Break your fast in style.
Best Italian Restaurant
Oliverio’s Ristorante on the Wharf
Enjoy a full-course Italian feast at this perennial BOM favorite restaurant: Antipasto Start with an authentic appetizer like bruschetta, or opt for the more unique fried Angel Hair Crab Balls.
Primo Pick your favorite pasta, from spaghetti with meatballs to creamy fettuccine alfredo.
Secondo Sink your fork into the Baked Stuffed Mahi-Mahi or the Filet Oliverio topped with crab meat and mushroom cream sauce.
Insalata The Beets & Goat Cheese salad comes tossed with arugula, pecans, and a balsamic glaze.
Dolce Still got room? You can’t go wrong with any of the mouthwatering desserts (52 Clay Street, 304.296.2565, oliveriosristorante.com, @oliveriosonthewharf on Facebook).
Best Beer Selection
Apothecary Ale House & Cafe
An evening at Apothecary Ale House & Cafe after a long, hard workweek is just what the doctor ordered. The bar features more than two dozen beers on tap and vastly more in bottles and cans, so you’re sure to find something to soothe what ails you. The popular Chestnut Street hangout is committed to stocking the best local, national, and European beers and ciders available. Add to that a cozy atmosphere and accommodating, knowledgeable bartenders, and the Apothecary brews up an all-around enjoyable experience every single time (227 Chestnut Street, 304.291.2291, @apothecaryalehousecafe on Facebook).
Best Outdoor Dining
Tropics Restaurant & Bar
You could spend a whole day smushed in a middle seat on a oneway flight to Hawaii. Or, you could spend your evening drinking mai tais and mojitos at Tropics Restaurant and Bar. The Cheat Lake venue has all the excitement of a Hawaiian luau with the comfort of a relaxing beachside bar. The tropical menu is delicious any day of the year, but for the full experience our readers rave about, visit in the summer. Tropics has two covered pavilions on separate levels, two outdoor bars, and an open deck with tables shaded by umbrellas. Hawaiian decorations, a koi fish pond, and live music add to this local slice of island paradise. The owners are from Honolulu, and the authenticity shows—especially during the traditional luaus (2500 Cranberry Square, 304.291.5225, tropicswv.com, @tropicswv on Facebook).
Best Fine Dining
When Tin 202 opened in 2014, it brought a new kind of dining experience downtown: small plates and craft cocktails in an upscale atmosphere that encourages interaction. “We think of ourselves as a fun environment where people come to get great food and drink, but also to socialize,” says Chris Evans, who co-owns the restaurant with Sam Schneider.
A warm, inviting bar showcases the craft cocktails that are a focus of the Tin 202 experience, and bartenders with personality and showmanship keep it lively. The seasonal house cocktail menu plays on pop culture themes. The food menu, with lots of tapas, charcuterie plates, and creative entrees, is made for sharing. And that combination—great cocktails and dishes designed to share—has, as Evans and Schneider hoped, made Tin 202 a place for gathering, winding down, and catching up. “We think of our place as a two-hour experience,” Evans says. “You can come in and eat and be gone in an hour, but we rarely see it.”
The kitchen, headed up by Tyler Richards, creates a new specials menu every weekend. “We love that for our guests and for keeping ideas fresh in our kitchen,” Evans says.
Haven’t been to Tin 202 yet? Try something from the new house cocktail menu, themed around The Big Lebowski, during Tuesday through Friday happy hours (202 High Street, 304.212.5863, tin202.com, tin202wv on Facebook).
Best Sports Bar
Kegler’s tops BOM voters’ list for Sports Bar year after year. It’s easy to figure out why. For Mountaineer football fans, Kegler’s has a can’t-beat location within throwing distance of Milan Puskar Stadium. Other sports buffs enjoy the unparalleled venue covered wall-to-wall with big-screen TVs that broadcast any game from NFL to NHL. Kegler’s is also home to live weekly radio shows featuring WVU basketball and football coaches.
