On a previous post I was lightly chastised for eating at Subway while in the Berne Amish settlement.  Why choose fast food with all that good Swiss fare around?

blue gate restaurant shipshewana

The Blue Gate Restaurant and Bakery. Shipshewana, Indiana

It got me thinking about Amish-style eateries.  Truth be told, when I’m in, say Lancaster County, I eat at Amish restaurants like The King Farm and The Riehl Place and Zook’s, and frequent both Weavers’ and Millers’ when visiting Ohio.  At these local joints, the menu is unpredictable, but always tasty, and the price is, well, literally impossible to beat.

But I definitely visit the more conventional places as well.  And there are some good ones out there which will make sure you leave with a happy belly.

What about Amish–do they eat at these restaurants?  Sure.  And one way to tell the better ones is by the number of Amish in the place.  One of the more memorable interviews for my Amish business book was conducted during the busy lunch hour at Mrs. Yoder’s in Mt. Hope, Ohio, where you’ll often see many homegrown and visiting Plain folks.

The winter denizens of Pinecraft, Florida famously set up shop in local feed halls like Troyer’s.  Multiple Lancaster Amish have raved to me about Shady Maple, which I think we can include in this category too.

kumm esse diner myerstown

Come and get it! Lebanon County, PA

Do Amish own these places?  That is less common.  Though you’ll have Amish employees, particularly young girls as waitresses, Amish just haven’t taken a lot of ownership in the restaurant industry.  There are exceptions though.

For instance, a few years back Amish in a Nebraska settlement ran a restaurant in a distant town, requiring them to make a 60-mile one-way trip.  Amish sisters in Arthur Illinois operate Roselen’s Coffee Shop, not quite a restaurant, but with its own drive-thru.  Many Amish operate small sandwich and grilled food stands in markets (tell me if I’ve missed any others).

How do you know it’s an “Amish” place?  You kind of know one when you see one (taste one?), don’t you?  The menu, of course, is the place to start.  Look for hearty fare like chicken and dumplings, corn meal mush, meatloaf, butter noodles, and so on.  And you’ve got to have a wide selection of pies.

amish homestead cafe ethridge

Amish Homestead Cafe. Ethridge, Tennessee

I’m using the term “Amish restaurant” very broadly, and would include eateries advertising themselves as PA Dutch, “Amish-style”, etc.  Of course, the name doesn’t always tell you everything.  And just because it has a buggy in the logo doesn’t mean the food automatically passes muster with the culinary Ordnung.

One of my favorites which I think fits the bill is Boyd and Wurthmann’s in Berlin, Ohio.  For many reasons–the old-timey feel to the place, good prices and selection (had a trail bologna sandwich last time), the Amish-style peanut butter spread complimented by robust, bottomless cups of coffee.  It’s always packed, with a lot of locals–never a bad sign.

How about you–what’s your favorite Amish restaurant?  What makes it good?