Thursday, July 24, 2014

Iconic Morgantown Food

PicMonkey Collage

Every time I travel somewhere, I want to find the most iconic places to try. What is this place known for? What has been around forever? What do the locals order? When people ask "Oh, you went to XXX, did you order the XXX?" I want to say yes!

So, I figured I could try my hand at a little handy guide for folks visiting Morgantown. Only in town for the weekend and want to check out the must-try places? Maybe not necessarily my favorite - but the ones Morgantown is known for?

You're in the right place.

1. Black Bear Burritos - burrito + queso.
Black Bear is probably one of the most identifying restaurants in Morgantown. Started by a couple of alums, this place isn't your typical Mexican burrito. Instead, they have a ton of ethnic, creative burritos - and weekly specials. Try any burrito, but you must get a side of queso. Plus lots of local beer. If you want the real feel, go to the downtown location.

2. Mario's Fishbowl - wings.
Fishbowl is a townie haven. The original location is covered in notes and paper from visitors throughout the years. Uncontested best wings in town.

3. Mountain State Brewing Company - Fire on the Mountain flatbread + beer.
One of two brewpubs in town, and they're known for fun, creative pizzas - or "flatbreads." The Fire on the Mountain is a bit spicy - but good. Check out their weekly special, too.

4. Tailpipes - burger + maple bacon shake.
Tailpipes has some crazy burger combinations, but always comes through. They also have some interesting shake combos. Grab any fun burger & try that crazy sweet, salty shake.

5. The Grind - coffee/latte.
Morgantown's premier coffee shop. Plus they have some tasty sandwiches and other goodies. If you want a place that will show you some cool latte art, check them out.

6. Puglioni's - bread.
Puglioni's has some amazing dishes - my favorite amongst them being the pasta carbonara. But everyone knows their bread. It's warm and buttery and mm.

7. Pizza Al's - pizza.
Best pizza in town. Hands down.

8. Ogawa - Love Roll.
Ogawa is known for this roll. Not my absolute favorite, but it's not bad either. Tuna, salmon, asparagus, avocado, masago and topped with crab, mayo and spicy sauce.

9. Gene's - hotdogs.
It's a fav. Try a hotdog, get a beer and listen to a good band.

10. Oliverio's Ristorante - Angel Hair Crab Balls.
They sound a little crazy, but they're a town specialty. Fried pasta with crab and a tangy sauce. So good.

11. Morgantown Brewing Company - beer.
The only brewpub currently that brews here. Getchu one. Or three.

Like I said, these aren't all necessarily my favorite dishes (if you want those, click here), but they are quintessential Morgantown.

Has anybody tried all of these? Or any of these on your to-try list? What have I missed!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Morgantown Edition: Fusion

Fusion at Lakeview ResortFusion at Lakeview Resort

While I've pretty much nixed any chain hotel restaurants, the locally owned places are still a go. I've been to The Montmartre in Hotel Morgan, the Regatta Bar & Grille in the Waterfront Place Hotel, Legends Sports Bar & Grill at Lakeview, and so it was time for Fusion at Lakeview.

Fusion at Lakeview ResortThere's not really a lot of information about Fusion. I always believed it was the fine, sit-down dining establishment at Lakeview (and Legends was the sports bar counterpart). But, instead, it's a buffet.

Fusion at Lakeview ResortThey're open Monday through Friday from 6:30-10 a.m., and 6:30 -11 a.m. on Saturday for their hot breakfast buffet. They're open Friday and Saturday from 5-10 p.m. for dinner. Dinner is their prime rib buffet. Plus other American cuisine offerings.

We walked in on Saturday night and were greeted with this menu: "Asian vegetable, field green salad with toppings, Asian blend, jasmine rice, General Tso's chicken, miso cod, 'A Touch of Italy Pasta Station,' slow roasted pepper coated prime rib." That sounded OK, so we went with it.

There's no price to be found anywhere - so we asked. $25. Alright.

So the first portion was just salad toppings - and not very many. I skipped by that since it wasn't too exciting. There was the General Tso's pan, but there was hardly any sauce, and the noodles were not pan-fried - they looked boiled. Which was odd. It was like they were trying to be lo mein, but just looked like spaghetti.

Fusion at Lakeview ResortThe coconut shrimp was pretty soggy. Yep.

Fusion at Lakeview ResortThe stations were the best. I had a shrimp alfredo penne with mushrooms dish cooked up. It's nice that it was cooked to order, but it wasn't really flavorful.

Fusion at Lakeview ResortThe prime rib slice I was cut was decent, though. Ignoring the large chewy/fatty pieces, the actual meat was good. And the horseradish cream sauce that accompanied it was really good. The most standout part of the entire dinner, really.

Fusion at Lakeview ResortDessert was OK. Average. Though there were a few choices - a few pies and cakes.

Fusion at Lakeview ResortIt might be a good choice if you're sticking around at the hotel, but there are other options around town. Lakeview does host a bevy of cooking competitions, which are great, so I hope to go back soon for those.

