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Aug 22, 2012 05:48 PM

State college update

anything new and exciting in or near state college?

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  1. Dunno about exciting, or how up-to-date you are -- so "new" to you may be "not so new" to me.

    Some (relatively) recent additions I am rather fond of:

    Pita Cabana on Calder Way -- good falafel, baba ganoush and hummus
    Penn Kebab -- a VERY good shawarma/lahmaçun place run by two Turks
    The Greek - very good melitsanosalata, very decent gyros, good tzatziki
    My Thai -- good Thai & they will crank up the heat for ya
    Sakura -- likely best sushi in town if you can stay away from the crazy rolls
    Fiddlehead Café -- good soups and a very good salad bar (huge portions, too)

    I've heard of Gigi's in the former Prospector's location, but almost all reviews are terrible, and there's a crêpe place on W. College people seem to love, but I haven't been.

    2 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      The owner of Pita Cabana was planning to open a crepe place. He told me about it earlier in the summer. Don't remember W. College though, I was thinking the other direction.

      I've been to Gigi's three times. They have some of the better "fine dining" in the area but it comes with high prices and abysmal service. Be warned if you go the tapas route to tell them in what order to bring them. Otherwise you'll get them all at once, regardless if there is room on the table or not.

      1. re: mb luvs SBH

        Thanks for the heads up, but after the shitty reviews Gigi's been getting, I have zero interest in going :-)

        I have a $100 certificate for Zola's (where I wouldn't eat anything besides apps anymore, either) that I plan on using up soon. Hard to regret free money spent, even if it's on overpriced, mediocre food.

    2. went back to Kellys steak house and had an excellent meal with 8 people. a little expensive but reasonable for what we ordered. thanks for the recs. I will try them out when I go back up to see my kids in the fall

      22 Replies
      1. re: dining with doc

        That's interesting to hear. The last few reviews of Kelly's on Yelp, for example, were absolutely awful.

        1. re: linguafood

          Is YELP where you saw the poor reviews for Gigi's too? Just wondering because our friends love it. I have never had a good meal at Kelly's except for apps or sandwiches. Your list above includes all of our State College "go to" places. We just moved away a month ago and one thing I don't miss is the lack of good dining.

          1. re: mb luvs SBH

            Yes, on Yelp. Nobody on CH ever reviews any SC restaurants '-)

            1. re: linguafood

              We might head that way this weekend, if we do, I will report back.

              I was pleasntly surprised by our last lunch at Kelly's but that was a few months back.

              Mr. CB and I have the same conversation each time we go to town, why doesn't State College have better restaurants?

              1. re: cleobeach

                I think we're lucky to have what we have, and the places I mention in my first post are all well worth a visit -- though, if atmosphere is as important to you as the quality of the food, I'd stick to the Greek, My Thai & Sakura.

                Chopstick Express remains my absolute favorite in town, but you better like styrofoam plates and neon lights.

                1. re: linguafood

                  Enjoyed China Dragon on Allen St. this week; I got some pork belly with spicy peppers and onions (lajiao xiaochao) as well as a simple stirfry of Shanghai bok choy that had good wok hay from their Specials menu. Also tried some of their spicy chicken from their dinner buffet and was pleased with the spicing, but the sauce was nothing special. It's not quite in direct competition with Chopstick Express, but it's a nice alternative when the latter is full!

                  1. re: mookleknuck

                    I haven't been, as I've only heard bad to very bad reviews of this place. Haven't felt the need to check it out b/c of the reviews, and of course, our group always makes sure to reserve a few tables in advance when we go to our jour fixe at CE :-)

                    1. re: linguafood

                      I've only ever ordered from their "China Dragon Special" list, not the rest of the menu or "Our Chef's Specialties." The food on that list, thus far, has been authentic; I cannot attest to the rest of the menu or most of their dinner buffet.

              2. re: linguafood

                Well, I've been to Fascia Luna two years running. Nice place.
                I also recommend Herwig's, particularly if you get their desserts.

                1. re: Chowrin

                  It's decent pizza, for sure. Better pizza can be had at Nola's, but the owner's a bit of a weirdo, and the service can be exasperatingly slow.

                  Not a fan of Herwig's -- I know, I know, it's a local fave.... but as a German, I find it mediocre-to-downright bad (the sauerkraut is horrid). Their salad dressing, OTOH, is nice. But not reason enough for me to go.

