The Best of Morgantown 2012 - Food & Drink
The people have spoken. From the best Mexican food and first date spot to Morgantown's favorite coffee shops and the best place to change your oil, we bring you more than 70 of the city's most prized places and pastimes, as decided by you, the readers.
1 Wall Street; 304.292.0982; eatatmaxwells.com
Tucked in a basement on Wall Street that resembles Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley is one of Morgantown’s most revered dining institutions—Maxwell’s. For more than 20 years, Maxwell’s has been dishing out healthy, homemade dishes from an eclectic menu. From designer deli sandwiches to seafood to curry, everything is made with fresh ingredients. On Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., droves of faithful patrons frequent the establishment for its famous brunch. Eggs Benedict, French Toast, Whole Grain Pancakes, scrumptious Coffee Cake, and the decadent Bread Pudding topped with a Jack Daniel’s Sauce are tried and true favorites. And now Maxwell’s is open Monday through Saturday for breakfast, where you can order omelets, egg platters, sandwiches, and breakfast wraps. Maxwell’s is open from Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
BEST CUP OF JOE
- Starbucks 1109 Van Voorhis Road; 304.599.2740; starbucks.com
- Jay’s Daily Grind 168 Willey Street; 304.296.5297; jaysdailygrind.com
- Blue Moose Café 248 Walnut Street; 304.292.8999; thebluemoosecafe.com
BEST FIRST DATE PLACE
Lira Lounge344 High Street; 304.285.8245; liralounge.com
Forget your nerves and let loose at this former bank on High Street, now a swank restaurant and bar that offers meals big and small—to share or not to share?—in a setting unlike anything else in town. Be sure to call ahead for reservations on the weekends. Small groups may reserve seats in the former bank vault, but a special date may call for a reservation in one of the booths. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner service is offered Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m.
TailPipes417 High Street; 304.225.2535
When you walk into TailPipes Gourmet Burgers and Shakes, you may feel nostalgic, but you’re about to experience something new. The diner-esque setting is complete with a black and white checkered floor, shiny, vinyl red booths, and photos of hot rods lining the walls, but the adventure begins the moment you open the menu—do you or don’t you want fried bananas on your burger?
WVU graduates Joe Reilly and Evan Tauber opened TailPipes two years ago. “Burgers were becoming a hot thing, and we said, ‘We really need to get a good burger joint here in Morgantown.’” Joe says.
The High Street “modern-day burger and shake shop” evolved from there. Joe, the manager, says the restaurant is constantly growing its menu, while keeping its promise to use local ingredients. “We’re always working to source locally raised beef for our sandwiches,” he says.
The menu is divided into classic burgers and signature creations, each named for a model of car. “Our signature burgers are definitely for the more adventurous,” Joe says. One of the most popular creations is the Barracuda, topped with grilled pineapple, jalapeno bacon, caramelized onions, mozzarella cheese, and sesame teriyaki sauce. Other creations include the Camaro—a burger topped with caramelized onions, roasted mushrooms, banana peppers, and cheese sauce—and the Charger—topped with peanut butter, fried bananas, smoked bacon, pepper jack cheese, and grilled red onions. Customers can also create custom burgers. —LYDIA NUZUM
- Oliverio’s 52 Clay Street; 304.296.2565; oliveriosrestaurant.com
- Stefano’s 735A Chestnut Ridge Road; 304.581.6930; stefanosmorgantown.com
- Puglioni’s 1137 Van Voorhis Road; 304.599.7521; pugspasta.com
BEST PLACE TO GET FOOD AT 2 A.M.
D.P. Dough405 High Street; 304.292.2444
Sometimes you just want food to be inexpensive and fill you up, especially if you’re in college and it’s been a long night. For a late-night snack that’s not quite pizza, but that is just as deliciously greasy, D.P. Dough is your answer. D.P. Dough puts its own spin on the calzone, made from dough folded into a semicircle and filled with tomato and mozzarella, traditionally. But at this after-midnight favorite, college students choose from more than 40 items and a wide variety of ingredients, from steak and chicken to pepperoni and bacon. The large menu appeals to vegetarians and meat lovers alike and fits into the frugal minded budget. And they deliver! Call for your next calzone before they close at 3 a.m. Monday through Wednesday, 4 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, or 2 a.m. on Sundays.
