Everyone already knows about the Creamery and the Tavern - you probably hit those up with your parents when they dropped you off freshman year. These are the restaurants that you need to check out before you graduate - some are famous, some are hidden gems, but every single one is worth trying at least once (okay, for the last one, maybe just once).
Address: 1229 S Atherton St, State College, PA 16801
Phone: (814) 234-9000
Most Penn State students have heard of Faccia Luna, home of the mythical "best pizza in State College", but have never actually seen it for themselves (it's outside of downtown, which means it might as well be in Pittsburgh, as far as freshmen are concerned).
It's worth the trip, though - the pizza really is that good (although another spot on our list gives it a run for its money).
Address: 240 S Pugh St, State College, PA 16801
Phone: (814) 272-5656
Mad Mex is home of some of the best food and drink specials in State College, and if you haven't hit up $5 all-you-can-eat burrito Mondays, you haven't truly lived. You might need someone to roll you to class on Tuesday morning in a wheelbarrow, but you won't even be mad.
Try the San Francisco wings on a Friday (you get 14 for, like, a nickel) and the margaritas are also mandatory.
Address: 232 S Allen St, State College, PA 16801
Phone: (814) 237-0139
Cozy Thai is a rare breed - a well-known Asian restaurant in Central Pennsylvania that's actually good. The Pad Thai and the Lemon Chicken are both on point, and there's no way to go wrong with any of the appetizers either.
A word to the wise: even if you end up getting one of your friends as a server, don't be a jerk - it's never a good idea to mess with anyone who can mess with your dinner.
Otto's Pub & Brewery
Address: 2235 N Atherton St, State College, PA 16803
Phone: (814) 867-6886
Like Faccia Luna, Otto's is way out in no-man's land (actually about five minutes up North Atherton, right past Wegmans), but it's worth the trip. The food is awesome (order the sweet potato fries - just do it), but the 21+ crowd should be more excited about the original beers they have on tap.
The guys who brew for Otto's are some righteous dudes, and they know their beer. If IPAs are your jam, try the Slab Cabin, and you can't go wrong with the Red Mo (they've probably added a few brews since we've been around - try 'em and report back!).
Big Bowl Noodle House
Address: 418 E College Ave, State College, PA 16801
Phone: (814) 238-1099
Online: N/A - order online here
Despite being excellent and right in the middle of downtown State College, Big Bowl doesn't get as much love as it deserves. The Chinese food is shockingly tasty and shockingly authentic, and you can tell from the crowds of foreign-exchange students that the place is legit.
We've probably ordered 2/3 of the things on the menu here, and we were never disappointed. Last time we checked, Big Bowl was still cash only, so remember to hit an ATM before you stop by.
Herwig's Austrian Bistro
Address: 132 W College Ave, State College, PA 16801
Phone: (814) 272-0738
A cult favorite thanks to the delicious food and...slightly unbalanced owner, Herwig's motto is "Where bacon is an herb". That should tell you pretty much everything you need to know, but in case you need guidance, the Spatzle and the Weinerschnitzel are both out of this world.
Fair warning: if you don't clean your plate, you'll hear about it from the owner...fortunately, the food is so good, it shouldn't be a problem.
Wings Over Happy Valley
Address: Irrelevant, since you're gonna order online anyway
Phone: (814) 237-5700
This is one place you don't have to visit - they're best when they come straight to your doorstep. Like camping out at
Paternoville Nittanyville and going on the Mifflin Streak, ordering Wings Over is a Penn State rite of passage. True story: we once ordered Wings Over with a few friends, then started a game of NCAA '11...and our wings showed up before halftime. We still don't know how that's possible without teleportation or time travel.
Everyone always goes for the buffalo sauces, but Mustang Ranch and Spicy Teriyaki are criminally underrated.
Address: 222 W Beaver Ave, State College, PA 16801
Phone: (814) 235-3060
Online: N/A, order online here
While Margarita's might not have the hype of Faccia Luna or the late-night popularity of Canyon, it's still a mandatory stop on your Penn State restaurant tour.
A big part of the draw is Margarita herself - owner Margaret Cruz is one of the coolest people we've ever met, and she's practically adopted thousands of Penn Staters over the past decade. Come for the pizza (pesto & margarita are great, although you can't really go wrong), but stay to get to know one of the most friendly, genuine people in Happy Valley.
Address: 1631 N Atherton St, State College, PA 16803
Phone: (814) 278-8000
Online: Nope (which is probably for the best)
College Buffet, unlike the other restaurants on our list, isn't here because the food is actually...well, good. Going to College Buffet is more about the experience.
There's the unlimited, profoundly average Chinese food (all you can eat for just $7.50!)...the servers who shoot you dirty looks as you load up your fifth plate (don't waste time on rice - that's a rookie mistake)...the thrill of victory after you finish one more plate than your friends could handle...and of course, the feeling of camaraderie as you and your buddies sit in the parking lot passing around a bottle of Pepto afterwards. College Buffet isn't for the faint of heart...but neither is being a Nittany Lion.
Just missed the cut:
Waffle Shop (it's good, but not wait-in-line-for-two-hours-on-a-beautiful-Saturday good), Baby's Burgers & Shakes (solid burgers, but points deducted for serving chicken & waffles without frying the chicken), Allen Street Grill/The Corner Room (solid, unspectacular, overpriced), the Deli (your food will taste delicious, but you might die of old age before it shows up) and Bell's Greek Pizza (great pizza, but maybe the worst service anywhere ever).
So, which of your favorites did we leave out? Let us know on Twitter @ChatNits, or shoot an email to email@example.com!Back to the Penn State Nittany Lions Newsfeed