Top of the Town: Best Of 2019

• • • FOOD & DRINK • • •

By Carrie Havranek and Amy Unger with Kristen Rinaldi

In the sixth annual Best of the Lehigh Valley competition, the stakes were high—locals cast more than 20,000 votes across 93 different categories. Why were they crowned the best? Read on to find out!

Best Pierogi

Hops Fogelsville Hotel

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Claiming the title of best pierogi in a region loaded with excellent choices is no small feat. The Hoppy family of Byron, Carol and Scott, own both locations—there’s one at the Paddock, too. At Hops Fogelsville, which dates to 1798, it’s definitely not your average pierogi situation. They’re homemade and filled with the requisite cheese and potatoes, but here’s where it veers off into a different direction. “We deep fry them, sauté them with butter and onions, add brown butter and crabmeat to them and serve them 'Fogey' style, topped with melted cheeses, bacon and jalapeños. The most popular requested side is sour cream. We literally make hundreds of these each week at both locations,” says Carol. They’re always on the menu, and you can opt for them as add-ons to burgers, sandwiches and entrees.
Photography by Marco Calderon

7921 Main St., Fogelsville | 610.395.3999 |

Best Mac and Cheese

The Bayou: Southern Kitchen & Bar

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Whether you go to the original location, tucked in a neighborhood, or their Easton locale, right on Centre Square, you can order this beloved mac and cheese. It’s unusual—there isn’t bacon or lobster or anything else that usually amps up the mac and cheese experience for people. Instead, it’s smoked ham hock, fontina and cave-aged cheddar cheese, and peas. “We wanted to bring different levels of creamy, cheesy goodness,” says Mo Davis, who, along with Cristian Duarte, Jerry Straub and Matt Weaver, comprise the ownership known as The Bayou Boys Hospitality Group. Davis says the mac and cheese is the number-two seller behind fried chicken. So, you know what you have to do, right? You have to go with someone else to share the fried chicken and the mac and cheese. That pairing is no accident!
Photography by Marco Calderon

702 Hawthorne Rd., Bethlehem | 610.419.6669 | 64 Centre Sq., Easton | 610.829.1700 |

Best Nachos


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A loyal resident on Torre’s Bocadito (snack) menu, their nachos are loaded with black beans, guacamole, Chihuahua and cheddar cheese, chili, crema and your choice of shredded chicken, pulled pork or shredded beef brisket. Enjoy them with a Torre Margarita, on the rocks or frozen. Photography by Alison Conklin

The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley | 610.841.9399 |

Best Cheesesteak

The Brass Rail

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They’ve won for best cheesesteak, but that comes in many forms at The Brass Rail. The menu offers the original cheesesteak (sauce, onions, pickles and hot peppers), the California cheesesteak (mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion), the buffalo chicken cheesesteak (lettuce and blue cheese dressing), the chili cheesesteak (onions and chili sauce)—and that’s just the sandwich menu. There’s also the cheesesteak salad, the cheesesteak quesadilla and the cheesesteak pizza. Photography by Shelbie Pletz

3015 Lehigh St., Allentown | 610.797.1927 |

Best Seafood Market

Northampton Seafood

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Northampton Seafood, which has been operating since 1995 and is owned by Lee Billy, is known for its fresh and frozen selection of seafood, which comes from both New Jersey and New York markets on a regular basis. You can get dinner and everything else you need for it here. Stop in for some homemade soups and salad to go with your crab cakes or stuffed flounder or haddock.
Photography by Marco Calderon

190 Lilac Ct., Northampton | 610.266.3333 | [Facebook]@northamptonseafood

Best Specialty Food

Stravino’s Italian Market

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There are imported goods galore, many, as you would expect, from Italy, at this mainstay market that dates to 1916. More cheese (pecorino, ricotta, asiago, burrata) than you could imagine—it would take you days to sample them all—and ravioli, and pasta, pasta, pasta. (Don’t forget to sample the olive oils and vinegars!) Their sandwiches are legendary, especially the Stravino’s special, with hot capicola, provolone, roasted peppers, olive oil and romaine lettuce. The breads come from Egypt Star Bakery (super local) and Anthony & Sons (a New Jersey favorite).
Photography by Alison Conklin

