Good eats in residence halls

By Elizabeth Weber

It is not unusual to see students pack the dining hall at ISR on Friday nights, eagerly anticipating eating residence hall food. It just so happens that Cocina Mexicana is being served, with crowds of hungry students from all over campus happily devouring hordes of nachos and tacos to their hearts’ content.

But what makes this dining experience so special and different from run-of-the-mill residence hall food?

Cocina Mexicana is one of the many specialty restaurants offered in campus housing. The other specialty restaurants include Fat Don’s, Field of Greens, Cracked Egg Caf‚, Oodles and Soul Ingredient.

Introduced in the mid-80s, the University created specialty restaurants as a way to give students unique options apart from the monotony of dining hall food.

“It’s just so different than anything else,” said Jennifer Ivarson, sophomore in LAS, who says some of her favorite specialty restaurants include Cocina Mexicana and Fat Don’s. “A lot of meals served regularly taste all the same.”

According to Kirsten Ruby, assistant director of housing for marketing, the specialty restaurants are monitored for attendance and student feedback is always taken into consideration.

The newest specialty restaurant, The Cracked Egg Caf‚, has gained fast popularity and gets many students’ seal of approval.

“It’s breakfast for dinner, and the students I’ve spoken with, love it,” Ruby said.

Here’s a breakdown of all the specialty restaurants:

Cracked Egg Cafe

  • When: Tuesdays from 4:45 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Gregory
  • Menu Type: Breakfast foods that include omelets, specialty crepes, French toast sticks.

Field of Greens

  • When: Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
  • Where: LAR-North Dining Room
  • Menu Type: A vegetarian-themed menu with foods like vegetarian tacos, orzo salads and hummus in pita wedges.

Fat Don’s

  • When: Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Where: Peabody-Snyder Dining Room
  • Menu Type: Large portioned food that include steaks, beer brats, and hubcap-sized cookies and brownies.

Soul Ingredient

  • When: Thursdays from 4:45 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: FAR
  • Menu Type: Southern-style soul food with foods like fried okra, smoked turkey wings, and pecan pie.

Oodles

  • When: Fridays from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
  • Where: Busey-Evans
  • Menu Type: Pasta, salad and dessert bar.

Cocina Mexicana

  • When: Fridays from 4:45 p.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Where: ISR
  • Menu Type: Mexican-themed dining with options like enchiladas, tortilla soup, and a taco and nacho bar.

Looking for places to use those Cafe Credits? Check out the locations below:

Busey Beanery (Busey-Evans)

  • When: Monday through Thursday, 9 p.m. – midnight

Gregory eChomps (Forbes)

  • When: Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. – midnight.; Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 1 a.m.; Saturday, 1:30 p.m. – 1 a.m.; Sunday, 1:30 p.m. – midnight.

Chomps (ISR)

  • When: Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.; Sunday through Thursday,

    8 p.m. – midnight; Friday through Saturday, 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Penn Station (PAR)

  • When: Hours TBA

For more information on housing and dining, visit: http://www.housing.uiuc.edu/dining/