Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a longtime resident, you know that there’s a smörgåsbord (that’s Pennsylvania Dutch for “buffet”) of delicious food to enjoy in Lehigh Valley. There’s only one problem: There’s too much delicious food to enjoy. So we took on the task of finding the most iconic options worth your stomach space. Treat this as the ultimate LV to-eat list.


Lamb Shawarma, Daddy’s Place

650 Northampton St, Easton

The garlicky, tender meat in this wrap is just one of the highlights. You’ll also find velvety tahini and tart pickled turnips, along with parsley and tomatoes. It’s a strong lunch—provided that you don’t have any important face-to-face meetings in the afternoon.

Lamb shawarma from Daddy's Place is wrapped in a flaky flatbread

Charred Octopus, Molinari’s

322 E 3rd St, Bethlehem

It’s not always on the menu, and it can take on various accompaniments when it is, but regardless this dish is a must-order largely because this modern Italian restaurant does it so well. The curled tentacle is always cooked just-tender, and then singed with a char that naturally elevates the seafood’s natural sweetness.

The charred octopus from Molinari's is served with a salad of arugula and cherry tomatoes.

Scrapple, East Penn Diner

1418 Chestnut St, Emmaus

Well, you know that this PA Dutch delicacy would make it onto the list at some point. But what makes the pork product especially delicious at this diner? They cook it right. Both sides are griddled till crisp, yet the inside is still soft. Top it with ketchup, top it with syrup, or don’t top it at all. However you eat it, no scrapple tops East Penn Diner’s scrapple.

Escargot, Henry’s Salt of the Sea

1926 Allen St, Allentown

If you’re never witnessed the culinary ballet that is Henry’s open galley kitchen in full service, reserve a seat at the bar, order a lager and these garlic-and-butter-bathed beauties, and behold the spectacle. The snails emerge from the broiler sizzling and pungent, ready for you to take a tiny fork to. Then you sip. And then repeat.

Glazed Donut, Mary Ann’s Donut Kitchen 

1601 Liberty St, Allentown

You can have your fancy-pants rose-petal and cardamom seed “artisanal” donuts, but don’t pretend that there’s anything better than a tried-and-true, straight-down-the-middle, well-made-with-love regular donut and some coffee from a pot. Mary Ann’s does that best.

A classic glazed donut from Mary Ann Donut Kitchen in Allentown

Photo by Will Lewis @the_will_lewis

 

Two Yocco’s Dogs with Everything and a chocolate milk, Yocco’s 

Various locations

Two, because one is never enough. With everything, because ketchup clobbers the deeply meaty flavor of the hot dog, a flavor better highlighted with a swipe each of mustard and chili sauce and rain of diced onion. And a chocolate milk, because you’re going to need something to wash it all down.

 

Italian Sausage, Giacomo’s

700 Cattell St, Easton

Tucked away up on College Hill, you’ll find a mecca of Italian delicacies and grocery items at Giacomo’s. The arancini (rice balls) are delicious, but the must-try items here are the five varieties of housemade Italian sausage. Get it on a sub with peppers and onions or order it by the pound. Pro tip: Grill the whole sausage rope, intact, and break it up when it’s almost cooked. You won’t be chasing a bunch of links around the grill and it will be much easier to cut up when cooked.

Giacamo’s in College Hill is known for their fresh housemade Sausage

A Small—Ah, Heck, Who Are We Kidding—Large Famous Nachos, The Chicken Lounge

3247 Hamilton Blvd, Allentown

This bar goes big when it comes to their towering pile of chips, jack cheese, refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, taco sauce, and (deep breath here) jalapeno peppers. It’s the kind of nachos that you eat with a fork and, upon unearthing the chips below, discover a powerful secret: the chips are those in the style of Doritos Nacho Cheese.

California Cheesesteak, Crossroads Hotel

1443 Main St, Hellertown

Yes, a true Lehigh Valley cheesesteak comes adorned with a marinara-style sauce, and, yes, this long-running establishment serves those cheesesteaks. But you’d be remiss if you didn’t also try their take on the unsung spin: savory chopped steak, sweet sauteed onions, fresh lettuce, tangy tomato, creamy mayo, and sour pickles—all tucked into a toasted roll. Banana peppers are optional, but, really, they aren’t.

The California Cheesesteak from Crossroads Hotel is a fun twist on a Philly classic.

The Sweet Heart Roll, Sumo Sushi

3174 Tilghman St, Allentown

Yes, a true Lehigh Valley cheesesteak comes adorned with a marinara-style sauce, and, yes, this long-running establishment serves those cheesesteaks. But you’d be remiss if you didn’t also try their take on the unsung spin: savory chopped steak, sweet sauteed onions, fresh lettuce, tangy tomato, creamy mayo, and sour pickles—all tucked into a toasted roll. Banana peppers are optional, but, really, they aren’t.

Blueberry Lemon Ice Cream, Owowocow

1262 Simon Blvd b106, Easton

You don’t just taste a scoop from this shop—you experience it. The cream and milk are organic and local. Ditto the fruit and raw honey. And without knocking chocolate or vanilla, there’s something extra special about this sweet-tart flavor combo that creates cravings all year round.

Owowcow interior Ice cream selection in Lehigh Valley

Chicken Wings, Coal Lounge & Grill

81 W Broad St, Bethlehem

This West African restaurant skips all the fire and brimstone of “atomic-hot” sauces and serves up a dry-rubbed grilled wing that is missing a key flavor other wing joints typically forget: chicken. These aren’t dinky wings either. They’re meaty, hearty, and belly-patting in satisfaction. Though Coal classifies them as an appetizer, two orders make a dang good meal.

