Diverse dining found on campus

The SLP salad bar offers a wide range of toppings available to choose from.

Of all the concerns students have regarding college, food can be one of the biggest. Most students go home to concerned family members who worry that their college student isn’t getting enough to eat. At the University of San Diego, students are at no shortage of options with over five dining locations to choose from which to choose.

Meal plan Dining Dollars may be used to purchase food at several different on-campus locations — Pavilion Dining, Aromas, Bert’s Bistro, Blue Spoon, La Paloma, Torero Tu Go (food truck), and L’atelier (inside Tu Mercado).

Junior Sofia Sanchez takes advantage of the Dining Dollars that accompany her meal plan.

“Anywhere I can spend my Dining Dollars is where you’ll find me,” Sanchez said. “All the food is pretty good on campus; you can’t really go wrong. It’s just a matter of what you are in the mood for.”

The dining option that offers the most variety is the Student Life Pavilion (SLP). There are plenty of options diners can choose from; from classic American burgers to Vietnamese Pho, the choices are not limited.

At the SLP, there is an array of 11 different stations to choose from for lunch. The Mu Shu counter offers authentic Chinese food such as orange chicken, Mongolian beef, and chow mein. The Clean Earth Kitchen offers a plant-based menu using clean ingredients to create vegan dishes to order. Heirloom Cucina serves wood-fired pizza, piadine, and Italian casseroles, just to name a few.

Sanchez is a big advocate of the large variety of choices the SLP provides.

“The options are pretty much endless,” Sanchez said. “I find myself eating at the SLP more often than not, because there’s so many different options of what you can eat.”

Despite having unlimited options to choose from, Sanchez can be frequently seen ordering from the same station every time.

“My go-to meal is probably sushi,” Sanchez said. “You wouldn’t think that sushi at school is good, but it’s actually delicious and they have so many different rolls to choose from. I feel like I’m at an actual sushi restaurant.”

On the contrary, junior Jake Bauman acknowledged the lack of options present at SLP dinner.

“The SLP is probably my favorite for dinner, but I still get sick of it,” Bauman said. “They just have five stations [that are open for dinner] and it’s all the same every night.”

A chicken wrap with a side of pita chips and humus ordered from Tapenade.

Loryn Johnson, Director of Marketing, Auxiliary Services, spoke out on behalf of the Pavilion Dining.

“More stations are actually open for dinner than lunch,” Johnson said.

There are even additional stations open at dinner time —Embers BBQ, a pasta bar adjacent to Tapenade, and Clean Eath Kitchen [a vegan station].

Bauman suggested it would be more appealing if there were one station that offered a new cuisine every night in order to add variety.

Heather Lang, Chef Manager of Pavilion Dining, offered a different perspective to SLP dining.

“I think returning students will be very surprised at the new additions,” Lang said.  “Students can create hundreds of combinations with the menu items available this semester.”

While the cuisine diversity may be slacking at the SLP for Bauman, he noted that the company is never lacking.

“The SLP is great because you see all your friends here, especially at dinner time,” Bauman said. “I have random conversations with four or five different people — I never get out of there.”

Some students such as Bauman believe that the prices of dining on campus aren’t very accommodating to those on a budget.

“Everywhere on campus is ridiculously priced,” Bauman said. “In the morning I go to Tu Mercado to get coffee for $2.75 which is pretty expensive. You can go to Starbucks and pretty much pay the same thing and it’s better quality.”

Students should not be deterred; it is still possible to eat a quality meal without having to bust open their wallet.

“I’ve gotten away with getting a lot of food for only $4 at the salad bar [located in the SLP],” Bauman said. “Tu Mercado has sandwiches for $6.50 and you get a side of salad, chips, or fruit — it’s pretty filling for that price.”

For students trying to limit their expenses on food, there are other ways to skirt high prices. Students can bring snacks from home to help get them through their day; then they only have to worry about paying for one meal.

Senior Mallery Keifus tends to favor some of the healthier options offered on campus.

“Once Aromas reopened, I found my new go-to place,” Kiefus said. “They have a great variety of options for both breakfast and lunch.”

After undergoing extensive renovation, Aromas has become an even more popular as a place for students to study, socialize, and snack. Other on campus dining options, including La Paloma and Tu Mercado are also popular.

Kiefus will often order avocado toast with egg to accompany her morning coffee before she heads to class.

For this order it costs $1 for the toast, $3 to add avocado, and $1.50 to add an egg, totaling $5.50. Students can order a similar meal for around the same price and have the option to pick and choose what toppings to add to their toast, with each topping varying in price.

USD offers a bit of everything to all customers in search of food. Most students probably don’t attend USD for the quality of the on-campus food, but that’s not to say it isn’t a nice addition. There is something to satisfy the health-conscious eaters, the budget-conscious eaters, and those who are searching for a delicious meal.

Taryn Beaufort | Opinion Editor | The USD Vista