269 5th St., Whitehall | 610.432.2551 |

Best Bread

Vallos Bakery

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We know Vallos for its doughnuts, pastries and so forth, but what’s a bakery without award-winning bread? In a world full of artisan bread, which is wonderful and lovely and has its merits, it’s good to know that an old-fashioned soft loaf of bread can still be purchased. Vallos in Bethlehem has been at it for more than 85 years. Whether it’s Vienna, French or Round Italian for your basic carb-loving needs, or something more specialized such as a honey whole wheat or hot dog and hamburger rolls, there’s always something fluffy and delicious coming out of the oven at this family-run bakery.
Photography by Alison Conklin

1800 Broadway, Bethlehem | 610.866.1012 |

Best Food Truck

Bad Bones BBQ

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Owned and operated by Joe Dewalt, this food truck is coming into its eighth season and you can find it on a regular basis (typically April through mid-November) at Newhard Farms Corn Shed in Coplay. It makes for a convenient spot—in the summer, Dewalt says they smoke the farm’s super-sweet corn, dip it in butter and sprinkle it with their own sweet and smoky seasoning blend. The pulled pork is tops, but keep some room for sides such as smoky bacon mac and cheese or smoked wings—the latter are award winning. Bad Bones makes everything and smokes the meats daily. “We have gained an extremely loyal customer base and don’t usually do too many events anymore because our regulars get a little angry when we’re not there,” says Dewalt, with a laugh.
Photography by Marco Calderon

3250 Mauch Chunk Rd., Coplay | 610.730.5838 |

Best Local Distillery

Eight Oaks Craft Distillers

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Eight Oaks is truly a family affair, with multiple generations working under the roof of this purpose-built distillery that resembles a barn. Naturally, too, Eight Oaks is situated in farmland and sources the corn, wheat, barley and rye for its spirits right on site. How cool is that? The space is worth seeing, but you may have encountered Eight Oaks at a few different locations in the Lehigh Valley, such as the Allentown Farmers Market and the Easton Farmers’ Market. (They do get distributed further afield at markets in York and Harrisburg, along with Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.) It’s not hard to find these spirits in the state stores, but the interaction with employees and the ability to taste the spirits at the markets is really key. There’s always some new, one-off specialty item they’re pouring. Carly Butters, co-founder and general manager, says they’re very excited about their new barrel-aged gin called Old Tom, released in June. Photography by Alison Conklin

7189 Route 309, New Tripoli | 484.387.5287 |

Best Breakfast

Billy's Downtown Diner

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No matter where you go in the Lehigh Valley, you’re now not very far from a location of Billy’s Downtown Diner—there are locations in Downtown Bethlehem (2000), Allentown (2012) and, most recently, Easton (2018). According to owner Billy Kounoupis, people love to both order—and photograph—the berry crunch French toast. It’s under the menu category “Heaven on a Plate,” and here’s what heaven tastes like, French toast style: crème brûlée French toast, granola, strawberries, cranberries and, of course, whipped cream and powdered sugar set it off. Sounds like dessert for breakfast—not that there’s anything wrong with that, right? Oh, and guess what? If you dream of going out to dinner and ordering a legit breakfast, the Easton location is going to open for “brinner”—yep, breakfast for dinner—in the summer. You heard it here first!
Photography by Alison Conklin

Various area locations |

Best Cupcake

Blondie's Cupcakes

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Their slogan “Cupcakes so moist, you’ll need a spoon!” really says it all, doesn’t it? It must be true—Blondies has appeared on the Food Network and has been called upon by celebrities visiting the area. Photography by Alison Conklin

333 Front St., Catasauqua | 610.443.1741 |

Best Hibachi
Best Sushi

KOMÉ Fine Japanese Cuisine

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Since opening in December 2008, Komé has delivered consistency to its patrons. Their core menu pretty much stays the same—why fix what isn’t broken?—while their seasonal specials allow for experimentation throughout the year. And don’t forget to check out the dessert menu, featuring mochi ice cream, a dessert bento box and s’mores (chocolate mousse, toasted marshmallow, honey-roasted peanuts and Nutella powder). Photography by Alison Conklin

The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley | 610.798.9888 |

Best Grilled Cheese

House & Barn

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Served on brioche, Barn of House and Barn’s grilled cheeses range from the vegetarian Garden Herb (roasted tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, sautéed spinach, balsamic, herb goat cheese and cheddar) to the Shroom and Beef (caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, beef short rib, swiss and peppercorn aioli) and the Bacon and Cheddar (caramelized onions, tomato, mayo, bacon and cheddar). All are served with a side of their famous smoked potato salad, coleslaw, chips or mixed greens.
Photography by Shelbie Pletz

