The Good: Excellent food, Amazing portions, Affordable, Clean
The Bad: Slow service.
The Basics: In Allentown, PA, the local restaurant to visit is the Queen City Diner, a delightful little establishment that has decent food and a lot of charm!
Whenever I travel, I have a tendency to bring food with me. I'm not usually a huge fan of chain restaurants, many local eateries are hit or miss and I am, frankly, a cheapskate. But, when I went to Allentown recently for a show, depression over the sales at the show, the condition of the hotel (reviewed here!) and general hunger led me out to the main strip near the hotel for food. After deciding against the local pizza place and Chinese restaurant, I ended up at the Queen City Diner.
"Ended up" quickly has turned into "sought out." The Queen City Diner is a wonderful local diner where the portions are amazing, the food is good and the prices are more than reasonable!
The Queen City Diner is located exclusively at 1801 Lehigh Street in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The little diner is located on a corner right off Lehigh, which is a fairly major street right off 309 and Interstate 78, which are pretty major expressways in the area. The Queen City Diner's good location makes it ideal for a 24-hour diner.
The Queen City Diner is decorated very simply like an actual 1950s/60s diner, as opposed to a nostalgia-driven parody of the same. In other words, the walls are not adored with tons of photos of vintage stars and musicians; it looks like a vintage diner. There is a counter that has stainless steel trim and the boxcar-like walkway houses the booths that take up the whole side of the restaurant. The giant windows look out on the street, but so long as one has a charming dinner companion, this is not really an issue.
Everything in the restaurant was clean, including the bathrooms. While I had breakfast one morning, I watched as one of the waitresses leapt into action to clean smudges off the window left by a child.
Queen City Diner uses traditional waitstaff and on my visits, I only saw waitresses and the hostess; the only male seemed to be the busboy. The waitstaff at the Queen City Diner seemed younger for the dinner crowd and seasoned and efficient for breakfast. The hostesses were very friendly and seated me quickly on each visit. The waitresses seemed to be overworked (or inexperienced) for dinner and having a good time for breakfast (the open nature of the diner and the location of the drink stations made it like breakfast and a show as one of the waitresses serenaded her coworkers in the morning). The waitress I had for dinner seemed overworked and/or inefficient. It took a long time to get anything from her, which was odd considering how the diner was not packed for dinner. For breakfast, my waitress was generally quick-enough to serve, but not particularly social (with me) while doing so.
That said, the servers I had each time I went in were kind and they seemed generally happy with their jobs. The camaraderie between the members of the breakfast crew was instantly evident.
The Queen City Diner serves a pretty exceptional menu of food, though it is mostly traditional American cuisine. The menu ranged from a variety of burgers (including a pizza burger and other variations on the theme), steaks, and a surprising amount of fish that was not just fried.
Most of the entrees include a salad bar, soup, AND vegetable, which surprised me for such affordable dinner prices. The salad bar was fresh and clean and had a decent variety of vegetables (which were all clean, not wilted, and delicious!), toppings and dressings. My wife was thrilled that, for a change, I ate vegetables while on the road.
The soup I tried was the Italian Wedding soup. The base was flavorful, not watery, not simply salty and the noodles, vegetable chunks - carrots and real celery - were decent size. The spinach and parsley in the soup added flavor. My only issue with the soup was there were no meatballs in it!
One night at the Queen City Diner I had the broiled chicken breast stuffed with crab meat and spinach. It is hard to underplay just how good that entree was. The chicken was well-cooked, but moist in the middle. The crab meat was not scrimped on, which was nice; it was flaky buttery and tasted like actual crab. The spinach was less-represented in the flavor, but given that I was in the mood for meat there was just the right amount. Two chicken breasts and a whole dish bottom covered in the shredded crab meat and spinach blend made for an exceptionally filling meal.
The other entree I tried at the Queen City Diner was the roast pork dinner. Much to my surprise for the $10.89 entree, there were three huge, juicy pork chops slathered in enough gravy to actually thrill me. The meat was fresh-tasting, well-cooked and there was an incredible amount of it. The mountain of stuffing the roasted pork was upon was some of the best I've had outside a family meal where secret recipes were involved. The stuffing had nothing strange in it; bread, seasoning, celery and it was delicious. There was no way for me to finish the roast pork entree in one sitting, so I took the leftovers home and it reheated exceptionally well!
With the roasted pork dinner, I had broccoli as a vegetable side and it was impressive how perfectly cooked the broccoli was. It was cooked, but not wilted, and had retained a bright green coloring to it. It had just the right amount of crunch left in it and it was delicious.
I had a strawberry milkshake with dinner and it was instantly obvious that the shake utilized real milk and ice cream. It was quite good and perfectly blended.
For breakfast the next morning - because the Queen City Diner was so good and the hotel breakfast was so terrible - I had the meat lover's omelette with cheddar cheese. The omelet was served hot and in addition to the traditional bacon, ham and sausage, mine had chicken or turkey chunks that blended nicely with the other meats. The egg batter was neutral (I tend to make mine spiced, but I understand most people don't), but good.
My only issue with breakfast was that the coffee was pretty weak (my wife reminds me that for a restaurant, more neutral coffee is usually served than I brew at home, but still . . . it was pretty weak coffee). The Queen City Diner featured six juice options, though none of them were grapefruit juice, so I stuck with weak coffee.
Ultimately, the Queen City Diner was a hit with me well worth returning to multiple times. For a meal that I could not finish because of the quantity of the portions, for $20 including drink and tip, it was well worth going back to!
For other restaurants, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Hard Rock Cafe Times Square, New York City
For other restaurant reviews, be sure to visit my Food And Drink Review Index Page for an organized listing!
© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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