Grade: C
Fusions on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 21, 2014

Morgantown Edition: Kkochi

KkochiWhen I'm bored, I'll sometimes browse the #Morgantown hashtag on Instagram to see what cool photos of my town folks are capturing. While on there, I discovered Kkochi. After some more digging, I discovered the Facebook page and found out they are delivery only. A few days later, I put in an order with some coworkers.

Kkochi sells two main items: kkochi and kimbap. Kkochi is Korean-style grilled kebabs with Korean BBQ sauce. Kimbap is a Korean-style sushi roll, but everything is cooked (no raw). You can check out her Facebook album for photos of all her offerings. Kkochi offerings include beef, pork, spicy pork, chicken, spicy chicken, shrimp, spicy shrimp, and vegetarian. The kkochi includes two skewers of the meat, plus green onion, onion and sauce - either BBQ or spicy. Plus rice and kimchi.

KkochiI ordered the beef kkochi, because I wanted to see what the regular BBQ sauce was like. This was by far the best part of my meal. It was fairly small, though, just two skewers at $13 is a little pricey. But super tasty. Tender beef and a delicious sweet BBQ sauce with some sesame seeds on top. Kimchi was good and spicy.

A friend had the spicy chicken, and I tried it. Not as crazy about the spicy ones as the regular sauce ones. Spicy seems like a mixture of Sriracha.


The kimbap seems like something I'd love because I'm crazy about sushi. She has regular (seaweed paper, rice, crabstick, fishcake, pickled radish, egg, cucumber and comes with pickled radish), cheese, kimchi (with Korean bulgogi sauce), beef bulgogi (with Korean bulgogi sauce), chicken bulgogi (with Korean bulgogi sauce), turkey (turkey bacon), tuna (tuna salad), ham, vegetarian, tofu, veggie meat, and mushroom.

KkochiI love bulgogi, so I went with the beef bulgogi one. It comes with everything on the regular one, but with the beef and sauce. It was pretty tasty, but it was just too dry without the sauce. It really needs that Korean BBQ sauce to give it some more flavor -- just like how sushi has the soy sauce with it. I really think with that extra sauce, these would be awesome.

Lucy, the owner, even threw in some extras for us - kimchi kimbap and ham kimbap. She said the ham has been selling well. Both were not bad. Again, wish I had some of that extra sauce, though.

If you're interested, they're delivery only currently and are delivering in the downtown WVU area. She said they took card but had some trouble when we tried, so I ended up writing a check. But give her a call at 304-881-9653 or shoot her a Facbeook message.

Grade: B
Kkochi on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 18, 2014

Nitro Edition: Diehl's Family Restaurant

Diehl'sDiehl's is a place that I've heard about for a long time. It's had a secure place on my "to try" list for - I think - before I even moved to Charleston. It fell to the wayside after I moved back to Morgantown, but recently my editor at the magazine I freelance for asked me if I had heard of it. Of course, I responded. He then asked me to do a story on it. Perfect.


Diehl's embodies everything Nitro. It has photos and memorabilia from local heroes and athletes hung on the walls. Cap guns, pieces of history and others decorate each wall here. It feels like home. But I'll save that for my article.

Diehl'sI ordered the roast beef and gravy. It came with two sides - I went with mashed potatoes and sage dressing. Plus rolls. Keith Diehl, and his son Aaron, brought us out some cole slaw and green beans, too. Nice fellows.

Diehl'sThis isn't my typical dish, but when in Rome. The roast beef was killer. Super tender and moist and flavorful with the gravy. The sage - IS FRIED STUFFING. I MEAN. C'MON. So tasty. And mashed potatoes - homemade and thick and creamy.

Diehl'sIf you want to get a good feel for this area in terms of the culture and history, while also getting a full belly of homecooked food, look no further.

Diehl'sOh god. And graham cracker pie. It was like this pudding, with graham cracker, whipped cream. So good. I can't wait to try go again.

Grade: A

Diehl's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Morgantown Growler Tour

A growler is a jug that allows folks to transport beer from a brewery to home. Yes, you can buy cans of whatever domestic beer you want in a store, but what about that awesome craft beer that isn't bottled? A growler allows you to take home a half-gallon of beer.

They're filled straight from the tap, sealed with a cap, and the ones in Morgantown cost around $15-$20. That includes buying the actual container, and when you bring it back to get it refilled - depending on the type of beer you want - it's generally cheaper. They'll keep in the fridge for about 7-10 days or 2-3 once opened.

Right now, in Morgantown, there are three places to purchase growlers:


Morgantown Brewing Company is the only brewpub in town right now that actually brews their beer here, so it's perfect for a growler. My favorite is their Kettle Bottom Brown.


Mountain State Brewing Company is the other brewpub in Morgantown - though they don't actually brew in town. They brew at their Thomas, W.Va., location. Still great brewpub with my fav. there - the Almost Heaven Amber Ale.


The last place that sells growlers is Black Bear. They don't brew their own beer, but they have a lot of local beers on tap, so it's a pretty cool option if you want, say, Chestnut Brew Works. Hopefully that's actually not the case for much longer, as Chestnut will be opening a taproom in South Park soon.

Any others in town?