Good Eats off the CreekApr 01, 2022 09:00AM ● By Karin Knaus
When you live near the Mighty Pine, a potential adventure is just around every scenic bend. Early spring mornings find some rising before dawn to throw a line in at first light to catch a limit of brookies. In autumn, cyclists of all kinds are putting in some miles under the colorful canopy on the Pine Creek Rail Trail. In winter, families hit the snowmobile trails to experience the Pennsylvania Wilds as only a few hearty souls do, and—as I can attest to personally—any season is the right time to spend a Sunday Funday stopping in to experience the culinary delights and refreshing libations of the gems along the West Branch.
Regardless of your own adventure style, when hunger begins to gnaw at your belly, and you’re ready to stop somewhere to refuel, the options are pleasurable and plentiful in the Pine Creek Valley. We encourage you to sample the flavors, both local and culinary, of these establishments on your next Pine Creek adventure. (Business hours are expanding as the weather warms. Be sure to call or check Facebook before heading out.)
Hotel Manor (392 Slate Run Road, Slate Run): For any lower Pine traveler, visiting the Hotel Manor at least once is an absolute requirement. The food hits the spot—offerings include sandwiches and shareables—but perhaps the most iconic feature is the stunning panoramic view. Try to score a spot on the deck and watch Pine Creek flow, and when early evening comes, enjoy the scene of fly-fishers casting their lines. Stick around to watch the magic of the moon rising from behind the mountain. (570) 753-8414, hotel-manor.com.
Mountain Top and Provisions (17333 Coudersport Pike, Lock Haven): Purchased and revamped in 2019, not only has the interior of this Hyner Mountain institution been almost entirely redone with modern touches like galvanized steel and subway tile, in warmer months, you can enjoy outdoor deck and pavilion seating or sit by the fire pit, where the signature smokehouse meals just make sense. Popular dishes include the smokehouse platter, which offers a choice of brisket, pork, homemade sausage, or smoked wings and sides, and the I Can’t Decide Duo Sandwich, for those who are waffling between brisket and pork. On this sandwich, you get both, plus a sweet pepper slaw. The hub salad is another favorite with veggies, pickled eggs, marinated peppers, French fries, and your choice of meat. Add a signature cocktail or milkshake, and you’ll leave satisfied for sure. (570) 769-6238.
Pat Reeder’s Tavern (23370 Route 44, Lock Haven): If you’re looking for local color and history, Pat Reeder’s has it in spades. If you’re lucky enough to sit at the bar and chat with Margaret, who, with husband “Malm” Riggle, operates this 100-year-old regional staple, you’ll get a colorful and warm history of the tavern and its people. Pat Reeder opened the place in 1922, covertly selling liquor provided by Lycoming County’s legendary Prince Farrington. Today, you can drink your cocktails and beer right out in the open, either inside or in the heated outdoor seating area. Pat Reeder’s offers sandwiches, pizza, salads, homemade chili, and lots of fun things from the fryer, but Margaret says their most popular menu items are the burgers and wings. (570) 769-6637.
Waterville Tavern (10783 North Route 44 Highway, Waterville): Situated along the rail trail in the heart of Waterville, you’ll see the charming outdoor tables and striking upstairs porch from the bike saddle. Inside, friendly faces will treat you to a great meal or delicious cocktail, with their martini menu featuring more than thirty flavors—try the caramel apple and peanut butter cup. The menu has appetizers to share, sandwiches, and entrees. Bartender Al says the liver and onions is always popular and that the current menu is a collection of all the most popular items from the last few years. Also highly recommended is the Pine Creek Canoe, a homestyle dish with golden fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and cheese. Save room for dessert, as there are tasty treats inside and an ice cream stand outside during fair weather. (570) 753-5970, watervilletavern.com.
Santino’s Pine Creek Inn (5645 North Route 44 Highway, Jersey Shore): When you’re thinking about where to grab some great Italian food, chances are you think more Palermo than Pine Creek. Santino’s Pine Creek Inn might just change your mindset about that. Santino’s offers an impressive array of Italian goodies ranging from hand-cut steaks and pasta favorites to hoagies, sandwiches, and incredible brick oven pizza. Claiming the whole menu was too good for favorites, our server cited the chicken a la Santino, a chicken breast with eggplant, a white cream sauce, and broccoli, and the linguine Louisiana, which features scallops and shrimp in a spicy pink sauce, as her own top picks. The modern bar features cocktail specials and a nice variety of beers, from New Trail IPAs to Miller Lite and Yuengling. (570) 865-6630.
Up the Crick (5099 North Route 44 Highway, Jersey Shore): Up the Crick is a must-stop when your adventures take you down Route 44. Visit with owner Erika Morgan, who will welcome you like family to a host of local treasures. Find lots to feast on, from local cheese, eggs, sauerkraut, pickles, jams, jerky, eggs, and the ever popular Paula and Patty’s Party Mix (which absolutely buries any common pub mix you might have hiding in your back seat). They also do wine tastings from Freas Farm Winery and sell several varieties of wine slushy. If a cocktail is more your speed, Erika stocks several delicious mixes on her shelves. Outside the food realm, you can pick up some locally made soap or lotion, jewelry, antiques, and all kinds of other rare and lovely finds in this equally rare and lovely spot. (570) 865-6247, upthecrick44.com.
Venture Inn (1896 North Route 44 Highway, Jersey Shore): What could be better for the hungry outdoor adventurer than deck seating right along the rail trail and right next to a fire pit? Venture Inn offers those options. The Famous Venture Burger is the fan favorite and comes topped with bacon, onion rings, BBQ sauce, and Monterey Jack cheese. A rotating list of soups includes lobster bisque and French onion. The rest of the menu bubbles over with something for every diner—salads, sandwiches, shareables, and even seafood—a balm if your own “catch of the day” isn’t filling your creel or belly. Stick around for dessert, as decadent pies and cake specials are available, like Nutter Butter Pie. (570) 753-5188.
Waltz Creamery & Farmhouse Café (324 Main Street, Salladasburg): This Main Street attraction focuses on farm fresh, in-season goodies, and when the café is open you can treat yourself to breakfast gems like creamed chipped beef and biscuits-n-gravy. Stop in at lunchtime or after your day on the trail and try a salad, a wrap, a hearty deli sandwich or hoagie, or go big with a steak or one of their many Farmhouse burgers. The popular Butcher Block Burger features a mix of beef, pork, and bacon grilled and topped with cheese and fixin’s. Most importantly, save room for dessert, as the main attraction at Waltz’s is the homemade ice cream. Friendly staff will let you sample some. Once you’ve picked your favorites, enjoy them in the comfortable, farmhouse dining area. (570) 865-6557.