1449 Chestnut St., Emmaus | 610.421.6666 |

Best Hummus

Aladdin Middle Eastern Cuisine

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Opt for Aladdin’s “dinner for two” special, complete with hummus, babaganoush, tabbouleh, feta, olives, kibbeh, spinach pie, arnabit, house salad, shish taouk, shish kabob, rice, traditional baklava and coffee—all for $59.95. Don’t forget to BYOB!
Photography by Alsion Conklin

651 Union Blvd., Allentown | 610.437.4023 |

Best Ice Cream

Bethlehem Dairy Store

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Lovingly referred to as “The Cup,” the Bethlehem Dairy Store serves happy customers year-round. With more than 40 flavors, there’s something for everyone.
Photography by Alison Conklin

1430 Linden St., Bethlehem | 610.691.8422 |

Frozen Yogurt

Menchie's Frozen Yogurt

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Try Menchie’s latest fro-yo masterpiece—their Chips Ahoy!® cookie collaboration! This fro-yo flavor is made with real Chips Ahoy!® cookie pieces and is sure to satisfy every craving.
Photography by Colin Coleman

Various Area Locations |

Best Sunday Brunch

Historic Hotel Bethlehem

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It’s where you go when you want something really delicious and you need a bit of an indulgence. It’s where you take out-of-town guests on a Sunday afternoon. It’s where people have been going for brunch for decades, and for good reason. The food is stellar, there’s live music, and there’s literally something for everyone. Including kids.Made-to-order omelet or waffle? Check. Carving station of roasted meats? Yep, that too. Fresh seafood and pastries for days? Got that as well. Oh, and there’s also a chocolate fountain. Because, you know, chocolate. The hotel keeps things interesting with themed brunches around holidays (Valentine’s, Bastille Day, Cinco de Mayo and so forth) and specific cuisines (Italian brunch).
Photography by Marco Calderon

437 Main St., Bethlehem | 610.625.5000 |

Best Burrito

Cali Burrito

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Try one of Cali Burrito’s specialty creations named for the places they love. There’s The Big Sur (steak, pinto beans, rice, ranchero sauce and cheese), The Cortez (sautéed shrimp, zesty pepper sauce, white rice, pinto beans and cabbage), The Humboldt (smoked tofu, black beans, brown rice, sour cream and cheese) and many more!
Photography by Donovan Roberts Witmer

2149 Reading Rd., Allentown | 610.351.1791 |

Best Taco

Geaker's Tacos

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Beef, chicken, fish, shrimp or, even, gator—take your pick! Geakers’ taco flavorings include Jamaican Jerk, Buffalo, Asian Sesame and Bourbon. Photo courtesy of Geakers Tacos

3531 Freemansburg Ave., Bethlehem | 610.419.4869 |

Best Burger

Two Rivers Brewing Company

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Two Rivers’ most famous burger might be their Peanut Butter Bacon Cheddar Burger (it once graced the cover of Style), but the others deserve applause as well. Their Chipotle Bison Burger is made with a half pound of Fossil Farms bison, Breakaway Farms bacon, chipotle-lime barbecue sauce, horseradish aioli, smoked Gruyère cheese and beer-batter onion rings on a brioche bun. But it’s not all meat and bacon. Their Vegan Black Bean and Chickpea Burger is topped with beet and cabbage slaw, avocado and sriracha aioli on a seven-grain roll.
Photography by Colin Coleman

542 Northampton St., Easton | 610.829.1131 |

Best Coffee Shop

Java Joint

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Join Java Joint’s Latté Club for a chance to win special prizes every week. Stop by between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. for 50 cents off their signature drinks like the Royal Supreme, Iced Javanut and Mochaccino. Add vanilla, caramel, almond, hazelnut, raspberry, Irish cream or coconut to any drink!

