On Friday, September 23rd, I decided to cross the bridge and venture to the historical North Side of Bethlehem. I visit Main Street in a quest for great food and great live music. I found this at Tapas on Main, a popular restaurant amongst residents of the Lehigh Valley. The restaurant opened in May of 2011 and offers a variety of meats, cheeses, tapas, and a variety of Spanish inspired dishes. It is the first of its kind in Bethlehem and has won several awards since it’s opening. The restaurant also features a bar with seasonal sangrias, a wide selection of cocktails, and Spanish wine. Readers of Lehigh Valley Style also awarded it for having the best sangria in 2016.
I visited the restaurant at around 7:30 p.m., anticipating live music by Lorenzo at 8 p.m. Tapas on Main regularly sets up live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Lorenzo is a local one-man band who performs contemporary, Jazz, Rock, Reggae, Latin, and Soul. I arrived to the restaurant in a group of twelve and was seated toward the back. The aroma of Spanish spices filled the dark room lit with candlelight and dim spotlights. The walls are red and black complete with large wooden racks of hundreds of Spanish wines. Couples, families, and large groups are seated throughout the inside, at the bar, and on their patio.
Juan Carlos Paredes, a native of Colombia and a lover of food owns the restaurant. He also owns Mesa Modern Mexican in Downtown Easton, which serves traditional Mexican dishes with a modern twist, as well as the French bistro that shares their kitchen next door, Cachette.
The twelve us took our seats and began to look at the extensive menu filled with tapas, small plates to be shared with 2-3 people; cocas, small flatbread pizzas; assorted meat and cheese plates; soups and salads; and entrees. We started off with 2 meat and cheese plates for the table. We decided on the mixed platter, Bandeja Mixta, where we could choose any three meats and cheeses. We chose the Traditional Jamon Serrano, country ham with a lean, tender texture, comparable to prosciutto, cured in the mountains in Spain and two cheeses, Tetilla Ninfas, which is a soft cheese made from cow’s milk with a mild, tangy flavor; and Mahon Curado Reservo Menorca, a creamy and flaky cheese with flavors of grass, butter, fruit, and sea salt.
We then decided on a variety of Tapas to split between the twelve of us. The Salmon Tartare was my favorite; it is comprised of house-made potato chips with salmon in the middle, topped with whole grain mustard aioli. I also enjoyed the Spinach dip, made with a mixture of Gouda cheese served with toasted pita. We also enjoyed the Papas a la Francesa, hand-cut potato fries topped with manchego cheese and truffle oil. I also got a personal order of a coca. I chose the Coca Vegetarianas, a flatbread pizza with wilted kale, quinoa, shaved asparagus, smoked mozzarella, and chipotle olive oil. It was delicious. Our table also enjoyed a few pitchers of their award-winning Sangria in strawberry peach flavor.
Once we received our food, Lorenzo took to the microphone; he played a mix of different genres from 8p.m.-11p.m. The music was perfect for the atmosphere; he played a medley of songs to fit anyone’s taste but still managed to compliment the vibe of the restaurant. The audience received his set positively. He performed with several different instruments including the guitar, flute, and percussion, and added vocals as well. The set was a mix of his own original music while also performing requests from the audience. Lorenzo is originally a member of The Big Wahu, a Caribbean band from Bethlehem. The band performs authentic calypso, reggae, Caribbean, and beach music. They also perform regularly at Hershey Park, Steel Stacks, Jersey Shore, and all over the east coast. Lorenzo takes much of his inspiration from what he performs with his band and transforms it into a solo act with a medley of styles for all audiences.
After enjoying an hour of Lorenzo, we decided to order dessert. We ordered three plates of churros, which are Spanish doughnuts dusted in cinnamon and sugar served with dark chocolate and vanilla dipping sauce. We left the restaurant at 10:30 p.m. as Lorenzo was finishing his set.
The experience at Tapas on Main was incomparable to anything I’ve experience on the North Side. The flavors were robust and every plate was carefully crafted and amazing to indulge in. The atmosphere was perfect for a quiet night out with friends and they were very accommodating to large groups. Not to mention, the live music was outstanding and added the perfect touch to a girl’s night out.
To learn more about Tapas on Main and the next time a live act will be performing, visit their website, www.tapasonmain.com , their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/tapasonmain, or their twitter, @TapasOnMain. The restaurant is a gem of the North Side that simply cannot be missed.