PLEASE NOTE: This list is from 2009. Some of these places have changed or no longer exist, and many new veg-friendly offerings have popped up in the area. Find the updated list (as of Jan 2016) here!
10. Balasia: A Green World Cafe
An all-vegetarian and mostly vegan restaurant, this is the lowest on my top 10 list because they currently don’t have a location. Word through the grapevine says that the proprietor, Wendy Landiak, lost her lease at the building in Emmaus and that she’s moving back to Bethlehem. The website just says “our secret new location will be disclosed within the next several months.”
Balasia uses local, organic ingredients in all its menu options. Since the food is local, availability of ingredients changes seasonally, so the menu is ever-changing. Balasia calls itself a cafe, but it’s more of a higher-end cafe/sit-down restaurant.
9. Fiesta Olé
I’m including this on the list because it’s Mexican (unlike all the Mediterranean places and cafes) and it’s in Emmaus (whereas most of them are in Bethlehem). I enjoy veggie fajitas off the vegetarian section of the menu, but beware: The guacamole contains dairy. Buncha gringos.
Fiesta Ole is located on Chestnut Street in Emmaus, right by a 7-11, Wendy’s, and McDonald’s. So if you’re on this block and looking for some vegan restaurant food, this is your best bet. According to their website, they will be opening two more locations: One on MacArthur Road in Whitehall, and one on Linden Street in Bethlehem (there goes my inclusion of a restaurant that’s not in Bethlehem).
8. Johnny’s Bagels & Deli
Good ol’ Johnny’s. This is a wonderful place to satisfy the vegans as well as picky omnivores. There are now 3 locations, all in Bethlehem: Main & Market Streets on the north side, Campus Square (Morton & New Streets) on the south side, and a new location on Rt. 512 (which I’ve never been to). The location in Campus Square seems to have more sandwich options, and is a larger location.
When on the south side, I always get the Veggie Delight sandwich: Grilled veggies and a light layer of hummus on your choice of bread (I like focaccia). On the north side, even though they also have the Veggie Delight, I’ll opt instead for a plain bagel with hummus… Johnny’s has wonderful homemade hummus, and wonderful homemade bagels. Their coffee is also a really nice, fair-trade Colombian, which I enjoy every morning in August before starting my long day of working at Musikfest.
7. Foods of the Mediterranean
For the best hummus and falafel in the valley, visit Foods of the Mediterranean at the Allentown Farmers Market‘s lower level. You can either eat there or get freshly made Mediterranean foods to go. If you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself there when they have vegan baklava! Other popular dishes include baba ghanouj, tabouleh, and other wonderful cold dishes.
6. Wildflower Cafe
Located on New Street in South Bethlehem, Wildflower Cafe has a good selection of vegan foods, including their renowned vegan chili and homemade vegan cookies. Walk into Wildflower and you’ll see the atmosphere reflects the name—lots of flowers and artwork decorate the place. Wildflower Cafe is a very artsy place, hosting 3 nights of live music every week (open mic 2 nights a week) and showcasing local artists’ work. On the outside is a mural done last year by the Community Artists of Bethlehem. Wildflower is completly volunteer-run.
Okay, this technically is not located in the Lehigh Valley but on Main Street in Kutztown. However, most items on the menu at Betty’s are vegetarian and they even say on their website “we can accomodate vegans or those with food sensitivities; just ask one of our staff members to help guide you.”
Yes, another restaurant in South Bethlehem. I guess that’s the place to be if you’re vegan in the valley! Nawab is an Indian restaurant on Fourth Street in South Bethlehem. Like any standard Indian fare, most of their food is vegetarian and egg-free, and you’ll just have to ask what does and does not have dairy in it (especially if you, like me, are unfamiliar with Indian food).
3. Petra Mediterranean
Petra is a relatively new restaurant with amazing Mediterranean food. All the vegetarian and vegan options are clearly labelled on their menu. The entrees are a tiny bit pricey (well, for a teenager like myself anyway), but the appetizers, which are still good for meals, are nicely priced. The people who work here are really friendly and helpful, too.
2. Cali Burrito
Voted “#1 vegetarian restaurant in the valley” from Morning Call’s reader choice awards! While not completely vegetarian, Cali Burrito has lots of yummy vegetarian burritos on the menu that can be easily veganised by removing the cheese and sour cream. My favorite is the Humbolt, which has smoked tofu in it. You could also get tofu scramble, falafel, beans, or grilled vegetables. Sometimes the week’s special will be some other flavour of marinated tofu. If you don’t want a burrito, you could always get a rice bowl instead. Cali Burrito is located on Hamilton Blvd in Allentown, near Dorney Park.
1. Vegan Treats
Voted “Best Dessert in the Valley” by a bunch of omnivores in the Morning Call’s Reader Choice Awards! Known by vegans all across the country, Vegan Treats is a bakery on Linden Street in Bethlehem that sells their mouthwatering treats to restaurants as far as NYC, Philadelphia, and even DC. Owner Danielle Konya started the business not expecting it to grow as much as it did. Vegan Treats has so many amazing baked goods, I can’t even pick a favorite. I’ve been there many times, and still have a hard time choosing what I want whenever I go. They even have homemade soft serve, you just have to ask what flavour they have on whichever day you go in… although the best is, hands down, Peanut Butter. Vegan Treats Bakery For The Win.