BEST PLACE TO MEET THE PARENTS
- Boston Beanery 383 Patteson Drive; 304.599.1870; bostonbeanery.com
- Café Bacchus 76 High Street; 304.296.9234; cafebacchus.net
- Yesterday’s 3013 Northpointe Plaza; 304.284.0740; yesterdaysrestaurantbarandgrille.com
BEST HOT DOG & BEST DIVE BAR
Gene’s Beer Garden461 Wilson Avenue; 304.292.1147
In 1944, Gene Perilli Sr. started a barbershop in South Park that just so happened to serve beer and hot dogs. That business eventually became Gene’s Beer Garden, a local dive bar favorite that has continued to serve South Park’s young and old for decades.
Al Bonner, the current owner of Gene’s, says the bar provided Perilli’s family with a place to work, and the building has become a fundamental piece of the fabric that makes South Park so interesting. Al says Gene had a barbershop in the back where the kitchen is now, and people would stop by, bring their kids, and get their hair cut. “It was just a place for them to come and hang out.”
Gene passed away in 1979, and Al bought the business from two of his brothers in 1985. Al, a Morgantown native, has continued the tradition, serving both regulars and newcomers affordable hot dogs and beer for 26 years. “We have a pretty diverse crowd,” he says. Some of the bar’s most recognizable patrons include Charleston native and retired NASA astronaut John McBride, former WVU football coach Bill Stewart, and current WVU head basketball coach Bob Huggins.
Al says the area has changed significantly since he first bought Gene’s, but the bar runs much the same way it used to. “There are a lot more places to go around Morgantown, and prices keep going up. I’m kind of stuck in what I think of as a time warp here, because I’m not in the downtown area where they can charge more for beer and food, and people are willing to pay it. Coming here, it’s like stepping back into time.”
The average cost of a beer at Gene’s is $2.25 per bottle, and a hot dog costs $1.25. Bud Light, Yuengling, Miller High Life, and Guinness are among the favorites with Al’s customers, and the neighborhood tavern attracts both nearby college students and longtime South Park residents. The bar even offers local live music, and the laid-back atmosphere of Gene’s has made it a hometown favorite. Al says he has visited Gene’s since he was a child—he remembers crossing the street from his elementary school, now an apartment complex, to buy hot dogs for himself and his classmates. “Just growing up in the neighborhood, I’ve probably been coming here since I was eight or nine years old.”
Al says the bar’s intimacy sets it apart from other places in town. “It’s always been a neighborhood type of thing,” he says. “People come here who’ve known each other for years, and their lives intermingle with each other. It’s a family." —LYDIA NUZUM
Los Mariachis Mexican Restaurant1137 Van Voorhis Road; 304.598.3715
Lunchtime, dinnertime, before and after WVU games—you can pretty much count on this favorite Mexican restaurant being packed. “Believe it or not, some people come every single day and have lunch here,” says manager Adrian Trevino.
Offering authentic Mexican cuisine at affordable prices, Los Mariachis Mexican Restaurant is a Morgantown staple. “We have our own traditional dishes and everything, we just try to adjust those for American people,” Adrian says.
The restaurant has many regulars who come for the authentic cuisine, which includes nearly every kind of burrito, enchilada, taco, and fajita imaginable. The restaurant also offers unique dishes, such as chile rellenos, stuffed poblano or bell peppers served with rice and beans, as well as traditional Latin American tamales. The signature margaritas are another great feature of the menu. Customers can order them in virtually any size, from a glass to a pitcher. Lime margaritas and strawberry margaritas are extremely popular. “The recipe is a secret,” Adrian laughs.
