Owner and culinary mastermind of French Quarter Bistro, Mark Van Horn’s prerequisites for a good meal are simple: authenticity, home cooking, and a liberal dash of soul. This dedication to comfort cooking has earned the French Quarter Bistro a host of dedicated regulars as well as the Philly Hot List's award for Best Soul Food in 2009, 2010, and 2011. In the bustling kitchen, chefs whip up creole and Cajun eats using unique ingredients such as house roasted peppers, alligator sausage, and fried pickles. Along with their flavorful dishes, French Quarter Bistro also serves up a variety of entertainment throughout the week, including open mic nights with local singers and poets tired of the wrestling portion of poetry slams.
The Forest Inn is conveniently located 1 block up from the Sovereign Center in downtown Reading. It offers a wide variety of Pub Food and specializes in the Famous Coney Island Hot Dogs, Burgers, & Fresh Cut French Fries. 9 Beers on Tap & 25 Bottles. Check out the old style décor, bar back & tin ceiling dating back to 1867.
At Pike Cafe, the glow of 40 high-def TVs illuminates diners as they fasten their fangs on steaks, seafood, pasta, wings, and more. After browsing a diverse dinner menu, eaters can set off on their gastronomic journey with a starter, such as lobster crostinis ($10.95). Chicken ($13.95), steak ($14.95), and jumbo shrimp ($15.95) fajitas command the attention of ears, snouts, and tongues, popping and sizzling like break dancers on a midsummer's blacktop. Hickory-smoked bacon enrobes the char-grilled classic pike filet mignon, which is garnished with marinated portobello mushrooms and sautéed onions and doused with a veal demi-glaze ($21.95).
Parched patrons can mosey over to the polished wood bar to wet their whistles and catch up on sporting events displayed on flat-screen TVs. The bar serves an octet of regular tap beers, supplemented by a varied selection of bottled brews and Beringer Founders' Estate wines, and swaps out half of its typical taps for a rotating selection of microbrews and specialty brews on Saturdays. Third Rail also hosts an open mic on Tuesday nights, perfect for emerging vocal artists or experienced artists yearning to break from the tyrannical hold of Garfunkel.
For more than 15 years, the Reading Comedy Outlet has been busting guts with its weekly slate of up-and-coming laugh larks and old-hand guffaw gurus. Arrive early on a Friday or Saturday evening to stake a prime plot of side-splitting real estate for comic concerts including Vancouver chuckle-chucker Phil Hanley on April 15 and 16, and the two-for-one combo of headliners Davin Rosenblatt and Cal Verduchi in late April. Ticket prices average between $13 and $14 per person. While not included in today's Groupon, the Alley Oops Sports Pub cooks up a full menu that includes sandwiches, funnel-cake fries, and slushies mixed with the flavorful tears of sad clowns.
Brewer's Bar & Grill's extensive roster of suds, ample calendar of activities, and sports-studded atmosphere draw crowds seven days a week. Rotating seasonal microbrews keep the beer list fresh, and specialty drinks such as the White Gummybear—a concoction of raspberry vodka, Peach Schnapps, and sour mix—give jaded cocktail consumers new liquid territory to explore. The thorough food menu nails pub basics, such as burgers and sandwiches, and then goes above and beyond with steak, crab, shrimp, pierogies, and more. NFL Sunday Ticket beams from 14 flat-screen HDTVs, strategically placed for maximum viewability and minimum government brain-wave interference. Huddled masses yearning to boogie free can swing by for live DJ sounds and karaoke on Wednesdays, and know-it-alls are invited to pummel can't-quite-place-it-alls during Thursday pub trivia.