Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Year in Review

Lehigh Valley & Beyond, 
You've provided many delicious meals, enjoyable moments and satisfying options for all of us in 2015.  Evans' Eats wants to take some time recognize a few of them.  This list is not exhaustive of every food genre, but rather gives some recommendable highlights from our longtime and recent dining experience:

Best Mediterranean/Middle Eastern:  Damascus Restaurant (Allentown, PA)
Best Mexican:  Fiesta Habanero  (Quakertown, PA)
Best Burrito:  Cali Burrito (Allentown, PA)
Best Sushi:  The Other Fish (Bethlehem, PA)
Best Appetizer:  Karisik Meze at Aci Halal (Allentown, PA)
Best Breakfast Spot:  Blue Sky Cafe (Bethlehem, PA)
Best Sandwich:  Now That's Italian (Coopersburg, PA)
Best Dessert:  Baklava, Anatolian Kitchen (Bethlehem, PA)
Best Ice Cream:  The Inside Scoop (Coopersburg, PA)
Best Deal:  Prince Palace Dumpling House (Bethlehem, PA)
Best Night Out:  Aladdin (Allentown, PA)
New & Noteworthy: Tony's Pizza, especially the cheese steaks & calzones (Coopersburg, PA)
Thankful Addition to the LV & B: Penn State Creamery ice cream at The Shoppe at Hotel Bethlehem  (Bethlehem, PA)


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Anatolian Kitchen: Turkish & Mediterranean Cuisine

Anatolian Kitchen
3016 Linden Street 
Bethlehem, PA
Hours: M-Sun
Spoon Rate:  

We entered a cozy environment, every table filled with friends and family sharing appetizers and appetizing-looking entrees.  The hardworking, friendly servers greeted us and I was optimistic to have a satisfying experience.  The Lehigh Valley is blessed with a wide variety of restaurants serving variations of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cuisine.  Anatolian Kitchen, describing themselves as serving Turkish/Mediterranean fare,  is another to add to the list, and an asset to Bethlehem's restaurant selection, just a few miles outside of Main Street shopping/dining district.

Our accompanying friends have recently become regulars, and recommended we start with Karisik Meze Tabagi, a mix of all their appetizers (small, $9, large, $16).   Perfect for sharing, flavor and variety, it includes a variety of spreads, such as hummus, baba ganoush, an eggplant salad, stuffed grape leaves, and more, served with fresh warm bread.

We chose a variety of their classic entrees, including lamb kebabs ($13,95), chicken kababs ($11.95), manti (traditional Turkish dumplings, $10.95), & kibbee.  We enjoyed sharing the generous, delicious and continually flavorable portions.  

Our meal was completed with turkish coffee served in a classy, special cup.   We chose three classic desserts, including baklava and kunefe (also spelled kanafeh, a pastry that includes a sweet cheese.)  Most noteworthy is the baklava.  The first bite caused me to pause and say "Wow.  I think this is the best baklava I have ever eaten."  This sounded dramatic, I needed to confirm with the second bite, and it proved to be just as extraordinary as it melted in my mouth.  The others tried and each of us had similar reactions.  It's true.  There is something special about the baklava--don't miss it.

 Anatolian Kitchen is the kind of place you can easily revisit and want to bring your friends and family.  It's casual but classy, warm, comfortable and the food is extremely satisfying. 

  Anatolian Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The People's Kitchen

The People's Kitchen
639 Linden St.
Bethlehem,  PA

Hours:M-F 6a-3p; Sat 7a-3p; Sun 8a-2p
Spoon Rate:
There is always room for another neighborhood breakfast joint in the Lehigh Valley, especially quaint Bethlehem.  I was eager to try The People's Kitchen after stumbling across an advertisement, and wonder how did I miss hearing about this place earlier since they have been open since October, 2014?! Located on active Linden Street, but off the beaten path of popular Main Street, this has the desired feel for a local spot to meet with friends and neighbors for breakfast or lunch.  Fighting off envy that it is not within walking distance to frequent more regularly, I enjoyed watching the camaraderie of its guests of all ages.

