Good beer, great vibe at Zeroday Brewing Company taproom in Midtown Harrisburg

  • By Phantom Diner

I suppose it could be up for debate, but seems to me the coolest newish casual dining venue in Harrisburg, maybe the region, is Zeroday Brewing Company’s taproom and restaurant in Midtown on North Third Street.

The place just reeks of urban chic without being new-age weird. A simple storefront opens to a long dining room with an elegant long bar on one side and seating, including couches, on the other. There’s an adjoining room for events or overflow.

Phantom Diner logoIt’s got a pleasing, clean and charming design throughout, leading to a courtyard in the back with about a dozen tables. There are flowers, umbrellas, a fire table and heaters, a brick wall on one side, a huge flower mural on the other, and strung white lights between diners and the sky.

On a recent weeknight the crowd was constant, the music (inside) pumping, and the all-around buzz was delightful.

The primo element here, of course, is beer. And what goes better with beer than well-made nachos and tacos? Or quesadillas, or enchiladas or fajitas?

So, the smart folks running Zeroday, known for craft-beer “outposts” at the Midtown Cinema on Reilly Street and at the Broad Street Market, now match their beer with an in-house “modern Mexican kitchen,” La Catrina, at their Third Street location, which opened a few months ago.

First, let me explain the name. “Zero-day” is computer software vulnerability term. This place is not named for that. “Zero day” is also a hiking term, referring to a day of rest, a pause on a journey, a day in which zero miles are clocked towards a destination.

Turns out, Zeroday founder, Theo Armstrong, hiked the Appalachian Trail, which is 2,180 miles long through 14 states from Georgia to Maine, including, of course, Pennsylvania. It took him five months. He took two zero days. Good for him: on the hike, and the naming.

And this is good beer. At least a dozen beers were on tap, including: an American IPA, “Second Rodeo;” a Baltic Porter, “Adam;” a Hefeweizen, “When Did We Get a Dog;” and a cream ale, “Wastin’ Daylight.”

My dining partner had “Mango Habanero,” a pale ale proclaimed refreshing, delicious and perfect for a warm summer evening. I tried “Critical Condition,” a robust amber ale. Nothing to be critical about there.

As for the food, there’s lots of it. Portions are large and easy to share.

We started with Nachos La Catrina ($12), house-made chips with pico de gallo, pickled jalapenos, cilantro, black beans, aged Mexican cotija cheese and Mexican crema. Big eaters might finish one serving, but this seems more like a starter for the table, even if the table is for four.

I ordered a beautifully-presented ceviche ($14) served in a long black dish: rock shrimp, pickled onions, a few tortilla chips, roasted fennel and jalapenos.

Other starters, priced from $6 to $12, include: mole wings with chili, cilantro, chocolate mole and radish; chips and salsa; guacamole and chips; and a house salad with avocado, sweet roasted corn and Oaxaca cheese, a white Mexican cheese not unlike mozzarella.

Fajitas, served with peppers, onions and warm tortillas, are priced from $14, if made with roasted cauliflower, to $20, if made with salmon. You can get a carne asada fajita. Or one made with chicken. Or one made with shrimp.

The Queso Quesadilla ($10) is a flour tortilla stuffed with Monterey Jack and Mexican white Chihuahua cheese. The enchiladas ($12) are stuffed with chicken and topped with Mexican crema, pickled onions and cilantro.

We went with tacos, which run from $12 to $16. My partner ordered the Birria, three fried tacos, rolled and stuffed with shredded beef short rib, Oaxaca, onions and peppers, and served with a dipping broth.

I settled on crispy shrimp tacos, three to the order. They are Zeroday-beer-battered, and served come with red salsa and cabbage slaw, topped with what I took to be razor-thin slices of watermelon radish. These tacos are loaded, which can mean messy eating and extra napkins. But the taste is wonderful.

Other taco choices are Carnitas, pork with onions and cilantro; roasted cauliflower, with roasted cashew salsa, burnt orange, onions and cilantro; asada, which grilled marinated steak, onions, cilantro and salsa verde; marinated grilled salmon with pineapple salsa. There’s also a kids’ menu.

The place has a great vibe. It’s part of a Midtown Harrisburg revival. And it’s definitely worth a visit.

 

ZERODAY BREWING COMPANY TAPROOM

925 N. Third St., Harrisburg

Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week; street parking

717-745-6218

zerodaybrewing.com

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