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Remember: With a little help from my friend... 10 great Allentown Restaurants

Saturday, June 6, 2009

With a little help from my friend... 10 great Allentown Restaurants

I asked my friend Capri who writes a wonderful blog called: Nothing like the pants , to help me create a list of the top ten best places to eat in Allentown. I consider myself to be an amateur foodie but she is by all means much more of one than I. She is also a vegetarian and I am not, so she has a different and unique perspective on local eateries. Here is her list:

This is hands down my favorite Allentown restaurant. The decor is just a toe over the line of "obnoxiously kitschy," but the food is fresh and delicious, and the menu is huge. The belly dancing on weekends also make this the best place for date night or a birthday party.

Syb's Deli
For a long time, this was the only place to get a real bagel in this city. Its still a great place to stop for a breakfast or brunch.

Charlie K's
Of all the pizzerias in Allentown, this is seriously not even close to the best. I don't even know if it is fair to call what they make Pizza, but the slices are cheap and tasty in a way that concerns me (I'm never sure if the cheese is real or if its some kind of approximation), and to eat it, you have to visit the Allentown Farmer's Market, one of my favorite places to shop and people watch. Definitely get a slice along with a PA Dutch (that's the brand) Birch Beer, which they have on tap.

Robata of Tokyo
I think hibachi is a little bit weird, but every once in a while I'm in the mood for Japanese food, and this is the best spot. The food is consistently good, and the service is great. If you are vegetarian, they have many dishes that are easily made vegetarian, don't hesitate to ask - they are very accommodating.

The Bay Leaf
The most underrated Allentown restaurant, possibly the most underrated in the LV. This is a restaurant often overlooked by people looking for an upscale night out, probably because it is so low-profile on Hamilton Street. The vegetarian options are limited, but everything I've ever ordered has been extremely delicious and perfectly prepared. Actually, this is the first place I ever tried tofu and liked it. Get reservations because even though it is overlooked, Allentonians with good taste still come here on a regular basis.

Kow Thai Takeout

The only Thai food that is worth the prices on the menu in the whole Lehigh Valley. Forget all of those ridiculously overpriced Thai restaurants with white linen on the table. Take your food to go and have a picnic in West Park. The papaya salad is the best I've had anywhere, and the pumpkin stir fry is pretty bangin' too.


Great "countryside" spot for breakfast only, as far as I'm concerned their lunch/dinner is pretty unremarkable. The breakfast menu however, includes such deliciousness as German Apple Pancakes and homemade Quiches that are quite tasty.

Overlooked pan-asian restaurant on the east side. The food is ridiculously fresh and trends towards gourmet rather than pedestrian, but the prices are reasonable. The menu is creative but not frightening, and the dining room is quiet and welcoming. A great spot for a date or dinner with a small group of friends.

Grille 3501
I wavered about putting this one on my list, partly because I think its a bit overrated and also a bit overpriced, but that said - the food is good. The vegetarian options are plentiful, especially in the appetizers and salads. There is only a "vegetarian plate" for the entree, but in my experience they never have brought me a plate of steamed vegetables and called it a meal. The food is pretty great and the dining room at Grille 3501 is surprisingly relaxed.

La Mexicana Grille

This isn't Allentown's best mexican restaurant, but its the best one for vegetarians. I highly reccommend the flautas and the veggie fajitas. Also the avocado & red onion salad with the lime dressing is outstanding. At lunch they serve a sandwich called "molletes" which I could eat every day and never tire of."

To her list, I can offer:

Wert’s Café
: Hands down best onion rings in the world and best burgers in the Valley.

Yocco’s: Well, like it wasn’t going to show up.

The Brass Rail: See above. (Steak sandwich and mini potato pancakes for the win.)

O’Brien’s Really Good Food Inc: Capri included Syb’s on her list (and it is great) but I think the best Reuben in town is actually offered here.

It is great to know that despite the ever present invasive presence of chain restaurants, that there is still some great restaurants to check out in Allentown. Another thank you to Capri for providing a great insight here today; check out her blog!

Did we miss anything readers?

I didn’t want to hit on best Chinese food or best Pizza yet. That will be another rainy day post. It is always one heck of a debate among my friends.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

just to add a few: Wally's Deli, Youell's Oyster House, Bellissimo Ristorante, Hunan Springs; although i hear it is under new management and not as good.

June 6, 2009 at 6:24 PM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

Wally's! I should not have forgotten to mention them. They have the absolute best and most unique sandwiches in town.

June 6, 2009 at 6:30 PM  
OpenID nosferatu318 said...

how could she possibly diss Charlie K's like that.

June 6, 2009 at 6:35 PM  
Anonymous Capri said...

I'm not dissing Charlie K's, its the only pizzeria that made my 10 can't miss restaurants list! Its totally delicious and I eat there multiple times a month.... but anyone who says that Charlie K's pizza is the best allentown has to offer is definitely missing out!

Thanks for the shout out Andrew, this was a fun post to collaborate on.

June 6, 2009 at 10:00 PM  
Blogger Katie Bee said...

omg omg omg la mexicana. so many good memories. so many DELICIOUS memories. delicious and affordable! i can't wait to revisit the place - last time i was there, i was still eating meat.

June 6, 2009 at 10:34 PM  
Anonymous monkey momma said...

La Mexicana and Bay Leaf are my downtown favorites. On a good night, I might even stop by Callahans on Tilghman for a pre-dinner beer, but we rarely EAT at Callahans. (Except Haggis on St. Paddy's Day.) Is PJ Whelihans in Allentown, technically speaking? If so, their wings have to make a top 10 bar food list. I also LOVE the wings down at JP O'Malleys. Grille 3501 is the best for "fancy" nights out, and I love Mangos for a dinner out with my girlfriends. (They have a great little bar, too!)

June 8, 2009 at 7:16 AM  

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