In reader polls and magazine lists, Cactus Blue is routinely recognized as one of the top Mexican restaurants in Lehigh Valley. I've stopped in for lunch several times and have been satisfied. A recent dinner there confirmed its stature in my mind.

One of my dinner companions knows the management, so rather than scanning the menu, we told our waitress to bring us three dishes that typified the restaurant's cuisine.

Before that, we dipped into chips and salsa, my personal food weakness. The salsa was obviously homemade and deliciously fresh.

Here's a quick recap of our dishes:

Shrimp tacos (above): served "blue" style in flour tortillas with guacamole, lettuce, cheese (real queso fresca, not shredded cheddar) and cilantro. In a word: Sublime. A perfect marriage of simple ingredients.

Chile relleno: A meaty polblano pepper lightly battered and fried golden brown, topped with salsa verde. Again, the queso fresca stuffed in the pepper was true to the "fresca" part of the name.

Chicken encebollado (left): If Mexicans served stir-fry, this is what it would look like. Large chunks of tender chicken amid rajas (peppers and onions), pico de gallo and herbs. The flavors balanced nicely and complemented each other well.

The menu included expected Mexican dishes like burritos, flautas, chimichangas and tacos. But as usual, it's the unconventional dishes that demonstrate the restaurant's quality and creativity.

The service and atmosphere were commendable as well. Overall, highly recommended - and I'm not the only one. Check out some of the other outstanding reviews and awards Cactus Blue has won here.

Are you a fan of Cactus Blue?

This post was written by Lehigh Valley InSite guest blogger Michael Drabenstott, who also writes the Beyond Scrapple blog.