Monday, March 30, 2015

Machu Picchu Peruvian Restaurant

Machu Picchu
1330 E. 4th Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Hours: M & T: Closed; W-Th 12p-7p; F 11a-8p; Sat & Sun 11a-10p

Southside Bethlehem has an appealing variety of ethnic cuisine, including a family-friendly Peruvian restaurant in the heart of one of its neighborhoods.  To my knowledge, it's the only Peruvian restaurant in the region.  Having a wonderful experience at one in New York City with our Peruvian friend, we were curious to see what Machu Picchu brings to the LV & B.  

Though the atmosphere temperature was a little too cool for comfort on the cold evening we visited, the dining room is spacious, clean and ready for many local guests.

Although we didn't try the traditional Peruvian dish, ceviche, (a raw fish cured in citrus juices), we were eager to select from the appetizing traditional menu options.  We always appreciate the authenticity of a restaurant when the menu is primarily Spanish, with English Translation.  Of course I attempted to resurrect my rusty Spanish from high school education as I order.  The menu includes a variety of beef, chicken and fish ($6-$15, depending on portion size)  Entrees served a variety of sides, including rice, french fries, fried bananas or beans.  I ordered Pescado Frito Filete Arroz con Yuca ($10-fried fish fillet with rice and cassava).  The meal was simple, but delicious and comforting.  An accompanying housemade green sauce, that appeared to include oil, parsley and garlic, was a key addition for flavor.
My husband ordered pollo a la brasa con papas fritas y ensalada de lechuga ($9-chicken with french fries and salad).  His selection was flavorful, tender and generous in portion. 

As we dined, the tables slowly filled on an early Friday evening.  Some came in for take-out orders, while other groups of all ages, including families, joined us for dine-in service.  
Our meal ended with leftovers and a full satisfaction from South American hospitality and comfort cuisine.    

Our next visit will definitely bring a sampling of their ceviche and something from their dessert menu, like crema volteada (flan).

Machu Picchu Peruvian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sindbad Mediterranean Cuisine

Sindbad Mediterranean Cuisine

426 N. 7th Street

Allentown, PA 18102


Hours: M-Closed; T-Th 10a-8p; Fri-Sat 10a-10p; Sun 11a-7p

Spoon Rate: 

Ready to try something new, we visited to take advantage of a gift certificate.  We stumbled upon Sindbad, a restaurant in Allentown that was unfamiliar to us.  Given our love for Mediterranean cuisine, we are always ready to find a new spot in the Lehigh Valley, amidst the many other restaurants that we have grown to love.

In the heart of Allentown, Sindbad is located on N. 7th Street, home of some other restaurants.  We passed Winston’s, a Jamaican restaurant previously visited and enjoyed by Evans’ Eats, and Mariam’s, on the list of places to review.  Do not be deceived--the Lehigh Valley is full of viable choices for ethnic eating!  On a cold winter night, Sindbad looked intriguing and inviting, with its warm lighting, classy sign and ornate foyer.  As we were greeted by the owner and his father, who prepared our meals, we learned they designed and completed this tiled entrance and all aesthetics of this small, but clean and classy establishment.  Open since August, 2014, Sindbad serves mostly take-out customers, but two tables are available for those who want to dine-in to enjoy the full, hospitable experience.

We ordered cauliflower as an appetizer.  It was delicious, perfectly sautéed and seasoned, with a lemony flavor. For our entrees, we chose a beef shawarma combo ($9.45, includes beverage and hummus or fries) and falafel combo ($9.00). Both were fresh and extraordinary in quality.  The side of hummus and pita was an appreciated side, and its generous portion provided leftovers to take home.

We ended our meal with fresh, authentic Arabic coffee and slices of namoura (cake), a perfect ending to this memorable, satisfying meal.  The friendly, caring hospitality of the owner and his father enhanced the experience.  Their excellence in making everything fresh and using local products show the quality of their work and cuisine that we can easily recommend.  We look forward to returning to try their baba ghanouj, tabbouli and kibbi, along with taking advantage of their outdoor seating in warmer weather. 

