With the Mexican chain On The Border about to open in Allentown's new Airport Square Center, I thought it would be an ideal time to review existing options for Mexican food in the city.
La Mexicana Grill, 7th & Gordon Streets Plain but non-cliche decor, outstanding food. During a recent visit I had a torta, the traditional Mexican sandwich with lettuce, pico de gallo and avocado slices. Half featured marinated sirloin steak (surprisingly tender) and on the other half, chorizo (just enough kick.) At $4.50, it's probably one of the best sandwich deals in town.
La Placita Mexico, 12th & Turner Streets My favorite place for tacos, chicken, beef or chorizo. They'll heat it up on a griddle, sprinkle it with fresh cilantro and quesa fresca and put it between a double layer of corn tortillas. They also have a selection of soups and other small plate items ideal for lunch or sharing. A friend who grew up in Mexico says it's his favorite place in Lehigh Valley. How can you go wrong with that recommendation?
Amigo Mio, 545 Cleveland Street The original Mexican in the city, and to many, still the reigning champ. It's a small place, a reconfigured row home, but I've had exceptional bean burritos and some of the best refried beans anywhere there. Fare is standard Mexican - if you're eating more authentic Mexican food, you're probably south of the Rio Grande. Note: They don't accept credit cards, and they're only open Wednesday and Friday evenings.
In the end, it depends on your risk-reward tolerance. Service in the smaller restaurants can be spotty. Menus have misspellings. The decor didn't start on the drawing board of an interior designer. Parking for all three is on-street. But for a real experience, they're tough to beat. For me, it's all part of the experience.
This post was written by Lehigh Valley InSite guest blogger Michael Drabenstott, who also writes the Beyond Scrapple blog.