Best Of State College 2019


Illustration By Chris Blaska

We like to think that “Best Of State College” voting has become a bit of a summer tradition in Happy Valley. This year, we counted a record number of votes, which was no easy feat. But we’re happy to do it because we love discovering who and what our readers think are the cream of the crop and sharing the results. So read on to find out the businesses, restaurants and people who make up the best of State College.

Restaurants, Food & DrinksStores & ShoppingPlaces & EventsPeople & Services

Restaurants, Food & Drinks

American Ale House
Best Outdoor Dining
Best Wine List (Tie)
Once again the “Best Outdoor Dining” honors go to the American Ale House, but this year there’s a new honor: “Best Wine List.” Before you leave the house, browse the list online because the choices are many and it will take time to decide. Once you’re seated inside or out, enjoy the ambience of Toftrees while you sip your favorite wine.

Bagel Crust
Best Bagel
Best Breakfast Sandwich
Some people say that you have to go to New York City to get an authentic bagel. They’re wrong. Not only has Bagel Crust earned the honor of “Best Bagel,” it’s also wowing its customers with its breakfast sandwiches.

Barrel 21 Distillery & Dining
Best Sunday Brunch
Best Happy Hour
Best Bloody Mary
Barrel 21 Distillery & Dining is the go-to place for Sunday brunch, with a menu that changes weekly, a meat-carving station, bellini and mimosa carafes and, of course, the Bloody Mary Bar. Choose from five of Barrel 21’s infused vodkas and spend an extra two bucks to get assorted rims and garnishes.

Cocktails from Big Spring Spirits

Big Spring Spirits
Best Mixed Drink
Best Cocktail Menu
Big Spring Spirits creates “unique cocktails that you can’t find anywhere else,” like The Pickled Governor or Thyme for a Beetin’, says co-owner and production manager Kevin Lloyd. The five-year-old Bellefonte distillery and tasting room has about 40 cocktails on the menu. Top-sellers include the Coaly, aka The Milesburg Mule (made with vodka, Tait Farm ginger shrub, lime and ginger beer); the Talleyrand Russian (vodka, cream bourbon, house-made coffee liqueur and cream); Bellefonte Iced Tea (vodka, gin, rum, white rye, orange liqueur and cola); and the Centrepolitan (vodka, cranberry shrub, orange liqueur and lime).

Bonfatto’s Italian Market & Corner Cafe
Best Local Hot Sauce
Bonfatto’s has moved since winning this honor last year and can now be found near its original site in downtown Bellefonte at 401 W. High St. near Talleyrand Park. The location may have changed, but the sauce is still as hot as ever. You can order in or to go. New items have been added to the menu since the market, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, opened downtown earlier this year.

CC Peppers
Best Cheesesteak
Get a taste of Philly right here in State College at CC Peppers. Their “Best Cheesesteak” will have you coming back time and time again. CC Peppers also brings a twist with a California influence, using lettuce and tomatoes on their Coast-to-Coast sandwiches. But, of course, they have the classic: steak, fried onions and cheese sauce. 1625 N. Atherton St.

Champs Sports Grill
Best Wings
Best Sports Bar
With giant flat-screen TVs every way you look at Champs, it’s easy to see why it’s a sports fan’s favorite bar. The sports theme even continues on the menu, with dishes like Jaworski’s pierogies, the Roethlisberger and more. And what’s game day without wings? Stanley’s Wonder Wings come in meek, arrogant or obnoxious, BBQ, southwestern, original or Harlicky.

Doan’s Bones Barbecue
Best Barbecue
A family-owned business, Doan’s Bones has been delighting palettes for nearly 20 years. And to keep at their barbecue best, the staff competes in events sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. Back home they offer baby back ribs, barbecue chicken, pulled pork, haddock fillet, brisket and the usual sides. If you can’t get to Doan’s, they do cater.

Cupcake from Dolce Vita

Dolce Vita Desserts
Best Dessert
For the first time, Dolce Vita Desserts takes the cake for “Best Dessert.” The dessert shop makes a variety of delectable offerings, from cupcakes to custom cakes, cookies to tiramisu, cake pops to cannolis. “We do bake from scratch and use a lot of the recipes that were handed down from my grandmother,” owner Mary Hilliard says. She takes pride in baking with premium-grade ingredients and not cutting corners to cut costs. Plus, “the care that my staff puts in to every item, whether they’re the ones baking it or decorating it or packaging it,” she says, “I think makes a difference in the end result.” The dessert shop, which has gluten-free and vegan options, also has a café that serves coffee, muffins, scones and more.

