With the plethora of student eateries spanning the campus, the daily decision on where to consume the almighty food and drink is a challenging task. Freshmen, by default, have no idea how to tell good grub from bad, and even upperclassmen are thrown off by the menu overhauls made annually to their favorite diners (though the average student weight will likely drop 6 lbs. now that Hillside has stopped serving ice cream.)
Health is only one concern that plays a role in choosing where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Location, location and usually location should all contribute to helping you find the right meal to quench your hunger. The following comprehensive list counts down and reviews the primary food sources on campus in effort to educate students on where to eat best – and where to avoid.
10. Danforth Dining Center – Want to challenge yourself? Go to Danforth, don’t read the menu, and try to guess what you’re eating. If you can tell before tasting several bites, chances are you spent last semester abroad in England.
The mess hall of UR generally serves athletic teams looking to put on weight and freshmen before they wise up and realize better food is offered elsewhere. The cuisine has such a reputation for wreaking intestinal havoc that all the jokes have become trite. The cafeteria does have its positives, though. The floor is carpeted, there are a lot of windows and the tables seat large groups. But the bottom line is that it’s the only cafeteria where the phrase “all you can eat” sounds like a threat.
9. Vending machine in the basement of Sue B. – Though this eatery loses several points for its inaccessibility to most students and lack of fresh goods, location is still the key, and at 4:12 a.m. after everything closes, nothing’s sweeter than a short elevator ride down a few flights for a bag of peanut M&M’s. You don’t even have to put on pants.
8. The Hive – Quality popcorn.
7. The Pura Vida Caf – Does this place even really exist? Rumors are circulating of a gorgeous caf where the registers are made of gold and the fair trade coffee flows freely. But its apparent location in the Goergen Biomedical Engineering building – equally far from virtually every residence hall on campus – will keep it only a legend passed down from one BME major to another.
6. Starbucks – What was once considered blasphemous – a major food and drink chain setting up shop at UR – became real this summer, and the result is an impressive looking caf. What Starbucks lacks in fair trade coffee it makes up for in good cookies and top-tier ambiance. The downside? No breakfast anywhere else in Wilson Commons, and sayonara to the Meliora Express, a former crowd favorite.
5. The Meliora Restaurant – It was the wise Ben Franklin who said “A penny saved is a penny earned,” and he would approve of the Meliora, built for those of you too cheap to take your girlfriend out on a real date. Instead, decline her a meal at UR’s only sit down restaurant, which offers decent service and a rapidly improving menu. Your lady friend will be especially impressed when she hears that even tips aren’t expected. Just remember to make it an early lunch date, since the restaurant closes at 2 p.m. and she’ll want to dump you in time for dinner.
4. The Pit – The phrase “the Pit” brings to mind many things – fire pits, garbage pits, armpits – and none of them are appetizing. So common sense would tell you that a place called the Pit wouldn’t be where to go for food. Well, if you haven’t already, chuck common sense out the window because the Pit is one of the surefire, mainstay, ol’ reliable staples for lunch and dinner on campus. Whether it’s a mediocre sandwich at the authentic Blimpie counter (there’s a Blimpie sign – it must be real!) or a burger doused in grease, you can take comfort in always knowing what you’re getting. The Pit also serves the best curly fries in the world on a completely random basis.
3. Hillside Cafe – Hillside is the most versatile eatery on campus – the hours are superb, and it is now the only on-campus food center serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night meals. Need breakfast? Grab a bagel. Need Lunch? Order a slice of extra-puffy pizza. Dinner? Go for a custom-made quesadilla. And who needs Taco Bell for a fourthmeal when you can venture down to Hillside for a made-to-order omelet? Plus, if you’re looking for food that hasn’t been tampered with, the cereal comes in pre-packaged containers.
2. Douglass Dining Center – Douglass is the heart and soul of on-campus eating. Aptly named after the great American Frederick Douglass, the cafeteria boasts a Mexican grill, Italian pasta, Greek salads and a Kosher Deli. But the top cuisine is at the barbecue station, where you can find roasted chicken, pulled pork sandwiches and turkey with gravy. Though only open on weekdays, Douglass could quickly turn into your choice cafeteria for lunch and dinner because of its decent quality, wide variety and convenient location. But be wary – as with any on-campus dining center, eat there too often and the mere sight of a chicken quesadilla will make you queasy.
1. Uncle Dickie’s – The four-wheeled metallic cart that rolls up to the Fraternity Quad late on Saturday nights doesn’t take meal plans. It’s open for maybe a few hours a week. It really shouldn’t even be considered on-campus eating. But if you’ve had one bite of an Uncle Dickie’s burger, then you’re willing to look past all that as well. Not much is known about Uncle Dickie except that he makes appearances on weekends and school holidays to grace the student population with his cheese fries. No one ever sees him arrive, no one ever sees him leave. He remains a strange, somewhat disconcerting mystery. But until Douglass opens a late night concession stand at the Frat Quad, he’ll remain in the top spot.
Honorable mention would have gone to the future Einstein Bagels, but the plan was recently nixed in favor of a Rochester “Connections” stand. Whether this concession stand will make a big enough splash to shake up the list remains to be seen.
Fountaine is a member of the class of 2008.