Johnstown has terrific restaurants and taverns, but when you thirst for a bit more variety, consider the short trek to neighboring Blair County. In less than an hour (just 46 miles away), you can be enjoying a drink, a meal, and an experience that is definitely “not just another corner bar.”
Al’s Tavern, on 8th Avenue in Altoona, Penna. has wry attitude (their slogan is “Have a nice day, damn it!”) backed up by quality. You’ll find plenty of parking just across the street, before you step into the newly renovated, sparkling clean tavern. The feel is rock and roll and non-kitschy nostalgia. Your casual clothes will fit in just fine. The crowd (oh yes, there will be an evening crowd) is boisterous and good natured. Expect to find booths overflowing with college-age young adults, brimming drafts raised high; intimate couples sharing a meal; and neighborhood locals watching sports at the bar. The spacious back room, replete with more flat screens, is great for families and larger groups.
This has been a ancestrally-run establishment for nearly five decades, and owner Al Coppeta makes sure you feel like one of the clan. Table service is fast – your drink order will likely come up in less time than it took you to select a beverage from their extensive offering. There are about 16 draft beers, micro brews, and imports from which to choose. You might want to browse the long list of seasonal, specialty, and coffee mixed drinks, or a respectable wine list.
Settle in, because choosing from the menu might take some consideration – this thing is huge and full of fun innuendo. You’ll find a range of appetizers, wings in innovative varieties, salads, burgers, steaks, and more, all prepared with fresh ingredients. The French fries are amazing and come in ten styles. Other “not to be missed” selections include the tuna steak salad, Italian cold cut sub, battered shrimp, and any of the pizzas. One of their customer raves on Yelp favorably compares Al’s “Hooter” specialty sandwich to Primanti Brothers.
They accept credit cards, but you’ll probably have enough cash in pocket. Drink prices are reasonable. There are daily food specials, but even at regular menu prices, eats are affordable with more than a lumberjack could down for about ten dollars. Al’s starts serving it up at lunchtime seven days a week. And since the kitchen is open late (until 1:00 a.m.) this is a natural “after the event” stop for a really tasty – not greasy spoon – fill-up.
Even the website, www.alstavern.com has a fresh, trendy look. It includes the full menu in a very readable format. Check them out on Facebook, or call Al at 814.944.9633 for information on daily specials and upcoming entertainment. They feature DJs, acoustic rock, and sports and holiday parties.