Enjoy a spectacular road trip through scenic autumn foliage while heading to these restaurants and cafes. You’ll go from working remotely at home to the remote rolling hills of Pennsylvania to locate these gems.
3176 Powell’s Valley Road, Halifax, 717-362-9379
Take a trip along scenic back roads to discover this nondescript, centuries-old building that was once a stagecoach stop. Wood paneling, antlers and a coal stove highlight the bar area while teetering sandwiches star on the plates. Check out the locally grown black Angus colossal Carsonville cheeseburgers ($10.75) and IPA beer battered crisply deep fried onion rings ($5.75), hot roast beef sandwich with mountain of French fries ($9.50), and the loaded bacon ranch (extra $2.50 for topping) chicken cheesesteak ($6.75).
113 River Road, Route 147, Sunbury, 570-286-2007
Nestled along the Susquehanna river, the exact age of this waterfront stone house varies from 1703 to the mid 1800s. However, you can dine in the 1700s room or the renovated microbrew river room. The extensive lawn out back is a welcome safety measure for social distancing, as well as the outside deck overlooking the river. Folks drop in for a locally crafted brew or German beer as well as the other German specialties. Those include wiener schnitzel and jager schnitzel, and sauerbrauten will be returning in a couple of weeks. In the meantime settle in for the house specialty, fish and chips ($13.95) — hand-battered cod with fresh cut fries and macaroni and cheese, available Wednesday through Sunday. On Thursdays get a dozen wings for $9.95. Every Tuesday, weather permitting, enjoy live music.
Shy Bear Brewing Company
35 Meadowbrook Lane, Lewistown, 717-242-2663
This brewery has a covered deck and a huge grassy outdoor area with lots of distanced tables. Grab a burger and a craft brew sampler at this gregarious eatery in Lewistown. Bring a small group of buddies and sit outside around fire pits while listening to live music (from afar). Smoky cooper cheese and applewood smoked bacon, ground short rib and brisket enhance the flavor and texture of the signature Shy Burger ($13). Flash-fried Asian Brussels sprouts sprinkled with chopped peanuts ($8) and Korean glazed pork belly confit ($13) drizzled with kimchi aioli or the rich and sour bacon and pickle thin crusted sourdough flatbread ($14) are not to be overlooked on this innovative menu.
Elk Creek Cafe & Aleworks
100 W. Main St., Millheim, (814)-349-8850
Surrounded by bucolic countryside, Millheim’s Main Street is made up of modest bungalows. At three stories high the Elk Creek Cafe & Alehouse, which opened in December 2007, is one of the tallest buildings on the street and, pre-COVID, one of the liveliest. Known for its craft brews, cuisine sourced from area purveyors and great line up of performers, locals and visitors flocked to this music venue.
At this point, the restaurant offers take-out curbside, which is available for pick up Wednesday through Saturday 3-7 p.m. Menu stunners include the big daddy Castro Cubano ($15), featuring hefty (gloved) handfuls of pulled pork and jagged slices of ham and the pesto salmon BLT ($16). Outdoor seating under tents is located at the Elk Creekside Pop-up Beer Garden, behind and across the street from the restaurant at Millheim Fire Co. grounds, 105 North St., Millheim. It’s first come, first served, and masks are required.
Guante Family Restaurant
111 Bridge St, Mifflintown, 717-436-0060.
This no-frills pit stop is a must for authentic Latin American food with a twist. The place is small so you may want to call ahead and have your order ready for pick-up. Also, be advised the kitchen stops taking orders after 7 p.m.
Owner Sara Guante has travelled all over the world, as reflected in the varied dishes on the menu at her namesake restaurant. Although some customers might think the focus is Mexican, the recipes are inspired by Latin American, Spain and the Caribbean. There is nothing really spicy on the menu and everything is prepared daily using locally grown meats and produce.
Papas locas ($12.50) is a meal of mountainous fresh cut fries with steak and ground beef and showered with house garlic sauce. There’s also tacos, burritos, tostadas and Latino entrees ($10-$19.75). Shrimp and steak lomo saltada with mound of rice and tripleta burrito is filled with a trio of meats turkey, pork and chicken. Go to the website and check out the Guante food truck locations.
Happy Valley Brewing Co.
137 Elmwood St., State College, 814-234-4406
In between East College Avenue (Route 26) and the Mt. Nittany expressway (Route 322) is this local haunt, known for its craft brews and comfort-focused pub fare. Housed in the old nineteenth century Klinger family barn (and at one point situated on 220 acres) with vaulted and wooden beam lined ceiling the main floor dining room is lively and loud. After a long COVID closing period, the brewing company reopened in August with safely distanced interior and outdoor seating available from 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. And takeout orders are available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday- Saturday.
The faves here are short rib nachos ($15) toppled with pepperoncini and so massive you’ll need four friends to tackle the heaping pile. Also try Happy Valley’s best burger, ($14) on sourdough bun with ale braised shallots, and the pepper bacon jam and roasted red peppers and shrimp and heirloom grits ($22) with Tasso gravy or smoked duck pasta ($24).
Faccia Luna Pizzeria
1229 S. Atherton St., State College, 814-234-9000
This long-running trattoria has a reputation for awesome wood-fire bubbly crusted pies and house-made linguini and ravioli pastas. Their signature pizza Faccia Luna has blistering char speckled crust strewn with roasted red peppers, sausage and freshly sliced mushrooms. But don’t overlook the rich and mouth-watering mushroom and Parmesan ravioli in red wine splashed Alfredo sauce or the spinach linguini paired with refreshing fresh basil pesto and sautéed diced tomatoes. They don’t take reservations so call ahead for take out orders. They now have a big tent off of the deck to enhance safe, social distancing.
10486 Jonestown Road, Annville, 717-865-2584
You’ll want to leave early enough in the day to enjoy the rolling farmlands along Route 22 and Route 934 before arriving at this 1804-era roadside tavern. It’s one mile south of Fort Indiantown Gap. The American pub style menu features swatty fries ($7) piled with bacon, green pepper, onions, and jalapenos; pound of clams ($10) in white wine, garlic and lemon; well-made, juicy burgers; and sumptuous 16 oz. New. York strip steak ($29), harper’s prime rib 12 oz. queen cut ($26) or king cut ($31) prepared au jus (available Friday & Saturday evenings). There is live music every Wednesday from 6-9 p.m.
Cozy Thai Bistro
232 S. Allen St., State College, 814-237-0139
Call ahead for some of the best Thai fare in State College. Right now, this small venue offers take-out and delivery, so plan to pick up for a picnic. There are lots of vegan or vegetarian choices here. It’s no surprise that this Thai eatery — so close to the Penn State campus — is popular with students. Lunch specials such as assorted curries, noodle and rice dishes and are stir fry entrees are affordably priced, too. Most popular dishes are the crispy lemongrass chicken ($10.95) on bed of crispy rice noodles and the fat and stretchy sauce soaked drunken noodles ($11.75) bathing in spicy, garlic sauce and served with your choice of meat.
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