I have long held that downtown Allentown – especially the Seventh Street corridor – is the best place to go for authentic international cuisine. Winston’s, Aci Halal, Sweet Italian and Kow Thai are some of my favorite restaurants, anywhere.
In my opinion, South Bethlehem is emerging as just as diverse, just as accessible and perhaps less likely to be overrun by hockey fans (shortly). There’s no shortage of great Latin American: General Zapata’s (15 E. 4th St.) crispy taco shells, Tulum’s (17 W. Morton) burritos, La Lupita’s (4 W. 4th St.) tacos, Machu Picchu’s (1330 E. 4th St.) Peruvian roasted chicken. Nawab (13 E. 4th St.) has been serving up Indian cuisine since before curry went mainstream on the Food Network. Sal’s (313 S. New St.) has killer Italian everything. 24 East Asian Bistro has the best sushi in the valley IMHO. Charly’s Thai (832 E. 4th St.) serves up Thai take out close to the casino. And quietly in the shadow of Wendy’s and McDonald’s at Five Points, Olive Branch (355 Broadway) and Thai Kitchen (347 Broadway) have been preparing authentic cuisine for savvy diners with a taste for homestyle cooking.
I enjoyed a lunch at Olive Branch not too long ago, and after a healthy lunch of spanakopita, falafel and fatoush salad, I purchased a slice of the chef’s special baklava to go.
A week later, we celebrated Christmas with my parents by attending the Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s rendition of “The Nutcracker” after lunch at Jenny’s Kuali (102 E. 4th St.), another affordable BYOB restaurant located across the street from a liquor store (convenient!). Jenny’s Malaysian dumplings, soups and stir frys are so obviously made with love. There are vegetarian options and you can substitute brown rice. I have been there three times, and each time, the restaurant is full of patrons, a mix of Lehigh staff, Asian students, and neighborhood residents. Service is quick, and I can get a great meal for under $10.