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The Christmas season arrives faster each year. Since M. had some other matters to see to today and since I still had a lot of holiday shopping to do, I decided to set out alone this Saturday morning.  I left home early.  That way, I’d have time to stop for a quick breakfast at the Bethlehem Diner before the stores opened.  The diner is central in the Lehigh Valley, a convenient spot no matter which direction a person is traveling.

As I walked in the front door, I was greeted by a glass dessert case filled with assorted delectable pastries.   I took a single longing glance then asked the cashier for a booth next to a window.  In a friendly voice, she said to choose one.  Simple red and green garlands of tinsel looped through the restaurant adding a festive touch to the rooms.  Sunlight streamed through the large windows.  Around me several couples talked quietly, enjoying their morning meals together.

A tallish dark-haired waitress brought me a menu and soon returned with my requested coffee and glass of water.  The menu features standard breakfast fare — egg dishes, omelets, French Toast, pancakes, and a few specialities.   Since I planned to shop much of the day, I wanted something wholesome, a food that would stay with me.   I chose a favorite, heart-healthy oatmeal and toast.

While I waited for my food, I took out my Kodak and scrolled through some pictures.   For Christmas, I plan to use some of them in creative ways for a few special people.   Last night I had reviewed the website for Dan’s Camera City.  Dan’s has many such items — photo mugs, personalized calendars, photos artistically reproduced on canvas, and even cutting boards with photos printed onto them.  I pulled some note paper from my purse and began jotting down ideas.  After breakfast, I would drive to Dan’s.  Other scheduled stops included The Christmas Tree Shop, Best Buy, and a few other assorted stores.  A full day of shopping waited!

My oatmeal arrived quickly and was followed by the toast a minute or two later.  The oatmeal was thick, tasty and definitely homemade.  The toast was made with fresh wheat bread, and still hot from the toaster.  Spread thinly with blackberry jam it, too, was delicious.  During my meal the waitress kept my cup filled with fresh black coffee.

The total amount of my bill was under $5.00 (excluding tip) for a large bowl of oatmeal, an order of wheat toast, and plenty of coffee.  Reasonable.   Overall the atmosphere in the Bethlehem Diner was pleasant, tables were cleared quickly and efficiently, and the service was friendly.   A good place to stop for a bite to eat when you’re out shopping, after a movie, or anytime.  I plan to return.

Bethlehem Diner is located at 1881 Catasauqua Road, Allentown, PA 18109.  It’s just south of ABE Airport and Highway 22, on the east side of Airport Road.   (610) 266-9235.

Sara

Bethlehem Diner on Urbanspoon

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The winter of 2010 seemed endless. Life grew more complicated when illness struck.  Weeks flew by.  I wondered when things would return to normal.  But then the snows started to melt.  Seasonal rains and warming temperatures coaxed leaf buds and flowers into bloom.  Spring arrived, in all its glorious beauty.

This morning M. announced that it had been too long since we’d been on one of our diner dates.  My improved health was reason to celebrate.  He asked where I wanted to go.  I pulled out my wish list of Lehigh Valley Restaurants.  “You choose,” I said.  He glanced at the list then said “the Queen City Diner.”  We’d first heard of it from a friend who raves over their warm service and yummy pancakes.  Just the ticket on this drizzling spring morn.

Queen City Diner is about a half hour drive from our home.  Highway 78 to Exit 57 then north on Lehigh Street.  Strangely, I felt almost giddy on our drive.  Nothing like a lingering illness to make one appreciate the little things in life.  The diner sits across the road from a CVS Pharmacy, just north of the Queen City Airport.   We took one of the last parking spots near the back of the building. Inside, the restaurant was packed but our wait was short.  Our cordial hostess quickly showed us to a booth next to the front window.   The staff bustled through the crowded dining room, taking orders, serving food, clearing tables and counter.

Our waitress delivered a carafe of coffee with two cups, and glasses of water.  She gave special instructions on using the carafe.  We browsed through the extensive breakfast menu and specials.  Assorted omelets and other egg dishes, stuffed waffles and French Toast and, of course, pancakes.  So much to choose from, and all of it looked GOOD!  I almost ordered the sweet potato pancakes, our friend’s favorite, but decided the blueberry pancakes had more appeal this morning.  M. chose a bowl of oatmeal, followed by eggs, bacon, and hash browns.

As we sipped on our coffee, we glanced around the 50’s style diner decorated in the traditional diner colors of dark pink and turquoisy-green.  The roomy booths each held a small table top juke box.  We resisted the urge to plop in some coins for music; the aisles weren’t big enough to dance.   The room was filled with patrons of all ages.  Families and couples sat comfortably enjoying their morning out.  The delicious aroma of fresh cooked breakfasts drifted from the kitchen.

