The Poconos is known more for its outdoor adventures than its culinary ones. And, certainly you will find a good number of offerings with the word buffet flashing. Eating out with kids makes finding a great meal even more challenging while on vacation because, while we wanted to avoid big, greasy buffets, we weren't looking for high-end meals either.
We spent a month exploring all the fun stuff to do with kids in the Poconos and on our explorations we found some great places to eat along the way. I was surprised by the variety of good restaurants, especially a number of excellent ethnic eateries.
The following is our favorite food finds in the Poconos for family dining.
Ledgedale BBQ Pit and Country Store (Lake Ariel) — We just stumbled on this out of the way country store because we needed a place to eat near Paws "N" Claws, but what a find. The store is a typical general store you'll find near any campsite with a small deli counter and lots of marshmallows and flashlight batteries. Outside is a covered area with picnic tables and a big barbecue pit. They offer deli sandwiches, burgers and fried fish, but the reason to stop here is the barbecue for sure. Cooked outdoors on a big barbecue pit, you can get chicken, ribs and I had an amazing pulled pork sandwich for $5. I loved the food and the country vibe. No website. 1387 Ledgedale Road, Lake Ariel PA 18436 (570) 689-2200
Fretta's (Milford) — Milford is the culinary capital of the Northern end of the Poconos. There are several high end restaurants, but, with the kids, we wanted good food without it being too formal or expensive. Fretta's is an italian specialty food store and deli that sells delicious ingredients and prepared foods. Pick up supplies for a picnic, ingredients to take home or grab an incredible Italian sub or a single serving of a pasta dish and eat on the tables outdoors. Fretta's is a gem.
Balch's Fish Fry (Milford) — Balchi's Fish Fry is not the best fish shack I've ever been to, but considering how far you are from the beach, the fried clams and fish sandwiches hit the spot. Balchi's is casual and the food is fresh and inexpensive, the perfect mix for a great vacation restaurant in my opinion. No website: 586 Rt 6, Milford PA 18337 (570) 296-7911
Tandoor Palace (Tannersville) — I did not expect to find great Indian food in the Poconos, but Tandoor Palace is better and more authentic than some of the hole in the wall joints you'll find in NYC (any restaurant that has a Jain menu is bound to be authentic). Entrees are higher than we're used to in NYC for Indian food, $15-$20 for meat entrees, a little less for vegetable curries, but they also offer a lunch buffet. As a bonus, the dining room is in a converted antique railroad dining car, which is sure to please the kids.
Waterwheel Cafe (Milford) — Waterwheel Cafe was our one fancy night out for my husband's birthday. The menu is an eclectic mix of Continental and Vietnamese dishes. The food was all delicious and worth the moderately high prices of about $20-$30 per entree. Despite the higher prices, the dining room is fairly casual and our children were not the only ones there. The menu doesn't have too many good options for picky eaters or inexpensive small plates, but you can ask for the bar menu with moderately priced burgers, salads and pizzas for the kids (or for yourselves).
Tastes of Portugal (East Stroudsburg) — You have to ignore how this place looks on the outside and just step inside to a cozy, casual, authentic, family-run restaurant that serves delicious Portuguese dishes. Tastes of Portugal is known for their Portugese barbecue, but they also have delicious paellas. If you like garlic you will be in heaven at Tastes of Portugal. There is a kids menu with burgers and chicken fingers, but instead order a plate of empanadas or share your own entree. Most of the entrees are about $15 and are big enough to feed two or take home the leftovers for a whole other meal. We liked this place so much we bought a bottle of their house made chili sauce to take home.
More family friendly dining in the Poconos:
Village Farmer and Bakery (Delaware Water Gap)—This farm stand is known for their lunch special of a hot dog and a slice of apple pie for $2.50, but also serves burgers, sandwiches, pot pies and salads. Eat at their indoor cafe tables, outdoor picnic tables or just buy a pie to take home.
Jim Thorpe—If Milford is the food capitol of the northern Poconos, Jim Thorpe is where it's cooking in the south end of the Poconos. We weren't able to try all of the recommended food spots, but we did dine at Flow, which offered great food featuring local produce in an elegant, contemporary setting with a beautiful garden. There is a kids menu, including bacon mac and cheese and other fine finger foods.
Siamsa Irish Pub (East Stroudsburg)—My favorite part of this Irish Pub is the dining room. Upstairs from a hopping bar is a quieter dining room with beautiful woodwork and traditional Irish decor that almost feels like you're in a castle. There's a kid menu, but the regular menu is all pretty kid friendly with Irish stews, pastas, burgers and other favorites, served in huge portions.
Piggy's in Lake Harmony—I didn't actually make it to the famous breakfast at Piggy's, but it was so strongly recommended to me that I need to include it. Heaping plates of pancakes, waffles and other delicious breakfast faves are what you'll find at this kitschy breakfast spot that generally has a line.