Eat Around the World in Downtown State College

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After spending eight weeks straight in State College, with six weeks still left to go, the bubble that surrounds campus begins to feel suffocating. Especially since Penn State is located in central Pennsylvania, students may experience a craving for culture larger than the area currently provides. 

Luckily, there are ways to feel less claustrophobic while finishing out the spring semester. One way to expand horizons past Nittany mountain is to try the diverse array of foods offered Downtown. 

Let’s eat around the world in University Park! 

Mexico: Lupitas
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This authentic Mexican restaurant is tucked away towards the end (312) of West Beaver Avenue. It houses lots of Mexican specialties including, gorditas, sopes, tostadas, empanadas, tamales, tacos, quesadillas and more. These traditional meals come equipped with your choice of meat, dairy products and vegetables. Prices range from $5 to $20, with portions large enough for two full servings. Though the restaurant itself is quite plain, its food is bursting with flavor. 

Thailand: Cozy Thai
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This restaurant’s name does not deceive its customers; its peaceful ambiance creates a cozy dining experience that one should not miss. Their menu is equipped with various pad thai, pad see iew, curry, stir fry and noodle recipes, as well as a multitude of vegetarian and vegan options. This restaurant is an apt taste of Thailand with the bonus of affordable prices. 

Greece: The Greek
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Located a quick five-minute drive from campus (102 Clinton Avenue), The Greek houses authentic Greek food with wall-to-wall murals to help customers feel like they have traveled across the Mediterranean rather than simply drove down Pugh Street. Their entrees include various gyros, platters and sandwiches, but the section of the menu on which to splurge would be the appetizers. Authentic kebabs, spanakopita and tzatziki will have your mouth watering before you order your drinks. If you have a sweet tooth, the obvious item to try is the Baklava, however, higher end prices may curb your appetite before dessert. 

India: Kaarma
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Kaarma offers refined Indian food, including classics like samosas, saag paneer, tikka masala, biryani, curries and chicken and lamb delicacies. They balance moderate prices with stellar customer experiences, which are detailed in the review section of their website. 

Japan: Tadashi
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As a State College landmark, Tadashi is known for serving the best Japanese cuisine for miles. Beyond sushi and sashimi, their menu also includes udon, ramen and donburi. Being so well known, it would be smart to snag a reservation before heading down to 206 West College Avenue. 

China: Big Bowl Noodle House
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Since College Avenue is flooded with various Chinese restaurants, it can be difficult to pin down the best one available. An underground (literally) but exquisite choice is Big Bowl Noodle House. Climb down the steps next to Stage West and be met with ample open seating and different menu choices. These include stir fry, fried rice, homemade rice dishes and specialty noodle dishes. Their prices are fairly inexpensive and certainly provide leftovers. 

Italy: Faccia Luna
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Another off-campus discovery is Faccia Luna. Just off the end of Pugh Street, at 1229 S Atherton St, this restaurant will satisfy any Italian craving. Though a little expensive for frequent dining, on special occasions their Neapolitan delights are delectable. But, they don’t take reservations so make sure to include wait time into any celebratory planning. 

Middle Eastern Cuisine: Penn Kebab, Halal
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Experience Middle Eastern culture with these street food options. Both offer cheap, tasty and reliable dishes at a quick pace. Their menus center around gyros with customizable meat, vegetable and sauce options spread over a bed of rice. Halal cart has locations at 137 E Beaver Ave and 145 S. Allen St while Penn Kabab rests solely at 418 E College Ave, none of which have seating available aside from scattered benches and picnic tables. 

Hopefully, these diverse dining options will burst the bubble that forms around State College during the spring semester and expose your taste buds to delicious foods that various cultures have to offer.

If you try any of these restaurants, share with VALLEY on Instagram @VALLEYmag.


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