Cauliflower with Extra Lemonaize Sauce, True Blue

1301 Chestnut St #18, Emmaus

These tender, roasted florets, perfumed with Mediterranean spices, would be delicious on their own. But then there’s the sauce—my my, the sauce. It’s garlicky, lemony, and altogether heavenly. So, go on, double up for dunking.

Brisket Pierogi, Queen City BBQ 

27 N 7th St #130, Allentown

A pierogi, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a filled doughy dumpling. At this downtown mecca of smoked meats, a potato-stuffed pierogi is lavished with brisket, fried onions, demi-glace, cheese sauce, and cheese curds. It’s a decadent spin on a Lehigh Valley favorite.

Queen City BBQ In Lehigh Valley, PA

Famous Colonial Pizza, Colonial Pizza & Spaghetti House

136 Spring Garden St, Easton

“The Colonial” has been open since 1947, and this pie has been around about that long too. You could credit the novelty of its “upside-down” presentation—that’s mozzarella on the bottom and pizza sauce on the top. Though you can also credit the crisp-soft crust, the powerfully tomato-y sauce, and the perfect amount of gooey cheese.

Aw Shucks Corn, Coca-Cola Park

1050 Ironpigs Way, Allentown

You’ll find their stands at Lehigh Valley festivals, but your most dependable source of juicy roasted corn, liberally buttered, and dusted with a lip-tingling blend of salt, spices, and Parmesan cheese, is where the Iron Pigs play, when the Iron Pigs play. This is also a must while "festing" at Musikfest.

 

Butterscotch Pudding, Bolete

1740 Seidersville Rd, Bethlehem

This James Beard-nominated farm-to-table restaurant features a rotating menu that leans on the seasons. But there’s one menu item that’s always available—this luscious blend of egg yolks, cream, vanilla, brown sugar, and Scotch that’s topped with candied pecans and fresh whipped cream. Served in a Mason jar, it’s spoonful after spoonful of amazing.

Butterscotch Pudding from Bolete is served topped with candied pecans.

Lengua Tacos, La Placita

158 N 12th St, Allentown

This Mexican deli and grocer makes a mean enchiladas verde and a formidable cemita, but its lengua tacos are legendary. Diced, spiced, and griddled, the chunks of meat are rich and robust, yet well-balanced by chopped onion, cilantro, and a good dousing of freshly squeezed lime juice. Wrapped up in two corn tortillas a piece, you’ll want to tuck into at least three of them.

The Grand Tower, 3rd and Ferry Fish Market

56 S 3rd St, Easton

Some meals are quick bites. Some meals are events. Grand indeed is this three-tiered feast of all things seafood. There are oysters. There are clams. There are shrimp, mussels, a chilled lobster tail, and hunks of jumbo lump crab meat. For good measure, there’s even some tuna tartare and ceviche too. And there’s abundance, yes, but that’s exactly the point.

Steamed Dumplings, Jenny’s Kuali 

102 E 4th St, Bethlehem

These pillowy pockets of porky deliciousness are made in-house. Drizzled with an umami-packed sauce and scattered with thick-sliced scallions, they’re simple but by no means one-note. However many you enjoy, you’re always left thinking, “It would be nice to have another.”

Jennys Kuali serves house-made steamed dumplings drizzled in a rich sause.

The Cure Pizza, Birthright Brewing Company

57 S Main St, Nazareth

This craft brewery cranks out some incredibly creative beers (a stout called How Many Licks that’s brewed with Tootsie Rolls, for one). But their secret weapon is a wood-fired pizza oven that blasts out charred and blistered pies laden with surprising toppings. The Cure, in particular, carries red and white sauce, mozzarella and parmesan, plus capicola and prosciutto from Nello’s Specialty Meats, a nearby butcher.

Crab Pepper Masala, Biryani City

1894 Catasauqua Rd, Allentown

This Indian restaurant’s expansive menu includes mounds of biryani, flurries of curries, and table-space-gobbling dosas. Yet this dish, a one-two punch of fresh crab and peppercorn sauce, is a standout for both its heat and flavor. They don’t always have it, but when they do, pounce.

Fettuccine Con Funghi, Sette Luna

219 Ferry St, Easton

Twirling through a plate of this pasta feels like treasure hunting. One bite may bring you a hunk of crumbled sausage, another a nugget of wild mushroom, and another still a morsel of creamy goat cheese. Lightly sauced in a marsala demiglace, this is no regular ol’ plate of spaghetti and meatballs.

Breakfast Mac n Cheese, The People’s Kitchen

639 Linden St, Bethlehem

This could very well be the most sumptuous way to start your day in Lehigh Valley. Inside a small(ish) cast-iron skillet, The People’s Kitchen layers potatoes, mac and cheese, hickory-smoked bacon, and maple sausage. You’ll want to pay the extra buck for the fried egg on top. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

 

Chicken Avocado Arepa w/ Pink Sauce, La Bicicleta Arepa Bar

12 S 8th St, Allentown

Cornmeal-based buns, griddled and split, and then stuffed with shredded chicken and mashed avocado. You have a choice of sauces, but there’s only one real choice: the sweet and creamy salsa rosada, also known as “pink sauce.”


What are your Must-Try Lehigh Valley Foods?

Are you outraged that your favorite Lehigh Valley treat isn't included in this list? Let us know! Upload your photos of delicious eats to the collector below. And the next time you get a slice of tomato pie or a Lehigh Valley cheesesteak, tag us @lehighvalleypa with #yesDLV.