Adrian says Los Mariachis’ owner, Jose Soliz, opened the restaurant in 1998. Both Adrian and Jose are natives of Mexico. Jose also owns and operates Mariachi Loco, located on Hornbeck Road in Morgantown. Adrian says there are plans to open a third restaurant in the Cheat Lake area in February. “It will have a different name from the other two, but it will serve the same food at the same prices." —LYDIA NUZUM
BEST PEPPERONI ROLL
Collasessano’s6120 Mid Atlantic Drive; 304.241.4917; email@example.com; colasessanos.com
What’s a pepperoni roll? Just ask a West Virginian. Freshly baked, golden brown buns filled with strips of pepperoni and toppings and toasted to perfection, Colasessano’s has been making their world-famous pepperoni bun and signature pizzas for 50 years for patrons in Fairmont, Morgantown, and across the nation. They take online orders to ship frozen pepperoni rolls anywhere in the country. Open most days 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., this legendary dine-in and carry-out pizza restaurant sells frozen or freshly-baked pepperoni buns in addition to serving up an extensive menu of pizzas, sandwiches, and other delicious dishes.
Pizza Al’s2952 University Avenue; 304.599.4040; pizzaals.com
If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: When it comes to pizza, Pizza Al’s can’t be beat. For about $12, customers can buy a pizza that has to be turned sideways just to get it out the door. The pizza makers toss and form the dough right behind the ordering counter so patrons can watch as the little ball of dough is transformed into an enormous pizza. Pizza Al’s also makes sandwiches, calzones, and salads. The service is eat-in or pick-up only (no delivery), but there is nothing quite like walking out of there with a huge pizza that is sure to satisfy any appetite.
BEST PLACE TO WATCH THE GAME
Damon’s Grill & Sports Bar550 Suncrest Towne Centre; 304.598.7427; damons.com
Come on down and cheer for the Mountaineers at Damon’s, featuring a state-of-the-art, multi-screen entertainment system, happy hour specials, and a mouth-watering selection of prime rib, grilled steaks, chicken, seafood, salad, and award-winning ribs. Conveniently located off of Highway 705, sports fans are sure to enjoy the high energy at Damon’s. The restaurant is open every day at 11 a.m.
BEST RESTAURANT WITH A VIEW
318 Richwood Avenue; 304.292.1888; richwoodgrill.com
Not only is Richwood Grill one of the best restaurants around, but it also has the very best view of this Mountaineer city. When the temperatures start to rise outside, be sure to make a reservation for a seat on the deck. You’ll gain a whole new perspective on this town and on fresh food.
Ogawa Japanese Restaurant
2920 University Avenue; 304.598.8338; ogawasushi.com
For some of the finest in sushi, Morgantown residents need look no further than University Avenue. Tucked between Exxon and Sanders Floor Covering is Ogawa Japanese Restaurant. Inside, patrons dine on high-quality sushi and other Japanese and Korean dishes in an intimate environment featuring traditional Japanese décor. “When they step foot in my restaurant, they become my family,” says restaurant owner Gunn Hong. And Gunn serves his family nothing but the best. “If it’s not good food, I throw it away.”
The secret behind Ogawa’s delectable sushi is the fine quality of fish and precision in cutting, says He Cho, a restaurant manager. The fish used in Ogawa’s sushi is shipped twice a week from Washington, D.C., but Gunn will sometimes make the eight-hour roundtrip himself if the restaurant is getting low on supply.
Ogawa’s most popular sushi rolls are the Mountaineer and WVU rolls, two of their Americanized sushi rolls, and the spicy tuna roll. The Mountaineer roll is a California roll deep-fried and topped with smoked salmon, eel crunches, and eel sauce. The WVU roll is the cooked shrimp tempura roll with salmon, tuna, white fish, crunches, and a spicy sauce. The spicy tuna roll consists of rice, seaweed, and spicy tuna.
Other popular dishes include the spicy noodle bokeum and the dol-sot bi-bim bop. The spicy noodle bokeum features thick udon noodles, cabbage, onions, mushrooms, carrots, and seafood, chicken, or beef, in a spicy sauce. The dol-sot bi-bim bop, a traditional Korean dish, features rice, vegetables, and choice of seafood, beef, chicken, or tofu topped with a fried egg and served in a heated stone bowl. The dish is served with a spicy sauce. Ogawa is also the only place in Morgantown for Okonomiaki, or “Japanese pizza,” Gunn says.