The environment is clean, fresh, with a hipster touch in its decor  (this may be their intended look since one of their menu items is the hipster bagel).  It has limited seating, giving the classic "hole-in-the-wall" feel that Evans' Eats prefers.  We visited for breakfast and enjoyed their classic menu, with a gourmet twist to some basic selections.  Menus uniquely and endearingly arrived on clipboards, displaying a variety of choices, along with some seasonal specials.  A chalkboard on the wall shared their current fresh bread selection: cinnamon bread and honey whole wheat with spiced cran-apple jelly.  This was difficult to overlook, but I settled on the quiche with roasted red peppers, spinach & gouda cheese with a hash brown crust ($7), giving this local hotspot a notch above your local diner.  Thankfully, my mom and I have similar tastes and she chose the other menu item calling my name, so we could share.  She received a shortstack of cranberry pancakes drizzled with cream cheese apple cider sauce.  The shortstack included 2 LARGE delicious pancakes.  Our only regret in ordering these two items is not having the opportunity to try the many other unique offerings:  Breakfast mac n' cheese ($7), BBQ shrimp & grits crepes ($9), & croissant french toast ($8) to name just a few. 

Lunch menu included some classic burgers, salads and sandwiches and intriguing options:  chicken & prosciutto croquettes with gouda dipping sauce ($8); crab bread ($10) and pulled pork flatbread with cheddar, roasted red pepper, spinach, & chipotle BBQ ($8).

Bethlehem can be proud for another business that is hip in atmosphere, classy in cuisine, and friendly in Lehigh-style.

People's Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Jesse's Barbecue & Local Market

Jesse's Barbecue & Local Market
98 N. County Line Road
(entrance: Chestnut St.)
Souderton, PA  18964
Hours:  Sun & M: Closed
T-Th 11a-7p
F & Sat 11a-8p
Spoon Rate: 

We are always looking for a good BBQ spot in the Lehigh Valley & Beyond and were thankfully introduced to this intriguing place south of us.  A good sign is a hopeful statement for quality.  The rustic, yet clean modern exterior as you walk into this restaurant/market also add to the positive curiosity.  As we arrive to the entrance, the long, energetic line makes yet another statement about this quaint gem.  Besides viewing the daily specials, the long line gives us time to 1. hope they haven't yet run out of meat that is smoked on-site; 2. view local products (like raw honey, coffee, salad dressings) in their market area.  

The perfect menu item for our curious appetite was the BBQ sampler, including 3 ribs, 2 slices of brisket, 1 drumstick, & pulled pork ($18.50)  Accompanied by your choice of 2 sides (with classic offerings:  mac & cheese, coleslaw, cornbread muffin with honey butter, collard greens, or BBQ baked beans), it was a generous amount for 2 to share.  We also sampled a side of their wings.  As if there is not enough flavor in these delish meats, one of the highlights was their sampling of complimentary sauces for a diner's dipping pleasure.  Freshly brewed sweet tea was the ideal beverage for this satisfying, traditional BBQ meal.
One more highlight:  outdoor dining at picnic tables overlooking the meat smoker that made this meal possible.  The atmosphere is bustling with energy of families and friends enjoying their meal.  Indoor & outdoor seating are limited, but for those who find a spot, it's an enjoyable evening with a simple, but quality meal and setting.  Jesse's also offers take-out & catering.

Jesse's BBQ and Mkt. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Vassi's Drive-in

Vassi's Drive-in
1666 Main St.
Hellertown, PA 18055
Hours: M-Sun 11a-9p
Evans' Eats Spoon Rate: 

 Summertime is ideal for simple, outdoor eating.  We started our season of alfresco dining by finally visiting Hellertown's historic, well-known and loved, Vassi's Drive-in.   Easily accessible to Route 78 and nearby the popular Saucon Rail Trail, Vassi's is a delightful stop for summer sojourners.  For "hole-in-the-wall" alfresco lovers, it has an attractive front which features a walk-up and order ice cream counter.
The menu offers a simple classic sampling of classic family-friendly favorites including burgers, hot dogs, salads, sandwiches and a variety of sides and appetizers.  We highly recommend their New York gyro ($8.65) as a flavorful, satisfying treat.  We also sampled the buffalo chicken cheesesteak ($6.70), a solid option, but it did not top their locally well-known gyro.

