These 23 restaurants can cure your Hersheypark hunger: Mimi’s picks
Anyone driving through downtown Hershey lately will notice the change. Hersheypark is open and the town is packed with people on the streets, pouring out of restaurants and shops. Struggling to keep up with the masses, the local short-staffed restaurants and bars are doing their best to keep up. Words of advice: Be patient while eating in or call ahead for takeout and delivery.
Here are 23 restaurants worth checking out the next time you’re heading to or from the amusement park:
Fenicci’s of Hershey. 102 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-533-7159
Downtown Hershey’s Chocolate Avenue has grown remarkably since the DeAngelis (and later the Fenice family) opened this original freestanding restaurant in 1935. Phil Guarno and family are currently at the helm, keeping generational favorites and classic Italian dishes on the menu, as well as inspirational, creative recipes such as the wild mushroom sauté appetizer ($10) a blend of sliced exotic mushrooms, strips of prosciutto, Gorgonzola crumbles napped in garlic butter. Tender, flavorful DeAngelis meatballs are prominent throughout the menu surfacing as an ingredient in the house specialty lasagna ($17 for this mammoth piece), atop baked penne ($15), over choice of pasta, on a meat lover’s pizza ($18) hidden in Stromboli ($14)or nestled in DA’s hot meatball sub ($10). An ethereal piece of homemade tiramisu will blow you away.
Side note, Philip Arthur’s Cafe (108 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-520-1719) is next door at the back end of the parking lot, and is also owned by the Guarno family. Stop in for a casual bite. They make pizzas and creative sandwiches as well as Hershey’s ice cream based treats.
Chocolate Avenue Grill, 114 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-835-0888
Modern and inviting, the stunning bar area at Chocolate Avenue Grill opens up the entire front half of the restaurant. A side patio collects the who’s who of Hershey with quiet pets at their feet and colorful cocktails in hand.
Diverse starters range from lettuce wraps with nests of ginger and garlic scented ground pork, homemade all beef meatballs, hummus trio, to calamari and spanakopita. The Smokehouse burger ($15) has triple prime, 8-ounce patties in oversized buns, smeared with subtly sweet BBQ sauce and jammed with applewood smoked bacon.
For entrees, go with steak and cake ($27), 5-ounce petit tender steak is paired with the restaurant’s signature lump crab cake and grain mustard cream sauce or Mrs. D’s lasagna ($19) has made-in-house lasagna noodles slathered in meat sauce, ricotta and mozzarella cheese. The silky smooth peanut butter pie has always been a dessert winner.
- READ MORE: Hershey restaurant emerges from pandemic with updated look, refreshed menu: Mimi’s Picks
The Bear’s Den at Hershey Lodge & Convention Center, 325 University Drive, Hershey. 717-533-3311
There’s room for all sorts of sports fans on the mock-arena floor plan of this restaurant. Purple, black and gold jerseys abound on the “ice” and up on a massive 9′X 12′ video screen, but if football isn’t your top team pick, switch channels on the TV insets at individual booths.
The house-made beer battered onion rings ($10) are smooth coated and hot to the touch. Pair them with the signature beef burgers ($14.25-$17.50), especially the mushroom-Swiss burger, toppling with caramelized onions, sautéed shrooms and melted cheese. Please note: portions are huge and shareable.
What if…Hershey. 845 E. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-533-5858
“If we ever needed confirmation of us being a neighborhood bar and restaurant, we had it during the pandemic. We have the best customers (friends really). We didn’t expect for such tragic times to accumulate into such an outpouring of love and support,” said Joanna Lemesis ,who owns and operates the restaurant with husband Michael McQuaid. Don’t miss this hidden gem.
Iron Hill Restaurant & Brewery, 101 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey Towne Square, 717-312-5164
The uplifting, gregarious bar and restaurant are so novel and inviting that it is impossible to wander in and find a seat without reservations on weekends. The beers are good, especially the ever-popular Lap Bar IPA, but this place is also known to have decent pub fare, such as the robust Philly cheesesteak egg rolls ($12). They are packed with tender slices of meat and moistened by caramelized onions and melted American cheese. If you order the Triple Chocolate Hill ($9) dessert, 75 cents will be donated to the local charity Cocoa Packs, which supplements food for those students in need on weekends, holidays and summers.
Primanti Brothers, 131 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-500-5334
Centrally located on Chocolate Avenue, Primanti Brothers is causing a mega-buzz amongst the locals. Whether you’re a fan of the signature French fry stacked sandwiches or not, this place has a rockstar following and everyone seems to have an opinion about the wings, pizza, flatbread, salads and certainly the double-handheld, messy sandwiches.
The recipe for success is rather simple, big portions abound. Crazy big Bavarian pretzels dangling from stainless holders and colossal thick-cut and freshly dipped onion rings appear at surrounding tables and the gigantic sandwiches are selling.