Our friendly waitress delivered M.’s oatmeal first, as he’d requested.  It was a large bowl, hot and steaming. He poured on a little milk and began to eat.  Soon the rest of our food arrived.  My short stack of blueberry pancakes looked very good, and tasted even better.  While the blueberries were only faintly apparent from the top, when I cut into them I found they were each packed with delectable juicy blue.  Perfect!

M.’s hash brown patties were browned and crisp.  The picture seems to show only one hash brown, but two patties were stacked — thick, and delicious.   His poached eggs were slightly over cooked for his taste, but the inside yolk was still runny and a rich yellow.  I pinched an end from his bacon and found it wonderfully crisp and salty.

Our total bill (excluding tip) came to just over $11 for a short stack of blueberry pancakes, a large bowl of oatmeal, two eggs, two hash brown patties, three large pieces of bacon, two slices of toast, and two cups of coffee with carafe.  All prices on the menu were most reasonable, among the best we’ve seen in the Valley.   Service was cordial and efficient.   Definitely a place to visit again, and again!

The Queen City Diner is located at 1801 Lehigh Street, Allentown, PA 18103.  Telephone 610-791-0240.  They are open 24 hours a day.   Propietors are Ody & George Draklellis.  I hope you’ll try them soon!

Sara

Queens City Diner on Urbanspoon

Last year, a few months after I started this blog, our son recommended we compare four diners along Union Boulevard, east of Airport Road.  Some call the area “diner row.”  In January 2009 we visited his first recommendation, the Golden Gate Diner at 1318 Union Boulevard.  In June we ate breakfast at the Top Diner at 1019 and, in mid-August, we ate at Izzy’s Family Restaurant, at 920.  Somehow it seemed fitting to end the year at the newest of the four, the Union Diner & Family Restaurant, located at 2302 Union Boulevard.

The Union Diner opened about two years ago.  I read that the building had previously operated as a Pizza Hut; the signature windows are still intact.  The interior, however, was fully remodeled with new tiled floors and booths.  On this snowy morn, the diner was nearly empty.  My son and I were offered our choice of seating.  We chose a booth along the front wall.

A smiling waitress brought menus that included a large list of the usual diner breakfast options.  She soon returned with our coffee and tall glasses of iced water with straws.  We placed our orders for one of the breakfast specials – eggs, homefries, bacon.  One advantage of eating out on a weekday, other than choice of seating, is the prices on the specials.

We sipped steaming hot coffee, chatted, and looked around.  The dining room, still with that new feel, appeared sparse, almost barren;  only a few red ribbons still celebrated the holiday.  A sign above the dessert case near the front announced “Under New Management.”  After only two years?  As I mulled it over, through the west window I saw two men across the street pushing snowblowers.  They seemed in rhythm as they came together then parted along their separate paths.

Our food was delivered promptly and with another smile. I was disappointed to learn there was no strawberry jam for my toast.  The cordial waitress said they only offer grape and mixed fruit jellies.  Both my son and I found the scrambled eggs to be the tastiest part of the meal, moist and fresh.  The home fries were golden crisp and not too greasy.  Bacon was tasty.  The coffee wasn’t quite as strong as I like it, but our watchful server kept our cups filled.

The total cost of the meal was just under $7 (plus tip) for the two of us. A real bargain for two orders of scrambled eggs (2), homefries, 3 slices of bacon, whole wheat toast and coffee.  As mentioned, an advantage of eating out on a weekday morning. I have to wonder if an added 50 cents would have provided the strawberry jam most diners offer. No matter.

I’m told there will soon be new menus and a new name for the Union Diner.   Members of the same family that now own the increasingly popular West Side Diner at 19th and Tilghman will rename this one the East Side Diner.  It will be interesting to see what other changes might be in store.

At the start, I mentioned the four diners along Union Boulevard.  All four diners served good, tasty breakfasts.  Service at all was great, with the Golden Gate and the Top Diner leading the way for friendly, attentive service.  Izzy’s and the Golden Gate carried the day for the strongest, old time diner charm and atmosphere.   Izzy’s coffee was tops, strong and robust, with coffee at the Golden Gate a close second.  My opinions only.  Please comment with your thoughts.

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2010!

Sara

On this bright summer morning, with M. out of town, my son and I went out for breakfast.  He likes diners.  Two ofIzzy's Family Restaurant his local favorites are about a half-mile apart – the Golden Gate Diner (click to read about our January visit) and Izzy’s Family Restaurant.   Today we ate at Izzy’s.

