From Guy Fieri spotlighting an undiscovered Indonesian gem in Philadelphia, to Robert Irvine trying to resuscitate a struggling family restaurant in Centre County, a number of dining spots across the commonwealth have been featured on the Food Network.
Ever been enjoying a casual weeknight watching the Food Network when all of the sudden, a nearby Pennsylvania restaurant is featured? We love seeing popular Pa. restaurants get well-deserved exposure for their incredible food, atmosphere, history, or whatever makes a restaurant stand out. And we love visiting them!
Because the Food Network is heavy on food travel TV shows, there are actually dozens of Pa. restaurants that have appeared on the channel, via shows like “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” “Outrageous Food,” or “Best Thing I Ever Ate.”
We’ve put together a list of 10 of these restaurants, including both well-known eateries as well as some hidden gems. And while the large majority of Food Network-famous Pa. restaurants are in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, we’ve tried showcasing eateries outside of those urban areas that have been featured on the Food Network. After all, one might refer to many places in our state as, in the words of Food Network star Guy Fieri, “Flavortown.”
Bolete – Bethlehem
Bolete is an upscale farm-to-table restaurant with a seasonal menu. Named after a specialty mushroom found locally in the woods of Pennsylvania, the restaurant makes most of its meals with Pa. ingredients. On “Best Thing I Ever Ate,” Bolete makes an appearance because it’s a favorite of Chef Aaron McCargo Jr. Even though the Bolete menu has plenty of fancier and meat-centered options, McCargo singled out the roasted cauliflower and wild mushroom soup, calling it “a masterpiece.”
Big Jim’s – Pittsburgh
Big Jim’s is located in “The Run” in Pittsburgh, an isolated valley that is named for the Four Mile Run stream. The restaurant is much more likely to attract locals than anyone else simply because The Run is hard to get to and many in Pittsburgh don’t even know about it. But hundreds of thousands of people learned of Big Jim’s when Guy Fieri visited it as for “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” This divey neighborhood was highlighted for its Italian Wedding Soup, calzones, and giant parmesan sandwich served on half a loaf of garlic bread. Still, even for the ridiculous portions, the food is pretty inexpensive.
Pat’s King of Steaks, Geno’s Steaks – Philadelphia
With cheesesteaks being perhaps the most well-known Pa. food outside of Pennsylvania, it’s no wonder that Philly cheesesteak restaurants frequently grace the small screen. Instead of zeroing in on one cheesesteak, let’s talk about two that were popular enough to catch the eyes of Food Network chefs.
Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks are located across the street from each other in South Philly. What’s also famous, besides their food, is the two restaurants’ rivalry. As such, they appeared on the debut episode of “Food Feuds,” which pitted the two restaurants against each other to actually crown a winner. Spoiler alert: Pat’s won.
Primanti Bros. – Pittsburgh
The Pittsburgh institution, Primanti Bros. sandwich shop, has been featured on television numerous times for its well-known sandwiches piled high with coleslaw and french fries. But the restaurant recently appeared on the Food Network a few years back courtesy of Rachael Ray, who chose one of the sandwiches for an episode of “Best Thing I Ever Ate,” a show where celebrity chefs talk about some of their most memorable meals. Ray named a Primanti’s sandwich with capicola and egg as her favorite breakfast.
Hardena – Philadelphia
Hardena is a small restaurant in South Philadelphia serving traditional Indonesian food made from family recipes. “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” host Guy Fieri tried the tempeh goreng (a vegetarian fritter) as well as fried chicken made with Indonesian flavors. More creative Indonesian fare makes up the rest of the menu at Hardena, which should be considered a “dive” in the best possible way—low prices, friendly staff, and an unassuming atmosphere.
The Church Brew Works – Pittsburgh
One of the coolest things The Church Brew Works has going for it, even outside its delicious food, is the fact that it’s a brewery and restaurant inside of an old church. And when you’re eating inside the restaurant, the stained-glass windows and repurposed pews make it very evident that you’re eating inside of an old church. While the host of “Outrageous Food” was served rattlesnake pierogies, that dish is currently not on the menu: you can, however, still order traditional potato pierogies.
Mamma Lucrezia’s – Bellefonte
Chef Robert Irvine traveled to Bellefonte in 2014 for “Restaurant: Impossible.” His mission: try to revitalize a struggling Italian eatery known as Mamma Lucrezia’s. Irvine loved the pizza, but not the fact that the restaurant was run by two sisters with an intense sibling rivalry—a rivalry that threatened to take the restaurant down with it. Fortunately, nine years later, Mamma Lucrezia’s is thriving and you can take a visit to try some of the pizza yourself.
Vedge – Philadelphia
Chef Rich Landau competed on an episode of the competitive cooking show “Chopped” using only vegan ingredients—and he won! Landau‘s restaurant, Vedge, serves nationally acclaimed and vegetable-focused food in Philadelphia’s City Center. At this upscale restaurant, you can order inventive cocktails as well as plant-based creations like fondue made out of rutabaga or mushrooms seared like steaks.
Dodge City Steakhouse – Harrisburg
Dodge City Steakhouse made an appearance on “Restaurant: Impossible” in 2011, during the second season of the popular show that revamps struggling restaurants. Though Dodge City had been doing well for its first two decades, the owners revealed on the show that they hadn’t turned a profit in the previous five years. Enter Robert Irvine. With a new sign, interior updates, and a new (and smaller) menu, Dodge City Steakhouse has been open and serving its signature steaks for the past decade.
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