The Harrisburg Hotlist – Bricco’s Guide to the Best Restaurants in Town
Thriving with trendy hotspots, Harrisburg is hopping, from downtown to midtown and everywhere in between. With the emergence of sustainable, farm-to-table fare and a renewed focus on craft beer and comfort food, this Pennsylvania town is in the midst of a major dining transformation.
Sure, Harrisburg has yet to join the ranks of world’s great food capitals, but this state capital has a lot more to offer than just the American Civil War Museum or its proximity to Hershey, PA.
Here at Bricco, since we’re passionate about food and our local community, we’ve put together a Harrisburg restaurant guide featuring some of our favorite spots. So, whether you’re just passing through or you’re a local looking for some fresh inspiration, we’ve rounded up a list of Instagram-worthy culinary destinations that might just become your new favorite dining spots.
Harrisburg’s Coolest Coffee Shops
Full disclosure, Ciao Bakery is owned by Bricco, so, naturally, we’re partial to this little spot. Ciao is the perfect place to pop by on the way to work to grab a coffee alongside your favorite pastry (or, who are we kidding—you’ll definitely want a few). But we feel it’s so much more than just a coffee shop. With European-style artisan breads, espresso drinks, signature Italian loaves—this place does it all. Try cookies, petits fours, or choose from a rotating cast of small bites and delectable slices of cake. Aside from the excellent lineup of treats both sweet and savory, Ciao’s got you covered for lunch—whether it’s a fresh, deli-made sandwich for one, or a catered lunch for the whole office, call ahead for pick up or delivery.
St. Thomas Roasters
This quaint little coffee shop in historic Linglestown Village is the perfect spot to sit and chat with an old friend, get some work done or settle in with a good read. St. Thomas Roasters offers great coffee and a nice selection of soups, salads and freshly baked treats. Roasted right there on site, St. Thomas’ coffee is exceptional, always fresh and unpretentious. Located in a big, old house with a patio, you can’t beat the friendly, small town vibes and spot-on ambiance — not to mention there’s free Wi-Fi since you’ll definitely end up staying for a while. St. Thomas Roasters makes a strong case for avoiding the usual chain coffee houses with its comfy chairs, homemade treats and easy-going ambiance. St. Thomas is truly a gem, proving convenience isn’t always everything.
Little Amps Coffee Roasters
With high-quality coffee, vinyl records and a down-to-earth vibe, Little Amps Coffee is the epitome of the cool coffeehouse without the bad attitude that sometimes comes along with the territory. With two Harrisburg locations, one uptown and one downtown, the folks at Little Amps don’t mess around when it comes to coffee — each cup, from the lightest roasts to the very darkest, is brewed to absolute perfection. All Little Amps’ beans are roasted in-house for that hot-off-the-press freshness that can’t be beat by Starbucks and its ilk. Aside from the premium brew, Little Amps is well-stocked with a lineup of baked goods both sweet and savory from local bakery Short and Sweet. And if that doesn’t whet your whistle, feel free to bring in your own food from home or from neighboring restaurants. Not to worry if you don’t have time to pop in for a quick cup. Little Amps has coffee subscriptions available, so you can get your coffee fix delivered right to your doorstep.
Cornerstone Coffee House
This cozy coffeehouse has it all: specialty espresso drinks, light café fare and a consistent stream of live music. Located in Harrisburg-adjacent Camp Hill, Cornerstone boasts an extensive array of coffee and loose-leaf teas, as well as a wide selection of fresh and fruity smoothies, shakes and heaping scoops of ice cream. If you’re in the mood for something on the savory side, try the soup of the day, the Havarti and Fig Baguette or one of their “sustaining salads” like the Southwest Quinoa Bowl or the Super Protein Salad to keep you powered up all day long. Aside from their café offerings, Cornerstone has ambience on lockdown. Bustling with live music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and an art gallery featuring new exhibitions every month, Cornerstone Coffee House is a proud supporter of the Harrisburg arts scene — not to mention a great place for an evening out on a budget.
The Best Breakfasts Around
Tomato Pie Café
Tomato Pie Café is big on savory flavors, seasonal produce and the kind of comfort foods that make you feel like you’re right at home. The rustic, chic décor is probably quite a bit more stylish than your actual home, complete with a gorgeous espresso bar made from dark wood, exposed bricks and heaping dose of flair. Of course, Tomato Pie Café’s eponymous dish, the tomato pie, is an absolute must-try, featuring perfectly seasoned tomatoes baked inside the kind of flaky crust that dreams are made of and topped with a generous portion of savory cheeses. For more traditional breakfast fare, there are plenty of delightful egg dishes, like the Mediterranean and Tomato Pie flippers — aka omelets — or the Fennel Sausage and Squash hash. All egg dishes come with a side of roasted rosemary potatoes or a parmesan grit cake. Though we recommend hitting up Tomato Pie Café for breakfast, it’s also a great place for lunch, dinner or a quick caffeine boost.
