When the Roff family donated a plot of land to be used for a schoolhouse in the 1930s, they probably didn't predict the 250 craft microbrews that later would represent that site. They probably didn't expect a pool table either. Or burgers and pizzas whose flavors are as bold as the plates' bawdy names. But time brings many changes, and, lucky for beer and beef fans, the site of Roff School Tavern has slung tavern fare since 1977. It seems every inch is steeped in history, even when things change. Today, the 8,000 square feet of a German-style beer garden encourage sunlit eating punctuated by frisbees. Inside, knots in the walls' wood panels echo the wooden bar top and the circular trunk slices that act as tables.
Roff School Tavern's menu works in an inventive way: it lists 20 different topping combos and gives customers the option of placing them on burgers or pizzas. Ciabatta bookends handmade steak patties. Pizza crusts are made with a choice of white or whole flour, and topping combos include the Wake 'n' Bake with sausage gravy, fried egg, and mozzarella, or the Bluth's Banana with fried plantains, pulled pork, banana peppers, and thousand-island dressing.
Hookah is all about embracing a slower pace of life. When seated in front of a shisha, one is committed to doing nothing, at least for a little while. The street cafes of Cairo hum with groups of friends exercising this ethos, taking turns inhaling sweet, fragrant smoke and sipping tea. Despite Pittsburgh’s distance from the Sahara, KOAL Hookah Lounge brings a bit of that mentality to Slippery Rock.
After boiling tobacco leaves with one of 21 fruit varietals, the staff at KOAL pack ornate water pipes for parties of three or five. Though most menu flavors reflect long-established tradition, the lounge experiments with unconventional blends such as the Vanilla Sky, a mixture of vanilla and blackberry tobacco. The modern décor further illustrates this embrace of old and new, with track lighting illuminating a bottle-lined wall, and bold reds encapsulating a row of sleek black stools. Guests can dramatically exhale on the outdoor patio, as well, as they savor hot chocolate and fervently detail the interesting dream they had last night.
Over the last 50 years, The Park Tavern has perfected the convivial trifecta of eating, drinking, and bowling. A menu of gourmet burgers and traditional pub fare mingles with a drink menu of domestic and imported beers and wines for between-frame refueling. On Mondays, the alley fills with high-energy tunes, and bowling balls careen all night during the $5 all-you-can-bowl nights. The Park Tavern rolls out its varied bowling buffets for corporate events, birthday parties, or the anniversary of the end of bowling prohibition during the Nixon administration.
Vermont Tavern silences boisterous stomachs with platters laden with hearty pub grub. Lubricate rusty jaw hinges with starters such as sausage-stuffed poblano peppers, a gardeny basket filled with mildly spiced italian sausage and topped with homemade marinara and shredded parmesan cheese ($8.50). Main events such as the Ox Roast sandwich, a kaiser roll loaded with slow-roasted beef ($7.95), satisfy meaty cravings, and comforting helpings of V.T. mac 'n' cheese snuggle tongues in a bed of pasta, marinated chicken, and creamy sauce ($11.95). Circle-savoring patrons may sample the Margaretta Villa pizza, which tops hand-flung dough with fresh basil pesto sauce, roasted roma tomatoes, and fresh buffalo mozzarella, quenching appetites and doubling as a disk in the event of an impromptu ultimate Frisbee match ($9.95). In addition to satisfying eats, Vermont Tavern acts as a conductor for an electric atmosphere, hosting live music and energetic events.
Bootleggers Bar and Grill fills hollow bellies with an extensive and eclectic menu of American classics plated up within a warm, casual atmosphere. Share a premeal snack of chicken or beef macho nachos, a mixture of chili con queso, refried beans, sweet peppers, and shredded cheese blanketing house-made tortilla chips ($5.99) while discussing the benefits of naming children Chevy Nova, or prepare solo stomachs with the popular Texas-seasoned baked-potato soup ($2.50 for a cup, $3.75 for a bowl).
The Boardwalk Complex is the jewel of Erie nightlife, boasting four diverse venues in one location. The laid-back Boardwalk Bar plays host to casual hangouts with dartboards, jukeboxes, and flat-screen TVs, while the luxurious Dream Ultra Lounge swanks up the evening with sleek leather sofas, a mahogany bar, and an upper-crust dress code that keeps sandal-wearing gladiators in the arena where they belong. The Dream Nightclub proffers state-of-the-art dance space with a luminous bar, kaleidoscopic light show, and scorching music video projections. Venerate the sun gods of summer as you bask in the tiki torch glow of Coconut Joe’s outdoor deck and chow down on goodies from the grill. Your VIP entrance rushes you to the ruckus with expedited entry and covers two slices of toasty pizza and two drinks from standard domestic bottles and well liquor.