Family Weekend (Nov. 1st-3rd)

Are you tired of taking your parents to chain restaurants whenever they come into town? Had enough visits to Allentown Brew Works, Bamboo, or Pistachio’s? This week, I will be highlighting many other local restaurants that are great family friendly places to visit over Family Weekend. Some range in price and geographical distance, but the variety in cuisine, ambiance, and activity will be worth going the extra mile (no pun intended).

Morgan’s on Cedar Crest
3079 Willow St.
(610) 769-4100
$$-$$$
****
http://www.morgansrest.net/

I previously wrote about Morgan’s on Cedar Crest on my blog, but after sending my parents there last weekend I decided to blog about it again. I am currently performing in the mainstage musical “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” at Berg, which plays during Family Weekend (post about that coming soon). I was busy before the show so I couldn’t get dinner with my parents, but I wanted to send them to a nice dining experience in Allentown. After my outing to Morgan’s with my friend Emily, I decided to send them there mainly for the physical proximity to the college.

Morgan’s is located on Cedar Crest and Willow St. about five minutes past the Target shopping center. When I saw my parents after the play they told me how impressed they were by the food, ambiance, and service at Morgan’s. They told me that they walked in and were greeted by a hostess and seated in a cozy dining room with intimate, but homelike décor. They laughed about their waitress who kindly greeted them as if they had been long lost friends for years. They raved about the food they had (my Mom had Butternut squash soup, and the Morgan’s salad and my Dad had a chicken dish), and best of all, the food was reasonably priced! They left with a bill that was under $30 for two nice entrees and drinks. Morgan’s is definitely off the beaten path since most Muhlenberg students don’t think to drive beyond the Target shopping center. It is truly a hidden gem and parents will love the food and the location. If your parents are only visiting for the day, Morgan’s offers a full breakfast menu that ranges from $5-$9. Those are the same prices you’d find at any of the local diners and the food quality is much better! I highly recommend visiting Morgan’s over Family Weekend. It will be the change in cuisine your family has been wanting when visiting Muhlenberg.

Grille 3501
3501 Broadway St  (just off Cedar Crest between Hamilton and Tilghman)
$$$-$$$$
**
http://www.grille3501.com/

Grille 3501 is a small one roomed restaurant in a converted barn. I’m putting it on the list for Family Weekend because I know that based on its location the restaurant has generated a good amount of word of mouth advertising. It’s not my top pick for Family Weekend but I’ll give a short description anyway, in case it does suit someone’s fancy. Grille 3501 was established in 2001 and prides itself in making unique dishes from Asian, French, and Mediterranean cuisine. In my opinion, items on the menu are fairly common to most restaurants and far too overpriced to be enjoyable. If you have the money and are craving steak, beef tenderloin, seared scallops, or duck, by all means visit Grille 3501. I stumbled in with my parents a year ago and we unfortunately sat down before looking at the prices on the menu. Appetizers range in price from about $9-$14 and entrees are anywhere from $23-$35. Like I said before, if you have the money and want to stay close to campus, take your parents there for a visit. I think however I can suggest a few more places with more bang for your buck.

Teppan Hibachi Steak House
3227 Hamilton Blvd
Allentown, PA 18103
$$-$$$
***
http://www.teppanhibachi.com/

If Asian cuisine is what you and your family is craving, look no further than Teppan Steak House in the Hamilton shopping center across the street from Weis. I have been to Teppan multiple times both with friends and family and every time I have a great experience. Upon entering you will immediately feel as if you’re in a kitschy Asian American fusion fun house. The décor is a bit cheesy and campy, but totally fun! The wait staff is extremely attentive and bring your food to you efficiently. If you’d like to have Hibachi you can sit around the grill and have a hilarious show put on for you by one of their many Hibachi chefs, or you can sit at a table and try one of their 75+ sushi rolls. My top picks are the Hawaiin Volcano roll (Tuna, avocado, red snapper, spicy sauce, cream cheese), the 007 roll (tuna, spicy crab, eel), and the Haru roll (spicy tuna, salmon, yellowtail and crunchy tempura with avocado and spicy crabmeat). Teppan is about a 5-10 minute drive from campus and you’ll leave laughing, either from the ridiculous décor or the hilarious chefs.  Sushi rolls and platters range anywhere from $5-$30 and are well worth the price! If you’ve taken your parents to Bamboo or Liu’s House repeatedly for sushi, mix it up and give Teppan a try.