Sindbad Mediterraean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 15, 2014

"Now That's Italian" Specialty Market & Deli

Now That's Italian: Specialty Market & Deli
127 South 3rd Street
Coopersburg, PA  18036
Hours:   M-Sat 10a-6p; Sun 10a-4p

This is too good to be true.  First, a bagel shop recently opened in an Italian Market & Deli?!  My husband and I, both born and raised in Pennyslvania, are reliving some of our favorite parts of our brief residence in one of New York City's boroughs.  Returning to Lehigh Valley, PA was a sacrifice when it came to authentic Italian cuisine.  One easily becomes spoiled by the plethora of delis, superior slices of pizza, and authentic, fresh pasta and marinara sauce.  Hospitable Italian friends are honored to share their prized sauce recipe, traditionally prepared for a Sunday feast and variations throughout the remainder of each week.

Entering Now That's Italian brought a nostalgic, comforting smile to my face as we were greeted by friendly owners, a chalkboard of sandwich items and a pleasant market environment.  To our left, were several packaged Italian products including pasta, canned tomatoes, recipe books and more.  A few tables allow opportunity to dine-in.  

A beautiful sight was a case of fresh Pastosa ravioli, a much-awaited reunion with one of our favorite traditions.   It is difficult to return to frozen pasta after many meals with this fresh, well-known New York city product.
Next, I was greeted by a case of FRESH Italian bread!  I recognized the New Jersey bakery, Liscio's from our favorite cheese steak joint in Ocean City, NJ.  This inspired mouthwatering visions of our newfound opportunity to pick up fresh ravs and a loaf of bread for dinner in our PA home town! 

This is not the first venture for business partners, Laura Rosada & Joseph Sinagra, originally from New York City.  Previously owning a deli in the Poconos, they are excited to offer something at a prime location in Coopersburg PA.  Sandwich selections include a variety of Italian meats, cheeses, and vegetables.  While their menu lists 14 cold sandwich options and 4 hot specialty sandwiches, during their initial opening, they are serving one hot sandwich option.  My mother and I settled on Under the Tuscan Sun (eggplant, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, roasted peppers, sundried tomato, balsamic vinegar, salt pepper, $9,99) and 1 of 5 salad options, La Bella Donna (lettuce, tomato, onion, banana pepper, cucumber, sweet peppers, olives, $6.75).   Our delicious flavorful sandwich included housemade mozzarella cheese and was accompanied by a side of pasta salad and chips.  Now That's Italian also offers catering for your next large gathering. 

Of course we needed a sweet sampler to end our experience.  The tantalizing case and our delicious almond-flavored, moist delight called us for a return visit.  Many of the Italian pastries are housemade, and Italian cookies are imported from a Brooklyn bakery.  Now THAT'S Italian.   I'm thrilled at the increased variety of options in our hometown and hope many venture in for an authentic, delightful experience.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Johnny's Drive-In: Known for Its Gyros

Johnny's Drive-In
2722 Easton Avenue
Bethlehem, PA  18017
Hours:  M-Sat 11a-9p; Sun: Closed

Johnny's Drive-In.  An unassuming yet intriguing exterior is sure to provide a satisfying experience.  After a long-time recommendation from a friend who knows we enjoy gyros, we finally took the opportunity to visit.  On a Friday evening, there was a steady stream of local customers who seemed to be regulars.  While the menu provides a wide array of classic American options (cheeseburger, cheese steak, chicken fingers), we went to our preferred and recommended:  "the New York Gyro" ($6.15), topped with lettuce, tomato, onion and tzatsiki sauce.  Our sides included french fries (large: $2.99) and a greek salad (small: $4.59).  
While we waited, we overheard someone raving about the gyros.  He visited another city and ordered a gyro while out to dinner.  He then proceeded to tell the owner of this restaurant: "If you want to learn how to make a gyro, go to Johnny's gyros. They're the best I've ever had!"  This was an encouraging validation of our imminent meal.  
We enjoyed our sides:  greek salad, topped with a stuffed grape leaf and black olives and generous portion of french fries.   However the highlight was the delicious gyro, definitely of the best we've had in the Lehigh Valley & Beyond.  Perfect temperature of fresh meat and pita and ideal amount of accompanied tzatsiki sauce.  
Another asset of Johnny's is its personable ownership, who were working hard, while greeting and serving their customers.  While there is limited seating and most seem to come in for take-out, the environment was bright, clean and inviting.  Now that we've been to Johnny's, it will be at the top of our list when asked where to go for the best gyros in LV & B.
Johnny's Drive In on Urbanspoon 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

