Regardless of what you did this summer—whether you were cooking for yourself in a tiny apartment with your first kitchen, or you were eating meals prepared by your parents—you were likely waiting for your first chance to swipe your WesCard at one of the various campus eateries at the University.
Now that you’re here, you may find yourself going to Usdan three times a day to celebrate the countless choices it has to offer. While Usdan food is often tasty, there’s a chance you may get tired of it if you frequent it too often. Or perhaps you decided to switch to an all-points or fewer-meals plan, and you’re worried you’ll run out of meals before long. Luckily for you, dining options are plentiful on campus.
The general heading of “Usdan” encompasses both the Usdan Marketplace and the Usdan Café. After four years here, I still have a hard time figuring out why each is named as it is. Somewhat counterintuitively to me, the Usdan Marketplace is the upstairs, all-you-can-eat dining hall that most people refer to as the main dining hall on campus. Most students make their way to Usdan Marketplace for lunch because it’s a convenient place to go between classes. There are countless options, including custom-made sandwiches and stir-fry bowls, pasta, pizza, salad bar, vegan bar, kosher, the omnipresent cereal bar, and even a gluten-free station. Whether you’ve eaten it every day this week or you haven’t had it in a few months, Dave’s grilled cheese will get you through the roughest day. Weekday breakfast at Usdan is a hidden gem—it’s quiet and a good place to do a little bit of work (or socializing) before class.
Different nights at Usdan have different themes at the Mongolian Grill, and people tend to get very excited about them. Monday is Philly Cheesesteak night, Thursday is egg sandwich night, and Friday is slider night. Tuesday and Wednesday are both stir fry nights, and the spread is much the same as at lunch.
Notably, Usdan is a different scene on weekends. Brunch, served 11-2 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, features custom-made omelets, waffles (with toppings), bagels, and plenty of fresh fruit. (The waffle station is also available to the left of the entrance during other meals.) Usdan brunch is arguably the best way to transition between a night out and an afternoon in the library. Usdan weekend dinners, in contrast, tend to be unimpressive.
If you’re on all points or you run out of meals, breakfast at Usdan is 5.50 points (a great deal!), lunch is 7.95 points, dinner is 9.25 points, and brunch is 7.95 points.
At both Usdan and Summerfields, you can pay an extra fee to take your meal to-go, or you can sign up for the Eco-To-Go program. When you sign up, you’ll be given a keychain that can be turned in at Usdan or Summerfields in return for a reusable to-go container. Instead of throwing away the container, return it to a bin at either dining hall to be washed, and pick up another keychain for next time.
The Usdan Café is the small à la carte dining option downstairs in the University Center. Here, you can grab a quick sandwich, salad, or pre-made sushi among other to-go options. It’s also the caffeine stop closest to most classrooms north of Church Street.
Full disclosure: as a non-Butterfields resident, I nearly made it through my entire first semester without visiting Summerfields, which I deeply, deeply regret. If you live in the Butts, you’ll soon notice a snaking line of hungry diners spilling out of Summerfields during the meal rush (usually 12-1 for lunch and 6-7 for dinner). Once you make it through the wait, Summerfields is an à la carte dining hall alternative, open for lunch on weekdays and dinner seven days a week.
Here, you can opt for a “bundled” meal, which costs you one meal swipe and includes a side, a dessert, and a beverage, or you can purchase individual items for points. For first-timers: don’t throw away your receipt! You’ll have to wait to hear your number called to pick up your order. Summerfields also offers you the option of texting in your order and jumping the line when you arrive to pick up. If you’re in a hurry, you can pay a fee for a disposable to-go container or you can utilize the Eco To-Go program.
The menu is fairly extensive: besides staples like fries and chicken tenders, Summerfields is famous for a wide variety of salads (including the Caprese and the signature Summerfields Salad) as well as its “taqueria” menu of quesadillas and burritos (both rolled and bowled). Summerfields is usually pretty noisy and therefore less conducive to the whole “working lunch” concept, but the food is great, and it’s the only dinner option open until 9 p.m. There’s now an additional “Asian” menu and a make-your-own milkshake machine.
WesWings is definitely one of the pricier options when you’re spending points, but it’s tasty and the specials are always innovative. WesWings has the feel of a sports bar without the beer. The regular menu includes salads, sandwiches, pastas, and wings, and has unique vegan and vegetarian options like falafel and “Seitan-ic Wings,” spicy wings made of seitan—a high-protein wheat derivative—rather than chicken.
Personally, I tend to avoid WesWings for all meals except weekend brunch. It’s not worth the points, but brunch options are delicious and unique (a particular fried breakfast burrito wrapped in bacon comes to mind). The “Breakfast Pail” and “Hangover Special” are also quite popular after a long night out.
Red and Black Café
Red and Black is another à la carte café option located in the back corner of Broad Street Books. Popular menu items are panini, smoothies, and soups. Be sure to check the specials board, especially for brunch. Red and Black is open weekdays 9 a.m.-8 p.m. and weekends 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (a great brunch option for early weekend risers). During off-hours, it’s a cozy, generally quiet place to study over a cup of coffee or a meal.
Star and Crescent
Star and Crescent (S&C), Alpha Delta Phi’s non-exclusive eating club, is the closest you can get to a real restaurant atmosphere on campus. The food is incredible, and it’s a lovely atmosphere for meals with friends. Unfortunately, S&C is only open for lunch (usually an entrée and dessert) Tuesday through Thursday and dinner (salad, entrée, and dessert) Monday through Thursday, and it’s not unusual for the kitchen to run out of popular meals early. If you want to get in on grilled cheese day, your only hope is to be in line at least fifteen minutes early. If you arrive right at noon when lunch begins, you’re late.
Most importantly, the first three freshmen in line for every meal at Star and Crescent eat for free. Three freshmen. Every meal. Totally free. It gets competitive. Non-freshmen, now’s the time to regret not knowing about that. If you don’t get it for free, it’s 9 points for lunch and 11.25 for dinner.
Another non-exclusive eating club, Chique Chaque is in Psi Upsilon (Psi U) and is one of the oldest dining options on campus (opened in the 1860s!). Cost is a little cheaper than S&C—7 points for lunch and 10 points for dinner. Lunch starts at 12 and dinner at 6. Chique Chaque is open to all campus and is buffet-style with a single main course and sides. Most students don’t consider Chique Chaque an option, but according to the President of Psi U, Luca Ameri ’15, the fraternity is attempting to raise the eatery’s profile on campus.
Weshop, our on-campus grocery store, accepts points and stocks most food and convenience items you might need. Be sure to stock up on cooking essentials, fresh produce, and microwave meals. It’s a little overpriced, but it’s much less painful when you think of your points as “fake money” and realize you would otherwise be spending cash in a supermarket.
Weshop also has a lunch option for which you may use meals. It includes a packaged sandwich or salad, yogurt, chips, fruit, and a drink. Pretty good deal, especially if you have too many meals.
Keep an eye out in the Food section for an exhaustive description of campus food co-ops, coming soon.