Crave & Co.
Organic coffee, vegan-friendly and housed in a former barber shop, Crave & Co.’s exposed brick and natural lighting give the restaurant a bright, modern feel that echoes the simple, healthy cuisine they serve. Start the day off with fresh, satisfying fare like a vegan breakfast burrito or the Breakfast Strata. Crave & Co. brands itself as “globally inspired vegan and vegetarian food,” standing out against the sea of meat-centric dishes frequently found in the greater-Harrisburg area. This local hotspot is perfect for those on the go, with whole grain muffins, sprouted wheat bagels and an egg, tomato and cheese sandwich worlds apart from those ubiquitous McMuffins. If you’ve got time to sit and stay for a while, Crave & Co. has breakfast burritos stuffed with healthy, hearty sweet potatoes and black beans. While the menu is a bit on the shorter side, the items are expertly prepared and the perfect choice for those looking to start the day on the right foot.
The Filling Station
Granted, it’s little off the beaten path, but well worth the visit nonetheless. The Filling Station is the donut destination in Central Pennsylvania and well-worth the drive for both locals and those passing through town in search of classic, American diner food. The station boasts a hefty lineup of donuts in every flavor you can imagine, from the classic plain, powdered or cinnamon cake donut to more creative options like Sour Cream Glaze, Devil’s Food or Oreo. Despite being a dessert lover’s paradise, fans of savory breakfast standbys have plenty of options too. The Filling Station has a whole menu stuffed to the brim with traditional breakfast fare, from the hearty baked oatmeal, Belgian waffles and bacon, sausage and eggs, to the enormous Gut Buster, a meat-filled breakfast sandwich that’s not exactly for the faint of heart — or stomach. Whether you’re into sweet, savory or anything breakfast-y, there’s no way you’ll be leaving The Filling Station on an empty tank.
Great Lunchtime Spots
Low-key, rustic and situated in the bottom of an old town house, it might not look like much, but Jackson House remains a local fav for its no-frills sandwiches. No frills — and heck, no website — it’s the type of place that never really changes, only accepting cash and remaining refreshingly low-tech in a world where there’s an app for everything. The throwback vibe is well worth it. Serving up a bit of Americana on every paper plate, this Harrisburg institution has it all — from New York-style deli sandwiches to a variety of South Philly cheesesteaks. But the award-winning burgers are the real standouts: ½ lb. lean beef patties are char-broiled to perfection and served atop a toasted roll. It’s a nice change of pace compared to the increasingly complex burgers trending as of late — you know, buttered beyond repair with everything but the kitchen sink mashed between two buns. Sometimes it’s just about the meat.
Representing a renaissance of sorts in Harrisburg, this hip midtown restaurant is located in the old Stokes Millwork building, featuring reclaimed wood decor and bricks repurposed from an 1830s farmhouse. The Millworks serves up local, sustainable grub in the form of classic comfort food against a bohemian backdrop. The menu features a rotating cast of veggies, fish and meat, as well as a selection of wood-fired personal pizzas and gourmet burgers. An open-air beer garden is nestled in the center of the space, offering diners views of the restaurant, art galleries and studios, as they kick back and sip on local craft beers.
Unassuming and not particularly fancy, Pho Kim’s is a no-frills, no-nonsense kind of place. But this humble restaurant brings an authentic taste of Vietnam to Harrisburg, with its menu jam-packed with everything from beef ball pho to salad rolls with rich and flavorful peanut sauce and vermicelli noodles garnished with egg rolls. The perfect spot for dinner on a budget, where entrees run about $7-10 a pop. You won’t see any wilted greens, browned bean sprouts or dingy limes here. Conveniently located right next door to Kim’s Oriental Market, Pho Kim always serves up the freshest produce alongside its big bowls of pho.
Mellow Minded Café
The low-key Mellow Minded Café is decorated with natural wood beams, Edison bulbs and recycled skids, creating the perfect shelter from the stressful storm of daily life. The menu is full of healthy, satisfying fare like homemade soups, salads and sandwiches, as well as a full lineup of energizing fruit smoothies. Cheerfully plated dishes boast fresh veggies and local seasonal fare, while family-style tables and cushy arm chairs give the space that “home-away-from-home” feel. The menu provides a broad array of offerings, satisfying the gamut of dietary restrictions. Adding to the living room feel, the café allows BYOB — so you can bring along your favorite craft brew or wine for an affordable night out, enjoying live music and works from local artists.
