The Best Hidden Food Spots On Campus

Do you ever get sick of going to the Creamery or are you running out of options at the HUB? Probably not, but Penn State still is home to some hidden gems in terms of on campus dining. Located in all corners of campus, these eateries offer a relaxed and usually less populated alternative to some other big-name spots.

Au Bon Pain at Reese’s Café, IST Building


Au Bon Pain actually has four locations on campus, but the IST Building location is easily the most approachable. Overlooking Atherton Street, the small café is a great place to get away.

The location at Otto’s Café in Kern Building serves as a kind of base of operations for the chain, though. The sandwiches are made there and shipped to the other three locations, which offer limited menus. Regardless of its selections, every Au Bon Pain on campus has a cozy feel and will do for a quick bite. If the IST or Kern buildings are too far out of the way, Au Bon Pain has a presence at the Lewis Katz Law Building and at Zoller Gallery in the Visual Arts Building.

Blue Chip Bistro, Business Building

Business Building Lawn

Excluding business students, the Blue Chip Bistro doesn’t see too much action, for obvious reasons (read: it’s out of pretty much everybody’s way). Its café area, however, features Starbucks products and appeals to all majors. Typically open from mid-morning to mid-afternoon on weekdays, Blue Chip Bistro is a good place to stop by to grab a coffee, have a salad, or enjoy a sandwich. It is also designed so its patrons can grab their food and get moving, modeling the fast-paced business world many of its patrons will soon be a part of. Good luck, Smeal students. You’ll need a lot of coffee.

Café Laura, Mateer Building


Café Laura is definitely a well-documented and well-known place to eat, but its selective hours and distant location unfortunately steer visitors away.

Tucked in Mateer Building located just off of Park Ave., Café Laura is operated by students enrolled in HRIM 330 and 430. The result is a restaurant whose ideals are made by students, for students. From its BYOB dining to its popular themed meals, it’s well worth the trip.

The café typically only serves lunch, open 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. Its coffee bar, featuring Starbucks products, is open 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., in case you’re just looking for a midday caffeine boost.

The schedule of themed dinners, and the outlet for making online reservations, can be found at Café Laura’s website here.

MacKinnon’s Café, Pattee Library


MacKinnon’s is a small location with a passionate fanbase and is a useful resource to all library regulars. Very Starbucks-esque, the café offers coffee, cookies, snacks, and bagels to library-goers. The café is rather small and can be cramped on a busy afternoon (you should see the line after a 1:25 p.m. class), but offers great aids for studying.

The ground floor of Pattee Library is home to MacKinnon’s, so anyone who might be studying, procrastinating, or is just plain lost has easy access to the convenient little café.

Subway, Pegula Ice Arena


A big name brand, Subway’s presence in Pegula does more than just offer a gameday meal. When the men’s hockey team has a home game, steer clear if you want a quiet eating environment, but otherwise, Pegula’s Subway is great. It’s fully staffed and has all of the facets of any other Subway location.

Tim Ryan, one of the location’s managers, said, “[During] men’s home games, it’s absolutely insane… Otherwise it varies day to day, depending on class schedules, but we’re almost always open if Penn State’s open.”

During hockey games, the Auntie Anne’s next door is also open for business. Otherwise, the Subway is always ready to serve. Maybe it’s the seating area overlooking the men’s and women’s practice rinks, maybe it’s the cozy, spread-out arena when no game is scheduled, or maybe it’s the sandwiches — whatever it is, Pegula’s Subway is worth the wait.

What are your favorite hidden spots on campus? Tell us in the comments.

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About the Author

Doug Leeson

Doug is a sophomore and Onward State's Assistant Managing Editor. Dislikes: popcorn, Rutgers, and a low #TimberCount. Likes: "Frozen," Rec Hall, and you. Contact him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @DougLeeson.

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