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Food Shopping/Cheap Eats in the Lehigh Valley

  • m

As NYC-ers who've been spending lots of time in the LV, we've been checking out the non-Wegmans shopping and the cool (read inexpensive, low-key, non-chain) places to eat with a 10-year-old. This is what we have so far and I'm hoping other LV chowhounds will tell us what we're missing!

FOOD STORES

Amelia's Grocery Outlet (Chain store, 4628 Tilghman) -- some great deals here, mostly on snack foods. The key to Amelia's is checking the expiration dates carefully and figuring out what's OK past the date (sometimes way past the date) and what isn't. We've gotten excellent prices on yogurt drinks, OJ, pretzels and some frozen foods. The people are super-nice and will let you make timely returns with receipt. Cash/debit only, closed Sundays.

Aldi's (Chain store)-- mostly good prices on the basics -- milk, eggs, cheese, baking supplies. Closed Sundays.

Queen's health food (Chain store). Good prices on stuff like cashew butter.

The Farmer's Market in Allentown late Saturday afternoon. Prices are high until the end of the day and even then... We love the bread place and the kiffles are excellent. Love looking through the selections of Penn Dutch foods.

Valley Farm Market (610-867-4600) -- the most amazing selection of bagged nuts and candies hard to find anywhere else. Lots of chocolate-covered stuff, penny-candy-type stuff. Good produce, though sometimes on the high side.

Latino Grocery on S. 3rd, I think. Never been. Anyone?

Middle Eastern grocers -- We like going to Sam's and Elias's for produce that we eat the same day. Decent hummous, baba ganouj and olives. Good prices on spices and nuts.
We LOVE Soumaya's home-baked pita bread and their baklawa, as well as their meat pies. Soumaya's has become our favorite place to look around, even though it's tiny.

I haven't been blown away by the tiny farmer's market in Bethlehem near Lehigh U on Thursdays in the summer. The Middle Eastern table's OK, nice people. Anyone have suggestions?

RESTAURANTS

Mexican
The burritos at Tulum were pretty good, a little off the beaten burrito path. We also liked the burritos at La Lupita (4 W. 4th in Bethlehem)

Vietnamese
--Pho Vung Tao in Allentown. We used to go all the time, haven't been recently. Is it still good?
--Little Saigon was delicious but we came away with major MSG headaches.
--Cafe Phuong (4th St. N. of Tilghman) gave us our first unfriendly LV experience. We walked in, all conversation stopped. The owner told us "no Bahn mi." We walked out.

Chinese
We always order from Mi Chong (Allentown's better than Bethlehem). Nothing out of the ordinary, but dependable.

Middle Eastern
Aladdin-- Is it closed?

Indian
We found Nawab unimpressive -- is there something better out there?

Puerto Rican
We've heard great things about El Caribe (which we can't find) and La Favorita, both in Bethlehem. We're going to try La Favorita next time we're nearby. Anyone been?

ICE CREAM
The Cup/The Bethlehem Dairy Store -- yum. And Rita's is always fun.
Anyone tried Tulip's Cafe and Creamery at the Crystal Spring Farm in Schnecksville?

DINERS
We love LV diners, though recent experiences have been disappointing. The Trivet seems to have lost quality in it's new fancified incarnation, the Bethlehem Diner had at least one waitress from hell, there are other diners that still have big smoking sections that encroach on the non-smoking. But usually if we order one of the Penn Dutch specialties anywhere (chicken or corn pot pie, chicken croquettes (!)), we've been pretty happy.

BAKERIES
Vegan Treats Bakery sounds great. Anyone been?

That's it for now. Opinions please!

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  1. A couple of things to add...

    Wert's on 18th St for one of the best burgers in the area.

    Egypt Star bakery on Hamilton has some of the best bread and rolls I've had anywhere.

    When in the mood, I like a Yacco's hot dog.

    1. Crystal Spring Dairy is worth it for the milk, if you're not coming from too too far away. Noticeably better than supermarket stuff, although it does not last as long in the fridge. Good bacon also, and corn on the cob. I don't think there is anything too special about the ice cream, but it is nice to sit on the outdoor deck in summer and appreciate the aroma of the nearby cows. (I'm not being sarcastic... but I am from the country.) I would rather eat food at the Neffs Hotel in that area. The drive-in in Ironton ain't bad at all for soft-serve.

      Paolo's in Northampton offers very tasty sit-down, come-as-you-are Italian. Also have enjoyed the place by Indian Creek golf course, formerly Basili's Gaden, cannot recall current name (changed due to owner's whim).

      I had a good Indian meal (despite indifferent service) right in the middle of Emmaus once, but cannot remember the name. Palace of Something. Also in Emmaus, be sure to check out Shangy's beer distributors, if you at all enjoy beer. Their inventory is rather stupefying.

      Grumpy's BBQ Roadhouse on Mauch Chunk, a few miles north of the LV mall area. It's not fancy but it is good smoked 'cue. I have yet to track down the mobile bbq operation in Walnutport...

      Yocco's has grown on me. I thought it was abhorrent growing up, but now sometimes make an effort to get a couple dogs and blazing hot pierogies.

      3 Replies
      1. re: SteveK

        Steve--is this the place? Looks great! Think it's still there?

        http://www.jttoday.com/2005/2005-10/J...

        1. re: SteveK

          Yes, Yacco's! Seventy five years feeding Muhlenberg students can't be missed(Liberty St. location)!
          Even my 91 yr old mother loves them.

          1. re: SteveK

            another neat hot dog place:
            114 W. Fairview (Just off Main Street)
            Bethlehem PA
            (610) 865-6644
            I like bacon, american cheese and ketchup
            My husband is a traditionalist: Chili cheese with mustard and onions

          2. i second both grumpy's and yoccos.there is also a newer bbq place on 37th off of lehigh that was good

            1. The original comment has been removed
              1. Another really great ice cream place is Nuts About Ice Cream (610) 861-7733 at 1124 Linden Street. Alot of great flavors, owners are super-friendly.