BY HALEY HODGES
Dining hall food is going to seem great for about two weeks, tops. You don’t have to cook for yourself, you can get as much as you want at Hubbell, sampling every station and each dessert and Quad just has so many items for you to try. There is always going to be a certain convenience about the two but I will tell you right now, the biggest problem with the dining halls is that, pretty quickly, you run out of new things. And then weeks keep dragging by and you’re eating a chicken quesadilla at Quad for the fifth day in a row.
I can’t say there’s some magical way to solve this problem, and I can’t say now, as a junior living off campus, I’m not glad to be rid of my meal plan but maybe I can help suggest what to look out for at Hubbell and Quad.
Let’s start with Hubbell. Lunch is almost always going to be their best meal because that’s when potential students tour. It took me a while to catch on to this, and since Hubbell isn’t as convenient to grab on the way to class as Quad, I didn’t capitalize on this nearly enough. I’ve had pretty good mac and cheese, there’s usually burgers and quesadillas that aren’t as saturated with oil as the ones at Quad are.
Lunch sandwiches at the first station at Hubbell were usually a good find. They’d change around but usually some sort of lightly grilled meat and/or cheese sandwich that was safe and a solid meal when paired with sides of your choice.
When the actual sandwich station is open, that’s also a good choice as you can choose exactly what you want and whether to toast it. Unless you’re really into condiments, I would always ask for a little bit of mustard, mayo or whatever else because if not, the workers can go a little overboard.
For dinner, Hubbell can disappoint, especially on the weekends. Fridays and Saturdays in particular are good nights to eat out or go to Quad because Hubbell usually has one less station open and sometimes generally sad food. I’ve eaten just a bowl of rice for dinner on multiple occasions.
A rice bowl for dinner may seem a little sad but if you’re really not into what’s being served, just go for the sides. I really like rice and potatoes so I pretty much always have that choice, as well as salad.
To get the best out of Hubbell dinners, look for the themed nights. They pop up every so often and tend to involve new foods that are generally a little tastier. Also, the best meal I’ve had at Hubbell is the chicken fried steak so look out for that. But also accept the online menu is rarely accurate so don’t ever get your hopes too high for your favorite food.
I’m a breakfast person, so Hubbell breakfast or brunch were always my favorite. If you can get over the instant egg product that makes your scrambled eggs every morning, you can eat them with whichever potato they’re serving and pretend you’re having a quality meal. For potatoes, there’s definitely a hierarchy with tri-tater patties at the very top and hash browns usually ranking pretty high after. Sometimes you can just tell when the food is going to be disappointing but you can always get something else if you were fooled.
The breakfast quesadilla and burrito are also pretty good, and the omelet bar is delicious if you have the time to wait for it.
The best foods at Quad are going to depend on your preferences, but if you’re not always health conscious, the melt station where pretty much everything is fried is tasty. It’s terrible for you, but they make a damn good grilled cheese and sometimes, that’s just what you need. This is the one station you can ask for substitutes of things pretty easily as well. Ask for the chicken melt on Texas toast bread and if you ever want to be a little healthier, ask for grilled chicken in any of your orders. Also, when you have flex to spend, the cheese curds are a good snack for late nights or something to eat on the go.
Otherwise, the stations depend on what you like. Pizza was always a solid option, especially if you can grab one they just brought out. The ones that have been sitting awhile get kind of solidified and unpleasant. The Mediterranean station tends to fill you up and the salads can be made into multiple meals. I always liked getting nachos from the burrito station and just treating them like a taco complete with lettuce and rice on top of my chips and cheeses.
The sandwich station is never anything like Subway like they told you during your tours, but it’s a sandwich, and you can’t go too wrong. They also offer gluten free bread as one of the few consistent options besides salad if you have an allergy.
If you do have an allergy, get in contact with Michelle Laughlin who’s in charge of disability services, and she can point you in the right direction to get out of your meal plan if needed.
My biggest piece of advice, especially for people with busy schedules, is to do meal swipes at the C-store. You get a lot of food out of it and can get a small coffee or hot chocolate as your drink and, while I can’t vouch for the coffee, the hot chocolate is delicious.
Last semester, I got so tired of my lack of healthy options, I consistently just ate cups of fruit or yogurt from the C-store as the entrée and cups of grapes as my side—It got to a point where I had about seven cups of grapes stored in my mini fridge as leftovers. If you’re not a grape person, they have other sides too but get there early because the good options are gone after the lunch rush. You can also do multiple meal swipes at a time and stock up for dinners for night classes or practice or whatever else your life entails.
To all the first-years, or anyone else who hasn’t quite figured the dining hall thing out, good luck.