Faccia Luna Pizzeria
Best Pasta Dish
Best Pizza
Best Lunch Special
Best Italian
Faccia Luna Pizzeria is a State College institution. Its wood-fired pizza earns the restaurant the “Best Pizza” designation year after year, and you can’t go wrong with any of its classic pasta dishes.

Best Salad
The choices are many at Fiddlehead. Among them are bob cobb, kale caesar and las cantinas locas. You can choose from among more than 30 standard toppings and 10 premium toppings. You can even get your salad in a wrap. They toss your salad after you create it and offer nearly 20 dressings made on-site. Add fiddlesticks and soup made from scratch.

The Field Burger & Tap
Best Burger
Best French Fries
The Field Burger & Tap’s philosphy is grounded in the idea that food tastes better when it’s local and fresh, which is why as many ingredients as possible are sourced locally. The restaurant uses a house blend of sirloin, chuck, brisket and short rib to create the “Best Burger” in State College. And their “Best French Fries” come in a variety of flavors, including parmesan and truffle, lemon pepper, Old Bay, bacon cheddar ranch and everything. Order enough for yourself or ask “for the table” and experience the joy of having a ton of fries dumped on paper right in front of you. And check out the local art for sale on the walls.

The Gardens Restaurant
Best Buffet
Located at The Penn Stater Hotel & Conference Center, The Gardens Restaurant offers two noteworthy buffets. The America’s Bounty Buffet, available on Friday and Saturday evenings, showcases contemporary touches on classic dishes, with new additions to the menu each week. For brunch lovers, the Gardens’ Sunday brunch buffet is a perfect fit. Guests can enjoy a complimentary mimosa or glass of champagne with buffet favorites such as Belgian waffles and omelets, as well as dessert from the Penn State’s bakery and Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream.

Gemelli Bakers
Best Artisan Bread
Year after year Gemelli Bakers runs away with the “Best Artisan Bread” vote. It’s not hard to taste why. If you’ve ever attended a catered event, the bread line is just as long, if not longer, than other food lines. Add a cheese or other spread and the taste buds are overjoyed. Look for Gemelli bread in restaurants around the region.

Gigi’s Southern Table
Best Wine List (Tie)
Gigi’s Southern Table is known for its chic décor and southern hospitality. And now, for the second year in a row, it’s been recognized for its “Best Wine List.” During happy hour (4:30-6:30 p.m. on weekdays), glasses of house wines are only $5 each.

Grace Restaurant

Grace Restaurant
Best Fine Dining
Best Romantic Dining
After months of renovations, Carnegie Inn & Spa Fine Dining reopened in August with a redesigned dining room, updated kitchen and new name — Grace Restaurant. “We’re the best we’ve ever been,” says Executive Chef Paul Kendeffy. And exceptional cuisine and impeccable customer service are still the top priorities. “We really care,” he says. “We grow our own food. We have a kitchen full of chefs that are just so dedicated to what we do. … It’s all about the customer and whatever they want. We’re not reinventing the wheel as far as food here. We’re trying to find the best ingredients we can and then trying not to mess them up.”

Happy Valley Brewing Company
Best Appetizer
The favorite appetizer at Happy Valley Brewing Company is the short rib nachos, but the extensive and creative appetizer selection is surely what puts HVBC over the top. Nibble on the award-winning appetizers such as the pork ‘n buns or jumbo pretzels while sipping a beer made on the premises, a restored barn. Enjoy dining on the main floor or check out the facilities in the basement.

Harrison’s Wine Grill & Catering
Best Soup
People just adore Chef Harrison Schailey’s roasted butternut squash bisque. But it’s only one of the six homemade soups available every day at Harrison’s Wine Grill & Catering, known far and wide for its “Best Soup.” Plus, the menu has much more to offer than soup, and it changes with the seasons. Also, be on the look out for Harrison’s new restaurant opening “above the valley” in Centre Hall next year.

India Pavilion
Best International
Almost hidden below street level on Calder Way is the “Best International” food in town. India Pavilion serves authentic North Indian cuisine. The restaurant’s popular all-you-can-eat lunch buffet offers more than six main dishes, including vegetarian fare, as well as salad, appetizers and dessert.

Smoothie from Irving’s

Best Smoothie
Irving’s is known, among locals and Penn State students alike, for its bagels and breakfast sandwiches. And now the eatery takes a bow for “Best Smoothie.” With choices like the SOB (strawberry, orange, banana), Joe Papaya (get it?), Laguna Peach and Eye Opener, there’s a smoothie for every palate at the College Avenue cafe.

