Lehigh Valley

Bethlehem restaurant ranked No. 3 taco spot in America

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Aqui Es in Bethlehem is an unassuming Mexican restaurant, with only nine tables, but the reputation is big.

Recently, they have been seeing a massive spike in business. 

Business Insider, using Yelp data, ranked them the No. 3 taco spot in America.

"We actually didn't even know about it right away," co-owner Paula Zumas said.

She said the original ranking actually came out in May, and for a month or two, she had no idea.

That article didn't affect business much, but then, it was apparently posted again on Oct. 4 for National Taco Day.

A website in Bethlehem called Lehigh Valley With Love noticed, then other local media, then things got crazy.

"Very crazy, yes," said Zumas. "It's been hectic, we had lines out the door."

"We still haven't gotten in," a hungry patron said outside the restaurant.  

You could certainly say the recent notoriety has been good for business.

On Saturday night, they had to close down early because they ran out of meat.

"We try and keep it fresh. All our ingredients are fresh. We don't precook anything. Everything's made to order," said Zumas. 

She helps with the business side of things, but the food isn't her department.

"The recipe, that is my husband's," she said. "I don't know any of the recipes. He won't even let me watch him make his sauces." 

Her husband, Daniel Flores, confirmed that fact.

"Nobody knows," he said, when asked if he shared the secrets of their tacos.

It seems impossible though; the third best tacos in America, right in the Lehigh Valley?

Their customers certainly are passionate.  

"I'm surprised it wasn't higher, but I mean that's just me being biased," said one loyal patron with a laugh. 

One man in the restaurant Monday, who had never eaten at Aqui Es before, was an interesting test case. 

"I'm a taco aficionado. Self-proclaimed," said Mike Madajewski with a smile.

He's half Mexican, lived in Los Angeles for many years, and grew up eating tacos across the border.

His review was quick and simple after taking a few bites. 

"It's about as close as you can get other than going to Mexico itself," he said.

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