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Orrecchiette Carnevale from Mario's Italian Restaurant

Mike Knipe, Sc'Eric Horner and Diandra Yeckley raise their glasses after being voted Best Bartenders in State College.

You voted. We tabulated. From many longtime favorites to some first-time winners, we’re highlighting some of the best and brightest that Happy Valley has to offer. Read on and discover what our readers think about the Best of State College, including its foods, drinks, restaurants, people and places.

Best of State College 2013

By: Samantha Allen, Kate Delano, Sarah Rafacz and Krista Weidner

Mike Knipe, Sc'Eric Horner and Diandra Yeckley raise their glasses after being voted Best Bartenders in State College.

Food / Restaurants / Bars

Best Business Lunch
The Allen Street Grill

While “Meet me at the Corner” has been the longtime slogan for the Hotel State College businesses at the corner of Allen Street and College Avenue, it also seems to be the motto for people looking to talk shop over lunch. The Allen Street Grill won the top spot but hot on its heels in second place was its downstairs sister, The Corner Room. Owner Mike Desmond says the two are similar but slightly different. “We are able to provide an environment where people come together and that works for a business lunch,” says Desmond. “One is more casual and the other has a little higher expectations once you go up those stairs.”

Best Outdoor Dining
Best Bar for the Over-30 Crowd (tie)
American Ale House

What’s not to like at the American Ale House! From the under-the-trees seating in Toftrees’ bucolic setting to the variety of seating options indoors – gathered around the piano bar, watching sports at the bar, chatting with friends at a high-top table or the more traditional dining room seating — American Ale House is the place to meet friends and have a good time. Especially for happy hours and a night out (especially over-30 singles) listening to the iconic Tommy Wareham.

Best Late Night Bite
The Diner

If the grilled stickies don’t get you, the customizable mac-n-cheese will! The Diner is the prime spot for those who are craving good food late at night. Whether it’s breakfast you’re craving or something fried, The Diner has you covered. 126 W. College Ave.

Best Wings
Best Sports Bar
Champs Sports Grill

Ask anyone who’s ever had Stanley’s Wonder Wings, and they’ll tell you it’s no “wonder” they were voted the best! Champs’ “wings with personality … meek, arrogant or obnoxious” are perfect while enjoying a brew and watching the big game.

Best Fine Dining
Best Romantic Dining
Carnegie Inn & Spa

What began in 1994 as “the little place on the 17th hole at Toftrees” has become a dining destination. There’s something wonderful about sitting in the library and enjoying a cocktail and complimentary amuse-bouche while perusing the menu. General Manager Pete Weaver says, “Anytime you want to enjoy really good food in a comfortable setting, come and relax.”

Best Barbecue
Clem’s Wood-Fired BBQ

We don’t know their secret for melt-in-your-mouth, fall-off-the-bone ribs, pulled pork or chicken, but that’s OK. We’re just glad that Clem does! Clem’s BBQ is now open at Tussey Mountain.

Best Asian
Cozy Thai Bistro

For authentic Thai food, look no further than Cozy Thai. Since 2006, Cozy Thai has been serving up authentic Thai food, cooked by chefs who are from Thailand. Owner Suksan Ruangpattana says the authentic food is the reason people love Cozy Thai. That and it just tastes so darn good!

Best Dessert
The Deli Restaurant

Fresh from scratch is the key to The Deli’s amazing desserts. Whether you choose the Triple Chocolate Cake, Deep Dish Pecan Pie or the Killer Cookie for Two (ice cream and chocolate syrup are involved), you’ll be glad you saved room for dessert.

Best Pizza
Faccia Luna

Faccia Luna isn’t your typical pizza place, and Happy Valley has noticed. In a town filled with pizza options, Faccia Luna has won Best Pizza every year since 2001. The secret is the dough. Or is it the sauce? “We have gourmet pizza,” General Manager Mike Corbett says, “made with local produce and fresh ingredients.” Whatever it is, Faccia Luna’s wood-fired pizza is delicious.

