Archive for November, 2010

Billy’s Downtown Diner

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Billy’s Downtown Diner
10 East Broad Street
Bethelehem, PA 18018

Good Food : 4.5/5 | Good Service : 4.5/5

Since Bethlehem was a short drive from Allentown, we decided to head there again for breakfast. Billy’s is a small nondescript place tucked into one of the downtown buildings. It’s cozy inside, and the walls are lined with pictures of famous patrons such as President Clinton, Madonna and Chriss Angel (cousin to Billy the owner).

Billy’s is not your typical diner but is more like a cozy cafe/eatery. The dining area consists of 2 and 4-person booths & a small counter against the back part of the building in front of the kitchen. We got there on a Sunday morning before 8:15am and were able to be seated immediately. However, by the time we left, there was a line of people against the front window area & I could see how crowded this could get during the lunch hour.

Pricing for the dishes were slightly higher than what you would find in a diner, but the quality of food in our minds justified the prices.

The breakfast menu is not your typical diner-fare menu – while there were several variations of benedicts, omelettes and starchy dishes for breakfast, we didn’t expect the grits side since this is considered New England. I decided on the Yanna’s omelette and my husband ordered the Berry Crunch with a side order of regular grits (the wild version comes with pepper jack cheese).

yanna_omeletteMy omelet came with 4 triangle slices of buttered toast, a packet of grape jelly and Idaho home fries. The potatoes had an almost mashed-potato texture on the inside, with a crunchy crispy fried outer layer. The omelet was bursting with a generous mixture of spinach, sauteed onions, diced tomatoes and feta cheese chunks and while a little brown on the outside was still perfectly cooked inside.

The Berry Crunch was an unusual dish – 3 slices of skinny Italian bread that were fried on the griddle, topped with granola, dried cranberries, chopped nuts and fresh strawberry slices, topped with whipped cream & drizzled with a sugary syrup then dusted with cinnamon. This dish has the perfect balance of soft and crunchy – the bread was able to stand up to the syrup while the granola clusters and dried cranberries provided a crunchy fruity texture.

Great customer service – a waitress prompted asked us for our drink order when we were seated, was patient enough to come back 2 times as we waffled over the breakfast choices, and didn’t hover over us despite the line forming at the front of the door. Coffee was refreshed promptly.

Delia’s Tamales Restaurant

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Delia’s Tamales Restaurant
5000 S 23rd St.
McAllen, TX 78503
(956) 630-3502

Good Food : 4.5/5 | Good Service : 4/5

My quest for authentic tamales was recently satisfied during a visit to McAllen, Texas. I figured that since this town was practically on the Mexican border that I should be able to find semi-authentic tamales here. And with the frequent cross-border traffic between Texas & Mexico, I not only got my fill of authentic Mexican food but found another great tamale source – Delia’s Tamales Restaurant.

Delia’s is a tamale-only restaurant – you won’t find burritos or enchiladas here. Besides the borracho beans and the menudo soup only offered on the weekends, Delia’s specialty is tamales – and they offer a very comprehensive list. Like the tamales I had from San Antonio, these tamales are the smaller/skinny version, where you are meant to eat at least 2-4 at a time.

The standard tamales list includes :

  • Pork (regular and spicy with red chile)
  • Chicken (regular and spicy with red chile)
  • Beef
  • Bean
  • Bean & jalapeño

Their specialty list includes :

  • Bean & queso
  • Bean, queso & jalapeño
  • Chicken cooked in green chile sauce
  • Chicken and queso
  • Pork cooked in green chile sauce
  • Chicken cooked in green chile sauce
  • Spicy chicken and queso
  • Cream cheese (yes the cream cheese you schmear on bagels!) & jalapeño
  • Sweet tamales
  • Corn tamales (these are sweet)
  • Chicken or pork veracruzano (meal-sized tamales steamed in banana leaves)

These tamales rival the ones from Delicious Tamales in San Antonio in terms of moistness and tasty factor. The moist masa filling is balanced out by a good proportioned filling ratio. And unlike the spicy green ones that I had from Pepe’s Tamales, the green chile or spicey ones from Delia’s won’t blindside you with their heat, but have a very nice balance of spice. However, the green salsa that you can get with your tamales will definitely clear your sinuses – a deceptively smooth blend of avocado and very hot green chiles, you want to use this sparingly. The regular salsa is a very nice blend of smoky chiles, tomatoes, cilantro and other spices.

Pricing is very much in line with other Texas tamale pricing – the standard tamales are $ a dozen/ $ a 1/2 dozen and the specialty tamales range from $6.49 to $9.59 a dozen (the veracruzano’s are $4.19 each). You can place orders 24 hours or more in advance for in-store pickup. I don’t know if they ship, but I’ve seen at least one Yelp post that mentions shipping to California. They also have locations in Pharr, Edinburg, mission and San Juan if you can’t make it to McAllen.

So our freezer is once again full of vacuum-sealed tamale packages for future enjoyment … :)