Jersey Mike’s Subs, Hershey Towne Square, 151 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-298-6652
The tuna fish #10 (regular about 7 inches, or giant about 15 inches) prepared in house is exceptionally good but messy. Don’t try and eat this sub in the car. The loosely bound tuna mixture has a satisfying crunch from chopped bites of celery adding texture to soft folds of mayonnaise, spices and tuna topped with lettuce, tomato and onions.
Au Bon Lieu, Rear 110 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-4074
Au Bon Lieu is unique. It just serves crepes but remains a popular attraction for teenagers, families, and groups of college kids and grandparents.
The piece de resistance is a coconut and dark chocolate filled crepe for $4.50. Fine European chocolate is grated right over the crepe and moist threads of sugary coconut are sprinkled over the top. Additional chocolate shavings and piped rosettes of whipped cream top off the crepe before it’s ready to eat. Crepes are as thin as Parisian scarves and as tooth- tender as thinly sliced jambon.
Dafnos Italian Grille, 1190 W. Chocolate Ave., Derry Twp., 717-533-8999
For over 20 years, this family owned and operated cozy venue has been the go-to eatery for well made traditional Italian dishes and some Greek specialties. The cashier station sits between one room lined with oversized booths and another room facing the back wall with a view of pizzas and strombolis being slipped in and out of an exposed brick and copper lid oven.
Three staples that will please the group are thick, hefty cuts of cinnamon scented, fluffy béchamel capped pastitcio, spinach, portabella mushroom, spinach and asparagus filled vegetable lasagna and cheese stuffed ravioli with house made Pomodoro sauce.
Freshido, 300 Market St., #157-159, Harrisburg, 717-603-3501; 6449 Carlisle Pike, Silver Spring Township, 717-790-2119; Hershey Towne Square, 151 West Chocolate Avenue, #142 717-500-5335
Freshido is the latest uber-modern, healthy-focused storefront to hit Harrisburg, Hershey and — as recently as Feb. 5th — Silver Spring Township. Quick, cafeteria style service allows customers to customize eat in or take out gorgeous arranged poke bowls or good for the body, burritos. Poke refers to the Hawaiian word that means “to cut or cut crosswise as in fresh fish or vegetables” fresh, sushi and salad bar topped quinoa or rice bowls. Vats of fresh vegetables, meats and sushi are lined up opposite the glass. Choose from tofu, seaweed, raw marinated fish, chicken, pork and beef or ask for one of the specials if you can’t decide.
First Watch, 151 W. Chocolate Ave., Suite 143, Hershey, 717-500-2230
Everything is fresh and made in the scratch kitchen. One of the most popular items from the lengthy, I-don’t-know-what-I want menu is the million dollar bacon. Four slices of hardwood smoked bacon have a sticky topping of brown sugar, a hint of cayenne and a maple syrup drizzle. Another house favorite is the chickichanga, a whipped egg concoction consisting of hormone-free chicken breast, green chilies, cheeses, onions and fresh avocado rolled into a flour tortilla and served with Vera Cruz sauce and sour cream. If the children are well behaved, reward them with brownies or cookies at the checkout counter.
Houlihan’s, 27 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-534-3110
This Hershey hot spot is always crowded. Overflow guests can sometimes find a spot around the bar or outside on the deck overlooking busy Chocolate Avenue. Consistently on the menu and always super popular is the sirloin steak and wedge salad ($15.95) toppled with smoky bacon, spicy pecans, asparagus, gorgonzola, scallions, red beets and warm polenta croutons.
Smoked Bar & Grill, 1201 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-298-7900
This smoke-scented eatery with flaming logo is best known for mouth-watering, house smoked barbecue especially bourbon barrel smoked wings, homemade BBQ sauces, seafood, tacos and an incredible, teetering Avocado Smoked turkey BLT ($14).
Simply Greek, 23 Briarcrest Square, Hershey, 717-298-6668
The authentic Greek fare here is fabulously flavorful and addictive. The hands-down, most popular is the signature shrimp pita ($10.99), slathered with your choice of house-made sauce, tzatziki, creamy or spicy feta and Harissa yogurt sauce. You’ll want to add an order of hand-cut French fries ($1) to the interior of this pita package already stuffed with oversized shrimp, tomato and onion slices and fresh parsley. And you’ll be back for classic Greek dinners such as macaroni and ground beef layered pastitsio ($13.99), eggplant layered moussaka ($13.99) and spanakopita ($10.99). House-made nut and honey laced baklava and baklava cheesecake are just some of the mouth-watering desserts.
