New restaurants have proven to be the talk of the town.
Every story about the latest eatery to open sparks a widespread social media conversation — sometimes not always civil — about whether or not it’s worth trying.
And for all of the complaints about a lack of variety, the past year of openings featured an upscale bar, design-your-burger restaurant and little doughnuts. It doesn’t mean that everything will fit everyone’s tastes, but the wide range of recently opened eateries are uniquely different and to some delicious.
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One of State College’s newest restaurants opened in the borough’s first highrise, the Fraser Centre.
Federal Taphouse debuted to the public in July with its farm-to-table approach, utilizing local products and offering charcuterie items, artisan pizza and seafood from the East Coast. The eatery uses natural fuels such as hardwoods and mesquite charcoal in the majority of its cooking practices. The restaurant has a draft count of about 100 craft beers, 10 wines on tap and craft spirits.
“We love the market and are thrilled to open a restaurant there, and we bleed blue and white, frankly,” Federal Taphouse co-owner Corey Fogarty said.
State Burger Co.
State Burger Co. opened in December at 101 S. Allegheny St. in Bellefonte and offered a simple but flexible menu.
The main options include different types of handmade burgers and fries that can be matched with breads, cheeses, toppings and sauces or be made into a salad. Other options will include veggie burgers, seafood and gluten-free foods. The setup will allow customers to “100 percent design their experience.”
“There are plenty of other types of restaurants and specialties in Bellefonte, but there is no burger place like this,” State Burger Co. co-owner Sean Burke said. “And the way we do the burgers is different even from any place in State College.”
Little Food Court
The Little Food Court opened in June and is the second restaurant owned by Ken Ngan.
The eatery, which has a fast casual Asian-American menu, took the place of Rotelli’s at 250 E. Calder Way in downtown State College.
“This food will be one of a kind,” Ngan said. “It’s really different from anything else, because we try to be creative and reasonable for everybody.”
Hi-Way Pizza, the flagship brand of Dante’s Restaurants Inc., opened its second location in November.
The new restaurant was launched at 1301 W. College Ave., with 32 screens to watch sports, 30 draft beer options and a drink menu that includes cocktails and wine. The location also has an on-site bottle shop for carry-out orders.
“We are super excited to finally show off our very hard work from the past few months on our vision to update the Hi-Way Pizza Pub brand and carry it into the future,” Dante’s co-director J.P. Mills said.
Yallah Burrito Co.
A downtown State College restaurant, the seventh brand under Hitham Hiyajneh, opened in August.
Located at 404 E. Calder Way, Yallah Burrito Co. is Hiyajneh’s latest venture in the college town. The Mexican restaurant has taken the space formerly occupied by Underground Burger and Crepes, another of Hiyajneh’s creations.
Jess Watkins, a manager for several of Hiyajneh’s restaurants, said the success of Yallah Taco spurred the decision to continue with a Mexican theme for the latest restaurant.
Kondu, which originated in Harrisburg, found its second home in Happy Valley in September.
The new eatery brought Japanese cuisine to 132 S. Allen St., taking the place of Aurum Jewelers and Goldsmiths, which closed in January.
Kondu offers bubble tea, gyoza, chicken teppanyaki and sushi burritos, which are served in a fast food fashion. Gyoza is a pan-fried dumpling, and teppanyaki is a Japanese form of grilling on iron. The sushi burritos include non-seafood options, such as grilled steak and chicken.
Panda Express and Qdoba Mexican Grill
In a two-for-one deal, Qdoba and Panda Express opened together at 1910 N. Atherton St.
Located at the former A&P site, the restaurant shares a lot with Great Clips, Mattress Firm and Vitamin Shoppe, across from Trader Joe’s Plaza. Each restaurant had been looking to expand in Happy Valley for several years.
It’s like hibachi, but with ice cream.
Momotaro owner Ben Yu said the State College restaurant serves Thai ice cream rolls, coffees, teas, smoothies and baked goods. The eatery opened in March and also makes cakes, macaroons, ganache and tiramisu.
“These days we see it’s the future,” he said. “Like sweet pastries will be the next trendy thing. Last year a couple places popped up in New York and California, like boom, boom, boom.”
Peace, Love and Little Donuts
Pittsburgh-based Peace, Love and Little Donuts opened one of its newest locations at 421 E. Calder Way.
An ownership group chose to bring the brand to State College.
Co-owner William Rust is a Penn State alumnus, and his wife, Jess Rust, told the CDT they’re “huge fans of State College. We love the atmosphere. It’s one of our favorite places in Pennsylvania.”