Whether you’re working remotely from home or back at the office, these places offer quick, interesting takeout that will perk up your lunch break.
Valley Bistro, 4520 Valley Road., Enola, 717-695-7673
Jacqueline Ferentinos has created menu items that will literally make your mouth water. You’ll find simmered short rib in the house specialty grilled cheese sandwich ($11.95) consisting of rich flavors of simmered meat, caramelized onions, bbq sauce and peppery bites of arugula.
Zeroday Brewing Co. and La Catrina, 925 N. Third St., Harrisburg, 717-745-6218
Not only is the beer top-notch but — surprise, surprise — the food is excellent. Add La Catrina, the name of the taproom at this downtown novelty brew pub stashed away on Third Street in Harrisburg for some of the best lunchtime takeout. The modern Mexican fare is light and creative, using plenty of herbs, spices and fresh ingredients.
For starters, get an order of their signature, freshly-made guacamole ($12) spiked with jalapeño and cooled with tomatillos. The guac comes with house-made tortilla chips. Burnt orange and roasted cauliflower tacos ($13) are enriched by smoked cashew salsa. Pickled onion slices and cilantro perk up these unusually good tacos.
Smoke & Pickles, 30 S. Market Street, Mechanicsburg, 717-795-4852
“I don’t seek out specific breeds of cattle or hogs but rather how the farm treats the animals. No grain, no GMO, no antibiotics, these animals are well taken care of,” said Chef David T. Mills owner/chef. “If I can smell the animals or hear the pigs squealing and cows mooing, they are stressed and unhappy.”
Mills go through one or two hogs per week from North Mountain Pastures, The Smoker ($15.95) features freshly smoked and pulled moist clumps of earthy pork with shout out of acid from vinegar sweet BBQ sauce and crunchy slaw.
Khana Indian Bistro, 709 Fishburn Road, Hershey. 717-534-9615
This small, family-owned cafe, set back along Fishburn Road, features a la carte Indian/Nepali fare. At lunchtime, medical employees from nearby Penn State Milton Hershey Medical Center stop in for a quick bite. Nepali offerings include chicken “chowmean” ($13.99), a satisfying, generous, garlicky noodle dish consisting of tender chicken pieces, colorful vegetables and hint of ginger. The freshly baked garlicky naan comes in handy to help mop up such favorites as tender vegetable meatballs (Malai Kofta) made with potato and Indian cheese in creamy cashew sauce, or chicken tikka masala in sumptuous, onion-laced gravy. Saucy corn saag, a spinach laced, bountiful corn dish is an excellent side dish. Go to their website to order quick online takeout and delivery.
Tomato Pie Cafe, 3950 Tecport Dr., Harrisburg, 717-836-7051
Come work remotely at this mellow cafe with its jazz background music and quiet-cool vibe. “Take two” is one of the best deals here. Choose two: half a sandwich, half salad, soup for $10.50. the TPC grilled cheese is a sumptuous panini style warm Vermont cheddar and smoked Gouda sandwich and kale Cobb salad is the perfect complement showered in bacon, butternut squash, feta and hard-boiled egg and dressed up with olio lemon dressing. The namesake, signature Fisher family, tomato pie ($7.95) is a house favorite with its bottom layer of well seasoned tomatoes and cheese enriched, topping and crisp crust. Service can be on the slow side. Order curbside or takeout if you’re in a hurry.
Cafe Fresco, 3352 Paxton St., Harrisburg, 717-564-6000
This tiny shop across the street from the Harrisburg Mall always has a line at lunchtime. They hands down make the best sandwiches around. By all means, call in your order like everyone else dashing in and paying for prepared paper bag lunches. Sturdy ciabatta roll holds together the mouth-watering grilled chicken avocado club ($11) with marinated chicken breast, freshly sliced avocado, crisp slices of bacon and tomato, melting Swiss cheese and herbaceous mayonnaise.
Theo’s Bar & Grille, 3315 Hartzdale Drive, Camp Hill, 717-737-6965
Close to Capital City Mall, grab a bite at this long-running establishment before or after shopping. Still hungry for breakfast? Omelets ($9.95 plus home fries and toast) are offered for lunch from mushroom and Swiss to spinach and feta or the classic Western. The American menu has lofty, well-priced main course salads such as the large Greek salad ($10) made with all of the traditional ingredients — blocks of Feta cheese, ring of red onion, tomato wedges, Kalamata olives and Greek dressing. They are also known for their spinach salad ($11) made with lots of bacon, mushrooms and a hard boiled egg. The old-fashioned sweet and sour bacon dressing is a must. For an additional six dollars, have salmon or chicken stretched out over top. The broiled golden brown crab cakes sandwich ($14) or Theo Burger ($14), an 8-ounce prime steak patty stacked with bacon, caramelized sautéed onions and Swiss cheese, are both hot items here.