7370 Hamilton Blvd., Trexlertown | 610.530.3171 |

Best French Fry

Union and Finch

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Their Finch Fries are deliciously simple—crispy and seasoned with salt and pepper. But patrons can also pump it up a notch with the poutine, complete with fries, duck jus gravy, house cheese curds and pickled jalapeños. Photography by Shelbie Pletz

1528 W. Union St., Allentown | 610.432.1522 |

Best Barbecue

Grumpy’s BBQ Roadhouse

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At Grumpy’s, they’ve been doing it the same way since 2004—in a house-seasoned, real hickory wood-pit barbecue. Choose from their spare ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket and more. Here, they vow to never fear the spice!
Photography by Alison Conklin

3000 Mauch Chunk Rd., Allentown | 610.769.4600 |

Best Hoagie

Primo Hoagies

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Stephen Kilroy owns the Easton and Allentown locations of this regional chain—and he operates the Trexlertown location with Joseph Wolfer—but at any Primo location, it’s the freshness that sets them apart. You won’t find a sandwich being put together from pre-sliced meats—according to owners Kilroy and Wolfer, every hoagie is sliced fresh to order. You may know them for their seeded rolls. If you stop in, be sure to try the Italian hoagie with prosciutto, provolone, hot capicola and Genoa salami. The other best seller? Their Schwartzies, which are corned beef, roast beef or turkey, along with Swiss cheese, Russian dressing and coleslaw and sound like a riff on a Reuben, hoagie style.
Photography by Alison Conklin

Various area locations |

Best Pad Thai

White Orchids Thai Cuisine

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Not sure what to order? Go for the classic Pad Thai, made with stir-fried vermicelli rice noodles, egg, scallions and bean sprouts, served with crushed peanuts. Or, dig into some shareables like the White Orchids’ Corn Fritters, the Crab Cake Croquettes, the Chicken Lettuce Wraps or Tofu Satay!
Photography by Andrew Tomasino

The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley | 610.841.7499 |

Best Pizza

Lehigh Pizza

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At Lehigh Pizza, there’s no shortage of cheesy choices. Pick from pie varieties like taco, Texas-style, pulled pork BBQ, eggplant rollatini, Hawaiian, Greek and more. They also have a gluten-free crust option! Photography by Shelbie Pletz

13 W. 3rd St., Bethlehem | 610.866.1088 |

Best Hot Dog


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Yocco’s is an institution, and for good reason. Dating back to 1922, Yocco’s operates six locations, mostly in the western half of the region. The hot dogs are custom made from Hatfield Meats, but the secret, as they say, is really in the sauce. This meat-based chili sauce is a little tangy and can be topped on hot dogs, burgers and cheesesteaks at Yocco’s. The recipe remains the same—why mess with success?
Photography by Marco Calderon

Various area locations |

Best Doughnuts

Mary Ann Doughnut Kitchen

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Made fresh daily, Mary Ann Donut Kitchen of course specializes in doughnuts, but also crullers, cupcakes, danishes, sticky buns, crumb bars, bear paws and more. Try the “cronut,” a recent trend treat that is a cross between a croissant and a doughnut!
Photo courtesy of Mary Ann Doughnut Kitchen

1601 W. Liberty St., Allentown | 610.439.9985 |

Best Sandwich

Dave’s Deli & Gelato

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Sandwich making is a bit of an art. If it’s too full, too many ingredients fall out. If it’s too thin, you’re not left with that “I just ate a sandwich” feeling of fullness. If the ingredients are less than quality, you can taste it immediately. And if the bread (or other delivery vessel of said ingredients) doesn’t work with the ingredients or can’t support them, well, then that’s not a good sandwich at all, is it? (Dave’s uses Boar’s Head deli products.) Dave’s Deli, named for Dave Hall, the owner, has been around since 2000, so he’s pretty good at it. The line can get long at lunchtime but the staff keeps it moving. Soups are stellar—and save room for the gelato, too. Try Dave’s Favorite—Cajun roast beef, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and Cajun mayo on a Portuguese roll. Or Devon’s Favorite—with hot roast beef, mozzarella cheese, sautéed onions, lettuce, tomato and spicy mayo on a toasted ciabatta roll.
Photography by Marco Calderon

310 Stoke Park Rd., Bethlehem | 610.882.3663 |

Best Comfort Food

Diner 248

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Mozzarella sticks, a crock of chili, French dip ciabatta, chicken fingers, the 248 Melt—what could be more comforting? Enjoy it all at this family-friendly restaurant.

