American Ale House & Grill

American Ale House & Grill

Located in Toftrees, the American Ale House is a hidden gem.  For some reason I don’t always think of it when the preverbal “I don’t know, where do you want to go eat?” comes up, but every time we go, I’m always impressed with the menu and wonder why we don’t come more often? Plenty of outdoor seating (plenty of indoor too), a great bar area, live music, a steam bar, brunch, daily specials and….great food.   The menu offers a great range of salads, sandwiches, burgers, steaks, specialties such as Amish Chicken and Crispy Duck, a Steam bar with mussels, jambalaya and gumbo.  If you are an oyster fan, they also have a great selection of oysters on the half – always fresh.

lets eat!

I can always find something, usually more than one something on the menu that I want to try.  In the 90s they had a Cowboy Tri-tip wrap that I ALWAYS ordered (I can still taste it) that sandwich is long gone from the menu however, their Cowboy Steak Sandwich is a close alternate and it is my tried and true go-to order.

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Re Farm Cafe at Windwept Farm

Re Farm Cafe at Windwept Farm

I have been looking forward to having a meal at Re Farm Café for months. Although the owners, Monica and Duke Gastiger have probably been looking forward to this for years.  And it was Worth. The. Wait.  Beautifully set on 57 acres of farmland close to the airport; the farm’s mission, among other things, is to provide a really great, unique dining experience.  Food you enjoy at Re Farm Café is either grown on site from the surrounding fields or sourced locally.  They even have livestock: ducks, pigs, sheep and chickens!  Its really more than just a farm and more than just a place to eat; its an experience and a place that gives back to the land and community.   I’ve been getting a taste of the meal to come, as I’ve participated in their CSA (Community Sourced Agriculture) program since early this summer, receiving fresh produce every other week.

Upon arrival, we were given a brief tour and some history of the building.  As a State High alumnus, I was happy to learn that the old wood floor from the High School stage has found a new home as the flooring in part of the building.  There were other touches throughout the building that utilized Reclaimed wood or pieces from around the area.  As an Architect, I also appreciated the beautifully detailed spaces and the attention to framing the wonderful views just outside the windows.

Reservations are easy to make: RESERVE HERE   They have a lot of reservation options including: 3-course dinner, 5-course dinner (both of which you can reserve for an early time slot or late time slot or, (and this is what we did), sit at the Chef’s Counter)  They also have Brunch on SATURDAY’s yay!

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Liberty Craft House

Liberty Craft House

We went to Liberty Craft House on one of those June nights that made us want to sit outside and enjoy the season.  I’ve wanted to try it for a while but, that’s not going to happen during the semester. If you are local or above the age of 22, best to go during the Summer.  It is part of the Dante’s Restaurant group who’s other restaurants are conveniently all located in the same block; Hi Way Pizza (its back !) The Deli, The Saloon…..  My mother recalls getting Hi Way Pizza at the original location just around the corner on Heister Street in the 60’s – 10¢ a slice two for 15¢.

All the restaurants in one location make me think that they all share a kitchen, and certainly resources.  Its a good business model but often in those cases all of the places end up tasting the same.  I am happy to report that Liberty Craft House felt unique and we were pleasantly surprised.  The menu had so many great choices; meat and cheese plates, snacks, salads, flatbreads, sandwiches and casseroles.  They tout using local, natural and sustainable products – and we certainly noticed the quality of ingredients in our meals.

They also have beer.  Lots of beer.  They have 46 drinks on tap which change out with the season.

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Faccia Luna

Faccia Luna

Its Lent, which means, Friday nights we eat seafood.   The first week of Lent we went to the Bellefonte Knights and Catholic Daughters Fish Fry – located at the St. John’s Catholic School.  If you are looking for something to do on Friday evenings check it out.  Even if you are not Catholic or celebrate Lent you are still welcome and can enjoy a good fish fry.

The second week of Lent we wanted to try the fish and chips at My My Chicken (the BEST fried chicken in town) – but…..we arrived, ordered drinks and then were told that they SOLD OUT of the fish. It’s a chicken place, so nothing else on the menu for us 😦  Our back-up plan?  Faccia Luna.

Of course Faccia Luna makes great pizza but did you know they also have some of the best seafood in town.  The seafood menu is usually their special, Friday and Saturday nights.

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Sakura

Sakura

We are D.C. transplants, and in D.C.  there is a restaurant for every culture and cuisine.  I miss that.  We were just discussing the other day that State College has no Lebanese restaurants, very little Central and South American cuisine, little to none? African cuisine, but we have thousands of sushi places.  Okay maybe not quit a thousand, but if you really think about it, we have A LOT OF SUSHI PLACES !.  And we are not even close to water!

But everyone who I’ve asked what is the best place in State College – more often than not I hear, Sakura.  It was time to go try.

lets eat!

Located on South Atherton, (across from my ahem ‘favorite’ Mexican place )Sakura offers more than just sushi.  They specialize in Japanese cuisine with a menu  ranging from Hibachi, Teriyaki, Tempura, noodle dishes and of course sushi.

We noticed that they have a board with daily specials – and the two sushi specials looked really good, but if we are trying a new place and they have it, we order the Volcano roll.   That is our sushi place gauge, just like General Tso’s Chicken is my Chinese take-out gauge.

Volcano Roll
Volcano Roll

The Volcano Roll was delicious!  Paper salmon, cream cheese, avocado – fried with spicy crunchy tuna on the top.  This roll, like most specialty rolls is much larger than a typical roll.  This came with eight pieces and I highly recommend it.

We also ordered the Spicy Roll Combo; which included spicy crunchy tuna, spicy crunchy salmon, and spicy crunchy yellowtail. Our favorite of the three was the yellowtail, followed by salmon and tuna – but as you can tell from the photo below, they all looked similar so who knows what we liked  best.  They were all good.  Sushi entrees are served with a bowl of miso soup and a side salad.

Spicy Roll Combo
Spicy Roll Combo

We will definitely be back, especially since there was a lot of rolls I want to try. Plus, the table next to us ordered Pad Thai, and a few of the non-sushi entrees and all of them looked and smelled great.

spicy roll combo
spicy roll combo

Plaza Mexican

Plaza Mexican

I really love Mexican food, I really do, but this is not food that State College is known for.  Having just come back from a trip to Southern California where there is real, authentic and delicious Mexican food – seemingly offered on every block, the State College three selections of; Mad Mex, Rey Azteca and Plaza Mexican don’t seem to really stack up.  It is after all, Central Pennsylvania so I do understand what we are up against.

I’m really hoping that our visits to Mad Mex and Rey Azteca deliver – because sitting #3 out of 3 on our list of “best “Mexican” restaurants in State College” has got to be Plaza Mexican.

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Allen Street Grill / Spats at the Grill

Allen Street Grill / Spats at the Grill

Like most everyone around here I was sad to see Spats close after 30 years but….so happy to see that they have partnered with Hotel State College to bring back Spats at the Allen Street Grill.  The Grill has always been a great place to go for great food and what I think is one of the best settings in town.  It’s always fun, no matter the season to sit (hopefully at a window seat) and look down onto the cross roads of downtown.

We happened to be there on a very cold, very rainy winter night – but still fun to look out and be glad that we were not the ones dogging the rain.

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