Best Salad

Though only two years old, Fiddlehead has managed to corner the market on fresh salads. Manager Zack Butler says the difference is in the way Fiddlehead makes the salads with fresh, uncommon ingredients. “We have exotic ingredients based on the seasons,” says Butler, as he describes one seasonal salad with fried sweet potato chips and apple cider vinaigrette. Hungry patrons can also customize salads using dozens of ingredients.

Best Health Menu
Best Vegetarian
Green Bowl

Healthy, delicious options and lots of them — that’s what you’ll get at Green Bowl. Owner Marley Wong says the restaurant works hard to provide choices that can cater to any diet. “No matter what you’re looking for, you can walk into our restaurant and something can accommodate you,” Wong says. Green Bowl is ready to fill you up without filling you out.

Best Caterer
Harrison’s Wine Grill & Catering

For the ninth consecutive year, Harrison’s is State College’s favorite caterer. Whether it’s a Penn State tailgate, a birthday party for 50, a corporate lunch buffet or a memorable wedding reception, Harrison’s provides reliable, experienced catering services and will create the perfect menu that is sure to impress.

Best Ethnic
Herwig’s Austrian Bistro

The aromas regularly wafting out of Herwig’s are unmistakably authentic Austrian. Perhaps it’s the 700 bratwursts Herwig “Brandy” Brandstatter and his son make each week or maybe it’s the simmering vegetable soup. Everything at Herwig’s is cooked fresh every day and made exactly as it is cooked in a home kitchen in Austria. “You cannot beat the quality,” he says. A person is meant to leave Herwig’s filled, so come for a bite — or 20!

Best Takeout
Home D Pizzeria

While Home D Pizzeria just completed a facelift this summer, doubling the size of its restaurant and creating outdoor seating, the restaurant still remained the favorite for takeout. Kelly Swisher, director of sales and marketing, says Home D’s pizza, subs, strombolis and cheesesteaks are the menu’s most popular takeout items.

Best Sandwich
HoneyBaked Ham

Yes, HoneyBaked Ham is a great place to get that holiday ham, but readers clearly love its sandwiches, voting HoneyBaked Ham the Best Sandwich for six years. Grab one for lunch — there’s the “Ham Classic” on a flaky croissant or the “Tavern Club” on multigrain bread, to name just a couple.

Best Sub
Jersey Mike’s Subs

Mounds of fresh meats and cheeses. Fresh New Jersey-style rolls baked in house. Lots of friendly people to make your sub. That and more is what landed State College newcomer Jersey Mike’s Subs in the top spot in the highly contested category of Best Sub. Franchise owner and New Jersey native Matt Patterson says, “You can’t find Jersey-style subs in this town — nothing really like this.” Stop by the South Allen Street location and check out the “Jersey Shore’s Favorite” of provolone, ham and capicola or the hot “Big Kahuna Cheesesteak,” piled high with steak, onions, peppers, jalapenos and extra cheese.

Best Steak
Best Burger
Best Seafood
Kelly’s Steak and Seafood

Owner and Chef Sean Kelly says he is honored that Kelly’s has been a consistent winner in the Best Of State College voting. He’s especially excited about this year’s Best Burger win. “Best Burger is a big one because everyone makes a burger, and to be chosen from all the restaurants in our area is exciting,” says Kelly. Kelly’s secret? Starting with the best products available. “We gussy it up a little, but we really don’t have to do a lot when we consistently start with the best burger.”

Best Buffet
Best Sunday Brunch
The Gardens Restaurant at The Penn Stater

Having the buffet or Sunday breakfast at The Gardens Restaurant at The Penn Stater is a great experience and the food is wonderful, says Jim Purdum, general manager for Penn State Hospitality Services. The buffet has multiple stations limiting the dreaded line associated with buffets and providing a great variety of food, Purdum says.

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