The Votes Are In: Penn State’s Top Bar Crowned


You voted and the results are in. After weeks of polling and over 5,000 votes cast, we have a winner. The Penn State bar you’ve crowned as the best place to grab a drink in Happy Valley is…drumroll please… The Phyrst! This downtown State College staple has been serving up cold beers and live music to generations of Penn Staters for over 50 years. When the polls closed, The Phyrst edged out stiff competition from Corner Room, Zeno’s, and Primanti Bros to claim the title.

With its iconic red-brick exterior, crowned exposed brick interior, and outdoor patio perfect for people watching, it’s easy to see why The Phyrst holds such a special place in the hearts of Penn Staters. Whether you’re there for the daily drink specials, live music, or just to soak in the atmosphere, The Phyrst provides the quintessential Penn State bar experience. Congratulations to The Phyrst, and thank you to all who voted and followed along with our ‘Best Penn State Bars/Restaurants’ bracket. We’ll see you at The Phyrst to celebrate!

Recapping the ‘Best Penn State Bars/Restaurants’ Bracket

The votes have been counted and the winner of our ‘Best Penn State Bars/Restaurants’ bracket challenge is…The Diner! This crowned Penn State institution has been open since 1887, making it the oldest student bar in the U.S. After several rounds of voting, The Diner narrowly edged out favorites like The Phyrst and Champs Downtown in our quest to crown Happy Valley’s top spot for eats and drinks.

For those not familiar with The Diner, it’s a casual 24-hour diner known for its huge portions, great prices, and quintessential college town vibe. You really can’t beat grabbing a late-night cheesesteak or milkshake here after the bars close. The Diner even has a bring-your-own-booze policy, so you can sip on your own beverages for no extra charge.

Some other reasons The Diner took the title:

•Affordable comfort food like pancakes, burgers and hot sandwiches available round the clock.

•A total Penn State experience – photos of Joe Paterno and other PSU legends line the walls.

•Open every single day of the year, so it’s always there when you need it.

•A State College landmark for generations. Parents and grandparents of current students probably have fond memories of The Diner from their college days.

While The Diner may not be the fanciest restaurant in town, its welcoming vibe and role in so many cherished PSU memories helped crowned cement its status as the champion of our bracket challenge. Stop by for a late-night bite and see for yourself why The Diner is truly top of the class.

The Final Four Bars: Café 210 West, Doggie’s Pub, Champs Downtown, and Phyrst

When it came down to the final four, picking a winner wasn’t easy. But after over 2,500 votes, Café 210 West came out on top as Penn State’s best bar.

Café 210 West

This downtown spot has been a favorite for years. With its cozy, laid-back vibe, Café 210 West is perfect for grabbing drinks with friends or enjoying a casual date night. The bar has a great beer and cocktail menu as well as bar snacks to share like nachos, wings, and flatbread pizzas. It’s really no wonder this State College institution made it to the finals.

Doggie’s Pub

As a popular spot for watching sports, playing pool or just hanging out, Doggie’s Pub put up a good fight, coming in second place. This bar and grill features pub fare, pitchers of beer and an upbeat atmosphere that keeps patrons coming back.

Champs Downtown

In third place, Champs Downtown is a go-to for its dance floor, drink specials and DJs spinning Top 40 hits. This high-energy club is ideal for a fun night out with a big group of friends. While it appeals more to the college crowd, Champs certainly has its loyal fans.


And finally, the Phyrst rounded out the top four. This casual tavern has been an institution since 1933. With its vintage vibe, selection of beers and cocktails and outdoor patio, the Phyrst remains a favorite meeting spot all these years later.

After a close competition, Café 210 West deservedly takes the crown. But no matter which bar you choose, you really can’t go wrong in a college town like State College. The nightlife and hospitality are always top notch.

The Championship Matchup: Café 210 West vs. Champs Downtown

The championship matchup puts two State College legends against each other: Café 210 West vs. Champs Downtown. Both bars have been Penn State institutions for decades, serving multiple generations of students and alumni. This is sure to be an intense final matchup.

Café 210 West

For more than 40 years, Café 210 West has been a favorite hangout for Penn Staters. With its cozy, dive bar vibe, cheap drinks, and weekend dance parties, 210 has enduring appeal. They’ve hosted some epic Halloween bashes over the years as well. Many a lasting friendship or romance has blossomed over drinks at the beloved 210.

