So, in case there was any confusion, I’m an adult. I do adult things. I go to work. I pay my bills. I own slacks and a coffee maker and sometimes I get caught up in adult stuff and I freakin’ forget to find a restaurant to review. You think I have time wander around looking for food? Huh? Like a raccoon? You think I’m not living off a McDonald’s drive through? I’m only human. Get off my back.
Unfortunately, this is also my last review before graduation and I — like you — am spending the entirety of this week desperately trying to prepare for exams and final projects. I‘ve been crying, sleeping, and panicking in equal parts for like two weeks. I’ve reached that point where time is an illusion. There’s no morning or night or lunch time, only time when I am or am not studying. I don’t go to bed, I pass out wherever I happen to be when my body literally can’t continue to function. When I’m awake it’s a blur of caffeine, notes, textbooks, and Overwatch. I haven’t eaten anything that didn’t come from a paper bag in like three weeks. I don’t have time for a food review OK? OK???
…But it wouldn’t feel right to not write something. On a more personal note, I’ve been working as Creative Director of AMP for a little over a year now, and it’s been a really fun time. I started writing these food reviews out of necessity, and since then have come to really enjoy cranking them out every week…at the last minute…like 45 minutes before the drop deadline. I’ll miss doing them, and there are a lot of restaurants I would love to have had time to actually write about, but for now I’m going to work with what I have: a whole lot of opinions. I’m going to do my best to give as many bite-sized UTD centric reviews as I can in the half hour I’m allotting to this article. I hope they’re helpful.
RAPID FIRE FOOD REVIEW
1) SMASHED!!! – Arguably the only restaurant on campus that means anything to me. It’s literally a potato shop. You can get a Build-a-Spud or a Protein Potato — both endearingly stupid names — with your choice of a russet or sweet potato, I think. Who cares? Whatever. What matters is that when you tell them what you want, they calmly pick up the chosen potato, put it on a sacrificial little metal slab thing, and then SMASH it. They just bash it with a frying pan thing like it did something to them. THEN, they have the audacity to turn back to me and look at me like I’m the lunatic for laughing. I’m an adult and an intellectual, but you can’t tell me that’s not funny. The fact that everyone else is so calm makes it funnier. The food is good, and the potato pancake method lets you enjoy an equal spud to toppings ratio until the very end, and they bake it in a big ole’ oven so it’s all gooey and wonderful. I just can’t be in a bad mood after going to SMASHED!!!
2) A fake IHOP
I love funny face pancakes, so when I heard about the new IHOP popping up by the dining halls I was thrilled. I don’t even live on campus, but I figured it’d be a cute spot to grab some breakfast. Plus it’s open late, so I could do breakfast for dinner and feel all good inside and be all full of funny face pancakes.
Well GUESS WHAT? There aren’t any funny face pancakes. They lied. They gave me hope and then spit in my face. It’s a phony IHOP, you guys. A glorious façade. They only have half the menu, it’s colder than the freakin Arctic, and the service is way too slow for a feel good breakfast before class. I mean, what’s the point if I can’t get seasonal trash French toast? What’s the point if I can’t get a funny face pancake?
“But, Bryar,” they say, “It’s only a campus IHOP. What did you expect?”
I expected an ACTUAL IHOP. Get it together.
3) The ATEC third floor vending machine
Look, UTD is a pretty classy campus. We’re all pretty healthy people, pretty up-to-date on trends and technology. A classy campus needs classy food. We’re busy, though, so we need classy food on the go. Problem is, you’re broke as hell. No judgement, but let’s not lie to ourselves… A bag of goldfish and a Monster could very well be your dinner.
I mean, you COULD go to the SU vending machines or the ones in your dorm…if you’re satisfied with that. If you don’t want to strive for something greater.
If you want to vend with the elite, however, may I suggest the third floor ATEC vending. It’s pretty exclusive; most people walk right past it totally ignorant to its potential. It doesn’t have time for your honey bun and Hot Cheetos nonsense. It only has quality healthy snacks for quality healthy people, like yourself. Next time you’re feeling a little fancy, stop by.
4) People in the SU trying to get you to sign a thing
Hit or miss. If it’s a hit, there will without question be a line of people that wraps all the way around the plinth. Apparently, nobody has stuff to do, but me. If it’s a miss, you might get like a tootsie roll or something if you swoop in really quickly and speed walk away before the vendor has time to ask you your opinions on social policy.
5) Panda Express
Delicious — obviously — and absolutely worth it if you can get there before the lunch rush. They always have a 5-10 minute wait for teriyaki chicken, which leads me to believe they’re hoarding it all for themselves. Understandably, it’s easily the best thing on the menu besides the orange chicken. The guys at the counter are nice and totally won’t confront you if you grab more than your one allotted fortune cookie.
6) The elusive “Jason’s Deli”
Possibly a really mean joke that my roommates are playing on me, but apparently there’s a super-secret Jason’s Deli in JSOM. I dare not venture into the building, as it seems like a place of stress and oppression, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about the sandwiches.
7) Some food trucks apparently
Now, I know these exist, but I also know I can’t afford them, nor do I have time to eat from a truck on a regular basis. It’s a luxury I reserve for music festivals and gaming conventions. However, I also know that those things are just RIPE for instagramming, and, now that UTD is becoming a more campusy campus, this is the best time to get in on it early. It’s not about the food, it’s about the street cred, so if you go, tell them I sent you so I can get free food and reap the benefits of those sweet sweet insta tags.
8) Starbucks, duh
A delightful way to fill your body with frilly drinks off campus, a fun way to wait in line for 20 years if you try to get it from the pub. The one in JSOM is infamous for having a weird taste. Save yourself the trouble and wait until you’re off campus.
And if your argument is that you just want a regular Americano, then you’ve been playing yourself. Starbucks isn’t about coffee. It’s about filling your veins with instagrammable, seven syllable, rainbow colored, aesthetically pandering sugar juice and an overpriced sandwich. Come to terms with it. Fall as far as I’ve fallen.
All joking aside, this will be my last food review. I appreciate all the feedback I’ve received and I’ve loved the time I’ve been able to spend with the rest of the AMP staff and student media. Campus is growing like crazy and — despite my IHOP beef — I really have grown to love the culture… even if it’s not a traditional one. Stay involved and enjoy your time while you can! I know I have.