Local Restaurants Offer Ambiance that Dates Back More Than 100 Years

May 4, 2011 at 7:01 pm EST


Not many people can say they’ve dined at the same table as George Washington. But the folks in Lebanon Valley can.

The George Washington Tavern in Lebanon dates back to Revolutionary War days and was visited three times by the first president. It was originally called the Swan Hotel and eventually became the George Washington Tavern in 1933.

The building closed as a tavern from 1920 to 1933 due to Prohibition, and then operated from 1933 until 1987 when it closed again. It was bought again in the late 1990s and completely restored, including installing new windows and sidewalks. Now it once again has the dining ambiance of an old coach stop, of which very few remain in the United States.

The tavern is now an upscale restaurant that serves lunch and dinner.

The George Washington Tavern, however, is just one of several restaurants housed in historic buildings. Diners here get much more than a meal when they visit – they get a history lesson, as well.

Other historic dining destinations in Lebanon Valley include Harper's Tavern Restaurant, which first opened in 1804. It was originally a stagecoach stop on old Route 22 between Allentown and Harrisburg. Today, the restaurant serves a variety of lunch and dinner items and is open every day except Monday.

Another place of interest is the Maple Street Cafe, which opened in 1872. The restaurant also serves lunch and dinner, with menu items that include steak, seafood, chicken and veal.

The Lebanon Farmer's Market has returned to its original building, which first opened in 1892. It features 30 vendors from farm-fresh produce, meats and cheeses, to Amish-made furniture, home décor, gift items and sweets. Located on the third floor of the farmer's market is Niko’s Restaurant, which features Mediterranean cuisine as well as the area’s first martini and cigar bar with over 100 different types of martinis.

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