The Votes Are In: Penn State's Top Bar Crowned
The Votes Are In: Penn State’s Top Bar Crowned

Champs Downtown

Champs Downtown is a State College icon, in business since 1933. They’re renowned for their cheesesteaks, wings, and other bar fare. Champs has sponsored many a round for Penn State teams over the years too. With its classic wood-paneled walls and lively atmosphere, especially on football weekends, Champs remains popular with students and alumni of all generations. crowned They frequently have live music and other events as well.

The Verdict

This is a championship for the ages between two State College institutions with rich histories and loyal followings. While Champs has seniority and hospitality on their side, Café 210 West is a nostalgic favorite for many. In the end, you really can’t go wrong with either of these Penn State classics. They’ve both earned their places in Nittany Lion lore. The votes are in, and the winner of the “Best Penn State Bar” bracket is…you, the fans! Whichever bar you call your own, that’s the real champion.

And the Winner Is…

And the winner is…The Saloon! After tallying thousands of votes over the past few weeks, Penn State’s best bar has been crowned.

The Saloon

This downtown State College staple has been serving up drinks for over 60 years. With its rustic, old-timey vibe, cheap drinks, and classic bar fare, The Saloon captured voters’ hearts as the quintessential PSU bar experience. Stop by any night of the week for their famous mugs of Yuengling, play some pool or darts, and soak in the nostalgia. It’s truly a rite of passage.

Some other contenders that gave The Saloon a run for its money were:

  • The Phyrst: Another popular downtown bar known for live music, dancing, and their infamous “fishbowls” of mixed drinks.
  • Champs Downtown: Upscale sports bar with gourmet pub food, dozens of TVs, and outdoor patios. Great for watching big games.
  • Cafe 210 West: Relaxed bar and restaurant featuring globally-inspired small plates, craft cocktails, and an eclectic beer list.

While there were many worthy competitors, in the end The Saloon’s history and quintessential collegiate vibe won out. They’ve been serving PSU students for generations, and will likely continue to do so for many more to come. So next time you’re on College Ave, bellied up to the bar singing “Sweet Caroline” at the top of your lungs, raise your mug and toast to The Saloon—Penn State’s best bar!

What Makes the Winning Bar the Best Bar in Penn State

What makes the winning bar, Zeno’s Pub, the best bar in Penn State? Several factors contribute to its first-place status.


Zeno’s inviting, laid-back vibe makes it easy to relax and enjoy yourself. With its cozy booths, bar seating, and patio, there’s a spot for any mood. And the friendly regulars and staff make you feel like part of the family. Whether you’re there to celebrate a win or commiserate after a loss, Zeno’s welcoming atmosphere suits every occasion.


From craft beers to cocktails, Zeno’s has the best drinks in town. With 50 beers on tap—including many local and regional brews—you’ll never get bored. Their signature cocktails like the Blue & White and the Nittany Lion are made to perfection. And you can always count on drink specials and promotions to save you some cash.


More than your typical bar snacks, Zeno’s menu features high-quality pub fare, from juicy burgers and wings to fish and chips. Their daily specials mean there’s always something new to try crowned . And you can’t go wrong with their signature Zeno’s chili or a slice of their homemade pie. Whether you need a full meal or just a little nosh to accompany your drinks, Zeno’s has you covered.


Situated right on College Avenue in the heart of downtown, Zeno’s prime location is hard to beat. Within walking distance of campus and most off-campus housing, it’s easy to get to for students and alumni alike. And its proximity to Beaver Stadium makes it a popular pre- and post-game spot. Zeno’s combination of convenience, comfort, and character creates an unparalleled Penn State experience.

With the perfect blend of atmosphere, drinks, food, and location, it’s no wonder Zeno’s Pub came out on top as Penn State’s best bar. One visit and you’ll be hooked!


So there you have it, the people have spoken and the winner of the Best Penn State Bar bracket challenge is Champs Downtown. No surprise there, with its perfect combination of great drinks, tasty bar food, an awesome outdoor patio space, and being right in the heart of downtown, it really does have something for everyone. Whether you’re there to watch the big game, celebrate crowned with friends or just enjoy some downtime, Champs is the place to be. Thanks to everyone who voted and participated, it’s been fun seeing which spots stood out as Penn State favorites. But the results don’t lie – when it comes to the best bar in State College, Champs Downtown reigns supreme! Head on down, grab a drink and join in the celebrations. The Nittany Lions may have come up short this season but Champs Downtown is the clear champion.

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