Ogawa is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 10 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4:30 to 10:30 p.m., Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. —JOANN SNODERLY
BEST SWEET TREAT
- The Cupcakerie 194 Willey Street; 304.212.5464; firstname.lastname@example.org; thecupcakerie.com The first, the only! The Cupcakerie is Morgantown’s only exclusively cupcake bakery. Using the finest ingredients, this adorable shop delivers the best in jumbo, regular, and mini confections, including gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan, and figure-friendly options. Perfect for every occasion, The Cupcakerie caters for everything from tailgating to Christmas parties, and offers favorites like P’Nutty for Chocolate and Red Carpet Red Velvet.
- Nonna’s Bakery & Deli 511 Burroughs Street; 304.554.3813; nonnasbakery.com Perfetto! Delizioso! One of the finest bakeries in town, Nonna’s authentic Italian bakery serves up pepperoni rolls, breads, muffins, biscotti, cakes, sandwiches, soups, salads, and of course, sweets like eclairs, cream horns, cookies, and cannoli—just to name a few..
- Tutto Gelato 755 Chestnut Ridge Road; 304.291.2444; tutto-gelato.com Less butterfat, less air, warmer serving temperature—these are the secrets to what makes gelato the best. Just ask the owners of Tutto Gelato, who have been dishing up Italy’s version of ice cream since 2007. Open until 10 p.m., find Tutto’s in their new location in Suburban Plaza.
BEST VEGETARIAN & BEST KID-FRIENDLY
Black Bear Burritos
132 Pleasant Street; 304.296.8696; blackbearburritos.com
If variety is the spice of life, then Black Bear Burritos is one of the hottest restaurant and music venues in Morgantown.
Black Bear began in 2003 as a business venture between WVU alumni, Jason Coffman and Matt Showalter. The restaurant’s style, live music, and vegetarian-friendly menu were a shared vision between the friends. “The early concept of the restaurant, in our minds, were things that we wish had been here when we were in college,” Matt says.
The two hoped to offer the community a broad selection of vegetarian and vegan items, as well as classic sandwiches such as the Reuben and Philly Cheese Steak served on West Virginia Fiestaware. “Each of us had been vegetarians during part of our lives, and we definitely saw the need for more options in Morgantown,” Jason says.
Every item in the restaurant is made from regional ingredients. The chicken comes from a farm in Ohio, and the steak is brought in fresh from Bridgeport. The tofu used in many of the vegetarian options is produced in Spencer.
The Parkersburg natives also serve handcrafted beers from around the state, as well as specialty brews from as far as Newport, Oregon. Some specialty beers at Black Bear include chipotle smoked beer, chocolate stout, and even beers co-developed by Food Network Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto.
The restaurant has a long standing tradition of booking great live shows, too, and Black Bear has hosted both local artists and Grammy-nominated musicians during its eight years on Pleasant Street. Black Bear hosts live music ranging from indie rock to jazz, blues, and reggae. “Our philosophy has always been to use a big net and not focus on one particular style of music,” Jason says. “We try to provide variety, and a little bit of something for everyone.”
Some Black Bear favorites include Morgantown’s Sam Lamont, Parkersburg native Mike Morningstar, and the Falling Run Bluegrass Band. “It’s really a labor of love for us because we are such music fans,” Matt says. Matt, a guitar player and former band mate of Sam Lamont, says shows at Black Bear have always been a major part of the business. “In our earliest conversations about what we wanted the restaurant to be, we always factored in live music.”
Black Bear’s menu is filled with every kind of burrito imaginable, and patrons can build their own burrito or salad wrap to suit their tastes. There is also a children’s menu, and children under the age of six eat for free. “Our philosophy, as parents of young kids, is that they’re not always going to eat what you order for them when you go out,” Jason laughs. “Whether it’s just a bad night or they’re not hungry, it’s sometimes painful to spend money on a child’s meal that they don’t end up eating. As a parent, maybe they don’t get as much time to see live music or visit local bars, and we try to be a family-friendly place where they can come with their kids and still have some of that experience.”