El Sol Mexican Restaurant
This warm and colorful destination is a nice break from the cold and gray PA winters. Fresh, authentic Mexican food is served up in a kitschy yet cool atmosphere. El Sol is open for brunch, lunch and dinner, offering burritos, tacos and even three different types of ceviche. Award-winning margaritas and the biggest tequila selection in the town guarantee a fun night out, whether you’re on a date or getting a large group together to celebrate.
1700 Degrees Steakhouse
2015 OpenTable Diners’ Award winner, 1700 Degrees Steakhouse specializes in fine meats of all stripes—steaks and seafood, in particular. Located in the Harrisburg Hilton, this contemporary steakhouse boasts an impressive selection of over 900 different wines and a warm family-style approach to dining. 1700 Degrees is a more modern take on the American steakhouse. Gone are the days of the dark, hyper-masculine steakhouse, complete with deer heads mounted on the wall and the lingering scent of cigar smoke. This brightly-lit space features plenty of natural lighting and elegant details like leather and cowhide accents. Diners make their selections from iPads—dry aged prime, Midwest beef, New York strip steak or a seafood sampler, all at the touch of a screen. This warm inviting steakhouse sets the bar much higher than the usual hotel restaurant—its intimate vibe makes 1700 Degrees a definite must-try, whether you live in Harrisburg, or are just passing through.
All you can eat spaghetti every Wednesday? Say no more! Towering plates of noodles and red sauce are refilled at the ready, perfect for those cold nights when you just want to snuggle in with some carbs and throw back a couple beers. And while not exactly a dieter’s paradise, the Eagle Hotel does have some less pasta-centric fare, like the Chicken Chesapeake, which features lump crabmeat atop a huge chicken breast, the crab-cake sandwich or the buffalo chicken salad. Not to mention the chicken wings — a full page of the menu is dedicated to an extensive wing lineup featuring every flavor from classic buffalo to Hawaiian BBQ. Unpretentious and easy-going, the Eagle Hotel is the perfect place to kick back with a group of friends and unwind with some classic comfort foods.
Ad Lib Craft Kitchen & Bar
Also located in the Harrisburg Hilton, right next to the 1700 steakhouse, Ad Lib Kitchen has that rustic, yet modern ambiance that’s so on trend right now—complete with communal tables. With a well-rounded menu featuring everything from flatbreads to mac & cheese and even fried-bacon, this is comfort food reimagined. Ad Lib is the perfect spot for groups of friends, as you’ll definitely want to share and sample a little bit of everything. Try fun cocktails, like the Smoke and Mirrors, a riff on the classic Manhattan, or the Snap Crackle Pop, a vodka and milk-based drink reminiscent of, you guessed it, a bowl of Rice Krispies. Whatever you end up getting, you’re sure to be back soon for more creative concoctions.
Okay, so we might be just a little bit biased, but there’s no way any Harrisburg restaurant guide is complete without mentioning Bricco. There’s nowhere better for a night out in downtown Harrisburg, and the combination of upscale Mediterranean and Italian cuisines guarantees there’s something for everyone, with a broad range of menu options and unique flavors that definitely don’t disappoint. The warm, romantic environment decorated in Tuscan oranges, reds and golds is the perfect place to bring a date, whether it’s the first time meeting or a 20th anniversary celebration. From pizza and prime rib to pasta and Pacific Northwest oysters, Bricco really does it all — and does it all really well.
In keeping with today’s shift toward local, sustainable ingredients, we’re proud participants of the Pennsylvania preferred program, which supports local farmers and helps stimulate the greater-Harrisburg economy. As a result of our commitment to freshness, each dish is made from great food you don’t have to feel guilty for gobbling up. Bricco’s menu changes based on what is in season, showcasing meats and produce at the height of freshness from nearby farms. Each dish is designed around seasonal items, like the Calabrian braised short ribs, horseradish butter crust, roasted garlic potato puree, sautéed rapini and demi-glace, the Striped bass, poached asparagus, king oyster mushrooms and truffle vinaigrette or the rotating cast of sustainable fish. Make a reservation at Bricco today and taste for yourself why we’re consistently named one of Harrisburg’s best restaurants by culinary experts and local foodies alike.
Category: Harrisburg Life