Kegler’s isn’t just a place to catch the big game, though. The pub food is exceptional all season long. The chicken wings come dressed in signature sauces like buttery Kegler’s Special or tangy Kegler’s Gold, the Colossal Cheese Fries come smothered in cheese, and the Fried Pickle comes with a side of Sriracha mayo for dipping. For the main event, there’s a menu full of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and wraps. If you’re searching for after-dinner fun, grab a lane at Suburban Bowling Lanes, mere steps from the bar. Trivia aficionados swing by Kegler’s weekly to play Team Trivia nights, too (735 Chestnut Ridge Road, 304.598.9698, keglerssportsbar.com, @keglerswv on Facebook).
Best Power Lunch & Best Vegetarian-Friendly
Black Bear Burritos
Thinking of branching out beyond your go-to Thai One On burrito? Here are three orders you might have not tried yet at Black Bear.
1. The Black Bear Chili proves this joint isn’t just good at making burritos. The Evansdale location features an original recipe loaded with grass-fed ground beef, while the downtown location ladles out a veggie-friendly version with organic tofu.
2. Wednesdays at Evansdale are burger days, so swap your burrito for a piled-high patty.
3. Black Bear concocts a new special every week at both locations. It could be anything from a Thanksgiving burrito with all the fixings to a red curry and coconut beef–stuffed tortilla. No matter what, it’s guaranteed to be delicious (132 Pleasant Street, 304.296.8696, @blackbearburritos on Facebook; 3119 University Avenue, 304.777.4867, @black.bear.evansdale on Facebook; blackbearburritos.com).
Best Vegetarian-Friendly Contender to Watch
TK’s Vegetarian & Vegan Cafe
243 Walnut Street, 304.413.4792, tksproduce.webs.com
The pizza king reigns supreme. Pizza Al’s is a perennial BOM winner among freshmen and families alike. As tasty as the popular pies are, the secret sauce to success just might be the hard-working founder himself. Italian immigrant Albino Roperti moved to Pittsburgh in the early 1960s, opened his first pizzeria there, and hasn’t looked back. He moved to Morgantown in 1969, started the longlived Pizzeria Italia, and briefly retired in 2002—only to dust off his apron four years later to open Pizza Al’s. For that, today’s pizza connoisseurs are forever grateful (2952 University Avenue, 304.599.4040; 1403 Earl L. Core Road, 304.225.2222; 192 Jim Street, Granville, 304.599.9555; pizzaals.com).
Woodburn Shanks Pit BBQ
When Derrick Shanks and his wife lived in Kansas City, Missouri, a quality barbecue joint could be found on every block. But a move to Vermont made dining options for quality brisket much scarcer. So Shanks took it upon himself to build his own smoker out of a 55-gallon drum. Then another move, this time to Morgantown, led him to start serving up the mouthwatering meats to the public.
The secret to Woodburn Shanks’ delicious dishes is in the name; the meats—anything from andouille sausages or brisket to pulled pork, ribs, and more— are smoked using a wood pit. That gives them an authentic Kansas City–style barbecue flavor. Guests can opt to order just the main meaty course, or they can make it a whole Southern meal. Woodburn Shanks also offers homestyle sides such as tangy baked beans, cheese corn, and green beans with bacon. The joint even handmakes its own dry rubs and sauces to craft one flavorful meal. Dine in at its Sabraton location, which provides outdoor seating perfect for warmer weather, or pick up a family pack of your choice of meats and sides for an easy dinner at home (1616 Earl L. Core Road, 304.504.3047, morgantownbbq.com, @woodburnshanks on Facebook).
Best Indian Restaurant
Bombay Indian Grill
Gut grumbling, eyes drooping, mind wandering—it’s that dreaded 10:30 a.m. feeling. The typical breakfast bagel wasn’t enough today. You need food, a lot of it, and fast.
Hold out for another half hour, drag your weary legs up University Avenue, and you’ll soon spot a hanging sign beckoning like a lighthouse in a storm: Bombay Indian Grill. Inside, a wave of spices is the first thing to greet you. Second is a chipper young server behind the counter. Hand her a $10 bill and some change—even cheaper for WVU students—and a hearty Indian buffet awaits.
The serving trays are piled high with traditional cuisine in almost every color of the rainbow. Some dishes’ names are easy enough that the average American can reasonably guess at their contents: tandoori chicken, basmati rice, and naan bread, to name a few. Others, like aloo baingan, are less obvious. One diner has a creative workaround. He wields a serving spoon, points to a dish, and hollers to his buddy, “You said this is the good stuff, right?”
