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Harrisburg: Six places to go for fine dining

For foodies, a variety of fine dining experiences in Harrisburg can be found along Restaurant Row or a short walk from it.

Restaurant Row winds along a few blocks of Harrisburg's Second Street, a block off the river and just north of the Hilton. Here, you'll find the bookend mainstays of this area: Stock's on Second and theFireHouse Restaurant, both good restaurants. Stock's catering division has traveled from Hawaii to the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., for special events, and the 2014 renovations in the building have turned it into a farm-to-table gastropub with a whiskey bar. The FireHouse, which just changed ownership, has a large bar and cozy tables on the first and second floor of this renovated firehouse.

Off the beaten path, here are some new or established locations within a short drive or walk to Restaurant Row (reservations are recommended for all of them):

Bricco, 31 S. Third St.: Bricco, a fine dining Mediterranean restaurant, is known for its homemade pastas, pizzas, steaks, short ribs and specialty cocktails. It's also a hands-on experience for burgeoning chefs under the direction of the restaurant's chef. Bricco is a collaboration of the Harrisburg Area Community College's Olewine School of Culinary Arts and Harrisburg Hotel Corporation.

Home 231, 231 North St.: There's a reason "home" is in the name. It's set in a neighborhood in the city, and it feels more like a friend's really cool home than a suit-and-tie restaurant. The fresh-from-the-garden menu features lots of veggies and creative treatments, such as the macaroni and cheese with bacon and jalapeno. Small plates, fish, lamb, chicken and steak fill out the diverse menu. Outdoor seating available.

Cork & Fork, 200 State St.: Harrisburg's newest addition is just down the street from the capitol building. Locally sourced cured and smoked meats highlight some of the small plate options along with artisanal cheeses. Homemade pastas, interesting pizza combinations and salads round out the menu. The restaurant has some casual outdoor seating in the front, but the bar and dining area is sophisticated and cozy.

Char's at Tracy Mansion, 1828 N. Front St.: If a fine dining experience with a view of the Susquehanna River is appealing, Char's is the place to go. It's also a view to pay for; the menu is pricey. Sip cocktails in the library or out on the porch before dinner. For outdoor dinner seating, reserve it early.

El Sol Mexican Restaurant, 18 S. Third St.: This is where margaritas meet heat. Try the tres chiles margarita, and go early to sit at the gorgeous little bar in the front of the restaurant. The warm tortilla chips and homemade salsa are a great place to start the evening. The menu is extensive and has excellent salads as well. Occasionally, guitarist/singer Sergio Figueroa performs.

Mangia Qui, 272 North St.: At lunch or dinner, this restaurant is usually filled, just a short walk from the capitol. The Italian menu is diverse and unusual with items like stewed ox tail and saffron pasta with braised wild boar as well as interesting cocktails and teas. Upstairs is Suba's, a tapas bar, with a wide variety of small plates.