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Lancaster, PA: Shady Maple Smorgasbord

Shady Maple Smorgasbord front entrance.

The cliché is that non-Americans who hates the US because America has perfected the buffet. For a fee, you get hundreds, maybe even thousands of different options for a meal. Steak? Checked. Lobster? Checked. Fried-chicken-donuts-Ice-cream-salad-bar-sushi-soup-cheese-dip? Checked, checked and checked. What foreigners don’t understand is that there are actually 2 levels of buffets – the cheaper version comes in many forms, like hibachi and chains located in neighborhoods, usually serving pretty crappy food; they usually reminds you of college. The most expensive version also comes in different forms, such as Brazilian steak houses or those fancy buffets in Las Vegas, that served amazing food but, they are far in between and might not be worth it if you aren’t that hungry. The similarity and essence of these places is that you want to eat the buffet’s worth, which never works. Buffet is like casino, they calculated the average cost and profit from most people; you might want to beat the system, but you almost never could. It is no wonder that casinos and buffets always go hand in hand; they are basically running on the same business strategy.

Anyways, unlike these “shady” way of dealing with the world, Lancaster is known for their humble Amish population who prefers simple living and rejects most modern technology. This has nothing to do with Shady Maple, but locating near this town famous for its cuisine and moral probably helps with both the food and the value. I had heard about Shady Maple from my friends who lived in Lancaster, which recommended for it’s generous and delicious buffet spread. That makes it stand out from all other buffets.

Fancy seats for larger groups.
It never ends! Feels like those opposing parallel mirrors that you can see into infinity.

Eric and I got here early-ish on a Saturday morning to grab some lunch. The first thing we noticed was that this place is huge. The grandeur entrance and size gave the impression of a hotel lobby. Eric actually tried to find the check-in counter. There was no line and we managed to get a booth, but the restaurant became packed in less than 20 minute. The ticket price includes drinks and tips, which is an amazing deal, in my opinion.

Salad Bar.
This grill station serves steak!

We walked into the buffet area, and were taken aback by the scale. There was a full salad bar, soup station, bread station, an array of sides and entrees, and an entire section of dessert options. That’s not including the grill area, and for Saturday that meant salmon, NY strip steak, crab cakes, German sausages, burgers and much more. For my first plate, I helped myself with some steak, sausages, crab cake and corn. They were slightly greasy and the steak reminded me of what I had in college, but on average they were better than any local buffet and closer to what you get at more expensive buffets. I went for only roasted chicken after that since I was craving for fried chicken, and I couldn’t tell the two apart. They were delicious.

Plate no.1.
Plate 2,3,…

Since there is no time limit, we could have stayed there for hours. But for my own health’s sake, we ended our little adventure after an hour. Eric made me guess the amazing thing they hide in their dessert kitchen, which turned out to be Ice cream cake! They looked like it was pre-made elsewhere, but it was delicious nonetheless; we could had made it fancy by layering with more sweet stuff but i kept it simple.

There is…. cake!
Lots of pies.
We have never seen buffet serving ice cream cakes.

Besides a buffet, there was an equally impressive throw bag gift shop in the basement. It’s like a Walmart for useless junk – perfect place to buy souvenirs from Lanc Lanc area. There are the boring stuff like postcards and magnets, local things like Amish clothing and baskets, and much more. I even found some Amish themed novels. It is one of those places that everyone definitely can pick out something and bring home. There is also an Amish Fast food restaurant in the basement, which begets the question, “How fast is Amish fast food?” Eric thinks it will take an hour to get your order.

Not that simple minded after all.
All kinds of fun sauces.

Come, and win big at the Shady Maple Smorgasbord. Keep eating. Literally.


Address: 1324 Main St, East Earl, PA 17519 (40.1213792N, -76.03153750000001W)
Visited: July 18th 2016 at 11am for lunch.

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