Food, second maybe to sex, is one of the most important things that enters a student's mind on a daily basis.
When did I last have it? When can I have it again? Where, what, with whom, how much? (Okay, maybe food and sex are pretty close to being one in the same.)
Regardless, whether you are an incoming freshman or a super senior, it is important to know the highlights – and lowlights – of dining at the University at Buffalo.
The Low Down
Have you ever seen those food magazines where all the food looks incredible?
You know, the fruit looks juicy and perfectly ripe; baked goods appear fresh and steaming hot from the oven; and salads, steaks and sandwiches are all temptingly delicious looking.
Then a few months later you watch a special on the Food Network and realize that there are artists out there who spend hours lovingly crafting all this irresistible food… out of paste?
Yes, just as you were fooled by the alluring look of fake food from the glossy pages of a magazine, you as a UB student are in jeopardy of being fooled again.
UB has a plethora of dining opportunities. From the dining halls to the Student Union to the Commons, there are many places to eat. You just have to know which places sell actual food and which ones sell paste.
The Dining Halls
When you visit UB, you are sold on the endless bounty of the dining hall.
You are told it is an all-you-can-eat paradise. Fresh fruit! Salad Bar! Pizza! Carving Station! What they neglect to tell you about are all of the laxatives that the foods are laced with, leaving you with about 30 minutes after a meal before you're rushing to the bathroom.
Okay, maybe the Dining Halls aren't that bad. In fact, they are basically a rite of passage.
You are not officially a UB student until you have either snuck into one or more of the dining halls, eaten there drunk or high, or managed to gorge yourself to the point of vomiting on soft serve ice cream.
One perk of the dining halls is that if you live in the dorms, they are no more than a three-minute walk from any building in Ellicott (or on South Campus, but sometimes you'll have to trek outside to get there). They are also usually open before your first class starts and after your last class ends.
The halls are also a great place to meet people and, if you so choose, no one is going to stop you from taking thirds and fourths.
The highlight of the dining halls is definitely the weekend brunch. You can find made-to-order omelets and other hangover-approved selections, complete with greasy treats. Doors open at 11 a.m. and remain that way until 1:30 p.m., so even if you're a late riser, you'll have plenty of time to grab some grub.
The dining halls do have flaws though. Some of the food, especially the pizza and pasta station, is very pasty.
I didn't know it was possible to make a bowl of Cheerios more appealing than "normal dinner food," but when you are offered pineapple chicken that tastes like rubber, life can, and will, surprise you.
For your sanity, look out for "special" themed days.
The themed days are an excuse for the management to turn leftover pasta into "Chinese" food and serve you Thanksgiving Dinner at least seven times a semester.
That leaves precious little to be thankful for, except maybe diarrhea.
Located in Talbert Hall, Berts has been voted "Best On-Campus Eatery" for seven consecutive years. It is seriously the best place to eat on campus.
The only things keeping Berts from getting an A+ is its location and the fact that they are only open until 3 p.m. on weekdays and never during the weekend.
What makes Berts so special? It's probably the salads.
They are made right in front of you in a giant plastic bag where you can have the staff shake up a delicious combination of any number of veggies, greens, creative mixings and dressing.
Not to mention, Berts also has delicious pizza, sandwiches, subs and great options for a quick breakfast before class.
Green Mountain Coffee
Although not a place to eat on campus per se, Green Mountain is the brand of coffee that Campus Dining Services chooses to serve us out of every dispenser on campus.
Do not be fooled gentle student; whether you are grabbing a cup at Sizzles in the Student Union or at Perks, the neighborhood coffee shop, you will be drinking Green Mountain and you WILL be disappointed.
I wouldn't call myself a coffee snob and for nearly a gallon of coffee for under two dollars you can't really beat the price, but Green Mountain tastes a lot like watered down, gas station coffee.
Believe me, if you need a cup before class and want to actually enjoy it, pay the extra 25 cents and go to Tim Hortons.
Bibim Bob at Korean Express
Truly one of the most delicious entrees on campus, bibim bob at the Korean Express in the Commons is as surprisingly healthy as it is incredibly tasty.
Composed of steamed rice, shredded veggies, chicken or tofu and topped with a sunny-side-up egg and a sweet and spicy soy sauce, it is the best lunch that I have ever had on campus.
The bibim bob is not the only dish worth trying here. Veggie sushi is not only cheap at $3 for a decent sized roll, but is also incredibly fresh. Additionally, their pad thai is comparable to the likes I have had at good Thai restaurants off campus.
The Pizza at Hubies
I feel dirty even saying this, but on many occasions after riding the drunk bus home from a late night on South Campus, several of my friends and I have made sweet, sweet love to giant slices of chicken finger pizza from Hubies in the Ellicott Complex.
Hubies is not only cheap, but it's also open late and has extended hours during exams to satisfy even the guiltiest late night craving.
For under $3, you can get a huge slice of pizza made with dough that doesn't taste like it came out of a freezer (cough cough, dining hall). Smothered with sauce, mounds of cheese and toppings ranging from chicken fingers to veggies to pepperoni, it's truly delicious.
While you're at it, you may as well try their "famous" Bosco sticks, which basically taste like Olive Garden bread sticks that have been violated by large chunks of string cheese. So if you are into that type of thing, you might as well give them a go.
Oh Bento? Oh, no.
Although I cannot speak for everyone who has ever eaten at Oh Bento, the Japanese restaurant kitty cornered between Johnny C's and Bollywood Bistro in the Commons, I can say that every time I have eaten there I have been disappointed. I have exhausted triple amount of the time I have waited at any other place on campus and overpaid for extremely spicy food that is quite different from what I thought I had ordered.
My vegetarian friend has a hard time ordering there since most things on the menu include meat in some shape or form. The vegetarian options, which mainly consist of veggies on rice with weird liquids and an egg slopped on the side, leave much to be desired.
Greens and Beans
What I love about Greens and Beans in the Ellicott Complex is that no matter how hungry you are, it is impossible to walk out of there having ordered something that you will later regret when you hop on the scale.
As possibly the healthiest place to chow down, Greens and Beans offers a good selection of soups, cold salads and snacks, and an amazing salad bar loaded with fresh vegetables that are replenished constantly. The best thing about Greens and Beans is that every salad is priced according to how much you can stuff into a large, medium or small Styrofoam container.
So, during my younger, seedier days, I would stuff a small container so full of salad that I could barely close it and empty it into a large container when I returned to my dorm.
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Questions? Comments? Have a better idea?