The restaurant was crowded, normal for a weekend.  Although it’s not large, there is ample seating.  Dining room seating is cozy.  A young waitress quickly showed us to an empty booth, handed us menus and asked for our beverage order.  In a few minutes she returned with iced water and coffee, then took our food order.  The menu was varied with the usual egg dishes and several types of omelets, French Toast, and pancakes.

While we waited for our meals, my son and I browsed Baptism Daythrough a few sections of the Express-Times and caught up on family life.   Some of his older cousins are now parents and I showed him recent pictures he hadn’t yet seen of their children.  Seems not all that long ago when the toddler and baby pictures I was showing off to others were of him, of his siblings, and those cousins who now have children of their own.   Suddenly we’re into the next generation.  What precious children they are!   But, while being a grand-aunt is truly grand, I’m not quite ready to be a grandmother.  😉

Our food arrived in no time, served up with smile by our friendly waitress.   You know, I have a great admiration for good waitresses.  Izzy's Breakfast On their feet for hours they take orders, deliver hot plates of food, pour coffee, and see to the needs of demanding customers.  How do they do it?

Today both of us ordered scrambled eggs and bacon, served up with home fries and toast.  Both the homefries and bacon were crispy, just as ordered.  Tasty, hot, and delicious.  Our waitress kept our coffee filled – great coffee – and checked back occasionally to see if we needed anything else.  Friendly, with a nice smile.

Our total bill came to just under $10 (plus tip) for two orders of eggs, bacon, homefries, toast, and coffee.  In today’s economy it is comforting to know that there are still good quality restaurant meals around with reasonable prices and good service.

Izzy’s Family Restaurant is located at 920 Union Boulevard, Allentown, PA, just east of Airport Road.  610-437-9644.  They are open 24/7.   Stop by for a visit!

Sara

Izzy's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

On this pleasant Sunday morning, my husband and I visited the Top Diner in Allentown for breakfast.  Our son, a diner devotee,breakfast 207 recommended we try it.  “It’s reasonably priced,” he said.  “Great service!”  As always, his assessment was accurate.

We arrived late morning.  The diner was crowded but we were quickly shown to a vacant window booth.  Immediately I noticed the well-installed translucent window shades that blocked the bright sun, yet still allowed light and a sense of view.  In fact, decor throughout the restaurant appeared fresh and tasteful.  Our son later told us they’d redecorated a year or two ago.

An efficient young waitress delivered our requested coffee and glasses of water then gave us time to look over the menu – a nice offering of breakfast entrees and sides.  My attention was drawn to the French Toast.  Top Diner outsideInteresting that they offer both thin and thick French Toast (for a few pennies more).  M. ordered his favorite, Eggs Benedict.

Once we ordered, we turned to the morning newspaper.  An article titled School Districts Going Cyber caught my eye.  This fall, East Penn and Parkland School Districts will join forces to implement a cyber school pilot program in the hope of preventing students from leaving public schools to attend cyber charter schools.  I wondered – why are they leaving?  Is education better in a cyber charter school?  Unless schools implement a program that addresses better quality, will the program succeed?  And, at what cost to the taxpayers?

Our meals arrived.  I’d ordered a short stack of thick French Toast with maple syrup and three slices of crisp bacon. Top Diner meal Quite tasty, and the perfect amount.  M.’s Eggs Benedict were well prepared with nicely poached eggs, and a good quality Hollandaise sauce.  The lone drawback, quite minor, was that his home fries were more buttery and less crisp than he likes.  Otherwise our meals, and the atmosphere, were fine in every way.

Service was outstanding!  Our smiling waitress returned often to discreetly check on our needs and those of the surrounding booths.  At one point, a bus boy came around with the coffee pot.  We found the entire staff very friendly.

Our total bill with tax came to just over $14 (less tip) for 2 slices of thick French Toast, 3 slices of bacon, Eggs Benedict, an extra order of wheat toast, and two cups of coffee with abundant refills.  As our son said, “reasonable.”  I recommend you try the Top Diner soon for a satisfying breakfast in a pleasant environment.

The Top Diner is located at 1019 Union Blvd., Allentown, PA, just east of Airport Road.  610-432-9821.

Sara

Top Diner on Urbanspoon

“How do you choose a diner to review?” a friend asked.   westgate-diner2Answering took a few minutes.  Sometimes it’s geography, based on a morning’s errands.  Or we might pull a name from others’ suggestions.   On occasion, it’s pure happenstance.  That’s how we ended up at the Westgate Diner this morning.  We just sort of happened upon it.  A happy surprise.