Once you’ve ordered your burrito at this local favorite, you’ll get a toy to take back to your seat instead of your usual restaurant place card. If this isn’t enough to make dinner fun, kids also love playing on the small stage or rocking to the local bands. Both young and old love to admire the local art all over the walls.
More than just the best vegetarian place in town, Black Bear is a favorite retaurant of many locals. Jason and Matt say they are considering opening a second location on the WVU Evansdale campus. “We’rejust a couple of guys who serve food and serve what we like, and we’ve gotten lucky in that our customers seem to like those things as well.” —LYDIA NUZUM
162 High Street; 304.291.3412/3417; greatwallchinesefood.com
You will have great fortune when you order from Great Wall, a local favorite for Chinese takeout. Delivery is quick, and ordering online is easy. Don’t forget to add the fried cheese wontons.
Kegler’s Sports Bar & Lounge
735 Chestnut Ridge Road #A 304.598.9698; keglerssportsbar.com
Voted by the people of Morgantown for the best wings in town for more than a decade, Kegler’s wings come in a variety of sauces, from mild, medium, hot, and hotter to lemon pepper, ranch parmesan, honey teriyaki, and Kegler’s special sauce. Head to this Morgantown hot spot for the ultimate experience of an American sports bar and grill.
BEST BEER SELECTION
- Jay’s Getaway 227 Chestnut Street; 304.291.2291 Step off the beaten path and step into Jay’s Getaway, a haven for beer lovers and nonsmokers. This small, relaxing bar has more than 70 beers of all different kinds, plus wine. Have fun trying new things by recording your drinks and earning points that could get you a free keychain, a discount on your bill, or your name on the leaderboard, among other things. Just be sure you get there early. Jay’s fills up fast and typically does last call early.
- Gibbie’s Pub & Eatery 368 High Street; 304.296.4427; gibbies.com Check out the specials on your way in, then grab a seat at one of the bar stools or grab a table to order some good grub. Gibbie’s has an extensive selection of great beer on tap, with options like Rogue and Great Lakes. Catch up with friends at one of the pub’s two bars, or go for a night of karaoke, trivia, or comedy. You won’t be alone. There’s almost always a crowd at this local favorite.
- Morgantown Brewing Company 1291 University Avenue; 304.292.6959; morgantownbrewing.com Just down the hill from the college nightlife is a quieter place to hang out and drink some local brews. The Morgantown Brewing Company offers eight craft brews as well as several seasonal beers and special, small-batch brews. This longtime brew pub has been recognized for its ales at the Bramwell Beer Festival and is known around town for some of the best dinner. Check it out for a night of drinks and darts, or go for a brew with supper.
BEST HAPPY HOUR & BEST WINE BAR
467 Chestnut Street; 304.225.9595; bwvintageroom.com
So, so much wine. This restaurant and bar is the only place in town where you can actually sit in a room with wine bottles from floor to ceiling. Order it by the bottle or by the glass, just make sure you look at the extensive menu—there is A LOT to choose from. Besides great wine, champagne, and cocktails, The Vintage Room offers some rare, suave spaces to hang out in Morgantown—from the two large wine rooms you can sit in to the upper bar area or the main room with bar, oversized booths, and the smell of gourmet pizza.
Stop by for the most popular happy hour in town—Working Women’s Wednesday, with $5 pizza and cocktail specials for the ladies. The Vintage Room is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 5 to 11 p.m., and Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.; closed Sundays and Mondays.
BEST PLACE TO BUY WINE & BEST CHOCOLATE
407 High Street, 304.292.3401; 3200 Collins Ferry Road, 304.599.3402; slightindulgence.com
There is nothing “slight” about this gourmet shop—with hundreds of bottles of wine to choose from to suit every taste. At Slight Indulgence, wine prices range from $7 a bottle to bottles worth more than $1,000, though most bottles sold cost around $20. At this glorious store, you can choose from wines all over the world.
