Where To Take Your Parents To Eat (And Drink) This Weekend

When your parents roll into town either for an impromptu visit or for Parents and Families Weekend, they’ll want to see campus, meet your friends, and get a feel for what it’s like to go to Penn State. But it also means  two things for you: free meals and an escape from the dining hall.

What I’ve always enjoyed most when my family visits (in addition to you know, actually seeing them) is being able to get away from campus and downtown — whether it be a scenic ride through Central Pennsylvania, a trip to Wegmans or Walmart to stock up on snacks, or a dinner at one of the many restaurants that I always think are too far and too expensive to go to.

Here are a few good choices of where to take your parents and hopefully leave with leftovers for the next day.

The Field

Since it opened in 2015, The Field has been a local favorite where you can gouge on artisan burgers, milkshakes, and piles (yes, piles) of fries. They’ll even make your shake with liquor if you’re over 21.

Sure, you can have a friend with a car (or James Franklin) take you up to Toftrees on any given weekend. But if you want to make the most of your visit from Mom and Dad, look no further. Just take a moment to appreciate all the food porn you and your Instagram are missing out on:

Barrel 21 Distillery

Located on North Atherton and about two miles from campus, Barrel 21 has upscale and modern bar food like fried chicken dipped in a honey hot sauce, monkfish osso bucco, and fish tacos made with wasabi aioli and pineapple slaw. If your parents consider themselves foodies, definitely suggest the Distillery.

As the name suggests, there’s also a distillery that makes its own vodka, gin, and bourbon on the premises. Check out some of the cocktails on the menu while you wait for a table, and maybe don’t mention that this is the first time in months that you’re drinking vodka that costs more than $12.

“Of course, Mom. I drink lemon-thyme martinis all the time,” you say as you wait for a soapy burn that never actually comes.

Happy Valley Brewing Company, Otto’s, Federal Taphouse

If your parents are into beer, they can’t go wrong with a trip to State College. In addition to bars like Zeno’s, Local Whiskey, and Liberty, there are also two breweries in State College. The bars at Happy Valley Brewing Company and Otto’s both serve their local beers as well as other craft brews.

With a rotating list of 100 beers on tap, Federal Taphouse, located in the Fraser Centre, also makes the list of places to take your beer snob parents.

All three also serve similar and pretty high-quality food if your parents want to make a full evening out of tasting beers that surprisingly don’t taste like water with oats dissolved in it.

Gigi’s Southern Table

The Southern fare made from local farm-to-table ingredients offered at Gigi’s is unlike anything else you can get in State College. The menu will surely satisfy all your countryside cravings, from shrimp and grits to bourbon barbecue sandwiches to sides of collard greens and homemade biscuits. You should probably make a reservation ahead of time at Gigi’s, especially if it’s a football weekend.

Duffy’s Boalsburg Tavern

Duffy’s Boalsburg Tavern has been around since 1819 and truly feels like you’re traveling to a different time. The menu ranges from brie and pear ravioli to burgers to a roasted duck breast, so it’ll likely please even the pickiest eaters in your family.

Although it’s a bit of a far drive from campus, a trip to Duffy’s to experience the history of Central Pennsylvania and enjoy fine dining in a quaint setting is certainty well-worth it. 

The Naked Egg

The Naked Egg has limited seating and is located a couple miles down West College, but you’ll thank me later after going there for breakfast — while everyone and his/her mother (literally) waits outside The Waffle Shop. The menu has everything you might want for breakfast before your parents head out of town and leave you with homework that you’re probably going to procrastinate for at least few more hours.

Everyone’s Favorite…The Corner Room

All these other restaurants are great and all, but you (and every other student at Penn State) can never go wrong with one of the most iconic State College dining experiences. Sure, the food might not live up to what you can get at some of the other places on this list, but where else can you sit in a booth that is literally on College Ave. with a view of campus? Moms and dads are suckers for that type of stuff.

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About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci was once Onward State’s managing editor and preferred walk-on honors student who majored in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. If you want to hear the story or are bored and want to share prequel memes, follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter or email him at [email protected]. All other requests and complaints should be directed to Onward State media contact emeritus Steve Connelly.

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