Sitting on the south shore of Lake Erie, the city of Erie is the county seat of Erie County, Pennsylvania, with a 94,831 population as of the 2020 census.
It’s named after the Native Americans called the Erie indigenous people, who were the first settlers in the area until the mid-17th century.
It was platted in 1795 and incorporated in 1851.
It's also known as the Flagship City and the Gem City.
First, it’s called Flagship City because it was the port of the Niagara, Commodore Perry’s flagship in the Battle of Lake Erie in 1812.
Second, it’s also known Gem City because of the water's gem-like appearance when sunlight hits it.
Tourism is vital to the city's economic growth because of its amazing tourist spots and thriving local businesses, including boutiques and restaurants.
Are you planning a trip to the Gem City? Here are the best restaurants to try out in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen
American homestyle eats made from scratch is what everyone needs, and Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen doesn't disappoint.
With a fantastic Texas twist, you can enjoy their signature Homemade Chicken Pot Pie, Honey-Butter Croissants, or slow-smoked Baby Back Ribs, all made from scratch.
Their Monte Cristo, Spinach Dip, Grilled White Fish, Lemon Pepper Chicken, Broccoli Casserole, and Bourbon Salmon are all out of the ordinary!
The restaurant also has delicious specialty cocktails like Bloody Mary that you can't go home without.
There's a giant fish tank inside the restaurant that your kids will love too!
Established in 1979 by Doug Rogers and Aubrey Good in Irving, Texas, Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen now has almost 200 locations nationwide.
You can find it on Interchange Road.
O'Charley's Restaurant & Bar
Simple things in life can also mean good homestyle American comfort food to share with your family and friends in a homey atmosphere.
At O'Charley's Restaurant & Bar, enjoy their famous Chicken Tenders, Baby Back Ribs, Dinner Rolls, USDA Sirloin, Deviled Egg, and Loaded Greens.
Their O'Club Sandwich, Hand-Breaded Catfish Dinner, and Peach Cobbler are also crowdpleasers.
And if you visit them on Wednesdays, you may have a free pie!
O'Charley's Restaurant & Bar was established in 1971 by Charles Watkins in Nashville, Tennessee.
American Blue Ribbon Holdings now own it with almost 200 locations nationwide.
Its Erie location is at the Millcreek Marketplace on Interchange Road.
Primanti Bros. Restaurant and Bar Erie
In Gem City, when someone talks about the Pittsburgh-style sandwich, one can imagine that the best ones are from Primanti Bros. Restaurant and Bar Erie.
Founded in 1933, the restaurant is known for its handcrafted sandwiches, loaded with house-made coleslaw and fresh-cut fries.
But there's more.
Their Housemade Pizza, particularly the Bacon Cheddar Ranch Pizza, is one for the books!
You can also build your pizza or ask for their Half & Half Pizza to have two different flavors in one pie.
Their Pastrami and Cheese Sandwich, Bacon and Cheddar Fries, Boneless Wings, Chicken Tenders, and House Side Salad are all making huge waves in food blogs nationwide.
For vegans and vegetarians, you can also have Starters & Sides, Hand-cut Fries & Tots, and Southwest Black Bean Burger, and choose the build-your-own pizza option without the cheese.
Primanti Bros. Restaurant and Bar Erie is located in Millcreek Mall Complex on Peach Street.
McGarrey's Oakwood Cafe
Want some oh-so-delish Reuben Sandwiches?
The best ones in Erie are at McGarrey's Oakwood Cafe, considered a staple of the city for its award-winning Reuben Sandwiches, voted the Best in Erie.
Its version of the North American popular sandwich is grilled on fresh baked rye, sauerkraut, and corned beef and topped with delicious Swiss cheese.
But as a family-friendly spot serving American homestyle fare, it's also known for its delightful Pepperoni Balls, Dinner Rolls, Fried Zucchini, Baked Haddock, Fresh Lake Erie Perch, Stuffed Peppers, and Homemade Soup.
Their Dinner Rolls are also a culinary delight!
McGarrey's Oakwood Cafe has been serving Erie since 1978.
You can find it on West 38th Street.
