Monday, February 22, 2010

March Quest: Best Mexican restaurant in the Lehigh Valley?

It's cold outside and it's not getting warmer anytime soon.

I've decided that my quest for March is going to be finding good Mexican food in the Lehigh Valley, and I'm enlisting your help. If it goes well, it might appear in my Lehigh Valley Style column later this year.

Becca and I could not think of one local Mexican restaurant that was not a BYOB. Then I remembered hearing that Casa Toro, Amigo Mio and Fiesta Ole's multiple locations serve alcohol. She says that there are places in Austin that provide margarita mix and a blender, and people bring their own tequila (nice!). I learned this week that Cactus Blue does this, and changes up its featured flavors every month.

I started by reading Beyond Scrapple's advice. Thanks, Mike! You gave me a head start.

Then I did a little internet research, and was surprised at the sheer quantity of restaurants that classify themselves as "Mexican." I wondered whether some Ecuadoran, or Dominican, and market themselves as Mexican to reach a broader audience? General Zapata didn't even appear on my list, and I consider their food Mexican and Puerto Rican.

Here's my preliminary list. Let me know what you think - what's worth going to? what's closed (so I can scratch them off)? what have I missed?

Cactus Blue‎ (2915 Schoenersville Road) * Lunch this Wednesday with Jolene, Zeynep, and Julie!
Fiesta Ole‎ (2955 Linden Street)
Mexico Lindo Deli Restaurant (720 Main Street)
Tulum‎ (17 West Morton Street)‎ * My favorite little burrito joint near Lehigh U
La Lupita (4 West 4th Street)

La Mexicana Grill‎ (407 North 7th Street)
Casa Latina Restaurant (527 North 7th Street) * Beata and I went a couple of weeks ago. I'm overdue to post about our visit!
Cochifrito Restaurante Aqui Me Quedo (105 North 7th Street)
La Cocina Restaurant (37 North 7th Street)
‎‎Tu Nueva Casa Restaurant‎ (223 Hamilton Street)
Amigo Mio Cafe‎ (545 Cleveland Street)
Burrito Grille ‎(4791 West Tilghman Street)
El Castillo Delcaribe‎ (346 Ridge Avenue)
Cali Burrito‎ (3104 Hamilton Boulevard)
La Placita Mexico (158 North 12th Street)

Paqueria La Plaza (1647 Washington Boulevard)
Las Delicias Restaurant‎ (144 West Saint Joseph Street)
Mex-Tex Trio‎ (42 South 3rd Street)

Casa Toro (7001 PA-309, Coopersburg)
El Cactus (2180 MacArthur Road, Whitehall)
Fiesta Ole Mexican Restaurant (1808 Macarthur Road, Whitehall)
Fiesta Ole Mexican Restaurant (1116 Chestnut Street, Emmaus)
Sante Fe Taco Co (2022 Main Street, Northampton)
Plaza Restaurant (1492 Main Street, Catasauqua)

Thanks in advance for your help!


  1. I don't know if you are "filtering" but Tu Nueva Casa is pretty straight up dominican food. A lot of the other latin american cuisines are marketed at mexican by restaurant owners because they think it will help them to reach a broader audience. From my perspective, its a mistake because customers come in with false preconceptions and expectations which are not met.

  2. Cactus Blue is always a great meal and Mex Tex Trio in Easton has the nicest owner and great Mole sauce and a great space.

  3. In the new issue of Lehigh Valley Style, they did a feature on Casa Toro Mexican Grill in Coopersburg which sounds pretty delish!

    Speaking of Lehigh Valley Style, a big CONGRATS on your new column ... a good read!

  4. I love that you are investigating this as I had a lot of trouble finding a good Mexican place in the Lehigh Valley. I have to throw my support behind La Placita in Allentown - probably the best burrito I've ever had!

  5. Anonymous2/25/2010

    My favorite on your list is La Placita (the old Sandwich Board) at 12th & Turner. The food is far more authentic than most on your list. The owners cook the food and the clientele is the mostly local Mexican-American population (try a Jarritos Soda). One you should try is a lady who runs a stall in the upper portion of the Fairgrounds Farmers Market, across from the cheese place. Very homemade and authentic and reasonable prices for carry out only.

  6. There has been a lot of activity over on the LV Transplant Facebook page


    on this topic, and I wanted to share it with everyone here, too:

    Michael Drabenstott Here's a post I wrote Lehigh Valley InSite about authentic Mexican restaurants in Allentown. Enjoy!
    Mon at 10:59pm · · Report

    Candi Harmon Kruse I can't tell you where not to go - the pretend Mexican restaurant in Hellertown. Horrible!

    You are missing Casa Toro in Coopersburg. I don't mind their food but my husband really likes it. They get really busy during happy hour.

    I really enjoy Cactus husband hates it...Like all cuisine, it's subjective.
    Mon at 11:08pm · · Report

    Leah Cosentino
    Shaver Cali Burrito on Hamilton--fresh and awesome!
    Tue at 6:45am · · Report

    John Blankstein tulum: south side bethlehem across street from lehigh bookstore
    Tue at 7:02am · · Report

    Maureen OMeara Tulum is very unique, especially in the summer when you can sit out back with your own Coronoa. On the north side, we like Mexico Lindo on Main St across from the Senior Center. BYOB and authentic.
    Tue at 7:43am · · Report

    Gail Lehman great place in northampton on the main drag (by the movie theatre) but i can't remember the name...
    Tue at 7:46am · · Report

    Katie Loeb-Schwab Still searching
    Tue at 8:03am · · Report

    Steve Schmitt Mexico Lindo at Main & Garrison in downtown Bethlehem. A hidden jewel. The local Mexicans eat here.
    Tue at 8:06am · · Report

    Julie Tabouli Corredato I second Tulum and Mexico Lindo.
    Francisco's on Broad and Center features fare from El Salvador and has several offerings, such as pupusas stuffed with beans and cheese, alongisde a bed of spicy cabbage slaw. Their soup is rich and comforting- try the cassava stew.
    Tue at 8:31am · · Report

    Michelle Chrin Hands down - Mexico Lindo.
    Tue at 11:16am · · ReportLev Price Take it from someone who comes from the land of good Mexican, LA Plasita Mexico Deli 12th and Turner...nothing else in the Valley comes close to the shadow of this place for real Mex. Try it you'll like it. (oh and if Johnny Manana is still open...that isn't Mexican food)
    Tue at 12:09pm · · Report

    Tracey Werner I think Gail is referring to Mex-Tex Trio which is actually on 3rd Street in downtown Easton. Kinda near the old theater. It's just up the block near Sherwoods.
    Tue at 5:42pm · · Report

  7. El Cactus, despite its somewhat humble locale, is several cuts above most Mexican food I've ever had. Their fried chimichangas are particularly excellent.

  8. Anonymous3/09/2010

    Check out Taqueria Amigos, it just opened at 7th and Liberty streets. It's authentic, delicious and CHEAP. I used to be a La Placita gal but I paid $18 for a burrito and enchilada plate. At Taqueria, two tacos, rice and beans were $4.