West Wing dining

Mincheol Kim (junior-chemical engineering), Jaeyun Lim (sophomore-mechanical engineering), and Junwoo Kwak (sophomore-chemical engineering) eat dinner together at West Wing in Waring Commons on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020.

From Findlay Commons’ cuisine to downtown restaurants’ dishes, many Penn State students resort to certain meals for finals week to stay fueled and focused.

Lucas Balda said he enjoys some of the restaurants downtown, such as American Ale House and Outback Steakhouse.

“[My favorite meal] would most likely be the chicken wings from Outback Steakhouse or the fried chicken sandwich with fries from American Ale House,” Balda (sophomore-finance) said. “Something about either of those meals make up for any bad day you are having.”

He recommended also trying Five Guys or Taco Bell for something quick but not too “greasy” or needlessly expensive.

“I am not always a fan of the fast food chains [at] Penn State, but [I] think these two do the job,” Balda said. “It’s common to get fast food downtown and find a fault in your meal but with these two restaurants, your order comes out both decent and correct almost every time.”

For Balda, this is ideal at a fast food restaurant.

On the “flip” side, Evan MacDonald said his go-to meal is a chicken tender basket with fries from Flipps in Findlay Commons.

“It really hits the spot every time I purchase a meal there — whether it be chicken tenders or even getting their signature meal, a hamburger,” MacDonald said (freshman-division of undergraduate studies). “I also really enjoy that it is open later than the other restaurants in East commons. It is very helpful for students who have late classes and miss the regular dining hall hours.”

MacDonald said it can be difficult to find satisfactory options in the Findlay Commons. He suggested trying some of the other dining commons, such as Redifer in South or Pollock.

“I really try to move around campus for food because of the limited options here in East Halls,” MacDonald said. “I really like the food in South — I think it's a lot better quality than some of the food found in Findlay while also offering many more options to pick from.”


Furthermore, he said his go-to meal for finals week at Redifer Commons is an Italian-style panini.

“My favorite part about South is the sandwich station. They offer my favorite kind of sandwich: a panini,” MacDonald said. “usually go [I] like to mix it up sometimes by getting a grilled chicken sandwich with spinach, tomatoes and balsamic vinaigrette — a classic and somewhat healthy go-to sandwich order.”

However, Cole Lassinger said he enjoyed campus food at first but later found a love for downtown food when he started his job.

“Once I started eating food off campus, that was it for me,” Lassinger said (freshman-kinesiology). “I really couldn’t go back — even though I knew I was now spending my own money. I just really didn’t think [eating campus food] was worth it.”

Some of his favorite restaurants downtown include Plaza Mexican — State College’s name for the Plaza Azteca chain — and Applebee’s.

“Plaza Mexican is the best restaurant by far downtown,” Lassinger said. “I love the steak and chicken fajitas they offer there and the chips that they give to the table when you sit down. And, on top of that, the staff is always super nice and helpful. I’ve never had an issue there when eating.”

He said Applebee’s is on his favorites list due to the discounted appetizers it offers after 10 p.m. nightly —“Half Apps.”

“Half Apps are my friends’ and my favorite thing to do over the weekend,” Lassinger said. “It’s appetizing, and in the end, saves you money. It's also a great way to get out of the dorms if you have been sitting in there all day. That has definitely been a struggle for all of this year.”


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