Shoreline Bar and Grille
In a well-lit spot filled with tempting smells of delicious Walnut Crusted Walleye and Blackened Walleye sits Shoreline Bar and Grille.
The restaurant offers the best views of the lake through its beautiful outside patio, and if you're a sunset fan, it's the best spot to spend a lovely afternoon.
Try their hearty bowl of French Onion Soup, The Erie Burger, Spicy Shrimp Lettuce Cup, Grilled Wings, and Sweet Potato Tots.
Alongside your delicious dishes, do it by the fire pit, which you can reserve, and spend a wholesome night with spectacular lake views.
Their Signature Cocktails, Local Craft Beers, and House Wines are a great way to celebrate the day by the bay.
Shoreline Bar and Grille was established in 2016 in Courtyard by Marriott Erie Bayfront on Sassafras Pier.
Mouthwatering seafood and unbeatable views of the lake make Smugglers' Wharf one of the hottest spots in Erie.
The restaurant is the go-to seafood spot for most locals and tourists for its famous Signature Langostino Crab Cakes, Slow-Roasted Prime Rib, Fried Calamari, and Coconut Shrimp.
They are to die for their Baked Yellowtail Snapper with a Peach & Red Onion Marmalade, Lobster Roll, and Perch Sandwich!
All these are served in a laid-back nautical-themed spot with a vine-covered patio that makes it look like you're in a small garden house.
Also, try out their tasty Potato Salad and Crab Soup because they're also a favorite.
Smugglers' Wharf was established in 1983 on State Street by the East Dobbins Landing.
Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill
If you're all for delicious ribs, you should go straight to Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill to experience the best one in town.
The restaurant has impressive fall-off-the-bone ribs of different kinds, although the Baby Back Ribs are always the star.
They also offer unbeatable Smoked Wings, Pulled Pork, Fire Grilled USDA Sirloin, Brisket, Fire Grilled Shrimp, Nachos, and crowd-favorite Fried Pickles.
You may also want to make room for their tasty donuts!
Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill was first established in 1999 in Orlando, Florida by Darden Restaurants.
Barbeque Integrated now owns the restaurant with 61 locations.
In Erie, you can enjoy its delightful eats at Interchange Road in Millcreek Mall Complex.
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill
Wood-fired eats, anyone?
Another popular spot in Erie that serves wood-fired steaks, fresh seafood, scratch chicken, and delightful signature cocktails is Firebirds Wood Fired Grill.
Located in Millcreek Mall Complex, this lodge-like spot polished with dark brown lacquer offers wood-fired American fare that would make you feel at home.
They have delicious Deviled Eggs, BLT Salad, Durango Burger, Chili-rubbed Delmonico, Seared Ahi Tuna, and Tater Tots.
These are available for brunch, lunch, and dinner.
Also, their Smoked Chicken Wings are incredible!
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill was founded in 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
You can find it in Erie on Millcreek Mall Boulevard.
Calamari's Squid Row
Another gem in Gem City sits on State Street is Calamari's Squid Row, which serves the tastiest Calamari in town, served in Thai Chili Glaze.
This warm and inviting spot in Erie has indoor and outdoor dining with a live band performance to entertain the guests.
They are known for their delicious Tender Chicken Nugs, Thai Chili Wings, Seafood Gumbo, Boom Boom Shrimp, Mediterranean Flatbread, and more.
Vegans can also have Beyond Burger and some Sides suitable for a plant-based diet.
Try their Ooey Gooey Cake and Kentucky Pecan Pie.
Also, they offer brunch meals like Breakfast Pizza, Avocado Toast, Sunrise Croissant, and Build Your Own Omelet.
Don't forget to have your fair share of their special Bloody Mary, Mimosa Flight, and Citrus Mule.
Calamari's Squid Row was founded in 1996.
Pineapple Eddie Southern Bistro
How about a Southern-Caribbean Fusion?
Let Pineapple Eddie Southern Bistro treat you to delicious Jerk Chicken, Griyo, Southern Fried Chicken, and Jamaican Black Pepper Shrimp.
You'll be amazed at how this fusion hits the nail on the head, gaining a huge fanbase among guests at the bistro.
