The Lehigh Valley Restaurant Scene: An Overview

Recently, eating dinner at The Hamilton Kitchen, I looked through the tower of whiskey and spirits onto the bustle of the city and thought “Holy Crap”. Things have changed. Things are changing. There had never been a restaurant like The Hamilton in Allentown for 30 years of my life. Now there are three. The Hamilton, Roar Social House, and The Dime are Allentown’s latest (and seriously significant) additions to a culinary renaissance that has completely changed the Lehigh Valley food scene.IMG_1801

This February, on two consecutive Saturdays, I ate meals that were holy shit good. One meal was crafted by a Chef who is up for a James Beard award at Bolete in Salisbury Township. The other one was a rabbit tasting at 187 Rue Principale in Emmaus. Both restaurants follow a similar farm to table, local sourced menu format. (Actually, I think they use some of the same farms too) When Bolete opened in 2008, it was a restaurant without parallel in the Lehigh Valley.  (That incredible rabbit tasting is pictured below. I mean seriously, look at that. I will write up 187 soon because there are so many things I want to talk about regarding that place)


In 2015, the amount of restaurants worth checking out in our 62 municipalities is staggering.  Curious Goods at The Bake Oven Inn in Germansville. Sette Luna, Taqueria La Plaza, Two Rivers, 3rd and Ferry, and more in Easton. The Other Fish, The Bookstore Speakeasy, The Wooden Match, Nawab, Jenny’s Kuali, and more in Bethlehem. Asia, Mariam’s Ethiopian Kitchen, Winston’s West Indian and American, La Placita Mexico Deli, Aci Halal Meat & Turkish Restaurant – to scratch the surface in Allentown. Trust me, this list is long and this paragraph could go on for a great many words


I don’t know how many of those restaurants have seen the days of Cossie Snyder’s and made it to see The Hamilton open – but I am going to find out. I am going to go out and eat and tell you the stories of the places I see. What makes these restaurant tick? What makes them good – or even great? I want to articulate an experience, analyze what makes it culturally and personally significant, and encourage you to go out and have your own.

Oh. And:

Never eat at a damned chain restaurant. (Kleiner’s Kitchen Rule #1)

Also, if you have any personal haunts, favorite restaurants, brilliant bars, or hidden dives you want me to check out – leave a comment here or on Facebook.

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