Savannah Marie searches for the best restaurants, wildlife and attractions that Harrisburg has to offer.
After I finished explaining the amazing birthday meal I’d recently had at Bricco to a friend, she said, “Wait, where is this place?” I told her at the corner of Third St. and Market St. in Harrisburg. “Oh, I never go into the city at night,” she replied.
The great East Shore vs. West Shore debate, compounded by an unfounded fear of the city, often prevents locals from enjoying the recent crop of new and improved fine dining restaurants in Harrisburg. If we want our region to thrive, the city has to be home to successful businesses, and local support is critical. Delicious food is the perfect reason to make the trip, be it for the first time or the 100th. Here are five of the best fine dining restaurants in the capital city that are worth the trip downtown.
Bricco, a Mediterranean style restaurant, isn’t new, but its Chef’s Table is. The Chef’s Table, started earlier this year, features a prix fixe menu served at a communal table in a special tasting room. This new way of dining is intimate, creative and features some of the best local ingredients. It’s definitely worth a special date night or celebratory dinner.
Bricco is staffed by students at the Olewine School of Culinary Arts at Harrisburg Area Community College, but you’d think every waiter, waitress, chef and bartender are long serving professionals. Run by the Harrisburg Hotel Corporation and the Hilton Harrisburg, Bricco features a happy hour with discounts on drinks, small plates and pizzas as well as a changing menu of seasonal pastas, main courses and salads. Happy Hour is a great way to enjoy the offerings without paying for a full dinner, but the cozy tables and booths at Bricco are worthy of a special occasion. I’ve never had a bad meal at Bricco, and while the food is definitely fine dining, the atmosphere isn’t overly formal or stuffy.
The Gold Sheaf is located within the Hilton Harrisburg and is Harrisburg’s only AAA Four Diamond Restaurant. It is a standing favorite about Harrisburg diners who want a formal, elegant, celebratory meal. I took my parents here for their anniversary, and they loved it. For those who enjoy wine, Wine Enthusiast has named the Golden Sheaf one of the most wine-friendly restaurants, thanks to its selection and pairings. Click here to check out the menu.
The newest addition to the Harrisburg dining scene is Rubicon, a French inspired restaurant opened by the team at Manga Qui and Suba. While I haven’t been yet, I’ve read that their cocktails and décor give a big city feel right in the shadow of the Capitol. Thanks to the bar-centric design, this would be a great place to celebrate a girlfriend’s promotion or to take a special date.
Char’s at Tracy Mansion
Many diners know Char’s from the former popular spot in Shipoke. Her new digs, in a beautiful, renovated, historic mansion, offer diners a gorgeous view of the Susquehanna River, an elegant bar and a cozy library for drinks. The walls are covered with art and sculptures, and the menu features delicious vegetarian and carnivorous options.
The pricing puts this restaurant in the “special occasions only” category for me, but grabbing a drink at the bar or in the library is a great way to enjoy the atmosphere without spending a ton. If you have something special to celebrate, you can go for the prix fixe menu or order entrees in the dining room.
Harrisburg’s reputation as a foodie destination is improving, and you should be a part of it! Visit one of these fine dining destinations, or leave your recommendations in the comments below!