Jersey Mike’s Subs
Best Sub
At Jersey Mike’s Subs, quality subs are what they do best. With two locations in State College, a fresh sub with high-quality meats and cheeses is never too far away. Whether you prefer hot or cold subs, there is something on the menu for you. Jersey Mike’s offers cold sub crowd-pleasers like Jersey Shore’s favorite — a combo of provolone, ham, cappacuolo, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, with oils and spices — or favorite hot subs like Mike’s famous Philly with steak, grilled onions, peppers and white American cheese.

Kelly’s Steak & Seafood
Best Steak
The choices of 28-day-aged Nebraska steaks are almost — almost — endless. There’s filet mignon, New York, flat iron, Delmonico, porterhouse, top sirloin. And then there’s the sauces: lobster cream, roasted wild mushroom, hollandaise, Béarnaise and bleu cheese. With selection like that, it’s no wonder Kelly’s has once again been voted “Best Steak.” And to note how popular the place is: They’re already taking reservations for Penn State’s spring commencement, which isn’t until May 8-10.

Little Szechuan
Best Asian
Little Szechuan is a local favorite for a reason. Its expansive menu includes crowd-pleasers like egg rolls, chicken with broccoli and General Tso’s Chicken. But it also delights more adventurous diners with dishes like frog legs and sauteed pork intestine.

Maine Bay & Berry Co.
Best Seafood
Best Customer Service
Last year Maine Bay & Berry Co. was voted “Best New Business.” No longer eligible for that honor, the owners this year tacked on “Best Seafood” and “Best Customer Service.” The owners travel regularly to Maine to gather fresh seafood and berries (hence the name). And they say they get their wares from socially responsible small businesses in The Pine Tree State.

The Original Waffle Shop
Best Pancake/Crepe/Waffle
Best Breakfast Place
Best Wait Service
It’s not unusual for lines to form at the two The Original Waffle Shop locations by 8 or 9 a.m., and people happily wait. It seems like a small price to pay for the best breakfast in town. The beloved State College restaurant keeps diners coming back for more, thanks to its friendly service and delicious variety of waffles, pancakes and omelets. And don’t forget its famous home fries.

Otto’s Pub & Brewery

Otto’s Pub & Brewery
Best Sandwich
Best Place for a Business Lunch
Best Brewpub
Best Vegetarian
Best Kids Menu
Best Bar for the Over-30 Crowd
Best Beer Selection
Best Local Craft Beer
Best Bartender, Andy Combs
Year after year, Otto’s Pub & Brewery takes home numerous “Best Of State College” awards, which speaks to the fact that it really does have something for everyone. It’s a place you can take the whole family or enjoy a night out with friends. A new winner for Otto’s this year is “Best Bartender” Andy Combs, who’s worked at the brew pub for five years. “It is awesome to think that all these people think highly of me,” he says. “By no means do I believe I’m necessarily the best bartender, but it’s flattering. It really is. Honestly, I owe a lot of it to the Pub Club members (and) the regulars that come in all the time.”

Ice Cream from the Penn State Berkey Creamery

Penn State Berkey Creamery
Best Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt
It doesn’t get much more Penn State than Berkey Creamery ice cream. On Penn State home football game days, the line is often out the door and down the sidewalk with eager fans waiting to get several generous scoops of their favorite frozen treat. With more than 120 rotating flavors — from classics like Death By Chocolate and Bittersweet Mint to the Penn State inspired like Palmer Mousseum with Almonds or WPSU Coffee Break, everyone leaves happy.

Plaza Mexican Bar & Grill
Best Burrito
Best Mexican/Southwest Grill
Plaza Mexican Bar & Grill has doubled its honors from last year by also being voted “Best Burrito.” Customers rave about the service, margaritas and huge enchiladas, as well as the authenticity of the food. They even have a rolling cart to make your guacamole fresh right at your table.

Rothrock Coffee
Best Cup of Coffee
Best Coffee Shop
Our readers have voted Rothrock Coffee “Best Cup of Coffee” and “Best Coffee Shop” every year since it opened in early 2016. The industrial chic atmosphere and smell of roasting coffee in the café is inviting both to coffee connoisseurs and people looking to get some work done. And there’s coffee for every mood and taste — from espresso drinks like cappuccinos and lattes to drip coffee, pour over and cold brew.

