Travel Guide PA: Isaac’s Restaurant and Deli (Strasburg)

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Somehow this slipped through the cracks last month when I was bringing over all my Lancaster reviews. Maybe it was prophetic. 

Oh how the mighty have fallen. This used to be my favorite restaurant as a child visitor to Lancaster County. After all, it was a fun place to be a kid. One room of Isaac’s Restaurant and Deli was designed to look like an old train dining car, there were fake flamingos and birds everywhere, and it allowed anyone to tap into their inner free spirit. I’m sure this still exists, even if I have matured enough to not notice it. What I do notice is that Isaac’s is now so lackluster that its logo could be in the dictionary next to the definition. I started to come to this decision about a year or two ago, when there was only so much the atmosphere could do to save the food. But I wanted to bring Will to what was an integral part of my childhood vacationing in Lancaster. I was hoping it would be different. It wasn’t. It’s overrated and overpriced, and unless they are sending you home with a live flamingo, it ain’t worth it.

Most, if not all, of the sandwiches are named after birds. People into that kind of thing will love it. Again, nothing wrong with the environment. But let’s talk about the food because that is what matters. When compared to other restaurants in Lancaster, Isaac’s might be the healthiest. There are plenty of vegetarian options. After doing damage with some Amish scrapple earlier in the morning, I went with what they call the “Bird of Paradise”: mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, olives, mayo, Swiss and Muenster cheeses, on French bread. Tasted fine. Just like I remembered. There was an adequate amount of cheese and they went light on the mayo like I asked. Now go take a look at the picture at the top of this article. No, that was not snapped after I had already eaten half of the sandwich. That was the sandwich. The entire thing. For $7.99, it was the same price as the all-you-can-eat buffet at Dienner’s in nearby Ronks. I don’t know if that is what they do out here for sandwiches, but in New Jersey, that would just not cut it. Will ordered another sandwich whose avian name escapes me. For $9.99, it had cheese, mushrooms, avocado, and red onion on a pretzel roll. Our total bill with my unsweetened iced tea and tax was over $21. Honestly, I would have gotten more satisfaction sticking my money bill by bill through a shredder. Both “meals” came served with a sorry side of broken kettle chips. No offer to refill my drink and no chance in hell I am ever coming back here again.

If it was not for my personal history with this place, it would receive a much lower score. But, the little kid in me screams 3 out of 5 stars, and I will reluctantly go along. Once again, I just want to make perfectly clear that the food is fine. Not standout, but not bad. However, in terms of value, there is so much better out there. Had they not been located in a prime spot near so many train attractions in Strasburg, this one (out of several in the Lancaster County chain) would be out of business. The magic is gone. It ain’t worth it.

This post was previously published here. Isaac’s Restaurant and Deli is located at 226 Gap Road in Strasburg, Pennsylvania. 

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