Last summer, dining in Harrisburg was limited to whatever outdoor space a restaurant could quickly cobble together.
Tables were set up in parking lots, sidewalks, even on downtown streets.
Widespread al fresco dining will continue this summer, a rare positive offshoot of the pandemic. In fact, many restaurants will offer both inside and outside options, whether you prefer your eating to be open-air or air-conditioned.
Inside the Hilton Harrisburg lives Ad Lib Craft Kitchen & Bar and 1700 Degrees Steakhouse, two local establishments that welcome guests with an updated al fresco menu.
“We have expanded our offerings towards pre-pandemic times as restrictions have eased and look forward to providing our guests with a large selection of delicious food and beverage options,” said Anthony Bianco, executive chef.
Both restaurants continue to offer old favorites, but are revitalizing their menus with summer ingredients such as green garlic scapes, morels, English peas, gooseberries and asparagus. Seasonal featured items include vichyssoise (a cream of leek and potato soup), fava bean mousse, porcini tortellini, chicken consommé, Faroe Island salmon and monkfish.
As some food connoisseurs remain wary to travel due to the pandemic, Harrisburg restaurants also provide a cultural escape—just in your own backyard.
TASTE, a rotating tasting room concept, brings the Florida Keys to you. Float away at Taste Key West, where you can bask in steamed seafood and tropical drinks. With over 20 margarita flavors, assorted rum drinks, and of course, Key Lime pie, you’re transported to Florida’s southernmost point.
Take a breezy trip to the Caribbean at Los Tres Cubanos, known for their authentic Cuban cuisine near the river in Shipoke. With outdoor seating and homemade daily dishes, they are excited to welcome guests back.
For first-time visitors looking for a menu recommendation, owner Pat Manjon shares a well-known, traditional dish to try.
“Our most sought-after Cuban dish is masita de puerco—tender pork chunks lightly fried to perfection, sautéed with garlic and marinated onions in our signature mojo sauce, served with your choice of a side,” Manjon said.
Just don’t forget about dessert.
“And, to end the meal, guests can try our signature tres leches—a three-layered milk cake,” Manjon said.
From there, take your taste buds east to Asia at Café Fresco-Center City. Spice up your palate with this feng-shui inspired metropolitan retreat. Executive Chef Scott Robinson is freshening up their menu this season with new medleys.
“Scott is a self-described purist, priding himself on creating dishes using organic, garden-fresh ingredients,” said owner Brian Fertenbaugh. “He brings with him experience in five-star restaurants on both the east and west coasts.”
As all dining constraints have been lifted, Café Fresco-Center City and Level 2 are open on Friday and Saturday nights and welcome patrons for easy bar seating. Happy hours have also resumed just in time for after-work drinks on Monday through Friday. Sample some of their Asian-inspired finger foods on discount such as spicy shrimp bao bun, karaage and mushroom pot stickers.
If European dishes are more your style, Rubicon and Mangia Qui pair French ambiance with indulgent cuisine. As a joint venture, they are offering specialty dinner selections including pesce di giorno—Chef Qui’s fresh fish of the day.
Want to stay in for the night? Rubicon even offers delivery on Wednesday and Thursday evenings beginning at 5 p.m. Visit their website to find out more.
On Saturday nights starting at 3:30 p.m., Harrisburg is once again sectioning off its main streets for outdoor dining. These streets include 2nd Street (Market to Pine), State Street (from Church to N. 2nd), North Street (from Susquehanna to 3rd Street) and Conoy Street.
Many restaurants also offer Sunday brunch, including Ad Lib Craft Kitchen & Bar, which features a “Sunday Funday” experience with live entertainment, complimentary mimosas, a discounted raw bar, a bloody Mary bar, and their specialty, Ad Lib monkey bread.
“Our Sunday brunch offerings are the perfect cure to a long weekend,” Chef Bianco said.
As local dining experiences offer sought-after destinations this summer, Harrisburg invites foodies to dine around the world—without leaving the city.
To learn more about “Saturday Nights in the City,” visit www.harrisburgdid.com.
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