Pizza from SNAP Custom Pizza

SNAP Custom Pizza
Best New Restaurant
SNAP Custom Pizza partner Rob Wasserman says “it’s thrilling” to be voted “Best New Restaurant.” He says restaurateurs always want to be welcomed into a new community. The State College location, which opened in September 2018, is one of nine SNAP Custom Pizza restaurants. SNAP offers signature pizzas or you can create your own pie (starting with traditional or gluten-free crust). It’s all done from scratch, he says, with fresh ingredients.

Best Sushi
Tadashi offers a variety of Japanese dishes ranging from ramen, tako wasabi (raw baby octopus flavored in wasabi sauce), hirata buns, mochi ice cream, among others. The restaurant opened a second location, located on the first floor of The Metropolitan, around the turn of the new year. Be advised: You can only order ramen at the original location, and it’s not an option for take away.

Stores & Shopping

Blaise Alexander Family Dealerships
Best Used Car Dealer (Tie)
Buying a car is an important decision and at Blaise Alexander, the employees strive to provide top-notch customer service. If you can’t find what you’re looking for at the State College locations, you can also find pre-owned and certified pre-owned vehicles online from their other locations.

Best Place to Buy Gifts
This boutique is an offshoot of Confer’s Jewelers, hence Co2. It was created for people who were looking for low-cost gifts and presents, mostly less than $50. “There was no place in town to do that,” says owner Monteca Confer Beisel. Co2 boasts having gifts for all ages, including the world’s smallest speaker. She says it’s a good place to shop for stocking stuffers. Brands include Alex and Ani, Pandora and Vera Bradley.

Confer’s Jewelers
Best Jewelry Store
This gem of an independent jewelry store is located on the Diamond in historic Bellefonte. Customers — new and returning — are greeted warmly as soon as they enter this family business. The store sells jewelry for every budget and testimonials posted online speak to the variety offered. In fact, the store just started selling Hearts On Fire products. The owners, Monteca Confer Beisel and Daniel Beisel, are also proud of their jewelers, saying “They can fix just about anything that you bring in for fixing.”

Helen Foxx & Co.

Helen Foxx & Co.
Best Local Clothing Store
For Helen Foxx & Co. owner Joyce Mills, the Bellefonte boutique is more than just a store. “This place is more than just about clothes,” she says. “It’s about empowering women, lovin’ on them, treasuring them, just making them feel special and that they’re worthy and valued.” Open since 2016, Helen Foxx & Co. sells new and vintage women’s clothing (sizes 2-22), jewelry, accessories, vintage home décor and gently used shoes. Mills stocks the store with on-trend clothes, unique styles and handpicked items. “I want women to look and feel foxy when they get ready to go out and face their day,” she says.”

North Atherton Farmers Market
Best Farmers Market
Every Saturday until Nov. 23, you can find fresh vegetables and fruits, along with bread, meat and even beer at the producers only North Atherton Farmers Market. In the parking lot of Home Depot on Green Tech Drive in State College, more than 20 local vendors set up from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Penn State Federal Credit Union
Best Bank/Credit Union
It’s all about the green. Since 1959, Penn State Federal Credit Union has served Penn State employees, students and their family members. The credit union provides low-cost financial services and strives to provide the very best in customer service at its three locations.

Rapid Transit

Rapid Transit Sports
Best Shoe Store
A staple in downtown State College for 35 years, Rapid Transit Sports is still doing what it does best — custom, old-fashioned footwear fittings. “Every client that comes in, we are watching them walk without shoes on and determining what their foot structure is, whether they’re over pronating or supinating and analyzing their gait,” owner Terry Losch says. It’s a service you just can’t get when you order shoes online, and it ensures that customers leave with properly fitting shoes, able to put their best foot forward.

RedLine Speed Shine
Best Car Wash
With three locations in the State College area, RedLine Speed Shine offers a variety of car wash services — from full service exterior car wash services to 24-hour touchless or soft-touch car washes. Join RedLine’s Unlimited Wash Club to keep your car looking its best. Redline even has a “dog wash,” where you can give your pup a quick scrub using provided shampoo, flea rinse and conditioner.

Sammis Greenhouse
Best Greenhouse/Nursery
The family-operated Sammis Greenhouse in Centre Hall has been serving customers since 1992. While the roughly 1-acre greenhouse may be closed for the season, customers will be able to enjoy the benefits of the winter planting season when it reopens in April. The greenhouse offers hanging baskets, succulents, herbs, perennials, potted plants and much more.