Truth is, it’s all good. The lunch rush rages on as professors, professionals, and students alike pour into the little restaurant. Some might not know exactly what they’re eating but, if the piled-high dishes at every booth are any proof, they can’t get enough of it. And they’re the reason Bombay takes the title in the first year for this BOM category (2011 University Avenue, 304.381.4858, bombayindiangrillmorgantown.com, @bombaygrillwv on Facebook).
Best Place to Caffeinate
Quantum Bean Coffee
When Sam Bonasso was a college student at WVU, he drank coffee for the reason most students do—a need for caffeine. A move to San Diego opened his eyes to how delicious carefully crafted, speciality coffee could be. When Bonasso and his wife, Susan Bonasso, returned to Morgantown, a hobby for roasting coffee beans transformed into a business. “I was getting positive feedback from family and friends,” Bonasso says. “We rolled the dice and began selling at farmers markets. That’s how we built our following.”
That following grew and, in 2018, Quantum Bean Coffee opened its brick-and-mortar cafe in the South Park– Greenmont neighborhood. “We didn’t know how the community would respond, but it blew past our expectations,” Bonasso says. On any given day, the cafe acts as its own community center. Bonasso says anyone from a college student to a doctor might walk through the door, but you’d never tell the difference. Regulars greet each other by name.
Take your pick from the unique drinks on the specialty menu, whether it’s one of the nitro cold brew chillers or the honey badger made with espresso, honey, cardamom, and steamed milk—Bonasso recommends oat milk. No matter what cappuccino or latte you choose, the beans are roasted in-house, and you can tell the difference. “Even our drip coffee is a cut above the rest,” he says. “It’s enough to open your eyes to specialty coffee,” (258 Kingwood Street, 304.816.1983, quantumbean.com, @quantumbeancoffee on Facebook).
Best Chinese Restaurant
Getting a hot, ready-made, and filling Chinese meal for lunch or dinner is easy in Morgantown. Just head to the food court in the Morgantown Mall and make a beeline for Wong’s Wok. The generous portions of Bourbon Chicken, Sesame Chicken, crispy egg rolls, fried rice, and lo mein make this eatery a new favorite of first-time diners, and the quick and friendly service keeps them coming back for more. Owners the Wongs have devoted over two decades to satisfying hungry mall-goers, and BOM voters have shown their appreciation three times running (9409 Mall Road, 304.983.6815).
Best Mexican Restaurant
Nothing bonds a crew of amigos like sharing a pitcher of margaritas and a basket of chips with queso. Los Mariachis provides students, professors, and families with a place to enjoy good food and even better conversations. Fajitas arrive at the table still sizzling from the grill, and the burritos come smothered in creamy cheese. Desserts are also crafted with a south-of-the-border flair, from cheesecake chimichangas to the ever-popular fried ice cream. No matter which of the two venues you choose to dine at, the staff is welcoming and friendly (1137 Van Voorhis Road, 304.598.3715; 9105 University Town Centre Drive, 304.599.6187; losmariachismorgantown.com, @losmariachismorgantown on Facebook).
Contender to Watch
14 Marvin Gardens, Green Bag Road, 304.241.1545, @latapatia26508 on Facebook
Best Middle Eastern Restaurant
Ali Baba Restaurant
Beloved for four decades, Ali Baba came under new ownership in 2018 when Lebanon native Samih Zein bought it. Turns out, Morgantown had nothing to worry about—an experienced Washington, D.C., restaurateur, Zein has maintained the Mediterranean and American menu and the quality we all loved, while adding Lebanese cuisine and his own personal touch. Tabbouleh, baba ghannouj, and other Mediterranean salads are still prepared fresh, the gyro meat is still tender and juicy, and the shish kebab dinners are still as delicious as they are beautiful. Not sure yet? Go for the Monday through Saturday lunch buffet to sample an extensive variety (The Morgantown Municipal Airport at 82 Hart Field Road, 304.777.4120, alibabaexpress.com).
