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American, Culinary History Come to Life at Sun Inn Tavern: LV Dining Scene With Kristina

The historic Sun Inn in downtown Bethlehem has been getting a lot of attention recently because of its new restaurant, the Tavern. Saucon Source restaurant reviewer Kristina Gonzalez recently decided to check it out.

Est. Read Time: 5 mins

History is rich in the Lehigh Valley, and on Main Street in downtown Bethlehem you’re constantly surrounded by it. Though there are many great historical sites in the area, the Sun Inn has been getting the most attention recently with its new dining experience, the Tavern.

The historic Sun Inn was built in 1758 and hosted Founding Fathers such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.

Built in 1758, the Sun Inn has hosted many famous visitors such as George Washington, Martha Washington, Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin, just to name a few. Many historical moments also took place at the inn, such as the meeting of the Continental Congress in September 1777 and the announcement of the founding of Lehigh University by industrialist Asa Packer in November 1865. These are just a handful of unique facts one can learn when visiting the Sun Inn, and what better way to learn than by enjoying a delicious meal in the process?

The atmosphere and dishes at the Tavern at the Sun Inn stay true to the history. The inn is dimly lit by candles, which is what you’d have experienced in the 18th century, and the dining areas have been restored to provide the impression that you’re truly dining in that era. Executive Chef Billy Gruenewald, who also owns The People’s Kitchen and Bolt & Key Café in Bethlehem, has done an exceptional job in creating Colonial era dishes with a modern twist.

Upon making my reservation, I was given the option of seating in either the bar or the dining room. Since it was only the two of us, I chose the bar. It’s a small room, but the tables are spaced out enough that you don’t feel claustrophobic. The alcoholic beverages served are all from local breweries and distilleries. My guest and I both chose the Thomas Jefferson’s Tavern Ale from the Yards Brewing Company’s Ales of the Revolution series.

Though the menu may be small, Gruenewald makes it hard to choose with all his tasty offerings. Our incredibly knowledgeable server, Marco, helped us narrow down our choices to two appetizers: the Mini Chicken Pot Pie ($9) and the Meat & Cheese Plate ($15).

Mini Chicken Pot Pie

The Mini Chicken Pot Pie had the delicious flavor you’d hope to find in this comfort food classic, but the pastry shell it was served in overpowered the filling and unfortunately made it a little dry. Luckily, I had my Tavern Ale to wash it down with.

The Meat & Cheese Plate

The Meat & Cheese Plate may have been my favorite dish of the night. The meat and cheese are selected by the chef and are purchased locally from Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom in Bethlehem. On this night the offerings were Point Reyes Bay Blue cheese, a Prairie Breeze Cheddar and Speck (marinated, dried and lightly smoked ham). Served with the meat and cheese were dried fruit, mustard and crostini.

The Classic New York strip steak


For dinner my guest and I both chose hearty meat dishes. I went for the classic NY Strip ($28) served with a portabello mushroom bordelaise sauce, potato au gratin and carrots. My guest was excited to try the Venison Sausage ($21) with blueberry barbecue sauce, sweet potato and parsnip hash, and roasted Brussel sprouts.

Venison Sausage with blueberry barbecue sauce, sweet potato and parsnip hash, and roasted Brussel sprouts.

My strip steak, which was cooked a perfect medium-rare, was taken up a notch by the bordelaise sauce. My carrots were not overcooked and seasoned simply with salt and pepper. The potato au gratin, though it had a beautiful presentation, was lacking the creamy, cheesy sauce you’d hope to find in this classic side dish. There were no complaints from my guest on the Venison Sausage. The sausage was juicy, the hash was crispy and the sprouts were not overdone. Also, the blueberry barbecue sauce paired perfectly with the sausage, and wasn’t overly sweet.

The Butterscotch Pudding ($6) was the only choice for dessert, which I didn’t mind at all since it was so delicious and creamy.

Our whole meal was simple, as would be expected in the Colonial times, but with just enough of a modern twist to keep us wanting to come back for more. The service was outstanding and elevated our dining experience, since our server was so well-versed in the history of the inn. The Tavern at the Sun Inn takes you away from the present-day craziness and brings you back to simpler times. It is a perfect historic restaurant to relax in and in which to enjoy excellent food with friends and family.

The historic Tavern at the Sun Inn is located at 654 Main St., Bethlehem.


Address: 564 Main St #2, Bethlehem, PA 18018

Phone: 610-419-8600 (for reservations)

Hours: 5 to 10 p.m., Thursday through Sunday


Facebook Page:

Note: Outdoor dining is available in season, weather permitting.

*Photos by Kristina Gonzalez


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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