By Kevin Williams
Amish culture, like any, is conveyed through its food: hearty, wholesome, no-frills, and embraced by family and faith. Places to experience authentic Amish cooking are rare. But here are a few recommendations from various geographic areas, some of these I've tried, some I've not. This is not a list of "5 Favorite", just some ones that I recommend you try.
THE KITCHEN OF DORIS YODER: I have not sampled this place so I can’t vouch for it, however, the opportunity to dine in an Amish home isn’t an opportunity that is common. Doris Yoder, an Old Order Amish woman, opens up her home for group meals by reservation. Meals are family-style, all you can eat. Phone 217-543-3409 to make a reservation. She is located in the Arthur, Illinois community.
KOOTENAI STORE Don’t expect to see a ton of buggy traffic while visiting the West Kootenai Amish community. While buggies are seen on the roads occasionally, most Amish here use bicycles for traveling. The “hub” of the settlement is the Kootenai Store & Craft, 7217 West Kootenai Road, Rexford, MT 59930, phone 406-889-3588, an Amish-owned and operated sundry store. The hours of this store can vary, so before planning a trip it is best to call ahead. Saturday mornings feature an all you can eat buffet from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The meal features a fusion of classic western food and traditional Amish cooking. Seating for the buffet is limited, but call-ahead reservations are accepted. This is a rare opportunity for a home-cooked Amish-made meal, so be prepared to make room in your belly! Rexford is a very tough community to get to, a place you probably only make it to once. Don't make the mistake I did and not call ahead. When I was visiting Rexford, the Kootenai store was closed while the owners were traveling so I missed the buffet!
Some of the best authentic Amish cuisine can be found in the Sarasota Amish community:
MILLER'S DUTCH KITCHEN – I've written a lot about Amish-themed restaurants in Sarasota, Florida, but there is one that bears mentioning that is a bit off the beaten path, but it's worth visiting, I think That’s because the owners are of Amish heritage and this is reflected in their menu. The restaurant is located in neighboring Bradenton about 20 minutes north of Pinecraft but well worth the drive if you are doing the “Amish restaurant circuit.” Or if you are on your way back north, Miller’s is a great stopping point for a final meal before you hit the road. The ornate two-story building houses the restaurant on the first floor and the newly-renovated gift shop on the second floor. Miller's Dutch Kitchen also serves a breakfast buffet from 7 AM to 11 AM Monday through Saturday. Address: 3401 14th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205, phone 941-746-8253, Days/Hours of Operation: Monday through Saturday, 7 AM to 8 PM; Closed Sunday, Meals Served: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.
HEIDI'S BAKERY & CAFE - OAKLAND, MARYLAND, 2249 Blue Ribbon Road - This will take you a little time to get to, but it's worth the drive if you ever find yourself in the mountains of western Maryland. This Mennonite owned and operated bakery and cafe is a place to go beyond baked goods and actually taste some Plain culinary traditions from their extensive menu.
STOLL'S LAKEVIEW RESTAURANT: This is an Amish buffet near Loogootee, Indiana and definitely worth the drive if you are in the area. I've been to this one and I like the fact that you can find some really authentic Amish dishes on the menu like Poor Man's Steak. Click here to see their menu.