                  1. re: linguafood

                    With you on Herwigs. I am an American born by birth but have lived in Germany. But then again, I was never a fan of even the best German food while eating in Germany and Austria.

                    1. re: cleobeach

                      Ah, well. I dream of a Krustenbraten vom Spanferkel (crackling roast of the sucking pig) I've had at one of our fave Austrian places. There's some great stuff to be had, just not at Herwigs.

                      Thank goodness for the Turkish/Lebanese invasion of State College :-)

                    2. re: linguafood

                      but their desserts! (liquor... filled)

                      1. re: Chowrin

                        Ha! I remember the shivers as I forced down the chocolates filled with booze as a teen. I hated the taste but the access to booze made me put on a good face when Dad put those on the table.

                        1. re: cleobeach

                          the good german ones are quite good.

                          1. re: Chowrin

                            Back in the day, my parents would check extra luggage full of treats when they returned from visiting relatives. If they ran low between trips, there an importer outside of NYC that my dad would visit. I haven't had that stuff in years. I didn't know how much I missed it until this thread.

              3. re: linguafood

                Excellent heirloom tomato, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil balsamic reduction, very fresh with nice vinegarette house salad, very good lobster ravioli in a truffle cream lobster sauce, good grilled prawns, good peppercorn encrusted salmon, very good prime rib, ok tenderloin.

                1. re: dining with doc

                  I think the best fine dining in State College is at Harrisons.

                  1. re: mb luvs SBH

                    Interesting. I'd say Zola's is better, despite their continuous downfall -- but I'm also not too fond of eating in a hotel lobby :-)

                    1. re: linguafood

                      Yeah, you will notice I said the dining...definitely not atmosphere. Lunch is great, their wine list is well done and I've had good dinners there too. I like places that do local foods. Elk Creek is my favorite in the area. So glad I moved to Pittsburgh, where there are MANY more choices.

              4. I would include Billy's Bar B Que as notable near State College. The main location is near Reedsville, handy for anyone approaching State College from the direction of Harrisburg and Lewistown.

                They do dry rub, low and slow smoking, with no pre-cooked meats hastily finished over a wood fire like some others do. We tried the pulled chicken and a half rack of ribs, both were excellent. Sides included delicious smoked potato salad and some savory baked beans, and great hush puppies. They offer pulled pork and brisket as well, which we will try next time. Multiple sauces are offered on the side, including house, spicy, mild, mustard, and vinegar, though the meat was good enough that sauce was hardly required.

                They have opened a second location at a hotel in Milesburg, I understand, Sheraton maybe?

                Finally, some really good BBQ in Central PA

                2 Replies
                1. re: Dan D

                  That's some great information, though I'm not sure I'd drive out to Reedsville specifically to get food. That said -- on the way home, passing through.... absolutely! It *has* to be better than Clem's, no?

                  1. re: Dan D

                    So I finally had a chance to try Billy's BBQ en route home from Philly.

                    We got "1lb." of pulled pork (once arriving at home, it was obvious that the portion was closer to half a lb. -- so much for truth in advertising), brisket (three meager slices), and a full rack of ribs (decent portion). Sides were minuscule -- cheesy corn & cole slaw.

                    While I liked the meat, I thought it was pretty expensive given the tiny portions. The ribs were pretty great, and their house BBQ sauce is nice.

                    Just don't give me half a lb. of pulled pork if you advertise it as a whole pound. Really.

                  2. Have you tried American Ale House in Toftrees? It's sort of an upscale casual and on Friday nights they have music, usually Tommy Wareham, at the piano bar. They do have several new orleans dishes such as pan roast, jambalya etc.
                    I really like Gigi's. I've been there several times. Rather on the pricey side but for State College it has a pretty cool bar.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: luvstobake

                      I really like American Ale house. If you care to sit at the bar on the far end, they cook the fresh seafood right in front of you. I always enjoy it and it makes for a fun happy hour, with pretty good food.


                    2. Not new, but most locals don't know about Seoul Garden in State College which is a surprisingly good Korean restaurant for a central PA college town. Zola's also not new but worth repeating as one of the few non-chain upscale places in town. Some people like Herwig's, but the guy who runs it is an insulting jerk so I won't go back there again. And that's honestly about the complete list of places worth eating in State College. Next on the list would probably be the prepared food bar at Wegman's.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Mangiaperfavore

                        the insulting jerkiness is part of the shtick...
                        They seem quite friendly.

                        1. re: Chowrin

                          Yes, a shtick. See my response below.