The Dark Horse Tavern
Taps: 15 / Bottles: 26
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 14 | Reviews: 10 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by Erix:
2.83/5 rDev -21.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3 | food: 2.5
Smallish, narrow subterranean bar located in central State College. Nothing really special about the atmosphere. There is a small stage-area where they have bands once in a while, but its not really a great place for live music. The service is actually not too bad when the bar is empty, but sometimes it can take a really long time to get a beer, as this place gets kinda packed at night. Their selection has a few surprises, but its not somewhere that I would pick to go for a good beer. You'll find a few prizes, but nothing thats not found in Zeno's or The Deli. As far as food goes, they have specials on a relatively regular basis, but if you don't order early in the night, you'll end up waiting half an hour for dried out wings. I have had possibly the worst wings in my life at this bar, but I've also had ones that were decent. Hit or miss. If you find yourself here, probably the best course of action would be to leave, and head half a block away to Zenos.
04-22-2004 16:29:00 | More by Erix
More User Reviews:
3.3/5 rDev -8.8%
vibe: 2.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5 | $
I'm surprised that the previous reviewers were able to say so much about The Dark Horse, although I can't argue with any of what they've said. Here are my thoughts whittled down into their simplest form:
- downstairs, basement bar (narrow)
- looks surprisingly clean, yet lacks character
- small (a very crowded fire-hazard at night)
- 10 taps, fairly basic, including Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Yuengling Lager
- inexpensive drinks (but seriously, does that make everything else worth it?)
- wings, burgers
I'll take Zeno's or the Rathskellar over the Dark Horse any day. They get crowded too, I won't argue that, but they've got a better beer selection, and so much more character. In fact, I can't see any reason to go to the Dark Horse unless there are lines everywhere else and it's still early enough to get in and get a seat at the bar.
10-30-2012 14:47:00 | More by NeroFiddled
4.3/5 rDev +18.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$
Pretty relaxed college bar in State College. One of the bars I liked best while I was a student. It's an older basement bar, dark, but not too dark, with a decent amount of character to the place.
They have 2 separate bars, only one will be open during slower times. They have live music some nights, and the place can get pretty crowded then.
I would always go for their food specials. They had wings for $3 and change for a dozen. Pazzo's choice is one of the best wing sauces I've ever had, get them if you are there. They also had a $3 and change burger special. The dark horse is great, a burger of pretty surprisingly good quality for the place, and price. Fries are also really good. The food is far from gourmet, but you will be hard pressed to find better bar food for the price, especially in State College.
The do keep a half decent selection of drafts. They have to keep all the cheap macros for the regular student, but you can find a couple good micro brews. I had a Bells 2 Hearted Ale last time I was there.
Try the Dark Horse for a decent quick lunch.
04-19-2010 17:59:29 | More by sbw138
3.25/5 rDev -10.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5 | $
One of State College's better known bars.
Atmosphere: From the main entrance on College Ave., it's a long walk down a narrow staircase to the Dark Horse. The entrance from Calder Way is much less ominous. The bar is dark, immediately off of the end of the staircase with seating stretching back to the rear entrance.
Quality: A college bar that sometimes has table service but more likely than not doesn't. Restrooms get out of hand the later it gets. Live entertainment, depending on the night, can be decent.
Service: See above, it's non-existent when crowded. Sit at the bar, you'll be better off.
Selection: Beer doesn't deviate much from the pale lager realm. Stick with Sam Adams or Yuengling.
Food: Good wings and a full menu of greasy pub grub. Rather inexpensive but no craft beer mecca.
02-21-2010 03:28:01 | More by akorsak
4.05/5 rDev +11.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$
I usually came here after a hard day at the books on a Thursday and sat down with a friend or two and threw a couple back. The place is in the basement. It has a dark feel to it but it's not too dark . There are booths to sit in and a bar. I usually got a Sam Adams and sat back and ordered their wings. They had the best special on wings. I think it was $3 for a half dozen, but these weren't just your typical wings, they were the entire wing. So you actually got a half dozen for $3. Great deal for a starving college kid. I didn't really care for the bands that played there and the place is a little small. I actually had someone give me $20 for my table when my friends and I were departing! Crazy.
08-09-2006 20:42:31 | More by dwarvenspirits
3.55/5 rDev -1.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
The Darkhorse is a downtown bar that does draw more of a young crowd & perhaps uncomfortably so. Unlike some places there isn't at least some mix of older folks there all the time to make someone who is not 21-22 y/o feel particularly welcome. The place is cleaner than many places inside although the bathrooms could use some help. Decor is basic woods, tile, etc -- they had to do something to cover over the old pastel paint & this look "works".
The "back entrance" from College Ave is also rather strange, stick to the ramp entrance from the Alley. The Darkhorse is also smaller than many other bars in town (rather long & narrow w/ a bend in the middle) and likely to feel cramped inside especially if there is a band on stage. (I will give extra kudos for a willingness to book young talent as well, rare in this town. One "feature" of the entertainment calendar worth checking out was Roustabout, a very neat "indie" oriented show that combined local acts w/ out-of-towners & DJs, quite cool, quite popular. Not something that many other places would have risked trying.)
The stage takes quite a chunk out of the Alley half of the bar & if a crowd has gathered in front of the band it does create an obstacle of tables and bodies for new arrivals since it sits between the main Alley entrance and the centrally-located bar. Not that sneaking in the other way is going to be much easier if things really are busy.
Once you get to the bar, the selection is decent. Some interesting but predictable things in stock on the bottle side, & pretty basic mix of mostly macros on draft, but that's really not the meat of the business here. [As of my most recent visit earlier in the month, this is much improved. New tap system, many more interesting tap choices. I've toggled up the selection score appropriately.] This is a good place for food (especially wings) & mixed drink specials. They are well-known for a list of smaller shooters and full mixed drinks, predominantly fruity/creamy concoctions & occasionally deceptively strong. In days past they used to be served in large plastic fishbowls, presumably for sharing although that wasn't what often happened. I don't know if that tradition has continued (it was something that the bar at this location two iterations ago did, a place called the Surf Club).
Table service often suffers, especially as the place gets packed & wait staff have a harder time making it through traffic to you. Wait staff can be fairly typical for this town in their unwillingness to work too hard at the job, it is not unheard of to have to walk to the bar to interrupt the wait staff into getting another round or coming by to take some new order. In general, I've found that you are better off going to the bar to order & if there is space, staying put there. Bartenders tend to be of acceptable quality, not always the fastest in town, but they'll do. The kitchen does a good job on the food. I've never had issues with the quality or flavor of anything they've made. But I think it is important to keep an eye on the time when you think your food should be ready to do a subtle reminder to the wait staff to go check on it, otherwise dried out and/or cooled down issues might be in your future.
If you make it to State College, this isn't a bad place to drink away at least a part of the night ... especially if you are looking for food at the same time. If you are looking for beers though, you are only a block away from a far better destination (Zeno's).
07-07-2006 12:40:40 | More by jsbrendle
The Dark Horse Tavern in State College, PA
86 out of 100 based on 14 ratings.