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From Butter Cheese to Whoopie Pies, Try These Treats in Pennsylvania Amish Country

Food + Drink
by Carly Caramanna Mar 9, 2022

When I tell friends I am planning yet another trip to Amish country in rural Pennsylvania, I get surprised looks. For decades, my family has made the annual pilgrimage to the rolling hills just over an hour from Philadelphia each May. On the drive, we trade the skyscrapers and crowded highways for farmlands and one lane roads. The mess of traffic quickly gives way to horse-drawn carriages and adults riding non-electric scooters. On our yearly weekend getaway, the destination is always the same: Lancaster County, home to most of Pennsylvania Amish country.

Lancaster County is home to America’s oldest Amish settlement. Pennsylvania Amish country feels frozen in time yet draws in millions of tourists every year.  That’s because here you can catch a glimpse of a lifestyle that exists both simultaneously and in such stark contrast to our own. Free of most modern technologies, the Amish are mostly farmers, and agriculture their primary business. Every day but Sundays — their day of rest — a booming tourism industry comes alive with people who flock to this region of Pennsylvania to sample the many treats prepared by Amish butchers, bakers, and brewers.

The birthplace of the whoopie pie is known for their fresh dairy, meat products, and authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cooking using locally sourced ingredients. With moderate weather and plenty of nearby accommodations, spring and summer happen to be the perfect times of year to visit. You will find some welcomed peacefulness alongside some incredible food. Here are six places to try the best foods in Pennsylvania Amish country.

Julius Sturgis Pretzel Factory

The true origins of the pretzel may lie in Old-world Europe, but the birthplace of the hard pretzel happens to be in Lititz, Pennsylvania. Julius Sturgis founded the first commercial pretzel bakery in the United States in 1861 and it is still in operation to this day. Housed in a historic stone home on the town’s small main street, the shop offers visitors an intimate glimpse into the history of the beloved snack.

A small retail shop welcomes guests in, but the real draw is an interactive tour through the factory. Original factory pieces are on display from the days long before mass production. The tour is led by a knowledgeable and passionate staff that culminates in guests learning firsthand how to twist a pretzel.  On the way out, I can never resist grabbing a large bag full of their signature hard pretzels as well as freshly baked on-site soft pretzels.

Where: 219 East Main St., Lititz, PA, 17543

Miller’s Smorgasbord

Miller’s Smorgasbord is Lancaster’s first buffet restaurant and a quintessential dining experience. The Amish restaurant has been in operation for over 90 years by the Miller family and continues to serve their classic fried chicken. The aforementioned is still the entrée of choice but other protein options include baked chicken, tender roast beef, and turkey. The traditional smorgasbord, including its many food stations, is the preferred way to dine but they also offer an a la carte menu.

With a surprising air of elegance, Miller’s Smorgasbord has successfully changed my opinion on buffet style meals. The dining room looks out onto rolling green hills dotted with cattle. After finishing the meal off with local ice cream, I love exploring the complex that houses Miller’s. Here, you can find a gift shop, a quilt shop, and a locally made food shop that serves baked goods, jellies, and jams. Reservations are an absolute must at this Amish institution.

Where: 2811 Lincoln Highway East, Ronks, PA 17572

Busy Bee’s Farm Market

It would be all too easy to drive right past Busy Bee’s Farm Market. After all, it is located on a family’s farm in a converted shed. Adorned with floral lawn accents crafted by the Fisher family, this roadside gem operates only from spring to fall. Crafts and handmade goods are for sale, but the main draw is their selection of seasonal fruits and produce harvested on-site.

The stand is open every day but Sunday, but I love visiting on Saturdays when they offer a small selection of ready to eat options, including house-made potato chips and Pennsylvania Dutch style soft pretzels. These are made fresh and hand rolled in butter resulting in that melt-in-your-mouth quality making theirs the best in the area.

Where: 3378 Old Philadelphia Pike, Ronks, PA 17572

Stoltzfus Meats & Deli

For more than 60 years, Stoltzfus Meats & Deli has sold locally raised meats, baked goods, and fresh cheeses. This family-run Dutch deli and market is home to a large retail space. Here, you will find aisle after aisle of cheeses, including my favorite creamy Amish butter cheese. Their fresh meat snack sticks are made right in Lancaster County just down the road at the family’s production facility. The shop also sells a number of baked goods, but the fresh whoopie pies are a staple of the area. A large fresh meat counter is the butcher shop of your dreams: fresh and cured sliced meats and prime cuts are all on display. It’s also home to the best scrapple in town — a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty that is made from cornmeal and buckwheat flour mixed with pork.

Attached to the market and deli, you’ll find their restaurant, Amos’ Place. Once you make it past the inevitable lines that appear during the breakfast and lunch rush, you can dine alongside locals at this bustling counter service spot. Their soups and sandwiches make for the best lunch in town. The vibe is unassuming and there’s just a handful of indoor and outdoor seating available.

Where: 14 Center Street, Intercourse, PA 17535

Kitchen Kettle Village

On any given day you will find a packed parking lot full of family vehicles and motorcoaches at Kitchen Kettle Village. This quaint, walkable village is home to dozens of authentic Pennsylvania Dutch shops highlighting local Amish artisans and products. Their shops are complimented by both full-service and quick dining options, including an outpost of Lapp Valley Farms Ice Cream.

Specialty food shops are what keep bringing me back to the property, including an olive oil taproom and cheese shop. The working canning kitchen is lined with hundreds of jarred products made in-house, including jams, pickles and sauces. Because it is a working facility, you can watch the staff craft that day’s products, but be mindful that photography is not allowed. Samples of the products are available before purchasing. If you want an overarching taste of what Lancaster has to offer, this is a must-visit.

Where: 3529 Old Philadelphia Pike, Intercourse, PA 17534

Rumspringa Brewing Company

Craft brews are starting to pop up in Amish Country as the area slowly ushers in the modern times. As tourism continues to steadily grow, so does the number of options to appease its diverse clientele — including alcohol. Rumspringa Brewing Company is nestled on the second floor of a barn-like structure that houses Mount Hope Wines. The name is a play on the Amish tradition of Rumspringa where Amish youth are given a grace period to experience life outside of their community.

The roomy taproom showcases the area’s first nano-brewery. Both year-round and specialty craft beers are offered, including the mainstay favorite, Harvest Gold. The brewery is small but there’s an ample amount of seating and the vibe is local, but welcoming. Sampling the taps is welcomed before settling on a choice, but I’ll always go with a flight. Ciders and a selection of wines from Mount Hope Winery downstairs are also served.

Where: 3174 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bird in Hand, PA 17505, second floor

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