What I, and the other five people I was with, hadn’t counted on was being delivered a complimentary plate of pineapple bread pudding.

Cut up in bite size pieces for us to try, we all happily dug in. It was incredible. The pineapple filling oozed out from between the layers of bread. The whole thing just melted away in your mouth.

Like breakfast, my lunch was inexpensive, coming in at just over $7 (obligatory chocolate milk included).

The restaurant is one of many in the city that caters to those who work downtown, offering weekday-only breakfast and lunch service (though I did see them open in the evening prior to a concert at the Performing Arts Center). Because it’s a self-serve buffet, the wait is never very long so go during the busiest hours to ensure you’re getting the freshest food and the best experience.

There’s not much parking on 6th Street, but that’s OK. You don’t go into the city to visit the Deli; you go to the Deli because you’re in the city.

And while I probably won’t make a special trip downtown just to eat there, I’ll certainly eat there again when I find myself downtown.

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

6th Street Deli
34 N. 6th St
Reading, PA 19601

Breakfast & Brunch Caribbean & Latin American Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe

mi-casa-su-casa

Downtown Reading is probably one of the most underrated food hubs in Berks County.

Penn Street alone offers a wonderful variety of options. Yet for those of us who don’t live or work downtown, making the trip into the city for a meal seems like a lot of work.

Sometimes all it takes is a little push to get us suburbanites to head into town. For me, that push came in the form of a half-price gift certificate for Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe.

While the Peanut Bar may be Penn Street’s most famous eatery, it is far from the only option. Just two doors down from the Reading landmark is a restaurant that has been building a legacy of its own for the better part of the last decade.

A display case just inside the front door of Mi Casa Su Casa shows off the accolades that the restaurant has earned in its first eight years of business. The restaurant’s success has led to a second location, as Mi Casa Su Casa also operates a cafe inside the Goggleworks.

Because of its location, Mi Casa Su Casa is perfect for breakfast and lunch for those working downtown. When we walked in, it was clear that Saturdays were a much slower time. But for a couple people sitting at the counter, we had the dining room to ourselves.

Mi Casa Su Casa’s menu isn’t very big, but it is varied, reflecting both American tastes and the Caribbean heritage of the owners.

Did you ever have one of those days when you just couldn’t make up your mind? That was us on this day. There were just too many delicious-sounding options that we decided to create our own mini-buffet by ordering four sides to split between the two of us.

Our waitress delivered our meal, one plate at a time until our table was no longer visible under a sea of white plates.

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The first item set down in front of us was the yuca fries. Yuca is a distant relative of the potato, a starchy root vegetable native to South America and a staple food for millions of people. The thick-cut yuca were deep fried to a light yellow and served with two options for dipping: mayo ketchup and garlic butter.

Yuca is much starchier than a potato so the fries maintained a lot more substance through the frying process. But after a nice soak in the garlic butter (which I claimed for myself while Julie happily took the house-made mayo ketchup), the fries went down smooth. Though I have to say they were much more filling than I had expected.

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Our rice and beans were next to arrive. When it was presented, the rice was neatly piled on the plate with the beans in a small bowl. The use of red beans (I wrongly assumed black when I read ‘rice and beans’) made it look like a bowl of baked beans, but the flavor was altogether different. There was no brown sugar or bacon. Instead it used mild spices that let the natural flavor of the beans come through.

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A pair of beef empanadas served as a stand-in for our main course. The trip through the fryer made the outer pastry crispy and delicious. I was expecting cheese to come oozing out after my first bite, but was pleasantly surprised that the filling was mostly beef, with just enough cheese to hold it together. It was about as perfect as I could have hoped for.

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Completing our make-shift four-course meal was an order of tostones, fried plantains. Plantains contain more starch than a banana, making them perfect candidates to join the rest of our meal in the deep fryer (only now do I realize how much of our meal was actually fried). They were delicious, and despite having had more than my fair share of food already, I could not stop popping them in my mouth.

After adding on a couple bottles of soda to our final bill, our lunch was still just $17, a bargain for what appeared to be an endless amount of food. The best bargain Mi Casa Su Casa offers, however, may be the free parking in the lot behind the restaurant, which will save you a little money and a lot of hassle.

Our meal at Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe was well-worth the drive downtown. It was a great meal at a great price. You can’t ask for much more than that.

It took a little motivation to get there, but the food is more than enough motivation to go back.

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

Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe
320 Penn St
Reading, PA 19602

Mi Casa Su Casa on Urbanspoon

Caribbean & Latin American Lunch & Dinner Reviews