Stocker Chevrolet/Subaru
Best New Car Dealer
Stocker Chevrolet has been part of the State College area since 1961. In 1983, Gene Stocker added the Subaru franchise, and in 1985, Gene Stocker Jr. took the helm. Stocker offers a variety of new cars and financing services. Plus, customer service extends well beyond the purchase of your dream car. Stocker offers service at both the Subaru and Chevrolet dealerships to keep your car going strong for years to come. For those looking for a new car, they offer their services and a wide range of options.,

North Atherton Farmers Market

Tannenbaum Farms
Best Place to Buy a Christmas Tree
If you want to cut your own Christmas tree, Tannenbaum Farms off a side road between routes 322 and 144 near Potters Mills is a possibility. The farm offers five species of trees: fraser fir, Douglas fir, white fir, balsam fir and Colorado blue spruce. Tools are provided for cutting and transporting a tree, and the shop also sells wreaths.

Track N’ Trail
Best ATV/Motorcycle Dealer
Located in Spring Mills, Track N’ Trail sells motorcycles, ATVs, scooters and side-by-side off-road vehicles. Whether you’re looking to hit the track, trail or street, Track N’ Trail can help you find what you want.

Tubbies Spa & Patio
Best Spa/Jacuzzi/Pool Dealer
Tubbies Spa & Patio, which has been in business for 45 years, has all your spa needs covered — from its full line of Artesian Spas to installation, setup and service. The store often has 10-plus new models out on display, and it also stocks pre-owned spas.

Twisted Whisk Catering
Best New Business
A Bellefonte Area High School graduate, Chef Mickala Dorman has known since she was 7 that she wanted to be a cook. “The family always cooked together,” she says, “so that sort of started my career.” She firmed up that career interest by taking classes at the Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology where she was encouraged by Chef Instructor Timothy Beckenbaugh to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Graduating in 2014 with an associate’s degree in culinary arts, she worked at a restaurant in New York and that’s where her passion for catering began. Dorman has a whisk tattoo on her wrist, and she likes to say she puts a twist in her food “so Twisted Whisk” it was. The business celebrated its first anniversary in early October.

Best Bottle Shop
Best Grocery Store
Best Place to Buy Natural/Organic Food
Go to Wegmans at basically any time of the day or night, and you’ll find it packed. State Collegians love Wegmans — so much so that it takes home three Gold awards this year. And what’s not to love about a grocery store that also includes a bottle shop, coffee shop and hot food bar? Plus, our readers think it’s a great place for the environmentally conscious among us — voting it the “Best Place to Buy Natural/Organic Food.”

Wolf Furniture
Best Furniture Store
Decorating your home is a special way to express your personality and style. Wolf Furniture offers pieces for your living room, bedroom, dining room, home office and more. Since 1902, the business has offered quality and affordable furniture. Wolf carries brands like Broyhill, Kincaid and La-Z-Boy. The store also stocks solid wood furniture that is handmade by Mennonite and Amish craftsmen.

Woodring’s Floral Gardens
Best Florist
Woodring’s Floral Gardens has been serving the central Pennsylvania community for more than 95 years. With two locations in State College and Bellefonte, Woodring’s offers an expansive selection of fresh cut flowers, green plants and arrangements. On its website, Woodring’s offers a “Deal of the Day” — if you’re stuck on what to buy, just pick your price and their florists will create something beautiful for you.

Workman Auto
Best Used Car Dealer (Tie)
Helping people buy cars since 1976, Workman Auto takes pride in carefully inspecting and servicing pre-owned vehicles to ensure high-quality options for buyers. And you don’t have to worry about haggling over the price. Workman Auto marks its best price on the car to make the process simple and easy.

Places & Events

3 Dots Downtown

3 Dots Downtown
Best Community Space
3 Dots Downtown, an arts and innovation center, only opened in June — and yet it’s already made a big impact in the community. “It’s incredible that the people who have been able to come into our space have been that inspired to then immediately turn around and vote for us — and really believe in what we’re doing,” says Managing Director Harvey Weidman. In its first five months, the space has hosted numerous events, including performances of Osaze Remembering, a play by Charles Dumas; a giant coloring book wall community installation art piece; an experimental electronic music night; lunchtime performances; and many more. Something that’s been particularly meaningful about 3 Dots for Innovation Director Spud Marshall is that underrepresented communities are finding — or creating — a home in the space.

Bernel Road Park
Best Playground
Fondly known as the “Airport Park,” it’s easy to see why readers continue to vote Bernel Road Park’s playground as the best. It’s airport theme helps children’s imagination soar to new heights.

