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Ranging from the ritzy to the rustic, the Laurel Highlands is diverse when it comes to its food and libations. Here are the five best food experiences in the Laurel Highlands:
1. Homemade pies and pastries. If there’s one thing rural Pennsylvania does well, it’s down-home desserts. Indulge your sweet tooth with fruit and cream pies with the flakiest of crusts, ooey-gooey sticky buns and cinnamon rolls, decadent donuts, and autumnal spicy-sweet pumpkin rolls — all made from scratch. The Country Pie Shoppe, with locations in Donegal and Mt. Pleasant, is one of the best family-owned bakeries in the area. Don’t expect to find delicate French pastries here. The desserts here are down-home and hearty, just like Grandma used to make.
2. Local wine. Pennsylvania’s largest industry is agriculture, and while the region isn’t exactly Napa Valley, viticulture is alive and well here. Follow the Southwest Passage Wine Trail to discover delightful family-owned, small-batch wineries. The trail includes seven regional wineries — Christian K. Klay, Glades Pike, Greendance, Greenhouse, Raspberry Acres, Thistlethwaite Vineyards and Walnut Hill. Enjoying gorgeous mountain views while sipping a glass of wine made from traditional grapes or even fruit. What could be better?
3. Hungarian food at the Darlington Inn. If you’re looking for authentic exotic flavors, look no further than this Ligonier gem. Since 1996, owner Elizabeth Kastal and her family have shared Hungarian-Transylvanian cuisine made from scratch with guests. Satisfying comfort food is what you can expect here, including savory crepes filled with chicken or spinach, stuffed cabbage, Hungarian meatloaf, pierogies, chicken paprikash and goulash.
4. The Ultimate Tasting Menu at Lautrec. Lautrec in Nemacolin Woodlands Resort holds the distinction of being a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant. In order to truly experience what Lautrec has to offer, splurge on the Ultimate Tasting Menu. The menu of elegant, European-style cuisine changes with the seasons, but recent dishes included local Pekin (aka Long Island) duck, Maine lobster cioppino and grass-fed beef Rossini style. (Prix-fixe dinner menus, vegetarian and vegan tasting menus, and wine-pairing service for all menus are also available.) We suggest you dress up, and expect to spend at least two hours dining. But with cuisine this good, you won’t be in a hurry to leave.
5. Beer from All Saints Brewing Company. While Pittsburgh gets most of the beer accolades in these parts, the Laurel Highlands deserves some attention too. All Saints, a craft brewery in Greensburg, makes a beer for every palate, including Crimson Halo (an amber ale), Voodoo’s Child (a dunkel), All Saints Barleywine, and the lovingly named Laurel Highlands Pale Ale. Try seasonal beers on tap in the brewery’s tasting room or take a growler to go.