A Hidden Gem: Cafe Laura (Passion 3)

Sitting in calculus on Thursday, it finally hit me: the first exam of the semester was only 5 days away.  While I aced each weekly quiz, I did not feel prepared at all.  All of the homework for my Math 141 class is optional, and the quizzes are designed as grade boosters.  As soon as my professor announced the review session that evening, I immediately committed to attending.


Unsure if I should eat dinner before or after the class, I looked at a Penn State map in search of any eaterys surrounding Keller Building.  I knew the student next to me mentioned how Keller is “way out in the middle of nowhere” but I refused to believe the remark until scanning the map.  Quite close to the Nittany Lion Inn, no dining halls border Keller, but a place called Cafe Laura caught my attention.  I searched for the restaurant and found it on a Hospitality Management site from the university.  Boasting a “grab-and-go” bar which serves Starbucks, delectable lunches, and divine themed dinners, I knew I needed to try Cafe Laura.  

Cafe Laura from the outside

Since the cafe operates on very limited hours, I returned today since I normally have classes from 11:00am-1:00pm.  While I have, hands down, discovered my new favorite lunch option at Penn State, Cafe Laura isn’t really on the way to anything.  Unless you have classes in Keller or spend time in the Recreation Building often, this isn’t an ideal every day lunch stop.  


Upon entering Cafe Laura, the first thing grabbing my attention was the modern decor and lovely natural light.  A beautiful window of geometric patterns extending from the ceiling to the entry door creates a lively ambience.  Turning to the left allows access to the classrooms in Keller Building, while the dining options are found in the other direction.  While this appears to be a mini dining commons from a distance, the quality of the food is too delectable to compare it to the cardboard pizza and frozen veggies of Pollock or Redifer.  Stations today showcased entrees ranging from a gourmet 3 cheese grilled cheese with fries, to freshly made salads (much like those in Au Bon Pain, but cheaper!) to chili-lime tacos.  

In addition to the stations above, there are salads and a daily feature around the corner!

While all of this looked delicious, I opted for a cheese tortellini soup with Italian bread since I am typically in Calculus during lunch.  I hesitated for a second since I despise the tomato soup at Redifer’s City Grille.  However, this rich, creamy soup absolutely pleased!  The portion size was just enough, and didn’t taste as if it came directly from a can.  In addition, the tortellini served much more pleasing than the same pasta coming from the “Late Night” buffet.  

My lunch: cheese tortellini soup, Italian bread, iced coffee, and a mini cannoli!

Additionally, I decided to explore the King’s Espresso Bar housed in Cafe Laura.  Open much longer than the cafe itself, the espresso bar sells a limited selection of Starbucks beverages along with myriad baked goods: Irving’s bagels, cookies, and 50 cent mini cannolis to name a few!  While you can only order iced/hot coffee or select frappuccinos, the service is incredible (run by eager, kind hotel management students) and the cannolis taste amazing!  Oh, and did I mention that everything here accepts your dining points?


After eating and studying in the the beautiful establishment of Cafe Laura, I highly recommend making the trip out here at least once in your Penn state career (maybe if your parents are visiting and willing to drive you!)

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