Last week we took our foodie adventures back to our hometowns. Laura is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Ashley is from Graham, North Carolina. As much as we love the Charleston food scene, we thought it would be fun to venture outside of our beloved city and show how it is still possible to eat good food and stay within your eating-out budget!
LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA – Laura
Both of our hometowns are quite small, but just like Charleston, possess an ever-growing food industry. There are always new restaurants popping up around town, which is great for locals because it gives them an opportunity to continuously try out different foods! One thing I love about Lancaster is that it has a decent amount of ethnic restaurants, which is one thing that I feel Charleston lacks. There’s an authentic Mexican restaurant, a restaurant with food from Trinidad, a Latin fusion restaurant, a Peruvian restaurant, a few Thai restaurants, and a Nepalese restaurant. Unfortunately I did not get the chance to visit these restaurants during my visit back home, but I did get a chance to eat at some of the new restaurants that had popped up since my move to Charleston. Here are just a few highlights.
I started off my visit to Lancaster with a trip to a recently opened coffee shop with my best friend I met in high school. The coffee shop was called Blue Line and it was located on the campus of Franklin and Marshall College. I ordered a coffee and my friend and I split a $3 pastry. I could not believe how affordable everything was on the menu. Everything was $10 and under and there were quite a few things that were less than $5! I wanted to come back to this place every day I was in Lancaster because everything was cheap and sounded so good, but I knew I had other places to check out.
The next evening I had one of the best meals I’ve ever had in Lancaster. I went with a few of my high school friends to an upscale Italian restaurant called Luca, which opened a couple years after I moved to Charleston. I had heard a lot of great things about it, so I knew I had to check it out. They had a very large selection of salads and small plates, a couple entrees and various pastas and pizzas to choose from. Our waitress told us a little bit about some of the dishes and her personal favorite things on the menu. The one thing she mentioned that really stuck out to me was the wood-grilled artichokes ($11). This dish was listed on the salad and vegetable menu and the waitress described it as being “really fun to eat” so I knew I had to get it. The artichokes were served over a delicious garlic and paprika aioli and salsa verde. To eat them, you take off each leaf of the artichoke, dip the leaf in the aioli, and scrape off the inside of the leaf with your teeth. It sounds strange, but it was extremely delicious and very fun to eat! I also ordered their Vincenzo pizza ($16), which I split with one of my friends, making the cost of my share of the pizza $8. It was a white pizza made with taleggio crema, garlic, caramelized onions, brussels sprouts, crispy pancetta, and caputo mozzarella cheese. I loved the fusion of flavors from this pizza, with the tangy flavor from the cream and the sweetness of the caramelized onions. The brussels sprouts and pancetta also provided a wonderful crunchy texture to the pizza. This meal was obviously more on the pricey side, but sometimes its fun to splurge on at least one of your meals when you’re on vacation!
The next morning I went out for breakfast with a couple friends to a casual and cozy breakfast cafe called On Orange. Here, I had some of the most delicious coffee and paired it with a delightfully warm Swedish oat pancake. The pancake was pretty big, so I just ordered one and it was just enough to fill me up! The pancake was topped with warm apples that provided just the right amount of sweetness to the pancake. I also ordered a side of stewed tomatoes, which were very fresh and perfectly soft and tangy. The best part of this breakfast was that my pancake only cost me $4.25 and the stewed tomatoes were only about $2. Definitely a bargain breakfast! We were even given free homemade cookies with our checks from a local Lancaster baker, making it truly a top notch, budget-friendly experience.
GRAHAM, NORTH CAROLINA – Ashley
For those of you who haven’t heard of Graham, it is a cute and quaint small town in the heart of North Carolina. Just over the last few years, the downtown area, known to locals as Court Square, has started to become revamped. The old buildings are being restored and turned into new restaurants, shops and work-spaces.
My mom and I had the pleasure of trying out Sutton’s, which originated in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It is a super cute, laid back place with UNC memorabilia all throughout the restaurant, which I love as a Tarheel fan. Go heels!
The day we went, they were offering a special with 2 hot dogs and a side for only $3.75! Of course, I had to add chili and slaw, because that’s the way us southerners do it! I can’t wait for my next trip home to try out more of the new restaurants popping up.
We both had a fabulous time visiting with old friends and checking out all the newest hot spots in our hometowns, but we were quite happy when it was time to return home to Charleston.
~Laura and Ashley