Jasmine Asian Cuisine, 777 Middletown Road, Hummelstown, 717-256-9932 or 717-256-9379)
Food preparation doesn’t usually take longer than 15 minutes here, and extra sauces, chopsticks, plasticware and folded takeout menus are conveniently laid out on the table by the front door. There are upright booth seats and a few tables in the unadorned room. The cramped, exposed kitchen and workspace at the back end of the room tackle three different cuisines: Chinese, Thai and Japanese, and more than 100 menu items. Some items are made exceptionally well, some are not. Under the appetizer heading, steamed, squishy boiled dumplings (8 for $6.50) are some of the juiciest, scallion scented pork filled pouches you’ll find anywhere. They come with garlicky ginger soy sauce but they hardly need the extra moisture. Prices are affordable.
The Sandwich Man, 5640 Allentown Blvd., Harrisburg, 717-540-1818
If anyone can make a quick delicious sub or sandwich, The Sandwich Man can. A team of spatula-armed staff smack on condiments and assemble fresh meats and cheeses in little to no wait time. Short lines disappear as eat in and take out orders materialize quickly. Hot and cold subs are huge and made well here. Although sometimes it’s nice to order a sandwich that is easy to pick up like the streamlined veggie melt. This sandwich caters to the vegetarian palate with its crunchy layers of cucumber, tomato, onion, hard-boiled egg slices, lettuce and melted American cheese but I like it with some additional crisp bacon slapped between the folds of toasted wheat bread.
Lisa’s Cafe, 600 E. Main St., Palmyra, 717-832-9855
Hot and cold subs are made with in-house baked rolls. The overstuffed chicken salad sub, ($9), is a delicious blend of chicken, hard-boiled egg, mayo and thinly sliced celery, packed into homemade, soft-fresh roll with tomato slices, lettuce and sliced red onion. The crab cakes are a house special. Broiled, golden brown crab cake ($12) between the flaky folds of a croissant makes for a meltingly delicious bite. Choose the bread, condiments, meats and cheeses and build your own custom deli sandwich ($10).
Simply Greek, 23 Briarcrest Square, Hershey, 717-298-6668
Even before the pandemic, Simply Greek was set up to succeed as a takeout and delivery business. There is very limited seating at this small, clandestine eatery located at Briarcrest square, but Grub Hub, Uber Eats and Door Dash are offered. The authentic Greek fare is fabulously flavorful and addicting. Keep the delivery apps readily available on your phone.
The hands down most popular item is the signature shrimp pita ($10.99), slathered with your choice of housemade sauce: tzatziki, creamy or spicy feta and Harissa yogurt sauce. You’ll want to add an order of hand-cut French fries to the interior of this soft, chewy pita package already stuffed with oversized shrimp, tomato and onion slices and fresh parsley. And you’ll be back for classic Greek dinners like the 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.
Sandwich, 3499 Market St., Hampden Township, 717-603-3992
When Doug and Debra Barry, owners of the Pizza Grille chain, launched their pilot eatery, Sandwich, they wanted to keep it as simple as possible. “Everywhere you go, including the grocery store, there are so many choices. It’s annoying. We felt this is the way people are leaning,” said Doug Barry.
Sandwich is direct and to the point. There are no preservatives or nitrates in any of the ingredients, including the meats and even the fresh cut French fries ($2). As Barry said, “Sliced potatoes all have preservatives, so we rinse, dry and cut the potatoes fresh every day.” Melt-in-your-mouth, crisply fried fries are served with salt or Old bay seasoning, but for fifty cents extra get the pungent truffle dipping sauce.
Sandwich focuses primarily on sandwiches ($7.50-$10.50) categorized by meat or vegetarian. And there are protein plates (also categorized by meat or shrimp salad) served with one side ($4.50-$5.75), one or two daily soups including chicken corn ($4.50), three lofty salads ($5.25-$9.75) with house-made vinaigrettes and farm-show-thick milkshakes ($4), including a caffeine-stoked shake made with half ice cream and half cold brew coffee. Meals can be delivered through Door Dash.