3701 Easton-Nazareth Hwy., Easton | 610.252.4300 |

Best Wings
Best Place to Watch the Game

P.J. Whelihan’s Pub + Restaurant

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P.J.’s famous wings are served fresh, never frozen. Choose from signature sauces like Sweet Chili, Garlic Parmesan, Mexican Garlic, Old Bay® and Inferno. Wings are half priced every Tuesday starting at 3 p.m. Check out their website for happy hour and daily beer specials to enjoy while watching the game.
Photo courtesy of P.J. Whelihan’s Pub + Restaurant

4595 Broadway, Allentown | 610.395.2532 | 3395 High Point Blvd., Bethlehem | 484.353.7200 |

Best Happy Hour Spot

Grille 3501

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Available Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The Loft Bar and The Grille Bar, Grille 3501’s happy hour includes favorite happy hour specials like their crispy calamari, crab and mango spring rolls, tuna tartare, crispy sesame chicken dumplings and truffled sweet potato-and-shiitake dumplings. Wash it all down with their Jalapeño Margarita.
Photography by Alison Conklin

3501 Broadway, Allentown | 610.706.0100 |

Best Soup

Wert’s Café

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Wert’s homemade soup include their crock of French onion, their famous seafood bisque (served every Tuesday) and their homemade chili. Don’t forget to ask about the soup du jour!

515 N. 18th St., Allentown | 610.439.0951 |

Best Cheap Eats

Stahley’s Family Restaurant & Sports Bar

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Celebrating 50 years, Stahley’s is your fun, family-friendly restaurant and sports bar. With a menu and daily specials that won’t break the bank, it’s a great spot to meet after a big game. What’s more, they’ve got a game room with pool tables, a shuffle board, jukebox and video games. Plus, most Saturday nights promise live music!
Photo courtesy of Stahley's Family Restaurant & Sports Bar

1826 Hanover Ave., Allentown | 610.433.2468 |

Best Appetizer/Small Plate Menu

Apollo Grill

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When it comes to appetizers, Apollo Grill has it all. From General Tso’s beer-battered shrimp to their lump crab and avocado cocktail, naan tacos, crab macaroni and cheese, sashimi, nachos, a tuna poke bowl and more, there may be no need to order an entrée.
Photo courtesy of Apollo Grille

85 W. Broad St., Bethlehem | 610.865.9600 |

Best Outdoor Dining

Blue Grillhouse

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As Blue likes to say, patio season is back! It’s the perfect spot for an after-work happy hour or to meet the girls on the weekend and take advantage of their seasonal Saturday lunch menu, which is officially back for summer!
Photo courtesy of Blue Grillhouse

4431 Easton Ave., Bethlehem | 610.691.8400 |

Best Sangria

Tapas on Main

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No one does sangria like Tapas on Main. Order a glass, pitcher or the Three Gypsies (a tasting of any three sangrias). Each variation is made with red, white or sparkling wine, and mixed with fruits and other liqueurs. Offerings include pineapple mint, limoncello raspberry cava, ginger peach, sparkling cucumber lime and more, but the blood orange is arguably their most popular. Photography by Shelbie Pletz

500 Main St., Bethlehem | 610.868.8903 |

Best Local Brewery

Fegley's Brew Works

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From seasonal brews to limited releases, Fegley’s has tons to choose from. One of their flagships, their Always Sunny Pale Ale is perfect for summer sipping. Photography by Alison Conklin

812 W. Hamilton St., Allentown | 610.433.7777 | 559 Main St. Suite 101, Bethlehem | 610.882.1300 |

Best Sweet Shop

Josh Early Candies

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Spice things up with Josh Early’s newest creation, their Habañero Sea Salt Caramels, available in milk and dark chocolate. Of course, one can’t go wrong with their famous nonpareils. Photo courtesy of Josh Early Candies

4640 Tilghman St., Allentown | 610.395.4321 | 3620 Nazareth Pike, Bethlehem | 610.865.0580 |

Best Bar Food

Copperhead Grille

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Take advantage of Copperhead’s late-night apps, available Monday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to close. Enjoy their fried mozzarella, buffalo tenders, coconut shrimp, wings, mile-high nachos and more for discounted prices.
Photo courtesy of Copperhead Grille

1731 Airport Rd., Allentown | 610.403.4600 | 5737 Rte. 378, Bethlehem | 610.282.4600 |

Best Beer Selection

Keystone Pub and Grill

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With dozens on tap, bottled, canned or in growlers, no beer lover should want for anything at either of Keystone’s Valley locations.Photo courtesy of The Keystone Pub and Grill

3259 Easton Ave., Bethlehem | 610.814.0400 | 1410 Grape St., Whitehall | 610.434.7600 |