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Horse Inn [official photo]

10 Restaurants Worth the Drive From Philadelphia

Take a summer road trip to one of these restaurants within two hours of Philly

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Whether it’s a lack of AC or a surplus of dripping cups of wooder ice, summertime in Philly is a decidedly sticky affair. But that makes it the ideal season to hop in the car, roll down the windows, and hit the road in search of destination dining experiences. This lineup of road trip–worthy spots will lead to slurping oysters and sipping martinis against a backdrop of river views, knocking back some of the region’s best beers, and digging into a buffet of mind-blowing proportions, all within two hours of city limits.

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Hamilton’s Grill Room     

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Just over the canal from the rowdy summer crowds in New Hope, this rambling indoor/outdoor riverside oasis exudes quiet class. In the warmer months, grab a seat in the garden, order an icy martini, and watch an al fresco griller put out elegant plates of oysters with Pernod and shrimp with anchovy butter.  

Charcoal

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Mark and Eric Plescha have been quietly working their magic in an unassuming eatery on the banks of the Delaware in Yardley for several years. Ambitious breakfast and lunch lineups make way for evening-time enchantment when the brothers flex their pasta-making muscles. The creative plates, like ruffled radiatori tossed with bacon bolognese and sourdough casarecce done cacio e pepe style, are available in half portions, so making a meal out of more than one is the way to go.

Charcoal [Facebook]

Forest & Main Brewing Co.

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With so many great beer destinations in the city, it speaks volumes that legions of die-hard fans regularly make pilgrimages to this brewhouse in the ’burbs. Those in the know head out for pours of saisons brewed with foraged yeast cultures, vintage bottles from the cellar, and a well-rounded menu of pub classics made to complement the brewery’s raison d'être. During the warmer months, grab a prime table on the porch of this pastel Victorian just off the main drag in Ambler. 

Shady Maple Smorgasbord     

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Only Las Vegas buffets come close to matching the massive scale of this smorgasbord in rural East Earl, Pennsylvania, tucked into Lancaster County. Serving multiple busloads of folks a day, the 200 feet of edible offerings here include Pennsylvania Dutch classics — like Cope’s corn, chicken and dumplings, and shoofly pie — along with a pan-American lineup of everything from smoked pork chops to oyster stew, prime rib, and kielbasa. Make a day of it with a trip to the downstairs gift shop, adjacent farmers’ market, and Amish department store. 

 

Horse Inn

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While the bulk of Philly’s best summer produce comes from scenic Lancaster County, there aren’t all that many spots to enjoy it in situ. That’s where Horse Inn comes galloping in. Located in downtown Lancaster, the lively pub might not have the most bucolic views. But the oft-changing menu reads like a who’s who of mom-and-pop farms. Drinks-wise, the selection is decidedly democratic with everything from $2 domestic cans to expertly crafted cocktails. The venue, around since the 1920s, has a throwback vibe with a hint of speakeasy charm — fitting, considering the site was at one point an actual speakeasy.

Horse Inn [official photo]

Located in downtown Lancaster, Italian eatery Luca is a bustling hub for dining, drinking, and community. From collaborations with local farmers and brewers to cookbook dinners and amaro flights, Luca is the kind of restaurant that proves that there’s so much more to Lancaster County than Dutch Wonderland and Renninger’s Flea Market. 

Andiario

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Set on West Chester’s main drag, this modern Italian destination has been impressing diners from both the city and the suburbs since it opened in 2018. Owners Anthony Andiario and Maria van Schaijik make a killer front and back of house team, with the kitchen putting out handmade pastas, starters, and mains inspired by local purveyors, and warm, welcoming service in the dining room.

Casey Robinson of RSC Visuals

1906 at Longwood Gardens

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Nestled in the middle of the Brandywine Valley’s breathtaking botanical gardens, this fine-dining establishment is just as elegant as the meticulously manicured grounds around it. The menu at 1906 is a smart mix of classic American dishes and more modern additions reflecting the bounty of the surrounding agricultural areas. The kitchen closes at 7:30 p.m. nightly, which leaves enough time for a serene post-dinner stroll around the property. Tickets to Longwood Gardens are required.

Library II

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An Old West-style saloon doesn’t exactly jibe with the strip mall vibes of Route 73. But venture inside and you’ll discover strong drinks, serious steaks, and an impressive salad bar — all the essential ingredients of retro steakhouse perfection. Here filets and New York strips are ordered at a butcher’s window, cut and cooked to order, and served with unlimited trips to the salad bar and plump baked potatoes to boot. For the real deal Library II experience, head in on Fridays when live cover bands take over the bar area.  

Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats     

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Dogfish Head’s motto — “off-centered stuff for off-centered people” — rings true at the brewery’s beachy Delaware flagship set just a few blocks from the Atlantic. (Unlike the rest of the list, this one will take you a smidge over two hours.) An eclectic selection of house-made beers and spirits distilled nearby is matched with a menu that works both beer and hot sauce into its mac and cheese and beefs up nachos with IPA chili and spinach artichoke dip.

Dogfish Head [official photo]

Hamilton’s Grill Room     

Just over the canal from the rowdy summer crowds in New Hope, this rambling indoor/outdoor riverside oasis exudes quiet class. In the warmer months, grab a seat in the garden, order an icy martini, and watch an al fresco griller put out elegant plates of oysters with Pernod and shrimp with anchovy butter.  

Charcoal

Mark and Eric Plescha have been quietly working their magic in an unassuming eatery on the banks of the Delaware in Yardley for several years. Ambitious breakfast and lunch lineups make way for evening-time enchantment when the brothers flex their pasta-making muscles. The creative plates, like ruffled radiatori tossed with bacon bolognese and sourdough casarecce done cacio e pepe style, are available in half portions, so making a meal out of more than one is the way to go.

Charcoal [Facebook]

Forest & Main Brewing Co.

With so many great beer destinations in the city, it speaks volumes that legions of die-hard fans regularly make pilgrimages to this brewhouse in the ’burbs. Those in the know head out for pours of saisons brewed with foraged yeast cultures, vintage bottles from the cellar, and a well-rounded menu of pub classics made to complement the brewery’s raison d'être. During the warmer months, grab a prime table on the porch of this pastel Victorian just off the main drag in Ambler. 

Shady Maple Smorgasbord     

Only Las Vegas buffets come close to matching the massive scale of this smorgasbord in rural East Earl, Pennsylvania, tucked into Lancaster County. Serving multiple busloads of folks a day, the 200 feet of edible offerings here include Pennsylvania Dutch classics — like Cope’s corn, chicken and dumplings, and shoofly pie — along with a pan-American lineup of everything from smoked pork chops to oyster stew, prime rib, and kielbasa. Make a day of it with a trip to the downstairs gift shop, adjacent farmers’ market, and Amish department store. 

 

Horse Inn

While the bulk of Philly’s best summer produce comes from scenic Lancaster County, there aren’t all that many spots to enjoy it in situ. That’s where Horse Inn comes galloping in. Located in downtown Lancaster, the lively pub might not have the most bucolic views. But the oft-changing menu reads like a who’s who of mom-and-pop farms. Drinks-wise, the selection is decidedly democratic with everything from $2 domestic cans to expertly crafted cocktails. The venue, around since the 1920s, has a throwback vibe with a hint of speakeasy charm — fitting, considering the site was at one point an actual speakeasy.

Horse Inn [official photo]

Luca

Located in downtown Lancaster, Italian eatery Luca is a bustling hub for dining, drinking, and community. From collaborations with local farmers and brewers to cookbook dinners and amaro flights, Luca is the kind of restaurant that proves that there’s so much more to Lancaster County than Dutch Wonderland and Renninger’s Flea Market. 

Andiario

Set on West Chester’s main drag, this modern Italian destination has been impressing diners from both the city and the suburbs since it opened in 2018. Owners Anthony Andiario and Maria van Schaijik make a killer front and back of house team, with the kitchen putting out handmade pastas, starters, and mains inspired by local purveyors, and warm, welcoming service in the dining room.

Casey Robinson of RSC Visuals

1906 at Longwood Gardens

Nestled in the middle of the Brandywine Valley’s breathtaking botanical gardens, this fine-dining establishment is just as elegant as the meticulously manicured grounds around it. The menu at 1906 is a smart mix of classic American dishes and more modern additions reflecting the bounty of the surrounding agricultural areas. The kitchen closes at 7:30 p.m. nightly, which leaves enough time for a serene post-dinner stroll around the property. Tickets to Longwood Gardens are required.

Library II

An Old West-style saloon doesn’t exactly jibe with the strip mall vibes of Route 73. But venture inside and you’ll discover strong drinks, serious steaks, and an impressive salad bar — all the essential ingredients of retro steakhouse perfection. Here filets and New York strips are ordered at a butcher’s window, cut and cooked to order, and served with unlimited trips to the salad bar and plump baked potatoes to boot. For the real deal Library II experience, head in on Fridays when live cover bands take over the bar area.  

Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats     

Dogfish Head’s motto — “off-centered stuff for off-centered people” — rings true at the brewery’s beachy Delaware flagship set just a few blocks from the Atlantic. (Unlike the rest of the list, this one will take you a smidge over two hours.) An eclectic selection of house-made beers and spirits distilled nearby is matched with a menu that works both beer and hot sauce into its mac and cheese and beefs up nachos with IPA chili and spinach artichoke dip.

Dogfish Head [official photo]

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