One of the most important aspects of campus life is definitely food. Where to eat, what to eat, and most importantly (but totally overlooked): When to eat-all of these are essential questions you have to ask yourself. So, here it goes: an impromptu guide to What’s Cookin’ at W&M:
Where: This depends on if you have a meal plan, or if you’ve decided to rough it for a semester. If you do have a meal plan, what type of meal plan is also important, as well as what type of dietary restrictions you have. If you don’t eat meat, if you’re a strict vegan, or even if you have some religious temporary restriction (like say, Passover), you need to take into account what’s available at each dining hall.
If you have a Block plan, chances are, you’ve got an excess of flex points at the end of the semester. This is great, because it means you can buy a LOT of food for what my friends like to call “free money.” The exchange rate is $1 to 1 flex point, so it’s pretty easy to manage things. There’s lots of choices on and off campus-in the Marketplace, there’s Chick-Fil-A (a personal favorite of just about everyone who eats fried chicken), and a decent sushi bar. At the SC, there’s Quiznos, and at the Caf, there’s that cool Java place right next to the entrance. Additionally, there’s Dominos, so you can order a late night pizza or cheesey bread. And if you just want a normal meal with your friends, every single place takes flex in exchange for a meal (but that’s also really expensive-it’s $9.50 for each meal).
If you have a Gold plan, you should probably try to eat at least one meal in a dining hall a day, or else it’s a waste of money. The Caf and the Marketplace are generally accepted as the reliable places to eat on campus-the SC has a tendency to be hit or miss (especially in terms of seafood and Asian food-never, under ANY circumstances, attempt to eat the grilled tofu at the SC. Such is the pathway to strained jaw muscles). Vegetarian food is found at all three places, but since the Marketplace is the same stuff, every day, more variety is found at the Caf and the SC. This means if you want to be sure you’re getting good vegetarian, you go to the Marketplace, but if you just want something different, take a chance at the SC or the Caf. The SC tends to have a ton of fried/grilled vegetarian food, the Caf has a lot of “home-style” cooking. I prefer the Caf, but then again, I’m not a vegetarian, and I’m definitely not a strict vegan. Being a strict vegan can be hard, because occasionally, there are some misunderstandings about what counts as an animal by-product (for example, I had a friend who was served “vegan” pasta, but it
was served in clam sauce).
What to Eat: Each place has special meals that are absolutely delicious and reliable. The Marketplace has Chick-Fil-A, where you can get the best fries in town, and it has Zocas, which has decent Mexican. The Marketplace is also home to Homezone, where you can get an overstuffed sandwich (chicken, stuffing, cranberry sauce, lettuce, and tomato) anytime from lunch to dinner. The SC has pretty good sautéed veggies, and they almost always have toppings for the soft serve ice cream. The Caf has the best meatloaf, and when the visiting chefs come by, or when there’s a celebration, the food is definitely the best. I’ve had poached salmon in parchment and molten chocolate cake that would make the snootiest gourmet food critic weep in pleasure…and it’s been served at the Caf. Keep in mind, though, that’s not all the time. There are occasional bad days when the only reliable food to get is a burger and fries, or the pizza.
When to Eat: This is something most people overlook, which means sometimes you’ll be waiting in line for food that’s run out by the time you get to the front. The trick is to avoid peak times, especially when visiting chefs are serving food at the Caf. Getting there earlier than six is generally pretty good, because it means you’ve avoided lines AND the food is still fresh. If you get there later than six, there’s a chance that the best stuff is already gone, and there probably isn’t any new stuff cooking. The SC is open till late, but they stop serving hot food at around 7:30. After that, it’s just cold sandwiches-you might as well go to Quiznos. Sure, you’ll have to pay a little extra, but it’s probably better than wrestling with the Panini machine and some wilted lettuce.
Of course, this is only the food on campus. Williamsburg is a veritable cornucopia of delicious food within walking distance-and honestly, if most students gotta have a choice, they’ve gotta have a WaWa.