A good café has quite a few criteria. It needs to offer a variety of seating types and arrangements. It should have a respectable variety of coffee, tea and espresso-based drinks. If you’re hungry, it’d be ideal to be able to have the option to snack on something, or eat a light meal. And if it’s really doing its part, a good café brings people together and becomes a hub—you can pick up fresh produce at Lit in the summertime, did you know that? It makes sense, because Lit is a collaborative shop owned by Made by Lino (Melanie Lino) and Monocacy Coffee Company (Dan Taylor and Matt Hengeveld).
Lit gets bonus points for roasting its own coffee, with eight single-origin coffees and a number of signature blends. You’ll also find the requisite Italian-styled espresso-based drinks, too. Lit receives even more bonus points for not only offering house-made baked goods, but plenty of unusual culinary-leaning flavor combos; it’s not unusual to come across shortbread, scones and other treats that walk the line between savory and sweet. There’s plenty for vegans, gluten-free eaters and just the general sweet-seeking public.
It’s the tower of seafood full of fresh oysters, clams, shrimp, mussels, lobster tail and more. It’s the Crabby Mary, a Bloody Mary with a crab cake resting on top. It’s the popcorn your kids get upon arrival. And maybe it’s also the ceviche, and the reliably good, fresh fish and seafood entrees. But let’s call it as we see it: It’s also the Market Fries, freshly cut and tossed in a crab aioli. Because potatoes. And fresh crab.
When Mike and Rebecca Pichetto were designing this restaurant, they wanted it to be an open-concept kitchen. To that end, you can peek in and watch someone’s dinner being made right as you walk down the street, or have a front-row seat to whatever is unfolding in the kitchen. It also means chef Mike does a lot of conversing from the kitchen, which suits his amiable manner. From the copper-topped bar at 3rd & Ferry, you can see everything—the kitchen, the dining room and the upstairs mezzanine-like dining area.
If you went to Mesa and ordered any iteration of their guacamole—with mango or other seasonal fruit, or spicy with habaneros, jalapeños and sriracha—you’d almost be forgiven if you didn’t order anything else. Yes, it’s just that good, and a meal at Mesa really ought to always start with a round—or two, depending on your crowd’s size and/or appetite—of Mesa’s made-to-order guac. You should order other things, though.
That guacamole needs something to wash it down with, and Mesa has won accolades for its margaritas, too, so you can’t go wrong there. (On Mondays, they’re $5!) Tacos work, too, or if you’re feeling up for it, order a main course like one of their burrito bowls, vegetarian enchiladas or mac and queso—a Mexican imagining of mac and cheese.
We have an embarrassment of riches around these parts when it comes to really good Neapolitan-style pizza. We could name a half-dozen places, easily, that could duke it out for top honors. It’s easy to make pizza, but it’s not easy to make it right and make it well. Over and over.
Before Stoke opened, chef Abe Lopez worked to perfect the sauce, the dough and, of course, the cheese situation. Because you’ve got to have the best base from which to develop, say, variations on a theme. Stoke’s got some great ones, such as the Fig and Pig (balsamic fig spread, prosciutto and arugula), or the Funghi Bianco—you know, the white one with mushrooms and caramelized onions. But there’s something particularly decadent about eating a pizza styled after Pasta Carbonara, complete with the “dippy egg” as they describe it.
You’ll only get the best of the best at Top Cut, whether that’s the extensive 5,000-bottle wine list, top-floor panoramic vistas or the towering multi-layered carrot cake. But let’s be honest—the name Top Cut is all about the top cuts of beef offered here (USDA Prime and 100 percent Black Angus). From the 10-ounce filet all the way up to the 32-ounce porterhouse, Top Cut has something for every carnivore at the table. Specifically, USDA Prime and 100 percent black Angus, with each steak hand-selected by a specialty butcher in Chicago.