Chicken Lounge
3245 Hamilton Blvd
$-$$
**

If your family is looking for a more casual dining experience this parent’s weekend, look no further than the Chicken Lounge located a few doors down from Teppan. Don’t be alarmed by the exterior. Yes there is a neon chicken sign and large cheesy bubble letters spelling out the restaurant’s name, but inside you will immediately be brought into a fun homey environment with a variety of dishes that don’t just feature chicken. The menu ranges from salads to all types of chicken dishes to veggie/bison burgers. The booths are seated around the large grill where all of the food is prepared in front of you. The Chicken Lounge prides itself on making all freshly grilled products. None of the products you receive are fried. Flat screen TVs adorn the walls and there is a limited beer list— a great hangout spot for game day! My top picks: The infamous Chicken Lounge nachos! During my first trip to the Chicken Lounge my friends insisted we get these and trust me you will never go back to regular nachos again! Their wings, salads, and their Asian wrap are all also excellent! Prices range from $6-$20 and the lounge is conveniently open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. This will definitely be a more casual dining experience, but if that suits your fancy, check out the Chicken Lounge today!

These are the main somewhat unusual restaurants I would recommend in the Allentown area. Obviously there are many chain restaurants as well as pubs near campus (see post for Liberty Street Tavern, Stooges, Werts Café etc.). The goal of this post is to introduce more obscure restaurants that most Berg students may not know about. Now I will delve into the many offerings in the neighboring towns of Bethlehem and Emmaus.

Bethlehem Restaurants and Attractions

First of all, if you and your family have the time and desire to drive twenty minutes off campus do yourselves a favor and zip over to Bethlehem on US 22. When you reach Historic Bethlehem all you have to do is turn onto Bethlehem’s Main Street and you will immediately be overwhelmed by the many amazing restaurants and bars that tend to stay open later because of the many college students from Lehigh and Moravian living nearby.

Apollo Grill
85 West Broad Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
$-$$$
****
http://www.apollogrill.com

If you’re looking for a fun and zesty nightlife experience stop into the Apollo Grill on Broad St. and Main. Voted the Best Bethlehem Restaurant 13 years in a row, the Apollo Grill is not to be missed. Apollo has a wide array of menu options that range from gourmet sandwiches, salads, and more upscale options like lamb shank, veal, and duck. Prices range from $4-$30 and they are open Tue-Sat from 11:00-10:00 p.m. for lunch and dinner. My parents and I went to the Apollo Grill for lunch this past summer and had such a great experience we’re thinking of reserving a table for my graduation lunch in advance. Their full service bar features a full martini and wine list as well as weekly happy hour specials. My top pick at Apollo is their Grilled Chicken Panini with chicken, pesto, arugala, basil, tomatoes, roasted red pepper and red onion. It is out of this world! On the day we went we actually saw a waiter getting trained and we were impressed by their efficient yet detailed service. They clearly pride themselves on having kind hard working staff members. The Apollo Grill is tied for my top pick with Morgan’s, but is of course a bit of a farther drive! Plan the 20-minute drive into your schedule and you’ll be a happy camper!