Best Neighborhood Bar & Best Wings
Why does Morgantown love Mario’s? So many reasons—we’ll list four:
1. The Richwood Avenue location is a living scrapbook, the walls adorned with photographs and notes spanning generations of patrons who know that, when they go there, they’re going home.
2. The only thing cooler than your beer is the frosty “fishbowl” it’s served in.
3. Wings, wings, and more wings. No matter which one of the nine flavors you order, you’ll be licking your fingers. 4. The Mountaineer pride is palpable when you’re belting out “Take Me Home, Country Roads” under the neon lights (704 Richwood Avenue, 304.292.2511, @mariosfishbowl on Facebook; 3117 University Avenue, 304.599.4309, @fishbowlsuncrest on Facebook; mariosfishbowl.com).
Best Over 30 Spot
The Wine Bar at Vintner Valley
The Wine Bar’s Southern Italian–inspired menu and its upscale, yet comfortable atmosphere have earned it Best Over 30 Spot for a second year in a row. An eclectic offering of craft beers and cocktails and a selection of more than 300 wines from around the world, with attention to all price points, are complemented by service that encourages a leisurely dining experience.
Check out The Wine Bar’s happy hour specials, which are offered 4–6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and the last two hours of service all week long (510 Burroughs Street, 304.241.1687, vintnervalley.com, @vintnervalley on Facebook).
Nothing tastes more like quintessential Americana than a juicy burger and salty fries. Tailpipes has been flipping its own patties in the retro-style High Street diner since 2010, and it’s dominated BOM’s Best Burger category for almost as long. You can’t go wrong with a classic beef patty, or switch it up for ground turkey, grilled chicken, portobello mushroom, or black bean. Signature burger combinations feature car-inspired names as creative as the toppings. Take the Charger, which comes with smoked bacon, fried banana, and peanut butter. Or the Gran Torino, which is topped with tomato, shaved parmesan cheese, and a black pepper aioli. Wash it all down with a milkshake— those also feature both classic flavors and creative blends like cinnamon toast crunch or fruity pebbles (417 High Street, 304.225.2535, tailpipesburgers.com, @tailpipeswv on Facebook).
Forks of Cheat
You don’t have to travel to Napa Valley to spend an afternoon nestled in a vineyard. Sip on a glass while overlooking Forks of Cheat’s 16 picturesque acres, or pick up a bottle at a local retailer. No matter what you’re dishing up for dinner, Forks of Cheat has a wine for it. • The semi-dry Redbud goes great with grilled meat. • Got pasta in mind? Pour a glass of Chambourcin with your plate of spicy red sauce. • Serve the Vidal Blanc, a semi-dry wine with hints of pear and grapefruit, with your next soirée’s cheese and fruit plate. • Satisfy your sweet tooth after supper with one of the signature fruit wines like blackberry, strawberry, and raspberry, all fermented from fruit sourced as locally as possible (2811 Stewartstown Road, 304.598.2019, wvwines.com, @forksofcheatwinery on Facebook).
Ogawa Japanese Restaurant
Fresh, flavorful, and authentic—Japanese food in Morgantown doesn’t get much better than Ogawa. Delicious dishes include fried rice, noodles, and poke bowls. But sharpen up your chopstick skills, because the true star is the sushi. Go simple with a fresh dish of sashami or feed your entire crew with a sushi boat decked out in a variety of colorful rolls (2920 University Avenue, 304.598.8338, ogawasushi.com, @ogawasushiwv on Facebook).
This beloved bakery’s success has only grown sweeter over the course of its three BOM wins. Since Apple Annie’s relocation from Don Knotts Boulevard to Mid-Atlantic Drive in 2018, it has expanded into an all-day restaurant. But the favorite course continues to be dessert. From fluffy muffins and scrumptious scones to fruity pies and melt-in-your-mouth cookies, there are many reasons this bakery takes the cake (6120 Mid-Atlantic Drive, 304.322.2859, apple-annies.com, @appleanniescafe on Facebook).
Best Breakfast or Brunch
Iron Horse Tavern
Named Best Brunch in our sister publication WV Living’s 2019 “Best of West Virginia” awards, Iron Horse is a Morgantown favorite, too. Here are three dishes to try for a weekend brunch.
- We would eat the Green Eggs and Ham Burger in a house or with a mouse. We would eat it here and there. We would eat it anywhere.
