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Freshman 101: Downtown Food Guide

This weekend, thousands of freshmen just like you will be introduced into a relatively unfamiliar State College and Penn State scene. Most of you will likely consume the majority of your meals in dorm dining halls, however there are also a litany of restaurants ranging in quality and price available for any occasion in State College. In this installment of Onward State’s Freshman 101, we offer a heads up to some of the downtown food options we consider most valuable to an incoming Penn Stater.

Here are a few things to consider when looking for places to eat for every occasion:

How do most students order delivery food?
Let’s be honest, most of us are lazy and want nothing more than to go online and click on a few pictures of  cheesesteaks, pizza, or hot wings, and have them magically appear at our building’s entrance 30 minutes later. Let’s face it, it doesn’t get much better than this. These options are available to you through online food ordering services. While many students use LionMenus, we have been working hard with our partners at to offer the best online food ordering service without delivery fees (watch for feature improvements coming soon). While ordering food is simple, don’t forget that downtown State College isn’t too far of a walk from almost anywhere on campus.

How has the food scene changed at Penn State since the spring?
The most noteworthy change (and it’s a big one) is the relocation of the downtown Taco Bell. Taco Bell has relocated to the other side of College Ave past Locust Ln near Metro and Kiwi, and it’s just a 1/2 block from the Student Bookstore. The new location is much more convenient for Pollock and South Halls. Don’t be surprised to see a few 2 a.m. sad drunken faces outside the now vacated West College Ave. Taco Bell though.

Where can I get coffee?
State College has a few coffee shops of ranging quality to meet the demands of the community and student body. Some people want to go to a coffee shop where they can take a book, lounge, or even have meetings. For those individuals, I would recommend Starbucks on West College or Garner St. or Dunkin’ Donuts on West College or East College & Fraser St. For a higher quality, more intimate coffee experience, you can try  Saint’s Cafe on Beaver or W.C Clarkes Coffee Shoppe in Calder Alley near the Tavern. Irving’s Bakery & Cafe on College Ave, in addition to great coffee, also boasts a full menu and large basement where many student organizations hold meetings.

Best Late Night Dining
Downtown State College boasts many dining options to cater to the sizeable demand for late night food cravings. A few personal, and OS staff, favorites to consider are Wings Over Happy Valley, where you will find the largest range of excellent wings. For cheesesteak lovers, I recommend, Ernie’s, Bradley’s or Grillers, while D.P. Dough offers tasty calzones. Penn State is famous (or infamous) for Canyon Pizza, which I guarantee you will all try on several occasions.

For a few tips on late night eating, check out Onward State’s late night dining guide.

As a Penn State student you will learn to frequent many of these establishments. Hopefully our guide can give you a head start on finding your way in downtown State College. Share places we missed and other Happy Valley food tips in the comments!

About the Author

Dave Cole

Dave graduated from Penn State in 2013. He was the Managing Editor of this website. Dave remains a proud Onward State alumnus to this day.

Twitter --> @davecolephoto



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