Staff Picks: Best State College Restaurants To Take Your Folks Out To Eat

Your parents are coming to town, and it’s likely because there’s a football game going on, your fridge is empty, or it’s Parents Weekend. No matter the reason for the visit, you’re probably banking on your parents to take you out for a nice meal. And bless them for generally obliging.

But where should you chow down? After heated debate, our staff gives you its picks for the best restaurants to eat with your parents when they come in to town.

Ben Rappaport — The Naked Egg

Many people don’t know about the quaint little breakfast cafe down on Pine Grove Road, but The Naked Egg may just be the premier eatery for those looking for a delicious breakfast or brunch. The joint offers immaculate food with a Sunday morning atmosphere.

Although only accessible by car, The Naked Egg offers a much higher quality breakfast than the normal diner food you get from places on campus. The food isn’t “upscale” so to speak but the meals certainly emulate a higher level of cooking. The Eggs Benedict is my personal favorite but you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. The best part is because it’s an impossible (well, not impossible, but incredibly long) walk, there is usually no wait or line like how most downtown breakfast places get on gameday-weekend Sunday mornings. So next time your parents are in town take advantage of them having a car and go get some of the best breakfast food State College has to offer.

Carolyn Popescu — The Deli

I think The Deli is a classic destination for a great dinner with the fam. Though it can get crowded on the weekends like anywhere else, it’s relatively more subdued, making it parent and alumni friendly. You can embrace the unique atmosphere, enjoy a solid burger, and still be able to hear each other. The Deli has a bar and will serve alcohol with your meal, so you, mom, and pop can still get turnt if you want. The Deli is conveniently nestled in the middle of downtown, perfect for an after-dinner stroll and dessert at Kiwi frozen yogurt. It also sits across from the Heister Street Mural, a great conversation piece.

Caitlin Gailey — Mad Mex

There is no such thing as a bad time for Mexican food. When your parents come into town you may be looking for something a little less chain-y than Chipotle but still satisfies that Mexican craving. Luckily Mad Mex, located on the first floor of the Days Inn Hotel, is here to save the day. Especially with the warm weather still lingering, the deck at Mad Mex is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat. They have a huge menu with reasonably priced items that will make you and your parents happy. For those looking to get their buzz on they have an equally impressive drink menu with daily specials. Just be careful with the tequila shots — they will get to you. Furthermore, you have to be 21 or accompanied by an adult to eat here, so your parents coming to town is the perfect excuse to finally get over there.

Emilie Dormer — The Field Burger and Tap

There is virtually no reason not to take your parents to The Field when they visit. Unless, of course, they hate great service, delicious burgers, an impressive brunch, lunch, and dinner menu, hand-crafted milkshakes, and joy. Located about 10 minutes from campus, it’s the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Despite its well-renowned menu, I have never experienced a wait longer than 20 minutes. They are known for their large, juicy burgers that are hand-made daily. The bun even comes with “The Field” imprinted onto it. If burgers aren’t your thing, they also have amazing wings, soups, appetizers, and salads. The Field also has an impressive wine and beer menu if your parents need a break from the cheaper beer that the downtown restaurants tend to serve. If your parent is a #coolmom like mine and uses social media, then he/she will love how insta-worthy (and delicious) the milkshakes are at The Field. They offer alcoholic or non-alcoholic shakes, and even use Creamery ice cream. The meals are aesthetically pleasing, the servers are incredibly friendly, and the price is well worth the quality of food. The Field is the perfect spot to bring your parents when they visit. I promise that you and the ‘rents won’t leave The Field hungry or displeased.

Steffen Blanco — Big Bowl Noodle House

For those of you who have been avidly following Onward State’s food articles, you probably have read about my praise for this place. I’ve ranked it as the best Asian restaurant in the area, chill first date spot, and a secret hangover cureBig Bowl Noodle House has always been my go to restaurant when all else fails, so it’s only natural that I would pick this place to take my parents when they visit.

Tucked away right down the stairs by McLanahan’s, Big Bowl boasts a solid menu of more than 50 items for even the pickiest of family members to enjoy along with (movable) seating arrangements that can house even the largest of extended families. Pair that with prices that won’t break the bank (especially after shelling out $200+ on your tailgate) and large portions that will satisfy the long game-day appetite, and Big Bowl is a go-to place to bring your family or friends visiting on game days.

All-in-all what separates Big Bowl from places like Otto’s, the Corner Room, or even the Field is the fact that it won’t be as packed as those places will be on a game day weekend. Do yourself a favor, save that time and the money that you’d spend at any of the restaurants that my colleagues chose and get a handle to bring to one of your friend’s apartment parties. Guaranteed you’ll have a better time there than you would waiting in line.

Tim Reams — Champs Sports Grill

While Rotelli and The Field are close second and thirds, there’s just something about Champs that keeps my family and me coming back. The restaurant itself isn’t a flashy experience, but it has a nice open concept with a big patio that will comfortably sit you for a meal with your folks. What makes it what it really is, though, is the amazing food. The special sandwiches including the “Linsanity” are incredibly creative, crafty, and delicious, and they hardly break the bank for you or your parents. The menu has anything you could desire from a sports bar and then some, especially with unique items such as Calamari. The food is consistently delicious and the service is aways quick and friendly. If you’re of age, or your parents are in the mood for a drink, the bar at Champs has a plethora of craft beers, domestics, and tap beers in addition to its huge drink menu. The game is always on, the food is always delicious, and nobody’s wallet is crying. You can’t go wrong with Champs.

Caela Camazine — The Corner Room

The Corner Room is an absolutely quintessential Penn State experience. While the food may leave something to be desired, the atmosphere certainly does not. From the charming wooden booths to the beautiful illustrations of our fantastic campus on the walls, The Corner Room really should be on your list of restaurants to try. Recently, management revamped its menu. It now features, in addition to classics like their baked mac & cheese and Corner club, a peanut butter burger and veggie spinach wrap. They also feature a 1/2 price burger night (Thursday), and Bingo with 1/2 off appetizers (Tuesday). If you’re in the mood for the best meal of your life, I may not recommend TCR, but if you’re looking for reasonable prices and a nice, Penn State atmosphere, The Corner Room is just what you’re looking for.

Sara Civian — Otto’s

There’s something for everyone at Otto’s, located far down North Atherton. Although it’s more of a restaurant than a bar, your dad needs an Apricot Wheat straight from the source — trust me. Your little siblings (or me, every single time I go to this restaurant) need the buffalo mac and cheese. If you’ve never been to Otto’s, this buffalo mac and cheese is hands down the best food I’ve ever had in State College and it’s not even close. It’s pretty far away and just a little bit pricey, so it’s the perfect place to take your parents (you know, the ones with the car and money). If you want to treat them, taking them here and not, like, Gumby’s, is a surefire way to make them think you have your life together.


There you have it, our staff picks for the best restaurants to eat a great meal and spend time with your folks. Let us know in the comments section about your go to choice! 

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