- You’ve heard of buckwheat pancakes, but what about buckwheat donut holes? Iron Horse’s come coated in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with vanilla-kahlua creme.
- Go savory with the Colonel Eggs Benedict— two sunny-side up eggs on a buttermilk biscuit with ham and crispy chicken fritters, all smothered in creamy jalapeño gravy.
Morgantown Brewing Co.
If you haven’t been to Morgantown Brewing Company in a while, prepare to be amazed. WVU engineering grads Cody Cheesebrough and Chris DeFazio—maybe you remember their Pubstomper ales from a few years ago—bought MBC from Art Gallagher in 2018. It was a great opportunity for two Morgantown natives. Started in 1992 as One Onion Brewery and later known for a while as West Virginia Brewing, MBC was the first brewpub in the state. Cheesebrough and DeFazio became the fourth owners and kept the name.
As soon as they bought the brewery, they went straight for the tap list. “Craft beer drinkers want to be challenged,” DeFazio says. So while they’ve kept MBC’s popular Alpha Blonde, with tweaks, and always offer an IPA, a kolsch, and a porter, the remaining six taps can be, in DeFazio’s words, “really off the wall.” Creamy milkshake IPAs, like Imperial Birthday Boi, with milk sugar, strawberry puree, and strawberry birthday cake mix— tart and fruity smoothie sours like Lisa Frank Folder, a kettlesoured ale with passionfruit, apricot, and pomegranate—in all, more than 50 new beers in 2019. “It’s really fun to dump all of that fruit into a giant vat and have something great come out on the other end,” DeFazio says. Customers think so, too—MBC takes Best Brewery for the first time this year.
Check the website for an always-up-to-the-minute tap list before you visit. And coming in 2020: more new beers in cans adorned with local art and a menu re-engineered around creative takes on burgers (1291 University Avenue, 304.292.6959, morgantownbrewing.com, @morgantownbrewingcompany on Facebook).
Best Thai Restaurant
Ta-Khrai Thai Cafe
Opened in 2017 with family recipes by Thailand native Phasavee Katepratoom and his wife, Pannaphat, Ta-Khrai quickly became a go-to restaurant on the Evansdale side of town. The menu offers an extensive list of Thai favorites, from Chicken SaTay and Crab Puffs to Papaya Salad, Pad Thai, rice and rice noodle dishes, and Thai curries—plus signature tofu, meat, and seafood entrees. The lush Thai decor, artfully plated dishes, and relaxed service turn a meal into an immersive experience that customers love, earning Ta-Khrai mostly five-star reviews on Yelp. Ta-Khrai is open every day for lunch and dinner (2862 University Avenue, 304.322.2737, takhraithaimorgantown.com, “Ta Khrai Thai Cafe” on Facebook).
Best Vietnamese Restaurant
Saigon Pho Kitchen
Saigon Pho Kitchen is everything we want in international cuisine: authentic dishes, unexpected flavors, and a setting that feels like it’s in another land. Order at the kiosk, then expect large portions delivered to your table quickly.
Try the Pho, a traditional noodle soup in a rich beef, chicken, or vegetable broth that you can finish to your liking with bean sprouts, herbs, sauces, and fresh lime wedges from the salad bar. If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, look no further than the Banh Mi, a culture-meld from the days of French occupation: a fresh French baguette spread with pate, your choice of grilled meat or tofu, crispy fresh and pickled vegetables, and a house fusion sauce. The Vermicelli Noodle Bowl is another flexible and satisfying option. Whatever you order, wash it down with fresh-brewed hot or cold Vietnamese coffee—a southeast Asia vacation right here in Morgantown (3109 University Avenue, 304.241.1814, @saigonphokitchen on Facebook).
Best Sweet Indulgence
“Cupcakes!” is the right answer to so many questions—office treats, dinner party desserts, mid-week pick-me-ups. And The Cupcakerie has elevated it all to a high art. We’re talking moist, delicious cake, dozens of flavor combinations, vivid colors, and cheery decorations—plus frosting you can float away on. Stop in to try them out, or pre-order for your next event (194 Willey Street, 304.212.5464, thecupcakerie.com, @thecupcakeriewv on Facebook).