Westgate Diner sits in a southwestern styled building at the angled corner of Schoenersville and breakfast-1631Catasauqua Roads in Bethlehem, catty-corner from the Westgate Mall.  Not a huge parking lot, but adequate for the seating inside.  The southwest theme is carried into the dining room in color and style.

On walking in, we were met with a warm smile and promptly seated at a booth under a rounded window adorned with tied-back curtains.  A dozen or so customers were chatting and enjoying their meals.  Our genial waitress handed us menus and took our requests for coffee and water.

The two-page menu held the usual breakfast assortment – egg dishes including omelets, pancakes, French Toast, and various sides.  No sausage links we learned, only patties which was fine with me.  M. ordered one of his favorites – steak and eggs.

As we sipped our coffee (superbly brewed!) and browsed through the morning news, more folks arrived.  Gatherings of families and friends, couples, and obvious old-time regulars.  breakfast-1593Soon our food arrived on heated plates.   Almost immediately, we knew we’d found a jewel.

M.’s steak was a good-size breakfast steak, medium rare as ordered, with two large poached eggs on top, perfectly cooked and steaming.  His steak was tender and tasty.  Both of us were awed over the homefries, fresh, hot, and deep golden brown.  My scrambled eggs were moist and filled with flavor, and the large sausage patty nicely cooked.   When our waitress arrived to refill our coffee, we offered our compliments to the cook, something we don’t often do.  “He is good,” she said, smiling.  I added, “One of the best we’ve found,” (and meant it!).

Our total bill came to $18 (plus tip) for steak, two eggs, homefries, and wheat toast for M. and two scrambled eggs, homefries, sausage patty, and wheat toast for me, plus our two coffees with refills.

What is it that sets one diner apart?  The service?  Atmosphere?  Food?  Whatever it might be, we’re pleased to have found it this morning at the Westgate Diner.  I hope you’ll visit this hidden gem among the Valley’s diners.

The Westgate Diner is located at 1267 Birchwood Drive, Bethlehem, PA.  610-865-5562.  They are open 7 days a week from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm.

Sara

West Gate Diner on Urbanspoon

“You’ve not had breakfast out,” a reader wrote last November,  “until you’ve had it at Morgan’s.”  morgans-sign-rv1With glowing praise, she used words such as charming, perfect atmosphere, and relaxed.   A peek at Morgan’s website marked it as the ideal place to visit over the Christmas holidays; life had other plans.  Then, on Valentine’s Day, my husband and I decided to celebrate the day with a leisurely drive across the valley to finally eat breakfast at Morgan’s.  When we arrived, the restaurant was packed but in such a pleasant atmosphere we didn’t mind waiting.  Within 20 minutes, we were shown to our table next to one of the beautiful stone walls.

The breakfast menu at Morgan’s extends beyond the ordinarymorgans1 with dishes like German Apple Pancakes and Four Cheese Frittatas.  Valentine’s specials included a cheese and mushroom omelet, a chocolate Belgian Waffle and stuffed French toast with blackberries.  Difficult to choose, especially when chocolate is involved, but I went with the French toast.  M. ordered eggs and crab hash.  As we sipped from our large coffee mugs, we were embraced by the easy charm and grace of the restaurant.   The red cloth-covered tables were surrounded with family groups and couples, young and old talking quietly…enjoying their meals.

Within a short time, our smiling young waitress french-toast-morgans1delivered our order.  M.’s poached eggs were cooked harder than he likes, but the rest of our meal was superb.   The plate of crab hash, a unique blend of crab meat, onion, and potatoes, was filled with flavor.   My French toast was stuffed with sweetened cream cheese topped with fresh blackberries and a light and lovely lemon sauce. A sensational blend of flavors!   The delicious meal, graceful atmosphere, and attentive service made for a special Valentine’s Day breakfast.  Thank you, Morgan’s.  And thanks also to Diane, for the recommendation!

Our total bill came to just over $20 (plus tip) for two eggs, cottage fries, toast, a plate of crab hash, stuffed French toast, and two mugs of coffee with ample refills.

Have you visited Morgan’s for breakfast?  Please click comments above to share your experiences.

Morgan’s Restaurant is located at 3079 Willow St., Allentown, just off Cedar Crest Rd., 2.8 miles north of Highway 22.  Breakfast is from 7 am to 11 am; lunch & dinner from 11:30 am to 9:00 pm, Monday through Saturday only.  610-769-4100.