Centre Gives
Best Fundraising Event (Beyond Thon)
In May, Centre Gives’ 36-hour online fundraising campaign raised more than $1.4 million for local nonprofits and organizations. Since Centre Foundation created the fundraising event in 2012, people have donated more $8.2 million through Centre Gives. Those donations directly benefit more than 175 local groups that serve our community every day.

Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts
Best Community Event
The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts brings more than 100,000 art and music enthusiasts to downtown State College and Penn State’s campus every July. More than 300 artists show during the four-day Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition, and young artists sell their wares on Children and Youth Day. The 54th Arts Fest is slated for July 8-12, 2020.

Best Health Club/Gym
Be part of a community with Fitology’s group fitness classes. Fitology offers unlimited Les Mills classes, and every member has access to an initial health evaluation and customized workout plan. Jennifer DiNallo, co-owner, says she’s proud of the members and instructors that have made Fitology a place for the community. “I love that we won this award because it just shows these people are really committed to Fitology.”

Foxdale Village
Best Retirement Community
A Quaker-directed community, Foxdale Village’s 21-acre campus boasts a health center, apartments and cottage homes. At its center is a community building that includes a 185-seat auditorium, 7,000-volume library, art studio and gallery, woodworking shop, café and dining room, computer lab, bank and more.

FUSE Productions
Best Local Theater Group
Founded in 2013, FUSE Productions puts on shows featuring local talent, Penn State students, alumni and faculty and professional actors from around the United States. Upcoming performances include Ruthless! The Musical (March 26-28, 2020) and Pippin (June 11-13, 2020).

Grace Prep High School
Best Charter/Private School
For the second year in a row, Grace Prep was voted the “Best Charter/Private School,” and in that time its enrollment increased from 65 to 69. Now in its 16th year, the school is based on Christian principles, but religion is not a requirement. Students are prepared as much for life as they are for future academic pursuits. About 12 percent of the student body comes from other countries, including China, Taiwan, Korea and Vietnam.

MindBodyArt School of Dance
Best Place for After-School Activities
MindBodyArt School of Dance is more than a dance studio — it’s a place where people of all levels of experience can go to better their technique and style. “Our amazing instructors bring life to all our programs,” owner Michele Brandt says. Through classes like tumbling, yoga, dance and athletic conditioning, MindBodyArt teaches all ages that expression is key to development and that joy and well-being are crucial to welcoming and understanding others. “We are a fun, supportive, family environment welcoming to everybody and every body,” she says. MindBodyArt recently opened a state-of-the-art facility on Grays Woods Boulevard.

Mount Nittany
Best Hiking Trail
For many Penn Staters and locals alike, Mount Nittany is the ultimate Happy Valley hiking trail. Both the Blue and White trails are steep and rocky, but the views from the top will remind you why you made the climb.

Owens Barber Shop
Best Place for a Men’s Haircut
Part of the community since 1961, Owen’s Barber Shop is readers’ top pick for a men’s haircut. Staffed with five licensed professionals, Owen’s offers walk-ins (they don’t even schedule appointments), free parking and a classic, traditional cut for $12.

Palmer Museum of Art

Palmer Museum of Art
Best Museum/Gallery
Penn State’s Palmer Museum of Art serves as a cultural and scholarly resource for the Penn State community and other Pennsylvanians as well as scholars from other states and countries. It has 11 galleries, an outdoor sculpture garden, a print study room and an auditorium. The museum’s permanent collection numbers 9,600 objects. Among the holdings are American and European paintings, drawings, photographs, prints and sculptures. Also in the collection are Japanese studio ceramics, Asian paintings and prints, and objects from other continents.

The Penn Stater Hotel & Conference Center
Best Conference Center
Located just minutes from Penn State’s central campus, The Penn Stater Hotel & Conference Center has 300 guest rooms and suites. With two restaurants, a 24-hour fitness center, a lap pool and plenty of event space, the Penn Stater is ideal for a business trip or a weekend getaway.

Tom Tudek Memorial Park
Best Park
This 91.5-acre park boasts the Snetsinger Butterfly Garden, community gardens, charcoal grills, pavilions, picnic tables, playground, soccer field, tennis and basketball courts, basketball courts, youth softball fields, walking paths and a dog park.

Tussey Mountain Amphitheater
Best Place to See Live Music
The Tussey Mountain Amphitheater offers a unique live music experience in Centre County. With the mountain providing great acoustics and a plethora of seating, all with a great view of the performers and Happy Valley, it makes events like WingFest and Oktoberfest all the more fun.

