Tourist Treasure, Not Tourist Trap – Gilligan’s

 Susan says…


Dining Room at Gilligan's (photo from their website)

A rule of thumb when traveling is to beware of the locally-owned restaurants that are situated close to a grouping of hotels. Case in point, Jamm’s in Mystic CT which I wrote about in a previous review. Sometimes these restaurants are rip-offs – they won’t be seeing repeat customers because the majority of customers are travelers, so they need only lure you in once and who cares if they do a good enough job to make you want to come back.

Our hotel in Harrisburg, PA was near a handful of other hotels and a handful of locally-owned restaurants and gas stations.  Clearly, a “passing through” area.  We were tired.  We were hungry.  We were weary of trying to find our way around new places, especially in the dark. 

The gal that checked us in at the Wyndham suggested the place next door (which resembled a bar that happens to have food) and Gilligan’s, a short drive down the road.  I had noticed Gilligan’s as we drove to the hotel- full parking lot, attractive neon signage.  I googled them quickly while testing the wifi connection in the room before heading out.  (My name is Susan, and I am addicted to the internet.) Menu looked good…approved!

We visited the Eisenhower Boulevard location but another is situated in the Colonial Parks area of Harrisburg.

There was a lot of action in the large bar area, including televisions, darts and pool tables.  It seemed like a fun atmosphere but I did not want to sit there because of the smoking.  So we passed through a door into the non-smoking dining room.

Chicken, seafood, pastas and steaks all make an appearance on this diverse menu.  Feeling guilty for all my food-related transgressions of the week, I was determined to order something low-carb.  As if the final meal of the trip would net out the five pounds I surely gained…half of which were likely packed on at the pasta shop the day before. 

Nonetheless, my mind made up, I ordered the Chicken Katie: marinated, grilled chicken in a citrus wine sauce with julienned vegetables for $14.95.  In place of the starchy side, I requested broccoli.  Ahhhh….I feel skinnier already.

I don’t talk about steak a lot on the blog because I don’t really care for it.  I rarely voluntarily order a steak.  Only two cuts of meat are acceptable to me: filet mignon and prime rib.  Gilligan’s offers both. I did consider the prime rib, but dismissed it, positive that I would receive a dry, tasteless piece of red meat.  But Ron decided to give it a try, always a fan of beef, ordering up the King Cut slow-roasted “house specialty” for $20.95. (A smaller Queen Cut is available for $18.95.)

King Cut Prime Rib $20.95

Instant food regret. 

The prime rib was a huge, gorgeous slab of deliciousness, well worth the price tag.  The meat was tender and moist.  I had already stolen two big bites before I even tasted my chicken dish.  I prefer to leave the chunk of meat in the au jus ramekin and slosh it around a bit, sure that will force more “jus” to stick to it and thus increasing the pleasure to my tastebuds.  Ron was about ready to stab me so I had to switch focus to my own plate.

The vegetables were indeed julienned and cooked to a perfect crisp-tender state.  I am usually wary of zuchinni because many times the kitchen overcooks it, but not Gilligan!  Who knew he was such a good cook?  The two chicken breast halves were seasoned nicely and I had just the right amount of delicate sauce for my plate and the side order of steamed broccoli.

Chicken Katie $14.95

Gilligans has a wide selection of beers on tap, of which Ron sampled at least two different varieties.  They also offer homemade desserts but since tiramisu was not one of them, I passsed.

We had a nice conversation with our server about the restaurant and others in the immediate vacinity.  She provided prompt, attentive service throughout our visit. 

This restaurant gave us one of the most satisfying meals of the entire trip when you consider food quality, choice, value and service combined.  FOUR FORKS.

Ron Says ~

10.31.08 ~ I keep telling these guys to put the dates on there, and that’s the date Susan and I were there.

Ok, I’ll keep my review short and sweet.

There’s only one bad thing about this place.  Yes – you should understand that we only at there one stinking time and the law of averages isn’t on any eatery’s side – but the only thing I hated was the Smoking.  But we were Strangers In A Strange Land, and so we made do.  (Did you think the link would be to the best-selling 1961 Hugo Award-winning science fiction novel by Robert A. Heinlein? Then you don’t know Ron very well.)

Nevertheless, that was some of the best Prime Rib I had eaten: not too marbly, thick (approx. 1.5″), plus it was nearly 10PM when we got there and they were still serving it!!  Plus for $20 and compared to some of the stuff we had been eating in CT, it was a bargain.   

The beer was cold, the service was good.  The fact that the place was crowded by what appeared to be locals, well that should tell you something.  

The bar area – which we didn’t sit in, had plenty of TV’s. The beer wasn’t outrageously priced and I could definitely see watching a game here (sans le smoke, of course).  

If you’re in this area of PA, you should check it out. I think you’ll like it… and if you don’t, well leave a comment and tell us how much of an idiot we are.


987 Eisenhower Blvd
Harrisburg, PA  17111
Gilligans Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon


7 responses to “Tourist Treasure, Not Tourist Trap – Gilligan’s

  1. This is an intervention: First it was the chains; now it is the exotic locations. Some of can’t afford trips to Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and yet you flaunt your travels in our face!

    I’d like to remind you, Susan, of your mission statement:
    “Local Restaurant Reviews in Charleston, WV by Regular People…”

    Prove to us that you are still regular people, if indeed you still are. I hope I wasn’t too late.

  2. (imagine whiny voice and pointed index finger)

    Daniel started it. Our second post was Daniel’s review of a Beckley restaurant.

  3. I told Susan this ~ just the other day. “Lay Off the out of town places”. Save them for rainy days and filler material.

    I love it when I can say “I told You So”.

  4. Now, guys, don’t be too hard on Susan for her out-of-town restaurant reviews. While I agree with you, I have to say that for those of us who have nothing better to do than read this blog all day long (sad, I know), her reviews were better than nothing! None of the rest of the five posted any new reviews while she was gone! (Oh, and the WVHD blog slacked a little in October too. I’m just sayin’…..)

  5. LAL-

    While I am truly sorry you have nothing more exciting to do than read our ramblings, I do appreciate that you have my back on this one.

    I believe that we should post a max of one out-of-town review per week, generally speaking. Reason is that most readers may not ever have a need to know about restaurants in Timbuktu.

    However, I have been eating non-local for the past 3-4 weeks (even on weekends) so I have had no opportunity to review any local joints during that time. As you pointed out, no one else has been posting much of anything local during my absence. Stuff like paying jobs and families sometimes get in the way of our blogging! LOL

    Friday we went to Vandalia Grille so look for that one soon.

  6. I have one of those jobs where I sit at a desk all day, so sometimes compared to the work I do, reading your blog is exciting. Can’t wait for your Vandalia Grill review.

  7. I wonder if other towns in West Virginia will be okay with Stanton, or if that would also be considered an “exotic” location like Connecticut?

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