As far as food goes, West Chester, Pa. has got to be one of the best destinations around. Whether you’re more of a traditional burger-and-fries kind of person or have a pension for something a little more adventurous, West Chester is the town to explore.
To start off, if you’re looking for traditional American fare, Landmark is a great go-to. From their burgers and old bay-seasoned fries to their Maryland crab dip, Landmark has something for everyone’s tastes and is a pretty safe bet, especially among large groups who just can’t agree.
*Pro-Tip: In addition to all their other specials, happy hour on finger foods is from 4-7 p.m. Sunday-Friday (at least last I checked). My favorite is the Landmark Combo—coming with old bay fries, a chicken quesadilla, chicken fingers and an amazing cheese sauce (not to mention it clocks in at around $7 during happy hour), it has a little bit of everything to munch on.
Maybe you’re feeling a burger, but don’t want to spend too much money; try Buddy’s Burgers on Gay St. Owning five locations, this little fast food place has some of the best fries in town and some great burgers to match. Plus, one of the better things I found out this year—they deliver!
If you’re still stuck on fast food and want some pizza, please give New Haven Style Pizza a try. They are my absolute favorite pizza place in West Chester, and they offer a lot more on their menu than just their pies. Their salads, especially, have come highly recommended to me.
One of my favorite restaurants is Más Mexicali Cantina. Not only is the food great, but this Mexican place also has a beautiful rooftop bar area perfect for sipping on their delicious margaritas. Beyond the drinks, their food is packed with flavor and genuinely mouth-watering. Special to my heart are their nachos, which are some of the best I’ve ever tasted if only because of their crazy-good queso.
Now to casually move from Mexican to Thai food:
As someone who has a sweet spot for pad thai, I have to say one of the best places to go for Thai and other Asian food is Tsunami. It’s easy to pass by near the corner of Market and High St., but don’t make that mistake; this BYOB is easily one of my favorite restaurants in town other than Más. If you’re feeling extra hungry, you can try ordering the Tsunami Boat; a literal wooden boat filled with 15 pieces of assorted sushi, 26 pieces of sashimi and two chef’s special rolls, it rings up at a whopping $77.95. Don’t let that deter you from their other food, though, which is very affordable and tasty (this coming from a stereotypically tight-on-money college student).
If you do like sushi, you must try Bon Bon Sushi; it’s so much of a must I will feel personally insulted if you do not try it. Not only are their sushi rolls $5 for one, $8 for two and $12 for three, but they are also a pioneer of the “sushi burrito.” This crazy concoction is a delicacy everyone in West Chester must try at least once, and likely not to disappointment. I highly recommend the bubba burrito: shrimp tempura, crab sticks, romaine lettuce, cucumber, avocado, pico de gallo and wonton crunch with honey-lime mayo & soy glaze, it’s perfect for that not-too-adventurous-but-still-likes-trying-new-things personality.
Honorable mention for Thai and Chinese food has got to go to Wave Noodle. Of course their food is great, but they also have an awesome dinner special that costs only $7.75 for an entrée, rice and drink or egg roll! If you want to get a bang for your buck, either stop in or call for delivery.
Speaking of Asian food, be sure to check out the Lunchbox. They also have a food truck right on Church St., so if you don’t want to trek all the way to the corner of Market and New St., stop by for some wonderful Asian and American fusion! I would say that’s one of the most unique aspects about this place: you can get a burger while your friend gets the Buddha delight, all while enjoying some bubble tea or a slushy. Worth noting: they also have an espresso bar and serve breakfast Monday-Friday from 7:30-11:00 a.m.
Casual segue from breakfast—please do yourself a service and try Nudy’s Café. They hold 10 locations in Chester County, but the closest will be the one right across the Lunchbox on Market St. For you pancake lovers, try my personal favorite: the cinnamon bun pancakes. While their pancakes are fine alone, these babies are slathered in cinnamon filling and cream cheese glaze. If pancakes aren’t your thing, they have all the other wonderful parts of a breakfast place including omelets and breakfast sandwiches.
Looking for something on the sweeter side? I highly recommend trying The West Chester Coffee & Ice Cream Bar. Their ice cream is all made locally; on their Facebook page, they state, “We are proud to curate the best ice cream makers, small-batch bakers and roasters from around our region and bring them to the heart of West Chester.”
On the subject of ice cream, I also recommend stopping in Tropical Homemade Ice Cream located on Church St. If you’re feeling risky, they have some pretty interesting flavors, the weirdest one having to be “corn.” “It tastes so good,” apparently; I wouldn’t personally know (I’m not overly adventurous, remember).
If you’re not so much an ice cream person as you are gelato, do not fret: Gemelli’s and D’Ascenzo’s have got your back. Both of these places are located in town—Market and Gay respectively—and have a huge selection to pick from. You really can’t go wrong in either place.
If you’re looking for a good cup of coffee, try my favorite, Fenn’s. Once known as Fennario, the small coffee shop underwent a bit of a transformation during the summer of 2016. Not only is their coffee some of the absolute best around, but they also host open mic nights and other events in their upstairs room. I can’t recommend this place highly enough, so if you don’t believe me, here’s their little “about” section on Facebook: “To caffeinate the masses and to have a place to call home with family and friends.” I’ve only ever had good experiences here, even being randomly invited up to a Christmas party the owner was having with family and friends upstairs.
*Pro-Tip: Fenn’s also owns the coffee food truck on campus, so make sure to stop by if you can’t make it all the way down Church St. If you are visiting the truck, though, try to go during class times to avoid the line.
Important to the infrastructure of West Chester, Pa. is also Jaco Taco, previously Baco Taco. I’ve only been here once, but the sheer amount of people who rave about their food and smoothies is enough to make anyone run into town just to see for themselves.
Also worthy of a visit is Carlino’s, a little market conveniently on Market St. Not only is their food great, but their desserts are also to die for. Plus, they even have a coffee bar!
I’d like to end this article by saying this: no matter where in West Chester you visit for food, it’s pretty hard to go wrong. Though I’ve left a lot of places out, it’s not at all due to them not being good; just personal preference and experience, not to mention concern for keeping this to a sane length. Plus, though I’ve made it my personal goal to visit every restaurant in West Chester before I graduate, the process is pretty slow going and dependent on what I scrounge out of my wallet that week.
Lauren Detweiler is a third-year student majoring in English writings track with minors in web technology & applications and communication studies. She can be reached at LD838069@wcupa.edu.