By Ed Howard
I am a born Nebraskan, but I'm also a Penn State alum. I'll be wearing red at Saturday's game,
but I'll also be enjoying the Borough of State College (mostly its restaurants and bars) over the weekend,
where I lived from 1990 to 2000. For those of you going to the game, here's a short list of questions and
answers that may help you to do the same:
Note: This is all from memory, and I have been away for two years, so some information may not be
up-to-date. That said...
- Where is "University Park"? I don't see it on the map....
Penn State campus addresses all say University Park. When you see a game on tv, you are likely to be
told the broadcast is "Live from University Park, Pennsylvania", or some such thing. When you look for
the place on a Pennsylvania State map.... you'll never find it. Here's the deal - the is no municipality named
University Park, it's something the post office uses to seperate the Penn State stuff from the rest of the
local mail. That's pretty much it. On a map, you want to go to "State College", which is where most of the
main Penn State campus is, though not all of it. That actually becomes important when you ask...
- What is the local law regarding open alcohol containers? Can I walk around with an open beer?
In State College, you cannot walk around town with an open beer. The local police will hassle you about this.
But, near the stadium, you'll see a large number of people tailgating. Most of these people will be carrying
open beers. Near the stadium it's not a problem, because.... the far east end of campus is not in
State College, it is actually in the adjoining municipality of College township. This includes the stadium area.
The line isn't clearly marked, but the locals know where it is. Do what they do, and you'll be fine.
- On TV, they usually show the stone sculpture of the Nittany Lion. Where is it?
The Nittany shrine is on Curtin road, near Rec Hall. The west end of Curtin is Rec Hall. The east end is near
- Walking down Curtin on my way to the shrine/stadium, I passed a small building that had a very long line
stretching out of the building and down the block. What's that about?
That's the creamery, near the corner of Curtin and Shortledge. Those people are nostalgic alums, waiting to
buy ice cream. Probably "Peachy Paterno". It's good ice cream. It's not so good that I would recommend
waiting an hour (or more) for it.
- What is all this "Nittany" business anyway?
From the Penn State campus, you can see some mountains. One of them is Mount Nittany. You used to be
able to see it from inside the stadium, though I understand a recent stadium expansion has blocked the view.
Anyway, "Nittany Lions" is in reference to Mount Nittany. Mount Nittany gets its name from an old indian legend
about a princess Nita-Nee.
- It's early Saturday, and I want to watch some early games at a sports bar. Where do I go for food, beer, and lots of TVs?
Champs. It's on Atherton street, which is the west edge of campus. It's north of campus, on the east side of the road.
It will be busy, but this I would wait for. Many locals regard their buffalo wings ("Stanley's Wonder Wings") as the
best in town. I'm inclined to agree. I also like the seafood chowder there, and the meatball sandwich (Called the
"Ball Four" as I recall).
You can get beer by the pint, pitcher, half yard, and yard. Pitchers here are a little pricier than at most State College
bars, but they're also a bit bigger. It works out to be about the same.
- Where do I go for dinner before the game?
Some places that come to mind:
1) Hoss' steakhouse. On North Atherton, a little farther than Champs, west side of the road. Good steaks,
good burgers, and a fantastic salad bar.
2) Mario and Luigi's. Also on Noth Atherton, west side of the road, not quite as far as Champs. Good italian food.
They'll be very busy, but for Italian, that's where I would go.
3) Chopstick Express. Chinese food. Downtown, on College Avenue (the main street), between Allen street and
Pugh street. Right across the street from Old Main on campus. It's a little hole in the wall place, where you probably
won't have to wait so long, and dinner costs about five bucks. And, I have eaten General Tso's chicken in restaurants all
over the country. The General Tso's chicken at Chopstick Express is still my favorite.
4) Leo's Hoagies. Downtown, on west Beaver Avenue (one block behind College Ave), between Fraser and Burrowes
streets I think. Good sandwiches. I recommend the steak and cheese. I also like the turkey hoagie there.
- Ok, the game's over. We won! Where do we go now?
Downtown bars are a fine choice, but they will be crowded, and may charge you a buck or two at the door.
In Pennsylvania, bars serve until 2am, and generally get everyone out the door by 2:30. If you're going to do this,
I recommend these two:
1) Zeno's. Corner of College Avenue and Allen Street, downstairs beneath the Corner Room restaurant. Or, according
to their t-shirts, "Directly above the center of the Earth". An impressive beer selection here. Around two dozen taps -
none of it Miller/Bud/etc...., and over 100 varieties in bottles. You'll likely see Dave the bartender, a tall bald guy with
glasses directing the circus down there. Do say hi... Have a pitcher of lager while you're there. Specifcally, it's
Yuengling Lager, which comes from Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Any State College bartender will interpret 'Lager' as
referring to this. Also recommended: 'Dockstreet', a beer from Philadelphia, and 'Wild Goose', a beer from Maryland.
2) Cafe 210. It's at 210 West College Ave, between Fraser and Burrowes streets. Patio in front, deck in the back,
and a bar and dining room in between. I recommend having a Zombie. Or two. If you should be here before the game
(while the kitchen is open), this is also a good place for wings.
Also good to keep in mind, the magic number - 353-6001. That's the local taxi service.
- Downtown is way too crowded, where do I go instead?
The Stork's Nest. From campus, go south on Atherton street. At the bottom of a hill will be a major intersection
with University Drive. Continue a block or two further on Atherton, and there will be a place on your right called
"Home Delivery Pizza". Attached to it is a bar called the Stork's Nest. Decent food there, friendly bartenders, and
far enough from downtown to not be a complete zoo on a game saturday.
- It's late. Where do I go for late-night food and people-watching?
The Diner. Downtown, on College ave, between Allen and Fraser streets. They never close. They will be busy,
and between 1 and 3 am, many patrons will be loaded. That said, there's some good stuff to be had here. If you're
interested in doing the traditional Penn State thing, you have to go to the Diner and have a "Grilled Sticky". It's a
rectangular cinnamon roll really, but it's pretty good. Forget about counting calories, put plenty of butter on it, and if
you're feeling really wild... get it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I also like the blueberry pancakes here,
and the "Eggs Bene-Diner".
Ok, that's it. Have a safe trip, good luck, and Go Big Red.