A rallying point for the Fries Rebellion in 1799 when an armed militia rose up to chase tax assessors out of the area, the in Salisbury Township was quite peaceful when I dropped in for a quick bite a few days ago.
As a smoking establishment, Commix food sales must be 20 percent or less of its total sales by law, making it more of a bar than a restaurant. That also means no one under 21 may enter.
And, despite the smell of stale smoke when I walked in the door, as taverns go it’s pretty pleasant. It's not a pretentious place; in fact, it's more of a dive. But a friendly dive with good, cheap bar fare.
There’s lots of paneling and wainscoting on the walls, beer signs and a lion head (with a pirate hat) on one wall and a deer head on another. You can play pool and a large TV at the end of the U-shaped bar makes the Commix a good place to watch a game.
There were about six people in the bar at about 5 p.m. when I stopped in and maybe two of them were smoking. For the most part, a ventilation system in the ceiling kept the atmosphere pretty clear. Everyone seemed to know each other.
I decided to sit at the bar and order a beer.
The menu was fairly simple: Some chili, soup, a few appetizers like wings, clams, cheese sticks, jalapeno poppers and pierogies, some salads, lots of sandwiches and burgers and a few dinner entrees like black diamond steak and fried chicken.
I opted for a cup of homemade clam chowder and a cheesesteak.
The chowder was just the right consistency – not too thick, not too soupy – and had a clam or a piece of clam in every bite and lots of thumbnail-sized chunks of potato. When it was gone I wished I had ordered a bowl.
I’ll admit to being a little snobby about cheesesteaks and I’m an unapologetic fan of Philly steaks over Lehigh Valley steaks. But once I got past the pickles, this one was pretty darn good.
Nicely chopped but not minced, and juicy yet not greasy, this is not a steak that’s going to drip all over you, the bar and the floor. The sauce was hard to pinpoint. It was tomato-based, but more brown than red; it had almost a hint of barbecue flavor but not quite. Sauce on a steak seems like an aberration to me, but this one was as good as any I’ve tasted. In all, one of the best steaks I’ve had outside the Delaware Valley.
Maybe the best part about the Commix is the price. My food bill was just $7, plus $5 for two pints of very cold Yeungling.
I was also assessed 42 cents in taxes. Huzzah!
The Commix Hotel
3245 W Emmaus Ave.
Allentown, PA 18103 (Salisbury Township)
Hours: 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday-Saturday; 12 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday