Tag Archives: Restaurant

Lunch at DJ’s Taste of the 50’s

I’ve always been obsessed with the 50’s.  I’m not sure why, but judging from all the nostalgia for that time period dating back to the airing of Happy Days in the 70’s I know I’m not alone in that department.  For me, I think it has more to do with the design aesthetic of that decade.  I love shiny chrome and neon lights. I can’t get enough of either, so when I heard that DJ’s Taste of the 50’s was opening close to where I work, it didn’t take me long to check it out during my lunch hour.

Entering the cozy neon-trimmed restaurant, you immediately realize that DJ’s went all out in giving you that fifties feel.  From how the servers are dressed (some were even decked out in poodle skirts straight out of the sock-hop in Grease) to the glass straw containers lining the counter, to the checkerboard floor pattern, every visual detail was taken care of.

My server talked me into the Fired-Up Knuckle Burger, a bacon cheeseburger with the works, as well as some onion rings and a soda.  She told me that DJ’s customers have been saying  the burgers were the, “best in the county.”  After finishing mine, I don’t think I could disagree.  My burger was juicy, full of flavor and packed with toppings.

A lot of places with a theme don’t always deliver quality in all the areas they need to.  They either get the theme down pat and fall down in the food department or vice versa.  DJ’s delivered the goods on both counts.

The retro feel in full tilt at DJ's Taste of the 50's

Cafe Chocolate in Lititz

One of the reasons behind my family’s move back to the Lancaster area (after a 7-year stint in New England) was the desire of my wife and I to resume our date night. After 5 years of being attached at the hip to our two young boys, we needed some help getting our groove back. We love those lads dearly, but really how much of ANYONE can you take day-in-day-out for 5 straight years?

You have to think even Queen Elizabeth turns to the Duke of Edinburgh every once in awhile and says, “Hey baby, I need some ‘me’ time.” Among the many great things Lancaster County has to offer my family are the 4 grandparents from which my wife and I generously plunder time and childcare resources.

So what do we do with our newly found once-a-month freedom… sweet sweet freedom? We usually try to patronize a locally-owned restaurant followed by a trip to the Café Chocolate in Lititz, PA for dessert. If we’re lucky, the owner, Selina, will be there to chat us up about what’s going on with the Café and inform us on pretty much anything we ever needed to know about chocolate.

Real chocolate.

Not to be mistaken with the stuff you find next to the shrink-wrapped Mango-Peppermint Altoids in the checkout aisle at the grocery store. This stuff is the real deal. I’m not going to try to pass along all the chocolate-related info Selina has given us over the course of our visits there, but let’s just say if your only chocolate experience comes from eating the stuff that comes out of shiny plastic wrappers, you’re in for a pleasant surprise at Café Chocolate.

Chocolate Dipped Pizelle

As one could well guess, chocolate is sprinkled liberally throughout the menu of lunch/dinner, breakfast, drink and dessert offerings to great effect. On our visits to the cafe, we have been impressed with not only the desserts we ordered, but our tasty beverage choices as well. I’ve had a mocha frapuccino there as well as an iced hot chocolate (my favorite so far), and both were excellent.

On our last visit, we recruited another couple so we could try their molten 60% Cocoa dark chocolate fondue. As the menu states, “A feast for 2, plenty for 4.” Which I took more as a personal self-esteem preservation recommendation than a serving size recommendation, because I could have eaten the whole pot myself.  It was that good.

Cubano Sandwich

The café itself is located in beautiful downtown Lititz, a nice little shopping district full of unique little shops and eateries that is literally less than a mile from my house. Selina has the place decked out in quirky art from around the world and is more than happy to have you come in and play a few rounds of Scrabble with your significant other while you enjoy the offerings.

I highly recommend it if you need to get your chocolate fix on. You do, unfortunately, have to provide your own childcare.  Our parents are all booked up for the foreseeable future.

At the Counter

The Lancaster Brewing Company

For a significant portion of my childhood, my parents owned two local pizza joints.  Owning their own restaurants had many drawbacks for Mom and Dad; the long hours, dealing with staff and the myriad of financial hurdles owners of small businesses have to attend to just to name a few.  That’s not to say there weren’t perks.  While unlimited free pizza may not have done wonders for my complexion, it did afford me a limited amount of social cache with other local teenagers.

Free food non-withstanding, I saw the toll owning your own restaurant took on my parents.   Years later, my wife would ask me if I missed the pizza shop, and I would tell her that I never wanted to be a part of the restaurant-owner lifestyle again.

Unless of course I had money to burn. Then suddenly the idea became a lot more appealing.

As a wealthy restaurant benefactor, I could sit around and dine with locals, joke around with the chef and tinker endlessly with the menu.  Now that sounded like a lot of fun.  In this scenario The restaurant I would imagine in my head was a friendly local pub in a renovated turn of the century building with a long bar accented with brass fixtures, high backed booths made of dark woods and of course me, the gregarious welcoming owner getting fatter by the day.

“So what does this have to do with Lancaster County per se?” you may be asking yourself, and for good reason having just trudged through at least two paragraphs that have nothing to do with Pennsylvania Dutch Country in the slightest.  Well, I had a photography meetup this past weekend to shoot the Lancaster Science Factory.  Afterward, we all got together for lunch and a few beers at the nearby Lancaster Brewing Company.  In my “wealthy restaurant benefactor scenario” the LBC would fit the bill as the restaurant perfectly.  Although they don’t have any high-backed booths, the atmosphere inside the old brick building is truly Lancaster County.  The history of the building can be traced back to the 1880’s.  At various times it was used as a tobacco warehouse, a clearing house for scrap metal and even housed enemy prisoners during World War II.  There’s a great bar area accented with a copper countertop, and the general seating area surrounds the gigantic silver vats used in the brewing process, spanning two floors of the building giving the Brewery a comfortable roomy feel.

Of course the main attraction is some very tasty beer brewed right on the premises, the most popular of which seem to be the Amish Four Grain Pale Ale and the Hop Hog IPA.  Although a lot of what LBC has to offer is available at beer distributors and restaurants throughout the County, many customers still come in to get their bottles directly from the source.

The lunch turned out to be terrific.  They set our group up in a back room that worked out great for photography-talk.  I had a glass of the Strawberry Wheat beer along with their Caesar Salad (pictured above).  Everyone at the meetup seemed pretty satisfied with their grub.  Most folks ordered varieties on the LBC’s Classic Angus Burger which looked plentiful and smelled fantastic. I even noticed someone with a tasty looking Beer-Soaked Brat, and coming from someone who lives to soak, par-broil and grill brats in the summertime, that’s a decent compliment.

Free Lancaster County Travel Planning Guide

Get our free Getaway Guide

View the Guide online or have it mailed to you

Get It

Receive our Email Newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest news, events, deals & more

Sign Up