Headed to NEPA? Keep these hidden gem dining destinations in mind

Headed to NEPA? Keep these hidden gem dining destinations in mind

By Kalena Thomhave

January 25, 2024

With farm-to-table fare in Honesdale, comforting pub grub in Jim Thorpe, and the only sake brewery in the state in Delaware Water Gap, visitors will find a great variety of under the radar restaurants in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Northeastern Pennsylvania is an ideal destination for day and weekend trips no matter your interests. Adventurous folks will find stellar outdoor activities in the Pocono Mountains, while culture vultures will appreciate the slew of charming small towns dotting the region. 

Regardless of what brings you to NEPA, everyone has to eat. So we’re highlighting five “hidden” restaurants that are worth checking out, to make your trip just a little more special. Whether these restaurants are literally hidden from sight or just hidden gems, consider checking them out the next time you’re in NEPA.

Rikasa and Joint 53 – Pittston

Fine dining isn’t only for urban enclaves. Rikasa is a lovely upscale dining experience in the small town of Pittston (considered by some to be the unofficial “Tomato Capital of the World”), located between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. The menu is Italian with a coastal flair — think oysters Rockefeller and Chilean sea bass with risotto. Though Rikasa itself is a hidden gem, the restaurant also has a bar that’s literally hidden inside the building. Joint 53 is Rikasa’s speakeasy, accessible via a password you can get from Rikasa staff. The speakeasy serves a small selection of bar food as well as creative cocktails.

Sango Kura – Delaware Water Gap

Pennsylvania’s only sake brewery is hidden in the heart of the Pocono Mountains. Sango Kura serves a full izakaya (Japanese pub) menu as well as eight house sake options. Sango Kura’s sake — which is alcohol made from fermented rice — varies from sweet and tart to earthy and warm. Some sake options are more traditional, while others add in creative flavors and methods (like the oaky “barrel-aged bourbon” sake). You might want to visit Sango Kura after a hike or some sightseeing in the Pocono Mountains. Then, you can warm up from the cold with some of Sango Kura’s homemade ramen, alongside a sake flight.

A Little Pizza Heaven – Scranton

This family-owned Italian restaurant in Scranton with the punny name is a true delight, but you don’t have to take our word alone for it. Tripadvisor named A Little Pizza Heaven one of the Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Hidden Gems in 2023 — one of only two awardees in all of Pennsylvania. Order some authentic Italian comfort food like lasagna, ravioli, or a classic margherita pizza — it’s in the restaurant’s name, after all. Bonus: A Little Pizza Heaven has an extensive gluten-free menu if you require it.

Native – Honesdale

Honesdale, located within the Pocono Mountains, is a quintessential small town. For instance, its charming main street is lined with unique family-owned restaurants and shops. And befitting Honesdale’s homegrown theme, the restaurant Native sources ingredients from local farmers to craft inventive, seasonal fare. The menu is New American and designed for sharing, so you can try lots of different foods at once. Because the farm-to-table menu is seasonal, expect changes based on what’s available on local farms. Currently, the Native menu features entrees of tamarind glazed salmon and grilled cauliflower, as well as honey nut squash ravioli, roasted winter vegetables, and much more.

Stone Row Pub and Eatery – Jim Thorpe

Jim Thorpe itself is a hidden gem of Pennsylvania, with its historic architecture tucked into the topography of the southern Pocono Mountains. You can think of Stone Row Pub and Eatery, then, as a hidden gem within a hidden gem. Located in a 19th-century building, the restaurant has a charming atmosphere, and the cuisine to match. Rest assured you’ll find something to suit your palate here. The comfort food menu changes frequently, but perhaps you’ll try gourmet macaroni and cheese, samosas, or a craft cocktail. For an up-to-date menu, see Stone Row’s website.   

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