We’ve all heard the horror stories of freshman year: the lousy roommates, the failed missions to find your classroom, and your first “Mom, I swear everyone did awful” test. While these fears are valid, I’m here to discuss what’s most important in my life: Eating Good Food (dramatic, but as I should be, right?). As a freshman excited to embark on the new journey of constant activity, budding friendships, and academic pressures that we call college, worrying about dining hall food is not something you want on your plate — literally. With this guide to hotspots and hidden gems surrounded by campus, I can make sure any sickening sustenance keeps at least a six-foot distance. (Too soon? Too soon.)
Enjoy my scatterbrained list of what makes me proud to be a Horned Frog — the ability to access some high-quality meals on the go and on a budget (hello, Frog Bucks, Campus Cash, and that $10 you found last week) for whatever back-to-school craving you enjoy or conference you endure.
- On the Way to Class
Fueling up for a day of being a genius in all of your classes (ahem, manifestation) requires a breakfast from the Bagel Genius itself: Einstein’s. While breakfast sandwiches are not a revolutionary topic, sometimes you have to stick to the classics. Einstein’s is about a five-minute walk from most freshman dorms and a five-minute walk from most academic buildings, making it the perfect destination for a quick meal. Plus, the bagels usually ring in between four and seven dollars on your Frog Bucks tab, unless you’re like me and have a true-crime-rated addiction to smoked salmon.
- When the Midnight Cravings Strike
There are two types of people in this world: sweet or salty. However, we all know what it’s like to get struck by that midnight craving: once you feel it, there’s no going back.
For the servants of salty snacks, the fries at O’Brien’s in the King Family Commons are calling your name. While they may not be In-N-Out or Whataburger level deliciousness–the ultimate debate–they’ll surely leave you feeling parched and wanting more.
If you’re more into sweets–my kind of people–the King Family Commons has Ben & Jerry’s ice cream pints that you can indulge in for the slim price of a few Campus Cash dollars. High-quality, delicious ice cream on the meal plan? Sign me up. If you’re willing to drop some money in the name of love, Insomnia is right around the corner of campus. With options for pickup or delivery and regular or allergy-friendly, you have almost no excuse not to treat yourself to the mouth-watering masterpiece.
- Study Sesh Dinner with Classmates
Dutch’s Burrito Bar is one of the newest additions to the TCU dining menu, and it has already captured my heart and my stomach. This build-your-own bowl/burrito-style restaurant is guaranteed to have something for everyone; even if you don’t love Mexican cuisine, you can easily select ingredients without any added spice. Hence, you don’t have to worry that your new study buddy Sarah from Biology will get hangry pre-midterm. Plus, your food is ready in under five minutes, making it an efficient and low-commitment choice. No one wants to spend more time than necessary at a dinner where the only conversation topic is the nucleus’ function, but you might as well make your meal delicious if you are.
- Feeling the Health Kick
Dear Rollin’ n Bowlin’: I owe my freshman year happiness almost entirely to you. This on-campus, meal swipes-accepted smoothie, acai bowl, and toast joint is a staple in every Horned Frog’s undergraduate diet. I’ll never forget how jealous my high school friends were that I had an acai bowl cafe on my meal plan, let alone an actually delicious one. Whether you’re fueling up post-workout and want to add a scoop of protein powder, you just had an adventurous weekend and need to taste fruit again, or you’re hunting for a base to load your daily peanut butter allotment onto, R&B is the place for you. Plus, it’s a perfect place to bond with flourishing friends as it is on the meal plan and right in the middle of campus.
- Networking With Coffee
Although I promised myself I would keep this article strictly to food, I can’t help but express the importance of networking in these four years. As TCU students, we are surrounded by peers, staff, and community members that are waterfalls of knowledge, experience, and perspective. As college students, we aren’t entirely used to this whole professionalism scene just yet. We got by in high school with the help of our clubs and teams, but now that we are establishing identities, it’s time to form connections with those we admire. Trust me–they want to chat.
However, a little networking meet-and-greet’s success can be somewhat contingent on the spot you select, so choose wisely. Yes, I’m dramatic again, but poor lighting, overly crowded spaces, and off-balanced noise levels can impact the quality of conversation. The hotspot for near-campus coffee is undoubtedly Ampersand; with delicious lattes, indulgent toasts, Frog Bucks-friendly payment, and a neutral-yet-trendy atmosphere, not much can go wrong. Fair warning: Avoid the 8-9:30 a.m. rush of college women drinking their form of liquid empowerment, ahem, coffee.