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Bites Nearby: The Willows Family Restaurant

The Willows is off the beaten path, but near enough to be neighborly.

Set off the road, along a quiet stretch of Willow Lane in Lower Macungie, is far from foot traffic and retail activity. Yet for more than 60 years, the establishment has been attracting loyal patrons.

The staff greets regulars by name and gives a similar convivial welcome to newcomers.

The restaurant opens every day at 7 a.m., and in diner fashion, will serve breakfast upon request all day. The place is open till 8 p.m.; 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

In the minds of many diners, The Willows has a reputation for having homey Pennsylvania Dutch fare — which it does — but those dishes represent just a fraction of the menu offerings. A few notable examples are the fried scrapple squares as an appetizer, cottage cheese and apple butter on the salad bar, and “Dutch Delights” entrees of roast pork, meatloaf and chicken croquettes.

Beyond that, The Willows offers a wide range of familiar foods: sandwiches, burgers, wraps, paninis, Italian dinners (chicken or veal parmigiana, stuffed shells), steaks (sirloin, T-bone, London broil) and broiled or fried seafood. The signature Willows Burger is dressed with lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, bacon and BBQ sauce.

Most dinners include, in the price, a trip to the soup and salad bar, or the items are always available a la carte. Desserts feature homemade cream, crumb and custard pies, and a classic apple dumpling.

The low-lying location, yards from the Little Lehigh Creek, has been prone to flooding throughout the restaurant’s history. Following this summer’s hurricane, the dining room has been refreshed with new carpeting.

There is a typical mix of table and booths, and a separate room for private parties. In a gesture that seems totally appropriate for a family-style business that doesn’t put on airs, The Willows’ décor is enhanced by displays of colorful artwork by children from local elementary schools.

1935 Willow Lane, Lower Macungie, PA  18062.  610-928-1101.

Frediano January 28, 2012 at 03:20 PM
What great memories of this place! And... what won't they fritter?

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