If you blink coming down Seventh Street in Allentown, you might miss it. But you can roll your window down and let the smells waft in to avoid that.
What is “it?” “It” is the new Downtown Allentown Market nestled in the center of the Arts Walk. The 12,000-square-foot space is home to nine vendors, some brand new and some already Lehigh Valley favorites. Your first chance to try them all is at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at the market’s soft opening, a little less than a month before they cut the ribbon on Oct. 11.
About half of the merchants already have other locations or restaurants in and around the Valley. Shinsen, a sushi and poke bowl joint, shares an owner with Asian Bistros II in Bethlehem; the Middle Eastern/Mediterranean vendor Zahra is a concept from the same family behind Allentown’s Aladdin. Little Miss Korea has a 1-year-old location just a few blocks away at the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers’ Market, and you may recognize Licensed 2 Grill @ The Market either from their food truck or location in Emmaus.
A recent startup called Tavola, an artisan pizza and signature pasta vendor, is located just inside to the right. With myriad pizza combinations, you can try one every day for more than a week. And get a little pasta or Caprese salad on the side.
One of the most notable names in the market is Fresh Kitchen by Robert Irvine. This is the second location for Irvine, the host of the Food Network’s Restaurant: Impossible, the first being in The Pentagon. Fresh Kitchen will be whipping up creative dining options like salmon toast and portabello grilled cheese panini. Irvine will stop in on occasion, including the grand opening.
Of course, what good is all this food if you don’t have any dessert or beverage to go along with it. For dessert, try Batch Microcreamery, a made-from-scratch, hand-crafted ice cream spot, or Doughnut Love, which has donuts (of course) and other baked goods, including a doughnut-shaped sugar cookie with pink frosting, very much resembling a Homer Simpson favorite. Plus, the recipe dates back four generations. And for a drink, try Boardroom Spirits, a family-owned craft distillery that’ll also serve PA-made craft beers and wines.
But what good is all this food without anything else to do? Well, a lot, but the market will still have plenty of goings-on starting in their first week after the opening. With live music on Fridays and Saturdays, game nights on Tuesdays and Sundays dedicated to brunch, kids and football, it’s not just going to be a destination for food.