Food is an important part of Pennsylvania culture—from cheesesteaks in Philadelphia to French fries on salads in Pittsburgh. Lancaster goes beyond its PA Dutch heritage filled with smorgasbords and pickled vegetables to fully embrace upscale dining. Here are seven restaurants defining Lancaster’s fine dining scene.
Lancaster’s claims to fame are many. The Red Rose City was home to a US President (James Buchanan), it was the revolutionary capitol of the colonies for one day, and the largest contingency of Old Order Amish call it home. The latter fact brings millions of visitors to PA Dutch Country every year. Part of the attraction fixates on the culinary influence of the Amish and Mennonite communities dotting the fertile countryside. Old world techniques and farm fresh flavors infuse the plates of small eateries and lavish dining rooms. Many locals have embraced an ongoing restaurant renaissance reshaping the fine dining scene, from traditional to fusion.
Bistro Barberet & Bakery
The closest Lancaster comes to a celebrity chef is Cedric Barberet who opened his namesake establishment, Bistro Barberet & Bakery, in 2015 after stints at Mar-a-Lago Club, Le Bec-Fin, and Buddakan. Barberet is a member of the Academie Culinaire de France; was named one of the Top 10 pastry chefs in the US; and was knighted Chevalier de l’Ordre du Merite Agricole. His most recent accolade is the title of Chopped Sweets champion after winning the Neapolitan episode of the Food Network television show. Barberet teams up with his wife, Estelle, to create gastronomic artwork in the form of cakes, tarts, and macarons on display in the storefront bakery. The subtle and refined bistro is in the back and Barberet’s showstopping dish from Chopped Sweets—a floating island on creme anglaise drizzled with two types of caramel and dotted with freeze dried raspberries—is always on the dinner menu. Desserts only accentuate a menu featuring French classics like quenelle de brochet, salmon Niçoise, and bouillabaisse du vieux port (weekends only).
26 E King St
The French influence in Downtown Lancaster is also felt at Citronnelle. Owner Susan Louie’s global influences bring Asian and African flair to refined dining in an intimate setting. Because of limited seating and a stellar reputation, reservations are a necessity at this restaurant where dessert is ordered first—the signature soufflé (with essence of lemongrass, coconut, and kaffir lime creme anglaise) takes approximately a half an hour to create. Fully embracing the slow food principle, dining at Citronnelle is an experience where dishes resemble artwork. Culinary influences blur the norm with dishes like catfish Cha Ca Ha’Noi and New Zealand lamb Bolognese with handmade Parisian gnocchi. Dining at Citronelle is BYOB with a small corkage fee.
110 W Orange St
John J Jeffries
Located in the stylish and modern Lancaster Arts Hotel, John J. Jeffries is home to chefs Sean Cavanaugh and Mike Carson who fully embrace eco-friendly dining. The emphasis at JJJ is hyper-local with the restaurant even owning its own beef farm in rural Pennsylvania. Knowing the source of their products allows the chefs to confidently create dishes like The Truth, a grass-fed dry aged beef tartare served with seasonal accoutrements. A solid selection of beer and wine is predominantly local, and the cocktail program is built around local ingredients as well. Al fresco dining along Lancaster’s Linear Park is limited but popular during fair weather.
300 Harrisburg Ave
After moving from College Row, Lancaster’s premiere seafood dining experience is now located on the edge of the city limits. The reputation chef Carl Vitale built over the years followed him to Gibraltar where the Italian American chef highlights the fruits of the sea year-round. Bright and spacious dining is the setting for old world dishes with a modern flair where an extravagant wine list draws international merit. The pièce de résistance at Gibraltar is the tiered shellfish platter serving anywhere from one to five guests and offering a selection of oysters, shrimp, clams, blue crab, lobsters and mussels.
488 Royer Dr #101
Osteria Avanti fills the shadows of the award-winning restaurants before it at The Inn at Leola Village. Focused on the cuisine of the Italian countryside Osteria Avanti pairs its creations with a 450+ offering wine list. The classic décor highlighted by copper-topped tables and gold, stucco walls offers an air of intimacy and class in a restaurant where travelers mix with local businesspeople. The menu converts basic ideas into inspired creations like penne served with goat cheese sourced from a local farm, wild mushrooms, and dark chocolate from nearby Lititz, PA. The focus is the ordinary—fish, steak, pasta—made extraordinarily.
38 Deborah Dr, Leola
The Log Cabin
Also outside of the city limits is Lancaster’s dining destination for celebratory meals, The Log Cabin. Nearly hidden in the Pennsylvania woods, this restaurant has been a Lancaster County tradition since 1929. Recently renovated and reappointed, The Log Cabin is now home to chef Steven Painter who apprenticed at the Greenbrier Resort under the auspice of master chef Hartmut Handke and former white house chef Walter Sheib. Painter’s influence on the Log Cabin menu places an emphasis on dry aged steaks and reflects his personal love of oysters. The standout shared plate is the Surf & Turf consisting of four Wagyu beef sliders with smoked onions and bacon horseradish cheddar on brioche rolls served with lobster salad and wonton shells.
11 Lehoy Forest Dr, Leola
The latest restaurant to enter Lancaster’s fine dining scene is Amorette. Located in a recently repurposed warehouse in downtown Lancaster, Amorette reignited the buzz for fine dining among city residents. Built to rival the Michelin-starred dining experiences of New York City, the restaurant offers prix fixe, multi-course tasting menus with a mix of American and French influences. The refined, contemporary cuisine can also be ordered a la carte or ordered from the lounge menu. The lounge offers a less formal setting for those looking to experience Amorette. The most adventurous can enjoy a blind tasting menu at the eight-seat chef’s table.
401 N Prince St