The Ultimate Penn State Rookie Guide To Downtown Dining
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The Ultimate Penn State Rookie Guide To Downtown Dining

Oh, the places you'll grub, am I right?!

The Ultimate Penn State Rookie Guide To Downtown Dining
Cameryn Hunter

If you're a Penn State rookie I'm sure you wouldn't hesitate to admit that you're stoked to finally be living in Happy Valley. There's so much to do and there's so much to explore, but while doing all things fun, clearly you're going to get hungry at some point. There are so many places that it could be a little overwhelming if you have no inkling of the lay of the land or no idea of the potential nourishment surrounding you — unless, of course, you're among the overwhelming majority of students with Penn State lineage.

You might know about Primanti weekends or post-games at Champs, but I absolutely guarantee you that there's still a myriad of downtown gems you've yet to feast your eyes on. You still have so much to learn about the special bond between East freshmen and OrderUp.

As an out-of-state foodie hailing Northern Virginia, when I moved in my Freshman year, I knew almost nothing about the restaurants catering State College. Luckily, I was living in Atherton Hall directly across from the downtown area, so I had no choice but to become equipped.

I present to you the Rookie Starter Pack — The Ultimate Penn State Guide To Downtown Dining:

Affordable Staples ($-$$)

A collection of cheap and delicious spots that every Freshman should know of generally.

DP Dough*

"chain dishing calzones, wings, & breadsticks in no-frills digs with delivery & late hours"

Online Rating: 3.5

Canyon Pizza*

"A menu made-to-order pizza, calzones & breadsticks offered in a no-frills atmosphere."

Online rating: 3.4

Wings Over*

"No-frills fast-food chain preparing a variety of chicken wings & sides for takeout & delivery."

Online Rating: 4.1


"This bright, contemporary eatery offers creative salads with loads of toppings, plus daily soups."

Online Rating: 4.2
Yallah Tacos
"Yallah Taco is a new business in downtown State College, dedicated to serving customers and giving everyone the authentic Mexican food experience that they crave."

Online Rating: 4.4

Penn Kebab*

"From delicious yufka wraps to veggie falafels. We guarantee a flavor of Mediterranean cuisine that's one of a kind."

Online Rating: 4.5

Sauly Boy's


Online Rating: 4.4

Study and Snack ($-$$)

The kind of places you go when you forgot to eat breakfast but also have a five-page report due at midnight.

Barranquero Cafe

"Barranquero Café is a locally owned coffee shop in State College, PA that specializes in authentic Colombian coffees and finger foods."

Online Rating: 4.7


"Bagels, baked goods & sandwiches served with coffee & smoothies in a simple cafe setting."

Online Rating: 4.2

Webster's Bookstore Cafe

"Used bookseller & coffeehouse offering espresso drinks, vegetarian dishes & Sunday brunch."

Online Rating: 4.7

Au Bon Pain

"Counter-service chain cafe serving soups, salads & sandwiches along with breads & other baked goods."

Online Rating: 3.9

Food with friends ($-$$)

A guaranteed good meal for drained students looking to treat themselves.

Sowers Harvest Cafe*

"Naturally harvest cuisine served with a healthy welcome"

Online Rating: 4.9

Kaarma Indian Cuisine Redefined*

"Informal locale with old-world decor offering Indian classics, plus an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet."

Online Rating: 3.9

Ye Old College Diner

"Bustling late-night mainstay renowned for sticky buns & traditional diner fare since 1929."

Online Rating: 2.9

*Only place serving fresh stickies

Tadashi Japanese

"Compact, brick-lined venue for sushi, ramen noodle soup & other traditional Japanese dishes."

Online Rating: 4.4

Cozy Thai Bistro

"Intimate Thai BYOB serving large portions of authentic fare plus vegetarian & health-minded options."

Online Rating: 4.3

Primanti Bros*

"Long-running Pittsburgh-born chain known for its sandwiches piled high with coleslaw & french fries."

For The Parents ($$-$$$)

The best spots to hit after football games or for parents' weekend.

Otto's Pub & Brewery

"A vast selection of local & in-house beers plus burgers, mac 'n' cheese & other American fare."

Online Rating: 4.1

Happy Valley Brewing Co*

"Relaxed microbrewery & eatery in a converted barn offering craft beers & eclectic comfort food."

Online Rating: 4.2

The Corner Room*

"In business since 1926, this venerable venue with a full bar serves diner fare for 3 meals daily."

Online Rating: 3.9

Champs Sports Grill*

"This sports-themed hangout offers a menu of pub fare, dozens of draft brews & lots of big TVs."

Online Rating: 3.7

The Naked Egg

"Bright, cozy cafe featuring espresso drinks, breakfast specialties, sandwiches & salads."

Online Rating: 4.4

The Tavern

"Homey, colonial-style eatery with sidewalk seats is an intimate space for seafood, steak & pasta."
Online Rating: 3.9

Side Note: This excludes the biggest nationwide brand names like Chipotle, Subway, Mcdonalds, and IHOP. Also, I apologize to Wawa fans as this is a Sheetz campus.

* = Available on OrderUp

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