JC and Suzy Warman opened Slight Indulgence in 1983 on High Street. “My husband wanted to be his own boss; he wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Suzy says. “We had lots of neighbors who had businesses downtown who encouraged him.” JC had a background in dealing with food from when he worked at a major food chain. The couple took a leap of faith and dove in. The business was so successful, a second Slight Indulgence opened in Suncrest.
The owners’ passion for food and wine is clear when they’re working with customers. “We hand sell all of our wines here. We ask what foods will be served with the wine and what kind of tastes the customer has,” Suzy says. “Chocolate is a little different because people are really into chocolate—they pretty much already know the flavors they like.” Slight Indulgence is known for its chocolate, gourmet foods, and now, a café in their Collins Ferry Road location.
Suzy says gourmet food is part of her family’s culture. “I’m Italian and my husband has always had a love for food and wine. Opening a gourmet shop just seemed right.” Their risk has paid off. Slight Indulgence is the only gourmet shop in West Virginia to be showcased in Specialty Food Magazine.
Suzy sees the store as an extension of her family. “We’re a family business so we have very strong family values with personalities that really exude our products. We’re into food. We’re into wine. Our business is our life.” —BEN SCOTT
BEST OVER 30 SPOT
The Rat Pack Lounge
2 Waterfront Place; 304.296.1700
Settle into the sophisticated at-mosphere of The Rat Pack Lounge for an evening with friends or colleagues. Nestled inside the Waterfront Place Hotel, this inviting lounge offers extensive wine options, top shelf spirits, a wide selection of martinis, small batch bourbons, single malt scotches, and specialty cocktails, as well as appetizers. The refined ambience and broad drink selections make The Rat Pack Lounge a top hang out spot for professionals.
BEST UNDER 30 SPOT
471 Chestnut Street; 304.292.9590; bentwilleys.com
The ’80s room, the dance floor, the deck, the basement—what 20-something wouldn’t love Bent Willey’s for a night on the town? This much-loved college nightclub has rotating specials and, at times, very long lines behind the velvet rope.
BEST PLACE FOR A TEA PARTY
The Tea Cupboard
The Seneca Center, 709 Beechurst Avenue; 304.413.0890; email@example.com; theteacupboard.net
Have a spot of tea at The Tea Cupboard’s brand new location in the historic Seneca Center. With a variety of tea accessories and loose leaf teas for purchase—ranging from chai, black, and green to rooibos, estate, and British favorites—The Tea Cupboard is an ideal setting for indulging in an afternoon tea.
BEST ON-CAMPUS FOOD
1550 University Avenue; 304.293.6738; tazikiscafe.com
If you’re looking for options beyond the typical burgers and fries offered at most college food courts, then look no further than Taziki’s Café.
Belinda Butler, Taziki’s West Virginia operations manager, says, “We believe Taziki’s was voted as Morgantown’s ‘Best On-Campus Food’ because we offer a fresh alternative to the menus offered in the traditional campus food court.” From chicken roll-ups and gyros to top-selling daily specials—like the Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sandwich, Spanakopita Roll-Up, and Mediterranean Taco—WVU’s Taziki’s in the Mountainlair has become a student and faculty favorite since opening in August 2010.
Overwhelmingly selected as the best food on campus, Taziki’s is also giving back to the university, pouring at least 80 percent of all on-campus profits back into the university. Belinda says, “Taziki’s is an integral part of the hospitality and tourism program of the College of Business and Economics.” Operated by Belinda, general manager Scott Casper, the university, and a majority of student employees, two WVU alumni—Michael Bodnar and Doug VanScoy—are principle partners in Taziki’s LLC. Open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 2 to 9 p.m., the Mountainlair café location showed such a great success, that a second Morgantown location opened in late 2011 at Suncrest Towne Centre. “The Taziki’s at the Mountainlair identified a need for a fresh, healthy alternative food choice and absolutely had a part in our deciding to open a second Taziki’s in Morgantown,” says Jess Mancini, principle partner at the Suncrest Towne Centre Taziki’s location. —RACHEL HENDERSON