by Ivy Velazquez
One of the many things that UT tour guides rave about is the campus food. They tell the prospective students and their parents about our buffet style cafeteria, the Chik-fil-A, the Dairy Queen, along with all of the other options offered. As a senior watching the soon-to-be freshmen, who somehow seem both bored and excited, I sometimes listen in and think, “don’t fall for it.”
Once upon a time, the food at UT may have been worthy of the praises. I remember having the chicken sandwich from The Grill and thinking that it was one of the most delicious I’d ever had. But now, both the chicken and the burgers come out burnt almost to a crisp.
I am someone who frequents the caf simply because I know it is a little easier to eat healthy there. I am by no means a picky eater, but even I can’t ignore when the food I have been served was very clearly frozen beforehand. I don’t know what it is, but there is an unmistakable taste to frozen food.
But, despite all of these disappointments in the Vaughn dining options, we at least had Morsani. I doubt many people could deny that the cuisine offered in Morsani Hall was exponentially better quality than Vaughn’s. This widely-accepted opinion is perhaps best shown by the 30 minute lines that form as soon as both Salsa Rico and Pandini’s open for lunch.
I know I especially love to get the rice bowls at Salsa Rico. However, I was quite disappointed when I saw that our portions had been cut this year. Where we were once given a full-sized plate for our food, we are now given the boats that they serve the burritos in, which is probably about half the size of what we received before.
And over at Pandini’s, they changed the pizza. For those who are new this year, when you ordered a pizza, you used to order a personal pizza that was put into the oven once you ordered. It took awhile but it came out nice and hot. Now, the pizzas are premade and sit until they are ordered. The order comprises of two slices, which are notoriously cold most of the time.
Don’t even get me started on the hot dogs from Dairy Queen. It’s not so much the flavor that is the problem. It is more the odd chunks that I feel within the meat whenever I bite into one. They definitely feel like it is something that shouldn’t be in there. At least they still have decent blizzards.
Another spot that is a big highlight for incoming freshmen is our on-campus Starbucks. It’s clear why, but it does often end up as yet another disappointment. My biggest issue from our Starbucks has been the hot chocolate. To me, it’s no better than the kind you get in a package mix; more often than not, it tastes more like water rather than chocolate.
I understand that the dining halls of the university have to cater to thousands of students and faculty a day and sometimes the quality of food can be sacrificed. And it’s not like we expect five-star quality; it is school food after all.
One (sort-of) hidden treasure on campus would be Rathskeller. With a Subway-style service, quality sandwich ingredients, and their crepes making station, their quality is definitely above most of the rest of food on campus. I know I’ve never had a bad meal. However, since it’s not exactly on meal plan, it’s not an option that students frequent. And whether the sandwiches are good or not, people would likely tire of it very quickly.
Clearly the Rathskeller is doing something right. So maybe something could be emulated from it to the other dining services. In the meantime, we could at least revert back to the old Morsani options.
Ivy Velazquez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.