In the past three years, diners have become accustomed to this space, which literally offers a cut above the rest—including its sister spot, Melt, which is downstairs, also owned by Paxos Restaurant Group. Top Cut describes itself in this quippy manner: 1940s tradition with modern perfection. That about sums it up.
Bolete takes the fine dining prize and it’s no surprise. The warmth of the welcome, the seasonality of the menu and the endless attention to detail—all of these things raise the bar for what’s already a complex dynamic that sets an excellent restaurant apart from a merely good one.
None of these things are easy to pull off, especially when you’re in the process of expanding your restaurant holdings to include a seafood counter at the Easton Public Market and a second outlet of Mister Lee’s Noodles in Southside Bethlehem, slated for a spring 2020 opening, says Erin Shea, co-owner and manager.
Even with the seasonal menu at Bolete, there are some items that are non-negotiable, says Shea, such as butterscotch pudding. And you’ll always, always find oysters on the menu, too.
From the owners of Grille 3501 in Allentown, Zest brings rooftop views and “New American” cuisine to Southside Bethlehem. The menu is extremely versatile, with offerings ranging from bone marrow and fried cauliflower to lobster risotto and steamed edamame dumplings.
306 S. New St., Bethlehem
Shawn Doyle has joked that he made the mistake of walking into a restaurant at age 12 and never left. For this, the Valley is eternally grateful. At Savory Grille, the menu is always changing with the seasons, but one can always count on sea scallops and duck, as they are crowd favorites.
2934 Seisholtzville Rd. Macungie
Say goodbye to your sad ham and cheese sandwich at Dave’s Deli. Here, menu mainstays include the Moravian Magic (hot Londonport roast beef, mozzarella cheese, baby spinach, tomato and homemade bacon bit mayo on a toasted ciabatta roll) and the LTB Pork BBQ (hot beer-braised pulled pork, melted cheddar cheese, homemade coleslaw, chipotle barbecue sauce on a toasted ciabatta roll) and more.
310 Stoke Park Rd., Bethlehem
At Komé, they like to pay attention to the roots of Japanese cuisine while putting a modern twist on it. One thing that’s very important in Japanese cuisine? Using the finest ingredients at the peak of their season. This is something customers can always count on!
The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley
American Grille 3501 has it all—a modern menu, upscale ambiance and warm hospitality. Here, appetizers could be the main event, with offerings like lobster salad, spinach and artichoke dumplings, fried tofu, grilled octopus, foie gras and more.
Photography by Shelbie Pletz
3501 Broadway, Allentown
Dining at Aladdin means homemade food, cooked from scratch and made to order—and it’s been that way since first opening its doors in 1981. Here, it’s a family affair, and the Younes family pays homage to their patriarch who passed in 2000 with the dish Ed’s Favorite, a menu staple consisting of lamb kabob, and served with rice and babaganoush.
651 Union Blvd., Allentown
Always striving to raise the bar when it comes to Thai cuisine, White Orchids prides itself on using the very best ingredients possible. This means fresh seafood straight from Philly three times a week, plus fresh, locally sourced, extra-firm tofu and fresh hand-cut chicken breast. The same is true of their Pad Thai and curries. Restaurant specialties include their Mango Curry Roast Duck, Seafood Paella, Crab Fried Rice, Bangkok Curry Noodles and more—are you drooling yet?
The Promenade Shops at Saucon Valley
Daddy’s Place specializes in Mediterranean cuisine, which is homemade using the freshest ingredients. They tout healthy food and a healthy lifestyle, offering everything from hummus and falafel to kabobs and shawarma.
650 Northampton St. Easton
In roughly three years, Union and Finch has cemented itself as the Allentown Favorite, which is no small feat! They specialize in comfort foods and familiar favorites with a twist. Weekly specials include Moules Frites Tuesdays (a pound of mussels with fries for $9), half-off wings on Wing It Wednesdays and a Burger and Beer Thursdays (their famous Union Burger and any draft beer for $10).