Duck Donuts, 261 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-298-6096
Duck Donuts is open 7 days a week and ready for customers as early as 6:30 a.m. Watch through the glass divider as fresh from the fryer donuts ($1.85/donut, half dozen are $8.95, dozen are $15.95) are covered in a glossy glaze. Sprinkles, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, peanuts and even beloved bacon are some of the toppings that finish off these colorful creations. You can turn your donuts into a breakfast meal with the addition of a sausage patty, egg and cheese. Add crisply fried bacon and drizzle of sweet topping to finish it off.
Piazza Sorrento, 16 Briarcrest Square, Hershey, 717-835-1919
Well-known for its exceptional varied hand tossed pizzas and overstuffed subs, this “little taste of Italy” has specialty dishes that customers rave about, too. Bet you can’t finish Anna Maria’s lasagna ($20), filled with multiple layers of meat and ricotta. Bolognese meat sauce cascades over the top. The grilled gnocchi ($24) is also a signature dish consisting of sweet sausage, peas, tangy sun-dried tomatoes in cream sauce. Make reservations early, the dining room fills up quickly any day of the week.
Khana Indian Buffet, 709 Fishburn Road, Hershey, (717)-534-9615
Family owned and operated, this bistro offers a fabulously spiced and priced lunch buffet ($9.99) or a la carte Indian/Nepali fare. The garlicky naan (similar in size and flatness to pita pockets) are excellent in helping mop up such fare as the tender vegetable meatballs (Malai Kofta) made with potato and Indian cheese in a creamy cashew sauce, the chicken tikka masala in sumptuous, onion-laced gravy and the saucy corn saag, a spinach laced, bountiful corn dish.
Devon Seafood + Steak, 27 W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-508-5460
Handcrafted cocktails, martinis and shareable appetizers are among the reasons to be gather around the high tables in the bar area. Catch up on kids and family while delving into luscious, overstuffed New England-style lobster rolls, perfectly crispy calamari and sautéed shrimp scampi. Devon classic entrees include hefty portioned 18 ounce bone-in prime ribeye and delectable seafood mixed grill, an assortment of fork tender salmon, scallops, shrimp and jumbo lump crab cake. Yukon gold whipped potatoes and pencil thin asparagus come alongside.
Troegs, 200 East Hersheypark Dr., Hershey, 717-534-1297
This grandiose brewery doesn’t just cater to beer tastebuds, there’s also lots of good stuff on the locally focused, artisanal menu. Start by sharing a humongous ($5.50) portion of house favorite rosemary salted, brown buttered popcorn. Other must-haves are three cheese grilled cheese sandwich on sourdough ($13), smoked brisket sandwich ($17) and local duck breast entree with house fermented plum sauce and scallion pancake ($16).
Parkside Hotel, 3 East Derry Road, Hershey, 717-534-1774
Renovations have softened and refined this once smoky biker’s bar. The small eatery with a people-watching porch is known for the signature house-smoked pit beef sandwiches ($7.50) made on Kaiser rolls with slaps of horseradish sauce; the seared, pit pork ($7.50); the ½-pound black Angus burgers ($8-$9.50); and the twin Coney Island hot dogs ($6) with pile of fries. Don’t forget to start with a pound of the steamed clams ($6) served with melted butter.
The Mill, 810 Old W. Chocolate Ave., Hershey, 717-256-9965
Keeping the integrity of the former Curry Feed Mill intact, the rooms here feel cozy and comfortable wrapped in rustic elements of exposed hard woods and stacked stone. Fresh is the kitchen’s focus, whether the dish harkens to Vietnamese, Lancaster County or French influences.
A must-try are perfectly cooked seared salmon ($28) napped with nutty brown butter and served with Lyonnaise potatoes and broccolini, low and slowly cooked brisket, braised cabbage and signature Mill mac n cheese ($28.5) and of course, the infamous Mill burger ($14.50), packed into brioche roll with plenty of crisply fried bacon, aged cheddar and swipe of barbecue sauce.
Jo-Jo’s Pizza Hershey, 1150 Cocoa Ave., Hershey, 717-534-2533
This family-owned business set up shop more than a decade ago. It’s known for its thin crust pizzas chock full of toppings and freshly made sub sandwiches, but don’t ignore the Italian entrees on the menu. Try the eggplant parmesan ($13.50), chicken parmesan ($13), or meatballs and sauce and stuffed shells ($12). Summer fresh ingredients go into the sub rolls, specifically the marinated veggie sub ($8.75). This awesome item includes grilled slices of balsamic splashed zucchini, eggplant and tomato.
Harvest, 100 Hotel Road, Hershey, 844-330-1711
Located opposite the Hotel Hershey, be sure to dive into the Hershey’s cocoa barbecued ribs ($29), bacon wrapped Mountain trout ($34), Bow creek farm burger ($16) or summer garlic beef tenderloin skewers ($30). For the vegetarian, the brown rice black bean veggie burger ($15) and garden pappardelle ($26) tossed with wild garlic, English peas, ricotta and zucchini offer flavorful meat alternatives.