As part of the first edition of "Matt vs. Food," I wanted to highlight three of my favorite places to eat throughout Harrisburg. Therefore, I chose one breakfast (Anna Rose Bakery), one lunch (The Jackson House), and one dinner spot (Alvaro Bread and Pastry). In reality, for a guy, like me, who loves food as much as I do, it was hard work to limit my choices to three. Below, you'll find information and a short blurb on the three restaurants/cafes featured in the "Live & Local" segment, as well as numerous "Honorable Mention" locations for you to check out the next time you're in the Capital City.
ANNA ROSE BAKERY
Address: 205 Walnut Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101
Hours: M-F, 7a-5p
Phone: (717) 236-3149
Since opening in June, Downtown Harrisburg's newest cafe is supplying the city and state's workforce with its sweet tooth needs. Head baker Dana Snyder concocts fresh pastries daily, including her recommended pecan bars and pumpkin chocolate chip bread which her 2nd grade teacher taught her how to make. However, Anna Rose Bakery is best known for their made-to-order cake donuts. Fresh out the fryer, and for only $0.99 a donut, customers can order a donut with whatever toppings and icing they want from a list of a dozen options. Try the maple bacon donut, with a maple-flavored glaze, real bacon bits, and drizzled with caramel.
THE JACKSON HOUSE
Address:1004 N 6th St, Harrisburg, PA 17102
Hours: M-F, 10:30a-2:30p
Phone: (717) 238-2730
Don't let its unassuming facade or cramped interior deter you: The Jackson House on the corner of 6th and Boas Streets in Midtown Harrisburg is home to arguably the best burger and cheesesteak in the city. Owner Dave Kegris, his two sons, and longtime assistant Connie Conrad run Harrisburg's favorite grease joint. The burgers are simple, yet spectacular: a charbroiled half-pound burger topped with American cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and the house-made Jackson Sauce. Whatever you do, you must get something with their delicious aged, sharp provolone cheese, whether one of their Italian hoagies (try the Bada Bing!) or a stuffed pepper shooter (salami and provolone, stuffed into a gutted pepper, hot or sweet.
ALVARO BREAD & PASTRY SHOPPE
Address: 236 Peffer St, Harrisburg, PA 17102
Hours: M-W 10a-6p; Th-Sat 10a-9p (Dinner)
Phone: (717) 238-1999
For my money and tastebuds, the best Italian food you'll find in the Harrisburg area is found at a little corner restaurant, nearly hidden in the middle of Olde Uptown. Alvaro Bread & Pastry, better known to its loyal clientele simply as Alvaro's, is authentic Italian cuisine at its finest. It's owned and operated by the Alvaro family; mom and dad, born it Italy, run the restaurant with their two sons and daughter. Everything is fresh and made in-house, from the bread and pasta, to the cookies and pastries. Bring your own bottle of red wine and relax. You won't find better quality food for a better price than at Alvaro's. Don't get too attached to the menu though. The entire family goes back home to Italy twice a year to find new recipes.
PIZZA: Ciervo's, 1435 N 2nd St, Harrisburg, PA 17102
Big, greasy, New York style slices are the special at this Midtown Harrisburg pizza shop, open 10:30a-9p on Mondays through Saturday and 12-9p on Sunday. The Buffalo chicken sub is amazing.
MEXICAN: El Sol, 18 S 3rd St, Harrisburg, PA --- Taco Truck, Market and 15th Streets, 10:30a-6p
Two opposite ends of the spectrum here. At El Sol, you get your Mexican restaurant experience with huge portions and extravagant dishes. While the "taco truck" is Allison Hill's best kept secret, serving up authentic Mexican tacos, your choice of pork, chicken, and beef tongue.
CUBAN: Los Tres Cubanos, 540 Race St, Harrisburg PA 17104
Since opening in May 2015 in Harrisburg's Shipoke neighborhood, Los Tres Cubanos is the only place in the city to get authentic Cuban food. The empanadas are a must-have appetizer while the Lechon Asado is pork shoulder marinated perfectly and cooked with rice to perfection. Enjoy with a mojito while listening to live music.
SANDWICH: Mr. Deli and Mrs. Too, 2023 Linglestown Rd, Harrisburg, PA 17110
I'm cheating a little bit here, but in my opinion, it's worth it to go a little out of the city and into bordering Susquehanna Township. Mr. Deli and Mrs. Too gives New York-style deli lovers everything they can ask for. Sandwiches come with heaping piles of meat (Try the Rachel or Love at First Bite), served fast and with a bottomless bowl of pickles.
BRUNCH: Federal Taphouse, 234 N 2nd St, Harrisburg, PA 17101
Honestly, no city in Central Pennsylvania does brunch as well as Harrisburg. There are so many great options throughout Downtown and Midtown; Sturges Speakeasy, Home 231, Cafe 1500, Manga Qui, and Cafe Fresco are all really good. However, chances are, you'll have to wait. Go to Federal Taphouse instead. Rarely a wait, if only because of the sheer size of the place, and the food is still excellent.
BEST OF THE REST: Home 231, Manga Qui, Cafe Fresco, Millworks, Bacco, Bricco