Five Cool Places for a Mexican Experience

by Carrie Havranek

All of a sudden, it really does feel like spring, with the of summer, looming. With the heat comes my desire for Mexican food, and its Cali-Mexican, Ameri-Mexican derivatives. A margarita wouldn’t hurt, either, but some of these places are not designed with table service in mind and/or are BYOB, so a Corona might be more easily transportable.  In the spirit of warm weather and approaching Cinco de Mayo, we offer you five cool places for a “Mexican” experience.

Tulum, SouthSide Bethlehem. People affectionately refer to it as “Beth-Mex” because of its location. This hole-in-the-wall (reflective of its size, not quality) is known for its enormous burritos, its small size (just a few tables) and consequently long line. You could BYOB, but where would you drink it? Yes, you guessed it: Tulum is perfect for takeout.  17 W Morton Street, Bethlehem; (610) 691-8300

CaliBurrito, Allentown. Burritos, tacos, pico de gallo, guacamole, smoked tofu? Yep. This burrito joint inspires loyalty and repeat visitors. With breakfast burritos (which the world, frankly, could use a bit more of) and menu items that are “totally vegetarian” CaliBurrito takes the burrito seriously. 3104 Hamilton Blvd., Allentown; 610-351-1791.

Mex Tex Trio, Easton. Fast, cheap, and quick—Mexican food can be great for those reasons. In this clean, bright space, where it’s freshly prepared and the kitchen is receptive to variations and substitutions (black beans for pinto, for example), it’s hard not dislike the Mexican food for those very attributes. 42 South Third St., Easton; 610-253-2235.

Hello Burrito, Bethlehem. You gotta love a place that takes its inspiration from the burrito but then doesn’t stop there, throwing all sorts of yummy things into a tortilla from mangoes to tofu, along with veggie-packed soups and cheese, beef, chicken and bean quesadillas. When you see employees throwing veggies and fruits into a food processor, that transparency says your food is fresh.  You’re not penalized for asking for wheat tortilla or brown rice, either, which is nice. And they deliver. 38 W. Broad St., Bethlehem. 610-882-2124.

La Mexicana Grille, Allentown. If you’ve lived in the Lehigh Valley long enough, or live in downtown Allentown, you likely know that 7th street is home to all kinds of great mom-and-pop restaurants full of great ethnic fare. There’s no shortage of Mexican places, either, but the owners here are from Puebla, home of mole so you need to order that. It’s the best mole in the Valley and holds its own next to fancier places. The made-to-order guacamole is tops, too.  407 N. 7th Street, Allentown. 610-776-1910.

Carrie Havranek is a writer in Easton who thinks lime and cilantro are a match made in heaven. Some good black beans don’t hurt, either.

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