The great thing about small towns? They offer warm connections locals and visitors love, and they’re easily accessible to many nearby cities. Take Allentown, Pennsylvania–it’s a short skip away from Philadelphia, NYC, the Jersey Shore, and the Pocono Mountains. Plus, this quaint little region of eastern Pennsylvania, most notable for the 1982 Billy Joel hit “Allentown,” is easily walkable or bikeable to visit a museum, grab a bite to eat at the many restaurants, or just take in the natural scenery.
It has some fun facts, too. The All American Rejects shot their “Move Along” music video at Allentown’s Dorney Park. Residents like to use the word “Youse” to say “you all,” and many well-known celebrities hail from little Allentown, includnig model and actress Amanda Seyfried, The Devil Wears Prada author Lauren Weisberger, and style consultant Carson Kressley.
Where should you go for great meals in Allentown? We turned to Ray Kowalski, a 10-year resident, who recommends these restaurants for locals and visitors alike.
Places you’d take a date, the parents, or for any special occasion. At these restaurants, it’s about the total experience.
The Melting Pot
1 East Broad Street, Suite 100
Bethlehem, PA 18018
This is definitely a “special occasion” restaurant as it is pricier than your normal meal but a whole lot more fun. The best deal is “The Big Night Out,” a 4-course meal at this fondue chain. Diners start with a melted cheese course, and then an appetizer before cooking their own main course. Saving the best for last means melted chocolate for dessert!
1280 Highway 315 Blvd
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702
You can eat while being entertained as you become part of a cooking show audience while attending your reservation. This restaurant offers an informative dinner show, or you can keep it simple and enjoy items off of the delicious menu at smaller intimate tables.
Well-priced restaurants that feature a wonderful atmosphere and incredible food. These are a person’s “go-to” place whenever they’re asked for a recommendation.
950 Lehigh Valley Mall
Whitehall, PA 18052
Most Italian restaurants serve complimentary bread, but Bravo’s is the best I’ve had by far. It’s hard to not fill up on the bread alone, but with an excellent and well-priced full menu you want to make sure you save room for everything else they offer.
2835 Lehigh Street
Allentown, PA 18103
This unique chain restaurant is new to my area so it is often the place to take visiting friends for something different. Sticking true to its name, all workers wear kilts while serving up pub food. This Celtic-themed sports bar also serves up plenty of drinks to make everyone feel like they are Irish for the day.
These are primarily known by the locals, covering any budget and any type of food; special, secret, and adored by those in the know.
1101 North Church Street
Hazleton, PA 18202
A local Italian eatery that looks like a gem in the rough since it is located in a strip mall. The restaurant is beautiful inside and has great food options ranging from pizza to a full feast. You can finish off the night with homemade desserts made by the owner’s wife; you never know what she will serve each day, but you know it will taste good.
102 State Rd
Emmaus, PA 18049
This diner really does live up to its name. While some may consider a diner to be greasy, quick food, this place steps it up a couple notches. If you have a group of people all in the mood for different items, Superior Restaurant is the place to go. The menu is huge and very reasonably priced, but best of all the food is delicious.
Restaurant picks provided by Ray Kowalski, who’s lived in Allentown, PA for more than 10 years.
Have six places in your city that people should know about? Submit your Quick Picks to firstname.lastname@example.org and we may use them for the column.