Bold food, beer, spirits transforming Chambersburg
Pass the European grocer and the fine arts shop/bookstore, take a turn toward the brewery and find yourself at the gourmet chocolatier's bakery to pick up hand-wrapped chocolates made fresh from cocoa beans.
Check your location. This is Chambersburg.
This borough of about 20,000 people has history, truck routes, and the Totem Pole Playhouse, but you already knew that. What you might not know is that a memorable visit to Chambersburg could easily fill a day.
Here's what you don't want to miss:
Nathan Miller Chocolate, 140 N. Third St.: In a renovated factory off the beaten path, step inside for a whiff of cocoa beans. They sit on racks behind a counter filled with sweet and savory pastries and gourmet chocolate bars. Customers eat lunch and drink coffee at café tables nearby. Miller, who grew up in Marysville, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and went on to work with a few great chefs in New York, mastering his pastry and dessert skills. In 2010, he found his way to chocolate, winning awards several times for his croissant in Colorado, where he lived at the time. He sells that croissant -- made with fresh chocolate -- in Chambersburg. Don't leave without one. He also offers tastings of any chocolate bars he has available (he sells them in coffee shops throughout the country). To arrange a tour of the bean-to-chocolate process in his kitchen, call a week in advance: 717-496-8229. Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Northwood Books, 59 N. Main St.: The Wicked Witch of the East's legs and feet peek out from under a table inside this bookstore, and a pig reads a book in the corner. The imagination behind Northwood, which sells used books, is boundless. The witch is a nod to children's literature, and in room after room, there's fine art, such as lamps, framed art, and antiques. Pick up a stack of used (and discounted) books, and take a seat in the parlor or the back room or in one of the comfy chairs scattered throughout the store (it's much bigger than it looks from the front). This is a place to spend a couple of hours after inhaling a croissant at Nathan Miller's. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
J.M. Boswell & Son Pipes, 586 Lincoln Way East: Hand-rolled cigars (imported and domestic) and pipes carved by owner J.M. Boswell and his son, Dan, make this location in Chambersburg a must-stop for tobacco lovers. Once featured in Forbes Life, the Boswells have been selling pipes for 40 years and have attracted customers all over the world via its website. In the store, peruse the jars of aged tobacco, blends created by the owner, and the cigar humidor. In the cigar lounge, enjoy your new stogie, or call ahead to visit during one of the Boswells' special events, like wine and cigar tastings and cigar rolling. Hours: 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
The Capitol Theatre Center, 159 S. Main St.: In 1927, this movie house and performing arts theater opened, and it remains true to the movie and performing arts genres today. To see a movie or show in this historic location, check http://www.thecapitoltheatre.org/showsandevents.html here for dates and times. Read more about the theater here.
Café D'Italia, 9 N. Main St.: The limited al fresco dining outside of Café D'Italia doesn't tell the story of the quaint Italian restaurant inside. It's cozy and dimly lighted, wrapped in a mural of Venice. Patrons fill the restaurant on a Friday to linger over pasta dishes, such as seafood lasagna, lobster ravioli and spicy sausage cacciatore. Subs, sandwiches, salads and appetizers round out the menu. It's BYOB, so stop by the Tuscarora Mountain Winery around the corner for a bottle. Hours: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Tuscarora Mountain Winery, 25 Lincoln Way West: Stop in to taste some of Ken Hadley's award-winning creations, made on site from grapes the Hadleys grow in McConnellsville. Blueberries and other fruits that Hadley adds to some of the wines are purchased locally, co-owner Sue Hadley said. Tastings are free. The Hadleys will be opening a winery in McConnellsville in another year. Hours: noon-5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday; and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Fort Chambers Park, 235 S. Third St.: There are two key elements to take in at this park: First, it's a key piece of Chambersburg history, where a fort and settlement were built by town founder Benjamin Chambers during the French and Indian War. The log building is a replica of structures from that time, as is the water wheel. Second, this park's small bridges, waterfall and confluence of the Conococheague and Falling Spring creeks give it a wow factor.
The Norwegian Codfather, 81 N. Main St.: A European market in Chambersburg? Check out this Main Street storefront, where customers visit from all over the region to buy imported meats and cheeses, according to co-owner Pauline Messina. The shelves are stocked for customers wanting German, Eastern European, Italian, Irish, British and Scandinavian products, like Pulaski's stone ground mustard, imported from Poland, and Abbey Farm's raspberry preserves from Ireland. Pick up a German ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette for a picnic lunch at Caledonia State Park. Hours: 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.
Roy Pitz Brewing Company, 140 N. Third St.: Liquid art. That's how Roy Pitz describes its array of craft beers, brewed on site in the former factory building that's home to both Pitz and Nathan Miller Chocolates. The building is art as well. The downstairs brewery has been restored to its original look with exposed brick walls and wood floors, often the location of Tuesday trivia nights and weekend performers. The Beer Stube, the tap room with the same style as the brewery, is a wide open space with a bar, serving light fare of appetizers, pizzas, salads and sandwiches. Hours: 3-10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 3-11 p.m. Thursday; noon-midnight Friday and Saturday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Outdoor seating is available as well. Free brewery tours are held at 5 p.m. Saturdays.
Bistro 71, 71 N. Main St.: If you prefer wine or a cocktail, sit at the bar at Bistro 71 for an extensive wine selection (several beers are on tap as well) and specialty mixes. Spend a little more money here, and you'll find meals like filet mignon, scallops and duck breast in a quiet, upscale location. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Friday (kitchen closes at 9 p.m.); 4 p.m.-midnight Saturday (kitchen closes at 10 p.m.).
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