Friday, September 20, 2013

Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA

Chicken Tibs - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA | Taste As You Go
Chicken Tibs - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA

I was spoiled all those years that I was living and working in New York. I had access to thousands of restaurants offering cuisines from all over the world, and a good number of those restaurants delivered. There was always something new to try, even during the late hours of the night.

Unfortunately, the variety in cuisine is not as extensive here in the Lehigh Valley, so when a new ethnic restaurant opens, I sit up and take notice. And when our friends invite us to meet them for dinner at one of those new ethnic restaurants, we accept. That's how we found ourselves at Mariam's Restaurant, the Ethiopian restaurant that opened on N 7th Street in Allentown a few months ago.


Minchet Abish Wot - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA | Taste As You Go
Minchet Abish Wot - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA

The restaurant itself is small, with fewer than a dozen tables, but the intimate space lends itself well to the casual atmosphere. Stephen, Nancy, and I had all eaten Ethiopian food before, but Brian (Nancy's husband) was new to the cuisine. We decided to order several dishes to share so Brian could try a bunch of things all at once, and when our server found out there was a newbie among us, he made some excellent recommendations.

Because we all like spicy food, we started with the Minchet Abish Wot ($8.95), a dish made with finely chopped ground beef, berbere (a spice mixture containing chili peppers, garlic, and ginger), red onions, Kibe (seasoned Ethiopian butter), and even more garlic and ginger. It's served with two boiled eggs, as well as a generously-sized piece of injera.

The kitchen certainly didn't hold back on the spice, and the Minchet Abish Wot had all of us raving about the deep flavor of the stewed meat. In fact, Stephen and Brian attacked the plate to make sure every last drop of the spicy sauce was eaten. I especially enjoyed the injera, which had a light flavor and didn't taste as strongly of yeast as other injera I've eaten in the past.

Our dinner was off to a strong start.

Lamb Tibs - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA | Taste As You Go
Lamb Tibs - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA

Beef Tibs - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA
Beef Tibs - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA

Chicken Tibs - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA | Taste As You Go
Chicken Tibs - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA

After the Minchet Abish Wot, we went to town on the Combination Sampler section of the menu, ordering one plate each of the Lamb Tibs Combo ($12.00), the Beef Tibs Combo ($10.00), and the Chicken Tibs Combo ($10.00). Despite asking for a medium heat on the combos, the spice level seemed tame when compared to the heat of our first dish. It's highly possible that the wot killed our taste buds, and we made a mental note to ask for more heat on the combo plates in the future.

Vegetable Side Dishes - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA | Taste As You Go
Vegetable Side Dishes - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA

Vegetable Side Dishes - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA | Taste As You Go
Vegetable Side Dishes - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA

Vegetable Side Dishes - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA | Taste As You Go
Vegetable Side Dishes - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA

Side Dishes - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA | Taste As You Go
Side Dishes - Mariam's Restaurant - Allentown, PA

By ordering several of the Combination Samplers, we were able to try practically every side dish Mariam's had to offer because our server made sure we weren't doubling up on any one thing. We ate red lentils, yellow lentils, collard greens, beets and potatoes, green beans with carrots, potatoes with carrots, cabbage with carrots... I'm not even sure I can remember everything we ate! What I can remember is how much we all enjoyed our food. We even had plenty of food at the end of the meal to split between us for leftovers to take home.

Mariam's Restaurant has a section of their menu devoted to American cuisine, such as burgers and subs, but I urge you to try at least one of the Ethiopian dishes before you order the cheeseburger. And, for the vegetarians out there, there are five different Veggie Combination Samplers to choose from, all for $8, as well as a vegetarian appetizer and salad option.

Mariam's Restaurant
446 N 7th Street
Allentown, PA 18102
(484) 661-5000 | Map

Mariam's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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