E-Z Bagels: NY-style Bagels meet Coopersurg

E-Z Bagels
Fairmount Village Shopping Center
7001 Route 309 
Coopersburg, PA  18036
Hours: Mon-Sun 6:30a-6:30p

Every town needs a good bagel shop.  This was confirmed during our time living in one of New York City's boroughs.  There was no lack of deli or store to complete a morning routine of coffee and a bagel and cream cheese or egg sandwich.   We have missed this since returning to Pennyslvania 10 years ago.  It is like a dream come true to have a bagel shop in our own small town!

This is not just any bagel shop.   Easy to miss nestled in one of the Coop's shopping centers, it sells bagels, New York style, hand rolled and boiled in water.  There is a difference.  This is the secret to a superior bagel.  E-Z Bagels is a second location for its owner, also operating one in Bethlehem.  Previously working under one of the Lehigh Valley's best and most popular bagel shops, Johnny's Bagels, he started his own business in 2011 and is now enhancing Coopersburg with a new option for breakfast, lunch or an early dinner.

Bagel selections are classic, such as pumpernickel, plain, egg, cinnamon raisin, everything, and a tasty honey wheat option.  Menu items include bagel and cream cheese (intriguing flavored options: honey walnut, veggie, herb garlic, bacon scallion, olive, jalapeno) or a variety of breakfast sandwiches ($3.50-$4.50) and omelettes ($5.99-$6.99). 

E-Z bagels expands beyond bagels.   The wide menu appeals to a basic American appetite (Philly cheesesteak, Reuben, "The Mike," "The Coopersburg" $5.99-6.99) or adventurous customers who enjoy a Mediterranean flare.   I look forward to an opportunity to return to experience their grilled kabobs ($6.99), gyro ($6.99), falafel ($6.99) or fava bean pita ($5.99) 

Not only do we have a new lunch location right in town, but we look forward to many more morning routines of bagels & coffee to enjoy in the clean, peaceful atmosphere or to take home and share with friends.  

E-Z Bagel on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dessert Dining: Cafe Erica

Cafe Erica
637 Main Street
Hellertown, PA  18055
Hours:  Sun 8a-8p; Mon 8a-3p; 
T, W, Th 8a-9p; F & Sat 8a-10

Spoon Rate: 

On a recent evening out with friends, we were on the hunt for a decent dessert location in the LV&B.  When wanting to take a break from the classic ice cream treat, where does one go to have a nice dessert over coffee?

We were in Hellertown, so we checked out the menu of Cafe Erica.   It looked promising and was open until 10.  We had a delightful experience.  

Adjacent to Bella's Ristorante ,  (which I have yet to try, but was busy serving tantalizing plates of Italian cuisine), Cafe Erica serves more than just desserts.  It offers a basic breakfast and lunch menu, along with a full coffee bar.  Its inviting aesthetics provide the kind of meeting and eating spot every small town should   include.  

Our party enjoyed a variety of warm beverages including coffee, tea and an americano, charmingly served in a variety of mugs.   We ordered a variety of desserts--chocolate-toffee lace cookies came from the case at Cafe Erica.  The others came from Bella's, including a chocolate cream puff, carrot cake, and blueberry cheesecake.  I can't yet speak for what they serve for breakfast and lunch, but it proved to be an ideal atmosphere and after-dinner ending.

Where do YOU like to go for an evening dessert?  Leave a comment to share your suggestions!

Cafe Erica on Urbanspoon