Bethlehem Brew Works
569 Main St.
Bethlehem, PA 18018
$$-$$$
****
http://www.thebrewworks.com

Most people are under the impression that there is only one Brewwork’s restaurant in the Lehigh Valley in downtown Allentown. However, the Fegley family had been well established at their Bethlehem residence since 1998 and only expanded into Allentown in 2007. The Bethlehem restaurant’s décor is similar to that of the Allentown venue, but its business hours and key demographic set the two apart. My parents who were visiting last weekend to see “Drood” took me out to eat after the show. By the time I got out of costume and left the theatre, most businesses in Allentown were closed or were closing. We drove to Bethlehem, which was only about two exits away from their hotel and stumbled into Bethlehem Brewworks. We had gone to the Allentown branch many times, maybe even too many times, if you ask me. This visit, however, was different than the Brewworks experiences we had had in the past. At about 11:30 p.m. when we arrived, the restaurant and brewery was mainly occupied by students. Who knew? In Allentown, most students have to attend activities on campus due to early business hours, but here in Bethlehem, the streets surrounding Lehigh University are thriving till at least 2 or 3 in the morning. We even saw a group of people on a midnight guided tour of historic Bethlehem. The menu contains most of the same items at both establishments, but if you’re looking for a nice friendly and smoke free environment (unlike the Tavern) try heading over to Bethlehem Brewworks. The building even has an underground dance club if your friends and family want to dance the night away.

Mama Nina Foccacheria
546 Main Street
Bethlehem, PA 18108
$-$$$
***
http://www.mamaninabethlehem.com/

If you find yourself craving Italian food, check out Mama Nina Foccacheria on Main Street in Bethlehem. This one-room cutely decorated restaurant features excellent Italian American dishes the whole family will love. Mama Nina’s menu features true comfort food although the portions are quite large. Make sure that you have an appetite before settling in for the night at Mama Nina’s. Upon entering, you will be brought what seems like endless amounts of garlic knots and one complimentary glass of wine, if you’re of age. Mama Nina’s doesn’t have a liquor license but they can serve one complimentary glass per customer and also welcome customers to BYOB. There’s a wine store conveniently located across the street if you arrive empty handed. My top pick: Mama Nina’s Chicken Parmigiana. It’s a heavy dish and could feed you and an entire football team, but it’s heavenly. Grab one of their homestyle dishes to split or take home the leftovers for another occasion. Just remember that it is heavy and the restaurant is small so you may have to wait for a table. Prices range from $6-$30 and the restaurant is open every day for lunch and dinner. Like them on Facebook for special events and promotional offers!

These are the establishments in downtown Bethlehem that I have visited personally. However, I have received many recommendations for other Bethlehem and Emmaus attractions and I will list those businesses and their contact information below. Remember that the goal of this project is to branch out from the usual dining experiences and cultural events you may attend with your family. I realize that convenience and accessibility may be determining factors when choosing a restaurant for Family Weekend, but the Lehigh Valley has a lot to offer, if you have the time to check these places out!

Brunch/Breakfast

Billy’s Downtown Diner
10 E. Broad Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
http://www.billysdiner.com/

Blue Sky Café
22 W. 4th Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
http://www.theblueskycafe.com/

Full of Crepe
333 S. New Street
Bethlehem, PA 18015
(610) 419-6400

Morgan’s Restaurant
3079 Willow St.
(610) 769-4100
http://www.morgansrest.net/

Sweet Memories
180 Main St.
Emmaus, PA 18049
http://sweetmemories180.blogspot.com/

Lunch/Dinner

Stations Café (local and organic café)
563 Main St.
Bethlehem, PA 18018
http://www.stationscafe.com/

Tapas on Main
500 Main St.
Bethlehem, PA 18018
http://www.tapasonmain.com/

Thai Thai
509 Main Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018

True Blue Mediterranean Café (also in Emmaus)
81 West Broad Street
Bethlehem, PA 18018
http://www.yourtrueblue.com

Shameless plug for “The Mystery of Edwin Drood!” “Drood” is Charles Dickens final unfinished murder mystery musical where the audience finishes the story that Dickens didn’t! Unfortunately, the majority of the Family Weekend performances are sold out, but the Thursday Oct. 31 performance still has some great seats! Call the box office at 484. 664.3333 or order tickets here!

I hope this post proves to be useful when choosing a restaurant for Family Weekend. I’ve certainly enjoyed my experiences at these businesses and think they should be more well known by Muhlenberg students. Have a great Family Weekend and a Happy Halloween!

Featured image found on http://muhlenberg.dm.org/images/homepage-photo.jpg

 

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