Lancaster is nestled along Rt. 30, just a little over an hour from Philadelphia. which has historically been known for its Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, farmers’ markets, and antiquing. As a native of South Central Pennsylvania, many of these cultural aspects were staples of my own upbringing, however, over the last decade, it has been refreshing to see Lancaster begin to transform from a charming and quaint city to an area bustling with culture, nightlife, and fine dining. If you need any solid evidence of this, a trip to The Imperial Restaurant is a must-have dining experience that is fully representative of the renaissance that historic downtown Lancaster is currently undergoing.
Located in the heart of Lancaster City, The Imperial Restaurant was named for a famous historical landmark The Imperial Hotel was known for its many historical guests. In this 21st-century version, the restaurant mimics its namesake’s roots as it is conveniently attached next to the city’s newest Holiday Inn offering the option to not only enjoy the restaurant but also an overnight stay in the city. As you enter the restaurant itself, you are greeted by posh decor denoted by vibrant orange and yellow booths and seating, metallic light fixtures, art deco floor tile, and modern art, all of which are just as eclectic and unique as the menu itself.
Speaking of cuisine and cocktails, the menu provides a wide variety of options for every taste. The mastermind behind The Imperial’s well-curated menu is Chef Abou Kouyate who joined the restaurant as the executive chef in February 2020. Originally from West Africa, Chef Abou has lived, worked and traveled all over the world and brings this extensive experience to each and every one of the dishes that he’s developed for The Imperial’s menu. From a Seared Scallops a la Royale that features the most flavorful and creamy risotto that I’ve ever tasted to a New Orleans Shrimp Creole that is served with crispy pork belly and kale which embodies the soulfulness and decadence of southern cooking. If you’re feeling adventurous, I’d encourage you to indulge in the “Cut of the Day” – on my visit this featured a premium cut of New York Strip atop a bed of roasted Brussel sprouts, kale, and mushrooms.
And while the cuisine is stellar, the cocktail menu is equally as delicious. Featuring spirits and libations from around the world, and rotating seasonal cocktails you can partake in new takes on old classics like Old Fashions and Margaritas or step outside of the box and try a cocktail with Sake. I can’t wait to return to Lancaster to check out this gem. You can check out some photos from my visit below.
The Imperial Restaurant is located at 26 East Chestnut Street at The Holiday Inn Lancaster, PA 17602. Or call for reservations at (717) 399-4040