New in Town

By Richard Miller


You can always count on great food and new restaurants to try in Happy Valley. Our dining options just keep growing year by year. Whether you’re looking for classic American fare or an authentic cultural food experience, you can find it in Happy Valley. Here are some of the newest places to pay a visit to on your next night out!




Waker Chicken

This Waker Chicken location opened up earlier this year on Lotus Lane and is one of the first ten chain restaurants of the Waker Chicken brand, which began in 2016. The chain is a Korean twist to America’s favorite styles of chicken and can be a great way to inject some new flavors into your diet.


The owner of the local spot, Stacy Lee, has opened two other restaurants previously and has been delighted with the reception Waker Chicken has gotten in town. Earlier in the year, she was quoted as saying “It’s a Korean brand that has penetrated into the American market, and it’s growing fast because we use fresh chicken and special sauces.” when ruminating on the success of her eatery.


Taste Buds Kitchen

A kids kitchen learning center by day, a fun and unique adult destination by night. The Taste Buds Kitchen cooking events are great opportunities to learn to make great dishes, like sushi or Carne Asada, in a fun and educational way. Bring your own drinks and prepare for a wild good time with friends. One of the best new places to take a date in town.


Something worth checking out for all the Penn State fans are the tailgating recipe BYOB nights.



Two foods sit soundly at the top of the Millennial food pyramid. All over the country both burritos and sushi are being gobbled up at exceptionally high rates. In response to the increasing demands and changing pallets of the average American, sushi burritos were created. Taking after other restaurants like Sushiritto on the West Coast, Kondo combines the best of West and East to create an incredibly unique menu guaranteed to satiate a large array of tastes.


While you may have to wait for a bit to get your food, demand is high, and creation takes some time, there may be no better place to refuel with some Mexican infused Japanese plates while sipping on some Boba tea.


Salúd Juicery

Salúd Juicery proprietor Rodney Grettler has family connections in State College and knew that a unique take on healthy food and juices would mesh perfectly with the demographics of the area. He got the go-ahead from Pittsburgh-based Salúd Juicery to open up a location, and the gamble paid off. The Juicery has seen a good deal of success by offering healthier and nutrition-rich alternatives to the area.


Smoothies, wheatgrass shots, acai bowls and many other healthy meal options can be found at the Juicery.


Happy Dishes


Michael and Kennita Johnson moved to State College a few years ago and left behind quite a few accomplishments in Long Island. While Kennita’s job as a surgeon brought her to us, Michael gave up his position as an executive chef for a number of notable chains to follow his wife. Rather than be deterred, he took his past experiences and distilled them into an entrepreneurial venture that became Happy Dishes.


Happy dishes brings you burgers, Belgian waffles, salads, sandwiches, wings and southern-style sides like collard greens, potato salad and country baked beans. It may come from a food truck, but the food looks and tastes much more like the five-star dishes that originally inspired the chef behind the idea.


Visit Happy Dishes at the DaVita State College Dialysis Center on Science Park Road during lunchtime, Monday-Friday, and in the former Denny’s parking lot on North Atherton Street on Friday evenings and Saturdays.


The Express


The Cajun Express food truck has long been a mealtime favorite and creating a more permanent establishment made sense. Rather than merely create a permanent copy of the mobile Cajun favorite, The Express Dining Room has ventured into more traditional American fare still backed by Greg Yearick’s fantastic smoker skills. Immediate favorites include pulled pork, cheesesteak sandwiches, brisket, catfish and plenty more.


Stop by The Express Casual Dining spot in Centre Hall and see why this has become one of Happy Valley's fastest growing restaurants.


The Impossible Burger


A delicious plant-based burger? Impossible you say? That is the underlying challenge behind the name of the Impossible burger. It may be the novelty or the extremely lofty science that went into its making, but the impossible burger has been making appearances at food establishments throughout Happy Valley.


Cafe Verve in State College and Bonfatto's in Bellefonte have both served this plant-based burger. You may have to make a special request if it is not visible on the menu. Just in case they’re out that day, Bonfatto’s also has their Black Bean Veggie Burger — topped with avocado, red onion and pepper jack cheese for only $9.99, so they are no stranger to delicious plant-based burgers.


So go stop by Bonfatto’s and try something new from the lab coats. While you are there, try some of their standout pastas and Subs.

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