Few restaurants make it past the 10-year mark. The fact that Scalles has been in business for over 30 is clear proof that they must be doing something right.
The restaurant, located at the East end of Carlisle near the intersection of York Road and East High Street in Carlisle, was constructed between 1867 and 1870 by Carl W. Ahl, a partner in the Carlisle Iron Works, the Big Pond Furnace and the Katherine Furnace, all located in Boiling Springs. The industrious individual was also president of the Harrisburg and Potomac Railroad and used the building to store the finished products from the furnace.
Eventually the warehouse was sold to Ira Grover in the 1880s, who used it to store grain. Over the years, the building has been a retail store for wood stoves, a sportswear store, an office supply store and a teen nightclub before the Meals family moved their restaurant into the building.
When we pulled up into the large lot on Friday night, it was almost full, but we managed to find a parking space at the height of the dinner hour. When we walked through the front doors, the first thing we encountered was a wall of floor-to-ceiling coolers, filled with an impressive selection of craft beers and a small line of customers waiting to pay for six-packs to go with their food orders.
I realized then that the dining room was straight ahead when I saw the sign listing the daily specials, which included a large selection of soup: chicken corn, chili, cream of crab, Maryland crab, vegetable beef, white chicken chili, sausage barley and ham and potato chowder. Additional items on the list included a prime rib sandwich, a tuna melt and veal parmigiana.
We quickly realized that seating was self-service, so we made our way to one of the seats along the wall. It wasn’t long before we were acknowledged by a friendly waitress asking for our drink orders. I took notice that Scalles offers a selection of bottled beer and beer on tap, including Yuengling, so I ordered a mug of lager to complement my meal.
The menu at Scalles is rather extensive and if you’re curious, you can download the pdf from its website at scallesrestaurant.com. An overview of what you’ll find includes subs—both hot and cold—burgers, hot dogs, salads, burritos, tacos, pasta and platters ranging from fried chicken to liver and onions, as well as Delmonico steak and fried fish like flounder, haddock and cod.
I decided on the mini cheesesteak ($7.25) and a small order of sweet potato fries ($3.55). My dining partner was hungry for fried chicken, so he ordered the four-piece platter with a side of potato salad and a small tossed salad ($14.75).
As we waited for our meals, I took note of the casual atmosphere and the rustic décor from the rough-hewn beams, to the old map incorporated into each table, to the open ceiling and the wall-sized photos that depict various scenes of old Carlisle.
I don’t think we waited more than 10 minutes before our meals arrived. My small order of piping hot, delicious sweet potato fries hit the table first, and I have to say I like that the order was indeed on the small side—containing about a dozen or so fries. For me, that was plenty. I didn’t feel overwhelmed with too much food, nor did I feel guilty about indulging a craving.
A few minutes later, we were both enjoying our respective meals. His fried chicken was delicious, crunchy and unbelievably moist. I took a bit and was just as impressed as he was; in fact, I wished I would have ordered the same.
His side of potato salad was also delicious. This is really saying something since I’m not one to like any potato salad outside of my grandmother’s recipe, but I will admit that Scalles potato salad was darned good. If I had to describe it, I would say it was reminiscent of a deviled egg. What was absent from the recipe was sugar—can I get a hallelujah? So many eateries in our area ruin a would-be-good potato salad with the white stuff.
My cheesesteak was served hot with a generous amount of meat and provolone cheese, and yes, I knew that in advance and decided to go with it, although I know some cheesesteak aficionados would disapprove of anything but Cheez-Whiz on theirs.
Scalles seems to be quite a hit with families; we saw many adults filing in with kids in tow as we finished up. Maybe it’s because there’s something for everyone on the menu and at a fair price to boot.
For me, I’m happy to discover another Carlisle haunt to add to my rotation when in the area, for the crave-worthy fried chicken and potato salad alone. This casual, homestyle joint offers up tasty meals with little pretension at modest prices, with fast and friendly service. It’s no wonder they’ve been in business for more than three decades.
Next Up: Lunch at Café Magnolia in Mechanicsburg (under new management)