For those who are interested in a sweet ending, Vassi's offers soft and hard ice cream, sundaes, milk shakes and banana splits.  
Outdoor eating does provide a view of current roadwork, so it requires some flexibility.  An indoor dining room is also available for a more quiet experience.   This summer keep it outdoor, simple, family friendly and inexpensive.

Click to add a blog post for Vassi's Drive-In on Zomato 


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Smokin' Bull Shack BBQ

Smokin' Bull Shack BBQ Truck
Inside Scoop Parking Lot
301 N. 3rd St (Route 309)
Coopersburg, PA  18036
Wed-Sun  11a-8p

It's the time of year to maximize outdoor dining.  The next few posts will feature some gems in the Lehigh Valley--that may be easily overlooked but are sure to provide enjoyable, family-friendly outdoor eating experiences.   I'm thrilled to begin by announcing a new resident to our very own hometown of Coopersburg.  Yesterday I did a surprised and please doubletake as I drove by our favorite ice cream spot, The Inside Scoop.   There was a food truck.  In our town.  And it featured BBQ.    I immediately contacted my husband and he confirmed he had also seen it.  I was thrilled.  Today was a beautiful day to stop by to try out our new neighbor.  

Having relatives who live in Texas, we've grown a strong appreciation for Texas BBQ and we are always watching and eager to find local BBQ restaurant, as seen from our previously featured BBQ month. With the trendy food truck phase in most urban settings, it is thrilling to see one find home in our small town.  An ideal location on busy Route 309, it can easily serve families and fans at the Southern Lehigh Living Memorial Park during football or baseball season.  It is in close proximity to the Southern Lehigh Pool and it shares a parking lot with the famous, Inside Scoop, providing a perfect compliment before your sweet treat.  My hope is that this town will rise to the challenge, not only to show hospitality, but keep this food truck in business so it finds a permanent home.

The owners are from the Lehigh Valley, providing catering services and attending other local events.  Since they have only been open 2 days, their menu was simple.   Though the truck advertised poboys, which immediately piqued our interest, they were not yet being served.  The simple menu included a classic pulled pork sandwich ($7), jerk chicken roll ($6), a prime rib sandwich ($12), and hot dogs ($2.50).  Somehow we missed ribs ($12) on the menu, which gives us a definite need to return.  Sides included fries, nachos and an intriguing deep fried mac and cheese ($5). 
We settled on the pulled pork sandwich and jerk chicken roll.  Pulled pork sandwich had the undeniable smoky flavor, a sturdy and ideal roll and was topped with cole slaw. The jerk chicken roll was flavorful and also topped with slaw.  (It comes with a wasabi slaw--sounds amazing, but my cautious husband chose traditional slaw.  I recommend the wasabi slaw--Why not?  And I'm sure it had the feisty kick this sandwich was  missing.)
The truck is pristine and attractive, outdoor setting provides a peaceful eating environment and Texas BBQ in Coopersburg?  Out of a truck?  If either of these things sounds unappetizing or too far out of your comfort zone--take the challenge.  Get on the latest food trend and visit a food truck in our backyard.  And take a break from your traditional local lunch or dinner spot and enjoy some southern cuisine. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lehigh Valley Mall
823 Lehigh Lifestyle Center
Whitehall, PA
Hours:  Mall hours

Spoon Rate:

The Lehigh Valley can now experience fries on a whole new level.  Local natives have brought an international delicacy to our local mall to totally enhance your next shopping meal or snack..   I had the privilege of sitting and dining with CEO, Richard Scott and his son, William, to learn the history of this recently-opened business, their passion for excellence, flavor and unique eating.  

