Harrisburg’s restaurant renaissance is alive and well. Like most cities, Harrisburg is dogged by its share of bad press and misperceptions. Luckily, the continued growth, diversity and innovation in its restaurant scene makes it a diamond in the rough for famished tourists, discerning foodies and lucky locals alike.
To help the hungry find their way to the best of the best, we’ve narrowed it down to 10 culinary categories. With the help of Yelp, we whittled the 900 plus contenders down to the number one choices for each category. If you’re looking for a guaranteed great meal, this is where you should start:
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Mexican: La Noche Cantina
Harrisburg is a diverse city, a fact that is obvious from the variety of ethnic and fusion restaurants to be found city-wide. The number one Mexican restaurant, La Noche Cantina, is one such fusion restaurant.
La Noche Cantina fuses traditional Mexican botanas with other Latin influences to make one-of-a-kind entrees that are sure to have you scraping your plate for every last morsel.
Italian: Gabriella Italian Ristorante
Gabriella’s owner, Sicily native Pietro Carcioppolo, credits his restaurant’s success to his customers. “I did the cooking, but they spread the word,” he told PennLive back in 2012.
Of course, for his restaurant to land on this list, that word was all good. Gabriella’s boasts a large — but not overwhelming — menu of traditional Italian dishes, friendly service and family atmosphere.
Chinese: Meiji’s Vietnamese and Chinese Cuisine
Harrisburg’s best Chinese restaurant was once better known as Rose’s Vietnamese Cuisine. Unanticipated health concerns for the previous owner prompted its transformation into Meiji Asian Cuisine. By keeping what worked — delicious Vietnamese dishes, great service and budget-friendly prices — and adding a large selection of Chinese cuisine to the menu, Meiji’s holds strong as one of the best area restaurants.
American (New): Home 231
Home 231’s delicious food owes much of its flavor and appeal to the dedicated local farmers who supply its main ingredients. This New American restaurant is dedicated to offering dishes made from — and highlighting — local produce, dairy, cheese and meat.
Tucked in a quiet street near the Capitol, Home 231 serves up a variety of options on their dinner, lunch and brunch menus that celebrate local, seasonal ingredients.
American (Traditional): Dodge City Steakhouse
Run by second-generation restaurateur Chef Dougie, Dodge City Steakhouse has been a successful staple of the Harrisburg food scene since 1980.
Three core food commitments — fresh, never frozen USDA Angus reserve beef along with natural, not artificial ingredients and freshly prepared seafood — keep the restaurant operating at the highest of standards, while Chef Dougie’s enthusiasm for new ingredients keeps the menu fresh.
Seafood: Harbour House Crabs
This is a bit of a unique entry for this list as Harbour House Crabs is technically an online seafood retailer.
Of course, that’s good news for seafood lovers. It means you don’t have to live in Harrisburg to enjoy freshly prepared — and shipped the same day — Maryland Blue Crab or other seafood favorites.
Breakfast & Brunch: Tomato Pie Café
A meal at the Tomato Pie Cafe makes good on their slogan, “A little food. A little coffee. A lot of charm.” A full espresso bar, urban ambiance and “artful” menu supplemented by monthly specials work in tandem to ensure a unique, delicious and relaxing experience.
And, yes, you simply have to try the signature tomato pie.
Pizza: Wild Tomato Pizzeria
With so many pizza joints — 236 to be exact — you have to do a lot to stand out, and that’s exactly what Wild Tomato Pizzeria does.
Wild Tomato fans can brag about almost any aspect of the restaurant, including:
- Gluten free and vegan options, as well as an overall commitment to giving good care and great service to patrons with food allergies.
- Their rejection of frozen or artificial ingredients and commitment to local produce.
- Real tenderloin steak in all steak and cheese hot subs.
- Catering, charity work and a head-to-toe delicious menu.
And, of course, three words: Neapolitan cheesy disks.
Cafe: Yellow Bird Café
Yellow Bird Café is evolving into a cornerstone of the new businesses populating Harrisburg’s Midtown neighborhood.
Quiet and simple, Yellow Bird offers a thoughtful and fresh take on traditional cafe offerings from paninis to wraps and pastries to beverages. Patrons also have the chance to enjoy local artwork as they sip One Good Woman coffee.
Burgers: Jackson House
Jackson House has all the flavor and magic you would expect from a hole-in-the-wall burger joint. It’s the kind of place that seems to exist out of time, slinging out — but never rushing — delicious burger after delicious burger and making liars out of the greasy chains that offer empty promises of the best burger you’ll ever eat.
Loyal customers know the truth: Jackson House has the best burgers you’ll ever eat. Hands down. Bar none.
With Harrisburg’s diverse offerings, this top ten list barely acknowledges the tip of the iceberg. There are countless other, equally amazing Cuban, Thai, Indian and Mediterranean restaurants in the downtown and surrounding areas. After you’ve made it through the restaurants above, take charge of your foodie explorations and check out what else this capital city has to offer.