We at PoliticsPA do not claim to know as much about food and fine dining as we do about politics. However, we did scour the state (and Washington, DC) to find where the top managers, lobbyists, and elected officials go for the right meal...and to be seen. You will note that unlike most restaurant guides, the quality of food and service has little to do with our top picks...
Cantone's: Arguably the best food in Harrisburg and now Nick has opened a new restaurant downtown. Great food and always a warm, friendly greeting from the owner makes Cantone's one of the most popular restaurants in Harrisburg. If you're a special person who loves lobster ravioli...Cantone's has the best.
Fisagas: This is the place to catch all the young rising stars in Harrisburg. A recent addition to the Harrisburg restaurant scene, its unique environment with an open-air bar and sidewalk seating has quickly made Fisagas the place to be after work. Good food has also made this a popular lunch spot.
Firehouse: Not only was this restaurant voted by Harrisburg magazine as the "Best Casual Restaurant," it hosts some of the most important power lunches in Harrisburg. Located just blocks from the Capitol, it's also a popular after work hang out.
Golden Sheaf: Located inside the Hilton, you can be sure to find some of Pennsylvania's most powerful elected officials and some good food. Power breakfasts are very popular at the Golden Sheaf....and they serve Starbucks coffee!
Scotts: A Harrisburg tradition. Still a major watering hole for lobbyists, staffers and elected officials. The new restaurants in town have reduced Scott's popularity but it remains a nostalgic place to start or end the evening.
The Palm: Located just blocks from City Hall, this is the place to go for Philly's heavyweight politicos. The food is adequate, but you can't put a price on the company. Judges, state legislators, magazine editors, City Council members, members of Congress, and a certain Democratic gubernatorial candidate frequent the cartoon-festooned dining room. True, there's nothing distinctive about the decor; the Palm is part of a chain of steakhouses. But it's Outback for the over-credentialed, Sizzler for the savvy. Be there...or hand in your Blackberry.
Capitol Grill: Just a few blocks from The Palm, but growing in its reputation as the location for power lunches. The restaurant is known for its high ceilings, wood interior and well stocked bar.
McGillins: Close to City Hall, this Irish pub serves up some of the best burgers, lager, and private conversations. Go upstairs for extra-private celebrations.
Docs: Great late night/ post fundraiser hangout for anyone in the Pittsburgh vicinity.
Grand Concourse / Gandy Dancer Bar: Imagine a restaurant / bar in the same building as the top GOP consultant in the state, a district office of a United States Senator, and a top political affairs consulting firm. This is the place you go to conduct serious business with the Western Pennsylvania GOP establishment.
Palomino: New and hip, this restaurant is good for lunches where you want to be seen.
Valhalla: popular hangout for local political rising stars. Just ask Jim Roddey where to find his staff after business hours.
Andy Gavin's: Known for its great food and gregarious owner, Gavin's is always popular with the 30-something crowd after work.
Farley's: Located a hundred yards from the Federal and County County Courthouses, as well as numerous other government and legal offices. This is the place to see the movers and shakers in Lackawanna County.
Bullfeathers: With ample room and a staff who 'gets the joke.' Bullfeathers is a welcoming place for Hill Staffers to eat. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer is known to frequent the establishment, and it has been featured on West Wing. Don't go for the food. Go for the schmoozing. Bullfeathers is an important stop for any Pennsylvania politico transplant.
Monocle: This Capitol Hill restaurant is the place to go, as long as someone else is paying. Our Senators are frequent visitors. To quote Zagats: "A senator at every table" may be a stretch of a claim, but this "clubby" Capitol Hill (Senate-side) mainstay pulls in a regular roster of politicos, lobbyists and Supreme Court justices; while most find the "stargazing" more exciting than the "old-school" American grub, if you're from out of town consider a visit part of your political education.
Oceanaire: Power lunches usually happen over steaks and burgers, but Oceanaire is one seafood restaurant to break the mold. Off Capitol Hill, you're more likely to spot lobbyists than Chiefs of Staff, this establishment gets high marks for its food, decor, and people watching.
Signatures: Frequented by the city's most powerful lobbyists, Signatures features an excellent menu, good people watching, and is the new place to go for Washington, DC power lunches. Check out the famous autographs for sale on the walls.