Richard Scott ended his career in corporate America in May, 2013.  Looking for a change, he joined William, Penn State finance graduate, in this new endeavor.  Richard, born in England, had the opportunity to travel many places as a young boy, exposing him to the diverse expression of food around the globe.  At age 11, he lived in Brussels, Belgium and was exposed to one of their delicacies, pommes frites, meaning "apple of the earth."  Found in "street food" stands, pommes frites was served in cones with a side of mayo. 

Scotts' vision was to have a fast, casual eatery committed to local, fresh products.  While emphasizing the french fry, they wanted it to be distinct, accompanied by the entire dining experience.  Frites (pronounced Freets) seeks to offer us an authentic cultural experience, yet in a setting and delivery that appeals to American taste.  I respect this philosophy and it does not take long to recognize they have achieved their initial purpose.  Greeted by friendly, helpful staff and a clean, bright, modern surroundings, the atmosphere mirrors their personal commitment to excellence.   

A behind-the-scenes tour impressively revealed there is "nothing frozen" and "nothing from a can."  In fact, they removed the freezer upon obtaining this prime location at the Lehigh Valley Mall.   What is the secret ingredient that makes these fries extraordinary?  The time and care committed to each fresh USA Russet potato.  I learned that "sugar is the enemy of frying." The process of washing, cutting the ends, evenly slicing and rinsing the potatoes removes excess starch that could lead to burning.  Preparation of these potatoes is a 16-24 hour process.  This gives a whole new meaning to the expression "made with love!"  After soaking overnight, there is a two-stage frying process.  Cook, blanch, drain, and cook again.  Fries are made to order and served at room temperature.  After fried to perfection, they are placed in a "Frites tosser", imported from Europe.  The holes on the bottom of this special creation allow them to be tossed with delicious sea salt and maximum grease removed.  Quality ingredients, these fries are also gluten free, and vegan/vegetarian-friendly.

If you are not yet convinced that these fries are worthwhile and memorable, let's review the menu.  One can receive the traditional cone of frites (small, large or double, ($4.99-8.99), with your choice of 1 dipping sauce, or 2 dipping sauces for the double order.  I recommend taking a friend and ordering the double so you can try 2 of their 17 dipping sauces.  Also made fresh on location, each sauce is bursting with flavor and creativity.  Only one of their options is not housemade, the frite sauce, imported from Holland.   While hard to narrow down a favorite, curry ketchup and pow pow (a thai sauce) were my preferences.  Garlic parmesan and ranch are  two more traditional sauces for the less adventurous palate.    

Frites again achieves superiority with their meal options, a Bowl or Frita.  The Bowl ($6.49-8.99) combines fries topped with fresh toppings.  We sampled the Mexicano ($6.49), topped with black beans, vegetarian chili, jalapenos, pico de gallo and cheddar jack.   This bowl is bursting with flavor and a beautiful combination of sweet and spicy.  If you are looking for the most unique offering on the menu, I would recommend the poutine bowl ($6.99).  This provides a sampling of the unique Canadian delicacy of Wisconsin cheese curds, gravy and bacon.  Scott, describing himself as a "voracious researcher," found the best local supplier of cheese curds, remaining true to his commitment of excellent, fresh, and local products.

All menu options can also be made into a Frita, their unique sandwich version, a grilled pita stuffed with fries and toppings.  Pita bread, a sturdy successful carrier of these ingredients, is from a New Jersey supplier.  I was thrilled to try the Barbecue Brisket frita ($8.99).  Supplied by Big Papa's Backyard BBQ, we sampled freshly smoked brisket and locally made BBQ sauce, also topped with coleslaw.  Undeniably wonderful.

This father-son duo are ambitious and have a vision to see at least 3 more locations in the LV & B region.  They have done their part in contributing to the LV Eating it's up to us to appreciate, support and enjoy their efforts towards frites excellence.

Wash your meal down with one of their unique teas, including a seasonal option.

Frites on Urbanspoon