People & Services

Judy Albrecht
Best Audiologist
Albrecht Audiology has been providing hearing aids, testing and protection since 1997. “For every hearing aid fitting, we use a system called Speech Mapping to adjust your hearing aids to your specific ear size and hearing pattern,” says Dr. Judy Albrecht. “Without this objective test, we would have to rely on a prescription based on the average male ear shape and size.” The team of audiologists and office staff at Albrecht Audiology are aware of the learning curve with hearing aids and are committed to guiding their clients to success. “Patients tell us the customization of fitting and the follow-up care are reasons they have referred their friends to us,” she says.

Americas Carpet Outlet
Best Flooring/ Carpeting
Locally owned and operated, America’s Carpet Outlet sells hundreds of different styles of flooring — from carpet to hardwood, tile to laminate. Take your interior design to the next level by working with one of America’s Carpet Outlet’s designers.

William Ames
Best Local Photographer
William Ames has taken more than two million photos over the course of his career. He specializes in weddings, portraits, landscapes, architecture, commercial photography and photojournalism.

Artemis Massage Studio
Best Spa
Best Massage
Best Massage Therapist, Bobbi Deardorff
Feeling tense? The staff at Artemis Massage Studio can help with that, especially “Best Massage Therapist” Bobbi Deardorff. Let the stress of the day melt away with one of the studio’s numerous massage offerings, including Swedish, deep tissue, Ashiatsu and hot stone. For a special occasion, take your sweetie for a couples massage.

Fred Carlin, Nittany Eye Associates
Best Eye Doctor
Since 1975, Dr. Fred Carlin, of Nittany Eye Associates, has been taking care of State College community members’ eyes. His specialties include glaucoma, Lasik surgery and specialized contact lenses. Carlin has also been an extremely active member of the community.

Scott Everhart, Trainer from Victory Sports & Fitness

C.G. Auto Repair
Best Mechanic/ Place to Fix Your Car
With decades of experience in auto repair, C.G. Auto Repair is equipped to handle both major and minor issues. C.G. Auto Repair will have your car back on the road. They also perform Pennsylvania auto and emissions inspections. Owner Chris Gummo says being voted “Best Mechanic/Place to Fix Your Car” is rewarding. “I’m very happy about it,” he says. “It makes me feel good that people have voted this way.”

April Detar, Dentistry by April Detar
Best Dentist
April Detar is passionate about all aspects of dentistry and serving the community. In 2017, Detar left her longtime practice to open her own “family-oriented, patient-
focused practice offering comprehensive and caring dentistry.” She continually pursues additional education and practice to stay at the top of her game. Detar is also invested in the community. She’s treated Centre Volunteers in Medicine’s dental patients and participated in Give Kids a Smile Day.

Scott Everhart
Best Personal Trainer
Scott Everhart, of Victory Sports & Fitness, has been in the personal training game for about 10 years. With each client, Everhart does an assessment to see what corrective work they might need, and he also teaches them how to do basic core training. Beyond that, it’s different depending on the clients’ individual goals. The collaborative aspect of helping his clients achieve those goals is something Everhart enjoys. “It’s pretty rewarding whenever you take someone that maybe hurts all the time and now they don’t, or they want to lose 50 pounds and they do,” he says.

Eddie Fisher of Badger and Hound

Eddie Fisher, Badger and Hound
Best Barber
Eddie Fisher, co-owner of Badger and Hound on South Pugh Street, says “it’s pretty humbling” to be voted “Best Barber.” He says he feels like the people he works with and who brought him up deserve the recognition. “I’m just an amalgamation of all the people around me,” Fisher says. The best part of his job, Fisher says, is getting to know his clients and the conversations he has with them when they’re sitting in one of Badger and Hound’s vintage barber chairs. Giving somebody a really good haircut is just “the cherry on top.”

Bob Froehlich, Keller Williams
Best Realtor
Bob Froehlich is passionate about real estate. He has a simple philosophy — deliver an unparalleled, white-glove level of service, while keeping everyone informed every step of the way with ongoing guidance, continued support and prompt communication throughout the entire home buying and selling process and beyond. Froehlich educates his clients with details on how the market is changing and customizes marketing strategies based on their specific wants and needs. It’s simply about putting clients at the center of all decisions.

Halfmoon Valley Animal Hospital
Best Veterinarian
Seeing your fur baby sick or injured is difficult and stressful. But the veterinarians at Halfmoon Valley Animal Hospital help to put their patients at ease, treating your faithful companion like their own. Owned by Dr. Jeffery and Karen Miller, Halfmoon Valley offers compassionate medical, surgical and preventive care for cats and dogs.

