A Culinary Adventure in Western PA….

A couple of weekends ago I headed West to Camp Hill, PA (across the river from Harrisburg) to attend the annual MagicMeets. Yes, nerd-alert, it’s a Disney convention. This was my third year going and since it’s about 15 minutes from Hershey we end up there as well. Now, part of my plan was to eat something somewhat decent this weekend. Sadly, we ate twice last year at Perkins and I was sooo not going to repeat that this year. So I headed over to the Chowhound boards and hit up the Pennsylvania board asking for places in Harrisburg. Only one response, which I recall was sending me to a chain and I wasn’t having that. After doing my own research on the board I decided that I was having dinner at a tapas place in Harrisburg. More on that later…

Off to Hershey that Friday morning. It’s official. I detest Hershey Park. Hershey Park is good for two types of people – those that appreciate crazy thrill rides and those still in diapers (due to abundance of kiddie rides). Those of us who are potty-trained and cannot handle upside-down coasters are left with not much else to do but wait for the rest of your group as they defy gravity. So that’s issue number one…lack of moderate thrill rides or wimpy rides for wimps like me. Oh, how could I forget the disgusting log flume though? As we get in it, we all step into several inches of dirty water which then proceeds to splash us every time we go up or down a hill. I tell the ride attendant as we get off and NOW it’s an issue. Whatever. Obviously, it ain’t freakin Disney.

My second issue with Hershey is how it’s laid out – all hills, mostly UP (not fun when it’s 96 degrees out), black pavement (so nice when absorbing the sun), and lack of trees (for shade). Genius the way this park was built. And lastly, my third issue is dining. This is the second year I’ve attempted to eat in the park. Disgusting. And extremely expensive.

I did hear about this Candy Explosion dessert at Tudor Square restaurant in the park- some sort of Hershey candy with fudge and cake and goodness. So we went there, sat down, got the menus and ordered one. Only to be told they were out. Geez, it was only like 4pm people?! Okay, off to Hershey World where we did get some weird chocolate thing with cake and chocolate and whip cream. It may look good but it was just blah….

Onto to better things…or not…That’s right I ended up eating dinner at Perkins. Kill me now. It was one of the worst burgers I’ve had. And then to make matters worse I end up there the next morning for another mediocre meal. As God as my witness…I will never eat at a Perkins again.

After the fun-filled day of Disneyana, I was soooooo ready to hit up that tapas bar in Harrisburg. Oh, how fulfilling when research pays off….After driving around for about fifteen minutes looking for parking we descended upon the lovely restaurant, Suba…Tapas Bar. Suba is located upstairs from Mania Qui, a small and lovely Italian restaurant. As I made my way upstairs I was feeling good. This place was charming – brick walls, beautiful light fixtures and decor, small, and live music just about to go on. If I lived in the area, this would sooo be my hangout. I started out with a Mango Mojito, my drink of choice when hitting up my favorite local restaurant, Trinity in Keyport. This was good but just didn’t compare to Trinity. But enough about the booze! I’m here for the food!!!

We ordered multiple tapas. We started with the Queso, $7 (assorted artisan cheeses including Manchego which I heart) and Aceitunas alignadas, $4 (assorted house marinated olives). What a perfect start and they complimented each other so well. Next up was Alcahota Frita, $5 (crisy fried artichoke with a dill horseradish sauce). This was very good but very small as they only included one as you can see from pic. We also had the Pa amb tomaquet, $5 (Catalan inspired grilled bread rubbed with garlic, extra virgin olive oil and tomato). This was good, not fabulous. We also tried the Bunuelo, $8 (piquillo pepper stuffed with crab meat, tempura batter fried, and with chili, cashew, and shrimp sauce). This was pretty good, sauce wasn’t too spicy.

The main draw here for me was the Tacos, $12 for 2. We tried two kinds, the Suba Taco (fried tilapia, salsa rosa, avocado, mango cilantro salsa, shredded cabbage on warm flour tortilla), which was tasty but paled in comparison to the other taco – the El Ranchero. Damn this was good. So good, we ordered two servings of it. The El Ranchero is slow cooked beef, horseradish and chive sauce, buttermilk battered onion rings in warm flour tortilla. It was that beef. Holy moly. It was awesome. I’d go back there just for that. Right now. That’s right, I’d leave NJ and drive the 3 hours to Harrisburg for that damn taco.I really loved this place. Now it wasn’t cheap because we ordered quite a few tapas between the three of us, but everyone agreed, we hit the jackpot with Subas.

Sadly, my food fortune ran out the next morning. Since I decided there was no way I was having breakfast at Perkins, I was determined to get something good. Now, those of you lucky folks that have Waffle House in your state, consider yourself fortunate. In New Jersey, there are zero. Now I’ve only been to Waffle House while visiting the World, but I recalled really liking it. And Pennsylvania has a ton of them. Since we were leaving the Camp Hill area and heading back towards Hershey to go to Hershey Gardens, I found one on the way there. But it wasn’t. Google said it was and there was NO Waffle House in this random town we pulled into. There was a Bob Evans and a diner, both with lines out the door. Oh hell no, I’m hungry. I say let’s drive into Hershey. Well, there’s not much there either. We hit up Hotel Hershey, go to their sit-down restaurant (as their Sunday brunch required men to wear jackets) and promptly leave there. It’s 11am and they hand us lunch menus. I believe it was something like $14 for a burger. No thanks. I WANT BREAKFAST. We then drive back the way we came, try another Bob Evans, again, line out the door. A glimmer of hope….a Panera across the street. I’m not a huge fan of Panera but I knew I could get a semi-decent bagel and coffee there. So that’s where we ended up, although to make my food journey more complete, the first item I wanted, an egg sandwich, was not served after 11am. What the H-E-double hockey sticks?! So a bagel it was.

The food gods were just not shining on me this weekend. They only graced me for a brief moment that Saturday night at the tapas bar. It was definitely an adventure though. Just remember, do your research before traveling if you want good eats!



  1. Melissa L. said

    Your photos are lookin’ good! We need to head back to this Tapas place, YUM. Or find a good one around here, I’ve never been! I agree about Hersey, too, it’s becoming way overrated. You’ve also made me crave a Mango Mojito 😉

  2. foodiedani said

    Yes, tapas are limited in our area. I know there’s a few though…

    Mango Mojitos…mmmmm


  3. Melissa L. said

    I wonder where we can get those 😉

  4. Oh man…if only I’d known ahead of time that you were going out there! I went to college in Carlisle, which is 15-30 minutes west of Harrisburg. I could have given you SO many good recommendations. If you ever go back that way, definitely let me know.

    I’m glad to hear about that tapas place in Harrisburg. I don’t get out that way often, but it’s nice to know there’s a good place to stop along the way if I find myself in that neck of the woods. All the tapas certainly look appetizing!

  5. sambycat said

    Mmmmmmm Perkins!

  6. I hate it when you cannot find a decent place to eat. I have found a good 24-hour breakfast joint always comes in handy

  7. foodiedani said

    Sambycat- No comment 🙂

    Ray – I’m determined next year to find the damn Waffle House.


  8. […] public links >> fudge A Culinary Adventure in Western PA…. Saved by jpirkle on Sat 18-10-2008 WOW what a weekend! – Its a long one lol =0) Saved by nathy on […]

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