Other Southern-Caribbean eats, such as Fried Catfish, Shrimp & Grits, Hush Puppies, and Crab Cakes, are spot on.
Pineapple Eddie Southern Bistro was established in 2011 by the sisters Karen Thomas and Adrienne Paul and their business partner, Haiti native Jean Paul on West 10th Street.
Together, they created this unique fusion to show off their cooking techniques with authentic flavors of the Caribbean and Southern America.
Molly Brannigan's Irish Pub
Irish fare is unique to many cities, but Erie has Molly Brannigan's Irish Pub, serving time-honored and traditional Irish flavors.
You can have their delicious Reuben Egg Rolls, Irish Pub Salad, Mushroom Croquettes, Guinness Stew, Chicken Wings, and Crème Brulee 8, among others.
But because this is an Irish Pub, their old-time favorites cocktails, wines, Irish coffee, Billy's Irish Cream, and Espresso Martini are not to miss.
All these are served in a traditional Irish spot with beautiful decor straight from Ireland.
Their hand-hewn bar houses an unmatched collection of beer and whiskey.
Molly Brannigan's Irish Pub was founded in 2002 in the downtown district of Erie on State Street.
Habibi Mediterranean Cuisine
One of the healthiest cuisines is the Mediterranean, which consists of mostly plant food and minimally processed ingredients, including herbs and spices.
Simply put, Habibi Mediterranean Cuisine is one of them.
The restaurant offers the best Chicken Kabob, Falafel Sandwiches, Lentil Soup, Baklava, Baba Ganoush, Kabsa, and Halal.
You can have any of these crowd favorites while enjoying the restaurant's relaxing atmosphere.
Habibi Mediterranean Cuisine is a family-owned restaurant established in 2013.
You can find this authentic gem on West 14th Street.
Federal Hill Smokehouse
If you're up for delicious smoked barbecue, head to Federal Hill Smokehouse to satisfy your umami cravings.
The restaurant is known for its smoked meats like Ribs, Pulled Pork, Brisket, and Turkey with its housemade barbecue sauce.
You can also make way for their delicious Peach Cobbler, Mac & Cheese, Veggie Wings, and Deviled Eggs.
Nothing's fancy here; only no-frills barbecue and a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
Federal Hill Smokehouse has also won the Best BBQ in Pennsylvania by Food & Wine Magazine.
It was established in 2016 by Ryan and Autumn Atzert.
Here's another spot offering authentic Middle Eastern flavors in the form of Hummus, Turkish Coffee, Baklava, Falafel Sandwiches, Lentil Soup, and more.
Casablanca Grill serves all these in a homey space with a lovely outdoor patio.
They have different specialties from North Africa, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt & Greece, Syria, and Turkey.
From Couscous, Frekieh, Mucklouba, Musaka, Mgedrah, and Kabab Hindi, this restaurant is all you can ask for traditional Middle Eastern fares.
Their Homemade Cucumber Yogurt is also a must-try.
What's more impressive about Casablanca Grill is that they have delectable options for vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free dieters.
Casablanca Grill is located on West 8th Street.
Paying homage to Erie's legendary American naval commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, Oliver's Rooftop has won the hearts of both locals and tourists with its unrivaled waterfront dining experience.
You can have their mouthwatering Herb-crusted Walleye, Lobster Pasta, Lobster Bisque, Filet Mignon, Chicken Piccata, and much more.
Their Soups & Salads, as well as Deviled Eggs, are also a must-try.
Located on the 8th floor of the Hampton Inn & Suites, you can have extraordinary views of the lake and breathtaking sunset with a beer in your hand.
Scott Enterprises, an Erie-based hospitality company, owns Oliver's Rooftop.
It was officially opened in 2020, serving the city with its finest American eats in a romantic setting.
Oliver's Rooftop has also won the 2021 Erie's Choice Awards in the Best New Restaurant, Best Romantic Restaurant, Best Waterfront Dining, and Best Overall Dining categories.
Erie is one of Pennsylvania's crowning jewels for its unbeatable tourist attractions and finest restaurants.
From traditional American eats to delicious Irish cuisine, the city is worth the trip.
Come and visit Erie, Pennsylvania to try a one-of-a-kind dining experience.