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Onward Debates: The Best State College Bar Food

In case you haven’t noticed, the Onward State staff is pretty fond of the bars downtown. Though we love ourselves some Trash Cans at the Phyrst, Lumberjack shots at the Dark Horse, and pitchers of tea at Café, we have to put something into our systems other than straight up alcohol. If you’re looking for a bar that will offer you something to eat after you’ve begun your descent into total inebriation, our staff has assembled to debate just which State College bar has the best edible offerings.

Alicia Thomas — The Dark Horse: 

Tuesdays at The Dark Horse Tavern are unmatched. Not only can you hear the words “vagina,” “erection,” and “anal lubrication” thrown around casually during the bar’s signature Kinky Quizzo, but you can get any one of the bar’s delicious burgers for just $3.95. A burger with bacon and cheese for less than $4, along with $2.50 Blue Moon drafts, is precisely what I want to consume on any given Tuesday. Even if you’re there another day of the week for some reason, The Dark Horse has great drink specials every night, and the wings with their signature “Pazzo’s Choice” sauce (hot sauce mixed with “Gilroy” sauce, aka butter and garlic) are top-notch. To sum up: go to The Dark Horse. Eat. Drink. Be merry.

Joshua Glossner — Mad Mex: 

There’s nothing quite like having a burrito and some Big Azz margaritas. Mad Mex has the best bar food in town. Sure, you can say Mex is more of a restaurant than a bar, but with such great deals on both food and booze, you can’t beat it. The salads are just as awesome as the burritos. The one I recommend trying is the Pittsburgh Salad. With the waffle fries and a choice of flank steak or fajita chicken, it’s a salad lover’s dream. I’d suggest the honey chipotle BBQ sauce. Try the creamy ranch dressing for a classic taste or the lime-cilantro vinaigrette for a new feel. The Wing Salad is also good, giving you the option of sauces to toss the boneless chicken in.

Jessica Myers — Kildare’s: 

I’ve never been to Ireland, and I don’t know a lot about Irish culture, but I do know one thing — I love the food at Kildare’s with a passion that cannot be tamed. Kildare’s has it all, and it reigns supreme in all categories. Typical bar appetizers? Check — its loaded fries are the best downtown. Some good ol’ American fixings? Sure thing — let’s talk about the burger with bacon and whiskey bar-b-que sauce. And of course, some legit Irish food? I don’t know how comparable it is to the food across the pond, but the bangers and mash at Kildare’s is still one of my favorite dishes.

As if the tasty food and selections weren’t enough, the specials at Kildare’s just reinstate my devotion to its cause. If the weekend just didn’t treat you right and you’re looking for a hangover pick-me-up that isn’t McDonald’s or Gatorade, Kildare’s has a Brunch and Bloody Mary Bar every Saturday and Sunday until 3 p.m. Even better, every Monday is all-you-can-eat wings and fries for less than $10 for those of you with little money and an enormous stomach. As for the wings, the BFG (baked, fried, and grilled) wings are like nothing you could get from Wings Over.

Whether you’re looking for an appetizer during a night out, or a hefty Irish meal with a Guinness to pregame, there’s not a doubt in my mind that Kildare’s is where you want to spend your money and gorge on delicious grub.

Noel Purcell — Local Whiskey: 

It’s kind of cheating to take a restaurant, but Local Whiskey (the Second) does both bar and restaurant so well, it’s too easy. You have the option of Famous Cheesesteaks and Stanley’s Wonder Wings and Suzie Wong Eggrolls from Ernie’s, plus an entire menu on top of it. With choices like the Fluthered Turkey Sandwich (which has roast turkey, hard-boiled egg, bacon, two cheeses, and is perfect in every ways), Yuk Foo’s Fried Squid (sweet chili garlic sauce-covered calamari), and Bacon & Cheddar Croquettes, there are enough entreés to compete with State College’s higher-end restaurants. The most important menu item, though, is the grilled cheese with tomato soup: creamy tomato soup (cream-based soups are always better than broth-based ones) paired next to two buttery slices of Texas Toast filled with Fontina and the most important cheese in the land, CV Cooper. Dip the sandwich in the soup for an incredible combination. Simple, but perfect. Combine it with a Local Sour and you have the best bar meal in State College, and it’s not close.

Zach Berger — The Phyrst: 

I want to cheat and inform my colleague Noel that you can technically get the best bar food in the town inside of the best bar in the town, but let’s pretend for a second that a smile and a “please” can’t get you Second food in the Phyrst. With that in mind, the Phyrst still takes the cake, mostly because the atmosphere thoroughly improves the flavor of some already-great cuisine. The Beaver Burger, cheesesteak, and fries from Ernie’s aren’t the best I’ve ever had in my life, but eating them on a rugged, wooden table with some sensational live music blaring in the background and a few Trash Cans in your stomach makes the meal that much better. And seriously, can you think of a single bar food item that is more iconic, more satisfying, or more easy on the wallet than the Phyrst’s massive $6 tray of fries?

Did we miss your favorite bar food? Let us know in the comments.


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