To say “I love breakfast” is an understatement.
If I could take a tomato, avocado and cheese omelet out to dinner, feed it some wine and take it home with me and watch a movie, I would.
If there weren’t a law prohibiting the fornication of a man and his English muffin, I’d probably have a litter of little baby English muffins running around my house today.
I love breakfast so much, that there have been days that I’ve had eggs in the morning, pancakes in the afternoon and waffles for dinner.
So any time someone new comes to Harrisburg, be it a band or a friend, I’m often quick to recommend a handful of great breakfast options. Because for as underwhelming a town that Harrisburg can be, we are fortunate to have a good smattering of breakfast choices.
Here, in no particular order, are ten great places to get a good breakfast in the Harrisburg area. (I’m not talking about brunch, which could be a post of it’s own. These are ten, solid, dependable diners, greasy spoons and corner shops to get a good cup of coffee, a couple eggs, toast and bacon)
1. Yankee Doodle Diner
902 North Front Street, Lemoyne, PA
The first thing you need to know about this place is that it is NOT the Riverview Diner anymore. When this structure was known as the Riverview Diner, I swore it off for years due to terrible service, cold food and hair in my eggs. But under new ownership for about two years now, the Yankee Doodle Diner is one of my favorite breakfast spots. A creative menu featuring specials daily, burritos, omelets, waffles, pancakes, eggs, oatmeal and cereals served by a super friendly and always entertaining staff, this place keeps impressing me.
2. American Dream Diner
1933 Herr Street, Harrisburg, PA
There’s nothing classy about The American Dream, both literally and figuratively, and this diner embodies all of it. It’s a classic train car diner perched at the intersections of Route 22 and Herr Street just north of Cameron in Harrisburg. Basic menu items like ham and cheese omelets, two-over with bacon and home fries and occasional baked oatmeal, but The American Dream is known for two locally-famous menu items – The Rope and The Annie’s Dream Omelet. The Rope is an emasculating piece of sausage served with two eggs and home fries. And Annie’s Dream is your cardiologists nighmare: a three egg omelet stuffed to the max with ham, peppers, onions, potatoes and topped with a few slices of American cheese. And the servers? Think the old Bounty commercials in the diner and you’re just about there. Get in early, though. They close at 2 daily.
3. Camp Hill Cafe
40 Erford Road, Camp Hill, PA
My favorite part of this place is the Eggs Benedict options, specifically, the Crab Benedict. I’m not the kind of guy to judge, but it just irks me to hear someone say “Crab Bennie”. I know, I know. Stupid, right? Just a pet peeve. ANYWAY, this is another sort of off-the-beaten-path breakfast option that’s just up the road from the must-avoid Perkins at The Radisson just off of the Camp Hill Bypass and barely two minutes from the intersection of Front and Forster streets at the Harvey Taylor Bridge. Small and cozy, this is a nice alternative to some of the greasy spoons in the city. And the coffee is pretty great.
I wish this place was closer. It’s about fifteen miles south of Harrisburg on 15, but this list wouldn’t be complete without including this place. As the name would suggest, it’s known for pancakes. But what makes this little diner special is the beer selection. Tons and tons of microbrews lined up neatly in a few coolers just as you walk in the door, a full bar (for those Sunday morning Bloody Mary’s) and dozens of pancake options. It’s certainly not a quick stop on your Tuesday morning commute to work (unless you commute to Dillsburg…but who does that?), but for a weekend morning drive, it’s worth the trip.
5. Keystone Restaurant
1000 North 3rd Street, Harrisburg, PA
I’m including the Keystone in this list because if I didn’t, my buddy Devin wouldn’t let me live it down. The Keystone is, at it’s heart, a greasy spoon with all of the glorious prestige that comes along with that designation. No frills, nothing fancy about the menu but it’s consistent, it’s quick and it’s filling. And the coffee is also decent. If you want quick, cheap and charismatic wait staff, pay the Keystone a visit.
6. Roxy’s Cafe
274 North Street, Harrisburg, PA
I’m not going to dog on Roxy’s, because, in my heart, I love Roxy’s. I do. My buddies Chris Hoke, Adam Kline and myself used to duke it out over the Foursquare Mayorship of Roxy’s. But since I’ve fallen in love with the Yankee Doodle, I haven’t been in Roxy’s as often lately. But that shouldn’t stop you from going. Weekends can be sort of slow, depending on how many servers are on and who’s cooking on the line, but for great coffee, a good Lyonnaise (mushroom and cheese) omelet and Midtown Harrisburg resident people watching, Roxy’s is a staple. The sourdough toast is a nice option too.
7. Capitol Diner
800 Eisenhower Boulevard, Harrisburg, PA
There’s a reason the Summerdale Diner in Enola didn’t make this list. And that reason is – The Capitol Diner. Conveniently located just off of I-283 heading to the airport (or Target), this is another example of how a once sub par diner went under new ownership and became something pretty darn good. So good, in fact, that I’d think it could stand up next to any of the newer remodeled diners in the Motherland – New Jersey. The decor isn’t gaudy, per se, but it’s got lots of multi colored shiny tiles, a sort of grand entrance way and the standard dessert display case that’s chock full of desserts that look much better than they actually are. (That’s not a knock at the Capitol diner, it’s true of ALL diners…seriously).
8. Skyline Family Restaurant
7510 Allentown Boulevard, Harrisburg, PA
Again, another place which I wish were closer to downtown Harrisburg, The Skyline Family Restaurant has it all. Dynamite soups, sandwiches and daily specials, but the breakfast is killer. I often judge a breakfast spot by their home fries. And where the Keystone and American Dream simply slice em up and throw em in a frying pan, the Skyline seasons their home fries. Great service and a somewhat creative offering of the standard breakfast faire.
9. Dodge City
1037 Paxton Street, Harrisburg, PA
I’m gonna keep this simple, because that’s what you get at Dodge City: a surprisingly good and simple breakfast with the option of a hair-of-the-dog drink for your Monday Morning Hangover. Dodge City was recently featured on Restaurant Impossible and went through a menu and aesthetic overhaul, but fortunately, the breakfast went mostly unchanged. It’s another spot with great home fries that only need a dollop of ketchup.
While this breakfast guy often longs for the more unique and creative breakfast offerings of some of the bigger city haunts like Pamela’s in Pittsburgh, The Blue Moon Diner in Char0lottesville or Honey’s in Philly, the sad reality of breakfast in Harrisburg is that we simply don’t have many of those options. Sure, there are a few pretty awesome brunch spots, but those are resigned to weekends. But for 7 day a week breakfast, The Hi Life Diner rounds out this list. It’s good, they’ve got a fishtank in the foyer and the service is consistent.