Laura’s Home Cooking
Best Caterer
Laura’s Home Cooking offers catering for any occasion, whether it’s formal or casual. Meals are made from scratch, and menus are customizable based on the client’s preferences.

Lila Yoga Studios
Best Yoga Studio
Best Yoga Instructor, Erica Kaufman
Lila Yoga Studios offers classes focused on “holistic alignment.” Each Saturday, the studio brings in local musicians to play during its Lila Sun Salutations. Owner Erica Kaufman again this year captured the honor of “Best Yoga Instructor.” Kaufman has practiced yoga for almost 45 years, teaching for about 35 of those. For the past five years, she’s been invited to teach at the International Yoga Festival in northern India.

Looks Hair Design
Best Hair Salon for Women
Best Place for a Manicure
Best Hairstylist, Sarah Vollmar
Sarah Vollmar is so busy you almost have to make an appointment to make an appointment. In a less than two-minute break on a busy day, she said she was ecstatic and extremely happy for being voted “Best Hairstylist,” and she is grateful for all the people who support her. Vollmar is passionate about her work and takes a lot of advanced classes during the year. “I’m always trying to get better,” she says. It’s no surprise that Vollmar works at Looks Hair Design, voted “Best Hair Salon for Women” and “Best Place for a Manicure.” The salon owners are passionate about continuing education for their staff and continually push the staff to hone their craft.

Roy Love, Nittany Valley Chiropractic
Best Chiropractor
Readers have voted Dr. Roy Love as the “Best Chiropractor” every year since the category was introduced in 2015. But he’s been caring for patients for a lot longer than that. For more than 30 years, Love has helped to alleviate his patients’ pain using manual techniques and state-of-the-art therapy.

Scott’s Landscaping
Best Landscaper/Lawn Care Company
Scott’s Landscaping offers a variety of services from design to snow removal. You don’t have to make a drawing to get a good design; just explain your vision to one of Scott’s designers and let them do the rest. For big jobs, Scott’s deploys a team to ensure complete satisfaction for the customer.

Rodney Sepich
Best Doctor
Dr. Rodney Sepich, one of the owners of Nittany Valley Medical Associates, brings health care directly to his patients. NVMA works with older residents who are living in rehab facilities, retirement communities or at home. Sepich is a graduate of Penn State, Jefferson Medical College and University of Virginia. He is board certified in internal medicine, and he’s also been certified by the American Medical Directors Association.

William Snyder III
Best Local Artist
Given that William Snyder III describes the local art scene as a passion of his, it’s only logical that he would be chosen as “Best Local Artist.” Snyder is known for big art. Most recently, he spray-painted a mural that adorns a corner of the five-story Pugh Street Parking Garage. But Snyder, who is the scenic artist at 3D Sculpture Worx in State College, also creates art that is measured in inches. He draws portraits in live sessions using charcoal powder, compressed charcoal, charcoal pencils and a white eraser. An advocate for public art, Snyder is planning another mural but that’s all he would reveal.

Heath Sprout of Sprout It Out Loud

Heath Sprout, Sprout it Out Loud Entertainment
Best DJ
Heath Sprout has been a DJ for six years and says he works about 20 to 25 weddings every year. His favorite thing about being a wedding DJ? “The people, obviously.” Sprout says he likes to have a good time and make people’s day extra special. “Without a DJ, there’s no structure, even with a wedding planner,” he says. “You have to have somebody that’s up front and center, moving the pace of it along so I like being that person. I like being out in front of everybody. I’m a little bit flamboyant, I’m loud and I have fun with it. And I think everybody else does too.”

Jerry Valeri, Big Froggy 101
Best Broadcast Personality
For almost two decades, listeners tuned in to Jerry Valeri’s morning radio shows, first on QWiK Rock, then on MAJIC and Big Froggy 101. While he’s no longer a broadcast personality (In September, after “Best Of State College” voting closed, he started a new job at the Bryce Jordan Center.), it’s safe to say that our readers will miss him being part of their morning routine.

Best Local Band/Musician
Velveeta is a four-man band that got its start in The Brewery in 1995. Over the years, the band has lost, regained and changed members. The current crew is: Adam Becker on bass/vocals/occasional harmonica, Brent Martin on keys/guitar/banter, Brian Kriley on guitar/vocals, John “Bones” Harper on drums/vocals.

Veronesi Building & Remodeling
Best Remodeling/Home Contractor
Fix up your fixer-upper with the help of Veronesi Building & Remodeling. With both commercial and residential services, Veronesi will build successful projects within your time frame and according to your budget.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.