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The Dark Horse Tavern

Not Rated.
The Dark Horse TavernThe Dark Horse Tavern
very good

15 Ratings
Ratings: 15
Reviews: 10
rAvg: 3.63
pDev: 11.57%
Taps: 15
Bottles: 26
Cask: N
Beer-to-Go: N
[ Bar, Eatery ]

128 E Calder Way
State College, Pennsylvania, 16801-4704
United States
phone: (814) 237-0490

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @dhorsetavern

None, yet.

(Place added by: PSUDREW)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 15 | Reviews: 10 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by NeroFiddled:
Photo of NeroFiddled
3.3/5  rDev -9.1%

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.

NeroFiddled, Oct 30, 2012
More User Reviews:
Photo of pep
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

pep, Aug 09, 2014
Photo of mmmbeerNY
3.75/5  rDev +3.3%

mmmbeerNY, Jun 13, 2014
Photo of tdm168
3.5/5  rDev -3.6%

tdm168, Apr 02, 2014
Photo of jasonmmccormick
4/5  rDev +10.2%

jasonmmccormick, Nov 23, 2013
Photo of ridgeline23
4.25/5  rDev +17.1%

ridgeline23, Nov 10, 2013
Photo of sbw138
4.3/5  rDev +18.5%

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.

sbw138, Apr 19, 2010
Photo of akorsak
3.25/5  rDev -10.5%

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.

akorsak, Feb 21, 2010
Photo of dwarvenspirits
4.05/5  rDev +11.6%

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.

dwarvenspirits, Aug 09, 2006
Photo of jsbrendle
3.55/5  rDev -2.2%

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).

jsbrendle, Jul 07, 2006
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The Dark Horse Tavern in State College, PA
86 out of 100 based on 15 ratings.