We both ordered burgers from the long burger menu: Sue a Wert’s Cheeseburger, Bruce an Alyssa’s Barbecue Cheeseburger. Bruce hoisted the burger to his mouth and took a bite, whereupon this virtual Super Soaker of a hamburger took aim on his shirt and pants. These are among the juiciest burgers we’ve ever enjoyed! They also taste very good. The namesake burgers are stuffed with mushrooms and onions. You can also get burgers without the “Wert’s” prefix; these are unstuffed.
Good as the burgers are, they are not the highlight of a visit to Wert’s, in our opinion. No siree! That’s because Wert’s serves baskets of some of the very finest onion rings we’ve ever had the good fortune to enjoy. The mountain of fried onions arrives as an enormous tangle, hot, thinly sliced, freshly fried, and very lightly breaded. A basket of rings looks large enough to feed four generously; by the time our burgers hit the table the two of us just about dispatched the entire serving.
One more item worth mentioning: birch beer. The Lehigh Valley is crazy about birch beer. There are a few local brands, and they even enjoy the flavor in their locally made ice cream, which they call teaberry. This local preference spurred us to do a little research and we learned that teaberry, like wintergreen, is one and the same with birch beer. The key element of all three is methyl salicylate, which is produced by a number of different plants.
Anyway, back to Wert’s. The brand of birch beer they serve, on tap, is called Patt’s, which is a product of the Allentown Beverage Company. Most birch beers we’ve seen are the color of root beer or, like Connecticut’s Foxon Park, clear. Patt’s birch is golden. It’s decidedly less sweet than many others, somewhat less toothpasty in flavor too. We’ve been able to learn very little about Allentown Beverage, and have no idea if they make this themselves, but we happen to know that Kutztown Soda Works, just a few miles away, specializes in an “on tap only” Amber Birch Beer, so we’re guessing that Wert’s birch, which is Patt’s birch, is really Kutztown birch. If you get to Wert’s, give it a try; it’s quite unique.
Wert’s is the kind of locally popular casual eatery that we particularly enjoy (truth is, anyplace in Allentown that is popular is LOCALLY popular, Allentown not being one of the major vacation spots of the East). It’s not quite a diner; it’s more like a “family tavern,” a restaurant style with which we’re quite familiar from our time in upstate New York; the kind of restaurant where even a platoon of red hat ladies would be comfortable dining on Wert’s burgers and onion rings while quaffing amber birch beer.