The Pennsylvania Turnpike runs 360 miles from Pennsylvania’s eastern to western borders, a five to seven hour drive end to end, which is long enough to send most long-distance drivers in search of sustenance along the way. And therein lies a problem, because the Pennsylvania Turnpike has long been notorious for its extremely meager dining options, both on the turnpike and in the nearby communities. The situation is so bad that most of those who have rolled on its pavement would be grateful for any sort of tip at all that would lead them to something more promising than the rest areas or the burger and chicken chains.
One option we’d like to offer is the Summit Diner in Somerset, towards the western end of the highway. The Summit is a 1960 Swingle diner that has seen some pretty extensive remodeling yet still exudes the soul of a classic diner. OJ is served in tall, curvaceous Coke glasses with handles, coffee comes in heavy mugs, and breakfast platters are fresh and generously proportioned.
We especially appreciate one dish known as The Scrapyard, which starts with a base of that Pennsylvania breakfast favorite called scrapple, upon which is layered fried potatoes, eggs, and cheese. The Western Skillet swaps in bacon for the scrapple and adds peppers, onions, and mushrooms to the mix. Hotcakes are tall and fluffy. Pies are homemade, and are a particular point of pride at the Summit. These are not destination dishes, mind you, but simply the well-prepared eats one hopes for, too often in vain, from a diner.
If you’re traveling west on the turnpike and have spent the night in one of the Breezewood hotels, we recommend skipping the spirit-sapping comp breakfast of powdered eggs and stale pastries and breakfasting an hour later at the Summit for a meal that will feed not only your belly but your soul.791 North Center Avenue Somerset PA 15501 814-445-7154 Summit Diner on Facebook