1528 W. Union St., Allentown
One of the main draws at Tapas is the seasonally rotating sangria, which can be ordered by the glass, as a pitcher or flight. And Tapas has dubbed it the official drink of fall, so don’t bid it farewell just yet! This season brings varieties like Honey Sage, Sparkling Blueberry and Vanilla Chai. Enjoy every sip while noshing on one of their delicious flatbreads.
500 Main St., Bethlehem
Breakfast favorites range from the Southwest Casserole—home fries topped with scrambled eggs, fresh oven-roasted peppers and onions, chorizo, cheddar jack cheese and a chipotle hollandaise —to the Neapolitan French Toast— golden brown French toast layered in Nutella, bananas and strawberries, drizzled in melba sauce and topped with whipped cream—to the Huevos Rancheros —crisp corn tortillas, black beans, two eggs over easy, pico de gallo, sriracha sauce, crumbled feta and sour cream.
Photography by Colin Coleman
3701 Easton-Nazareth Hwy., Easton
The brunch at Hotel B is famous for a reason—want for nothing with made-to-order waffles and omelets, a carving station, fresh seafood and dessert. This month kicks off brunch with Santa, every Sunday after Thanksgiving.
Photography by Marco Calderon
437 Main St., Bethlehem
Social Still takes ambiance to another level, as the distillery/restaurant exists in an old bank building, which dates back a century. The original marble floors and vault are still intact and make for a unique experience.
530 E. 3rd St., Bethlehem
610.625.4585 | socialstill.com
Aman’s specializes in North Indian Punjabi cuisine, and prides itself on bringing the Valley the first upscale dining experience of its kind. Serving more than 90 artisanal dishes, made with signature recipes and authentic sauces, it’s a must for those who love Indian food and those who have never tried it.
Photography by Andrew Tomasino
336 Northampton St., Easton
Gio Italian Grill brings a little slice of Italy to the Lehigh Valley. Both born to Sicilian parents, husband-and-wife team Tony and Giovanna DiMaio decided on an open-flame hearth to produce consistently authentic and delicious pizza that mirrors the old-world style of cooking in Italy.
Photography by Marco Calderon
6465 Village Ln., Macungie
Formerly Roth’s Flowers, Greenhouse Enoteca really is a greenhouse, with the original bones of the building and the sloped glass intact. A kitchen was added and dishes out real wood-fired pizza, homemade pastas, arancini and more Italian favorites.
2114 W. Tilghman St., Allentown
A Macungie landmark, the Buckeye Tavern has been around since 1735. Be their guest, and they’ll treat you with an unrivaled attention to detail and care, ensuring everyone leaves with a smile. And the menu’s got it all—finger foods, flatbreads, wraps, burgers, pastas, stir-fry, seafood, steak and then some!
3741 Brookside Rd., Macungie
Admittedly not fancy, DiMaio’s doesn’t need to be. The food speaks for itself, with made-to-order entrées, sauce and pizza from scratch and house-made bread. Favorites include their Nonna Pizza and Chicken Francese. And yes, DiMaio’s is BYOB—they’ll even open and pour your wine for you without charging a corkage fee.
Photography by Shelbie Pletz
27 Main St., Hellertown
Limeport Inn celebrates 175 years of dining excellence. Enjoy their pub fare and gourmet pizza offerings—it’s just a quiet drive through the Valley away!
Photography courtesy of The Limeport Inn
1505 Limeport Pk., Limeport
Dive in to rustic Italian cuisine nestled in Easton. Their Bianca (not saucy) pizzas have a cult following, and Josh’s Bianca—named after restaurant owner Josh Palmer—is a signature dish. It’s a four-cheese pie, garnished with black truffles and extra virgin olive oil, and topped with three eggs.
Photography by Colin Coleman
219 Ferry St., Easton
Apollo Grill has won Bethlehem Favorite countless times since opening in 1999, which means they’re consistent and they know what they’re doing! Apollo is especially celebrated for its extensive list of appetizers.
85 W. Broad St., Bethlehem