Home College Towns 10 Best College Towns for Food and Drink

10 Best College Towns for Food and Drink

10 Best College Towns for Food and Drink

Your parents told you that college would be the best years of your young adult life—the social life, the progressive ideas, the school sports, and the all-night study sessions that lead anywhere but cramming knowledge into your noggin.

But why did they leave out the fact that college would turn you into a bit of a foodie? Probably because the only option available to them when they were off at college was that one late-night pizza place where a greasy slice and a Coke cost $1.

In these days of world-class chefs offering cheap gastronomical delicacies, local craft beers and gourmet food trucks, it’s way easier to eat and drink well on a student’s budget. Who really wants hot-plate Easy Mac anyway?

And for the past graduates reading this, if you’ve ever wanted a reason to visit your alma mater — beyond checking if the message you etched on the door jam of your frat house is still there, that is — do yourself a favor and check out the new and improved culinary scene. If you attended schools in any of the following college towns, you won’t be disappointed.

Disclaimer: this list doesn’t include any major cities that don’t center around their university. We already know that New York, Chicago and Boston have an awesome culinary landscape, so you’ll have to explore those elsewhere. And the spots that made the cut did so not because they’re simply good for an off-campus option.

Without doubt, these establishments would be a go-to if they were in any city around the country, they just happen to be in a well-appointed college town.

10. New Haven, CT — Yale University, University of New Haven

yale university new haven photo
Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. – Global Photo Archive

Welcome to the best pizza town in the country! New Haven has long been underrated as a college town, which is mind-boggling due to the caliber of schools found there. Besides the pizza, it’s also a fine place to have a pint pulled.

Where to drink

That pint we mentioned above can be found at The Cask Republic (try the Sixpoint Hi Res or New Holland Black Tulip).

But if you’re looking for something a little more festive, Geronimo has the largest tequila selection on the East Coast. Special occasions call for a handcrafted cocktail from 116 Crown. If you needs are a little more lowkey, like drinking off that hangover, it’s time to head to Anna Liffey’s.

Where to eat

Pizza is everything to New Havenites. Ask anyone on the street and they will point you to Frank Pepe’s for the white clam pie, or Sally’s Apizza for the white fresh tomato. But the lesser-known heroes, like Modern Apizza and BAR should also be on your pizza map (that’s like Hollywood’s Map of the Stars, but for pizza).

If you just got your pay-day, treat yourself to L’Orcio, or Olea for world class Spanish & Mediterranean. And when you’re tired of pizza (if that’s possible), cleanse your palette with a chicken cutlet sandwich at Vito’s.

9. New Orleans, LA

New Orleans photo
Photo by llambrano (Pixabay)

Ok, maybe we told a little white lie when we said that there wouldn’t be any major cities on this list, but New Orleans has such a college town feel, a young demographic and a rich food and drink culture that it just had to make the list. Don’t be mad, just pull up a Po-boy and relax.

Where to drink

The Louisiana craft bar scene is bubbling, but the brewery to put on the top of your list it has to be Chafunkta Brewing Co.

The city of perpetual hangovers must have a cure in the form of a Bloody Mary, which can be found in the choose-your-own-adventure style at Atchafalaya or made from a super-secret recipe at Le Bon Temps Roule. If you’re in need of a haircut and a drink but you don’t think you can afford both, you can at Twelve Mile Limit where the combo goes for a cool $10.

Where to eat

Camellia Grill is the diner with everything you need from an American diner, including all day breakfast. Parkway Bakery & Tavern is where you’ll be getting your Po-boy on, like the locals and Satsuma Cafe is where you can take a break from all the heavy Creole and Cajun cooking with fresh options and a great vegetarian selection.

Are the parents in town and treating? Make a reservation at Restaurant R’evolution for beautiful Modern Creole that will make them wonder where you got so cultured.

8. State College, PA

The Corner of College Avenue and Allen Street in downtown State College, taken from the gates of Campus.
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2138463

Although State College was long regarded as one of the best college towns in America, it lacked in a definitive restaurant culture.

Until now, that is.

Where to drink

Phyrst is your good ol’ Irish pub with live music, daily drink specials, pool and games.

On the other hand, The Saloon is an English-style pub with live music, drink specials and a mighty selection of loaded fries.

It should be noted that the owners of The Saloon (Dante’s Inc.) also own most of the other notable bars and pubs in the town, including bar bleu and Zbar, among others. When you want a quiet night in, they also have the Hop Shop so you can pick up some of the craft beers they champion at all of their establishments.

Where to eat

State College is all about finding the best staples. Like the best burger from Otto’s Pub & Brewery, the best pizza from Faccia Luna, and of course the best sandwich from Happy Valley Brewery.

Need a cuppa? You’ll find your favorite at Saint’s Cafe.

Graduation day coming up? Book a table for you and the family at The Tavern.


Alana Armstrong Travel expert, writer for America Unraveled.


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