Sara

Morgan's on Urbanspoon

Our son recommended we try the Golden Gate Diner. Golden Gate Diner Sign“It’s an old-fashioned city diner,” he said.  “Good coffee and good food.  I think you’ll like it.”  And so, on this frigid Saturday morning – the thermometer read 15°F – my husband and I set out for breakfast.  For such a cold morning many others had the same idea.  The lot was packed so we parked on the street behind the restaurant.  Inside we were shown to a window booth.

Our waitress brought glasses of water and coffee then gave us time to look over the breakfast menu.  The offerings breakfast-1192were standard – egg dishes including omelets, pancakes, French Toast, and assorted side dishes.  We decided on simple eggs and bacon.

The Golden Gate is not fancy but it has a type of charm I appreciated.  A comfort factor.  As we waited for our food, we relaxed in the retro decor and friendly atmosphere.  Laughter rippled from the adjoining booths.  Behind the counter, a green mixer whirred.  A busy waitress stopped by our table to refill our coffee.  The brew was rich and black,  every bit as good as our son had promised.

Golden Gate foodSoon our smiling waitress arrived in her bright red blouse, carrying four plates of food.  Two were for us, two for another booth.  She handled the multiple plates with ease.

We’d each ordered eggs, home fries, crisp bacon and whole wheat toast with strawberry jam.  The eggs were hot, moist, and tasty.  They were also larger than what we’ve had at a few other diners.  Nice. The potatoes were cooked well and fresh tasting.  My husband thought the bacon a bit salty, but the flavor was there.  The waitresses kept our coffee cups filled.   All in all it was a satisfying meal.

Our total bill came to $9.97 (plus tip) for two servings of eggs, home fries, bacon, toast and coffee.  A flavorful meal in a friendly environment (and under $10 for two!) is truly appreciated.   I recommend a visit.

As always, please click Comments above to share your experiences.

The Golden Gate Diner is located at 1318 Union Boulevard, Allentown.  It is a few blocks east of Airport Road on the south side of the road, directly across from McDonald’s.

Sara

Golden Gate Diner on Urbanspoon

breakfast-046The New City View Diner sits proudly at the top of the hill on MacArthur Road in Whitehall, just north of Highway 22. Given its fantastic view of Allentown, it is aptly named. Since we were driving to the Lehigh Valley Mall area, the City View seemed a natural place for us to enjoy a leisurely Saturday breakfast. Apparently many others felt the same because, in spite of the sad downturn in the economy, the large restaurant was nearly filled when we arrived just before 10 this morning. No waiting though. We were seated immediately at one of the few vacant tables.

With its Art Deco influence, this Greek diner is both bright and clean. The long walls breakfast-049of windows bring the outdoors inside. The day’s dark clouds and drizzling rain didn’t dampen the warm, inviting feel in the large dining room. Our tall, young waitress quickly brought us our cups of coffee and glasses of water.

The City View’s breakfast menu contains a broad selection of eggs, a variety of pancakes and French Toast with a number of fruit toppings, as well as many other breakfast specialties. The rainy autumn weather seemed to call for a hearty breakfast. I chose a bacon and cheddar omelette. My husband ordered steak and eggs.

As we waited for our meal we skimmed through the morning papers. We especially noted the sad news about the death of historian and retired history teacher, James Wright. Among his other accomplishments, he was a published author who had written historical articles for the Express-Times for over 30 years. Mr. Wright left a solid legacy and he will be missed. Somehow, the day’s rain seemed appropriate. Our condolences go to his family.

Soon, our poised waitress was presenting our breakfast on hot, white plates. My husband’s strip steak was steaming and medium rare. He enjoyed it along breakfast-045with his eggs, homefries, and wheat toast. My bacon omelette and potatoes filled my plate providing more than I could eat. The food was hot, not greasy, and totally delicious. In spite of the now packed restaurant, our waitress checked back frequently as we ate, keeping our coffee and water glasses filled.

Our total bill came to just over $17 (plus tip) for steak, eggs, homefries, and toast plus a bacon omelette, homefries, and toast, as well as two coffees with ample refills. Considering the tastiness of the food, the warm atmosphere, and the fine service, it was well worth the cost.

The New City View Diner is located at 1831 MacArthur Road in Whitehall, PA. It is open 24 hours and provides a nice spot for breakfast, or any other meal. Click comments (above) to share your own experiences there.

Sara

New City View Diner on Urbanspoon

Lehigh Valley Weather

A thought

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?" ........... "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?" ...... "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. ... Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.” ...... ― A.A. Milne
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