While studying for midterms I couldn’t help but crave a warm meal, and while all I wanted to do was scarf down a burrito, I resisted and went for a more balanced meal that wouldn’t make me crash into a food coma. One of my favorite places to get a healthy meal on the fly is Beautifull on California and Laurel St.
For off-campus students like myself, buying food on campus can be costly without flexi for our disposal. Sure, a bowl of soup and bread from the Market Café may be the cheapest meal you can get there, but for about $5 it’s not much to sustain you for the afternoon. In looking for alternative dining options on campus, the Koret Deli can help stretch your wallet and fill you up.
First of all, for all those who don’t go to the gym (it’s ok, I think walking up Lone Mountain is equivalent to the stair master), did you know there was a deli in Koret Health and Recreation Center?
“I don’t think everyone knows about it because you kind of overlook it when you’re at the gym, but then there are some people I know who only go to Koret for the deli,” said Glencijoy David, senior.
Koret Deli doesn’t accept flexi so it probably doesn’t garner much attraction from on-campus students, but according to David, it certainly is popular with commuter students.
Sandwiches are a staple to my diet. They’re quick and easy to make, and portable to bring up to campus. Since I’ve eaten plenty of sandwiches in my three years as a college student, two years being a commuter, I’ve developed high standards for what makes a good sandwich, and Koret Deli makes a good sandwich.
The menu offers about eleven sandwich options, including vegetarian, with a choice of sweet roll, whole wheat, or dutch crunch bread. On top of that, they’ll even toast it for you, and that already makes a sandwich loads better. I opted for the New York Pastrami sandwich, rather than the usual ham, turkey, or chicken sandwiches. I paid $6 for a 6-inch sub, which is the average cost of Koret Deli sandwiches.
I went to the deli around 11 a.m. on a Monday, and there wasn’t a line at the time, hence the service was pretty quick. At first I was skeptical about how filling the sandwich would be, but after eating half of it, I was already satisfied. I got my pastrami sandwich on dutch crunch bread which added an extra crispness and balancing sweetness to the seasoned meat. Unlike the $6 pre-wrapped sandwiches at the Caf, Koret Deli sandwiches are packed with meat, and the right amount of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and sandwich spread. I often find other sandwich places load on these toppings, causing the sandwich to fall apart, however Koret Deli neatly wraps their sandwiches to prevent this, and also makes it easy to take your sandwich to-go.
The deli also offers espresso coffee and drinks, salads, breakfast bagels, and smoothies, making it a great stop for breakfast to-go or to refuel during the day. I’ve been told by Koret Deli faithfuls that there’s usually a line, so arrive early before your next class. If you’re not in a rush for class, the deli is a spacious alternative for studying with their large tables, multiple seating, and a great view of Inner Richmond district and Golden Gate Park.
Even though the price point of Koret Deli is not significantly less than the cost of sandwiches you can get at the Caf, it’s a winner for off-campus students in terms of portability, satisfaction, and getting more for your buck. It also beats the crowd and high noise levels of the Caf.
Cragels and Ramen Burgers and Sushirritos, oh my!
With the appearance of the Cronut last year, other hybrid foods have popped up on the radar. If you recall, the Cronut—croissant-donut—which originated in New York City was introduced at USF’s Market Café in 2013. With a new year, there is a new contender in town, and it is also half croissant. The Cragel, half croissant half bagel, is now a hit on the east coast.
If you’ve always wished you could spend your Dons Dollars off-campus, this semester might be your chance. USF students will soon be allowed to spend their Dons Dollars — but not their Flexi — on food delivery to campus. Jason Rossi, Director of One Card and Campus Security Systems, presented the program at last week’s Senate meeting, along with a list of potential participators, which included Nizario’s Pizza, Cinderella Bakery, and Uncle Boy’s.
One of my recent discoveries is that most students across the country are unhappy with on-campus dining, and the issues we are grappling with here are not limited to Bon Appétit or USF. Not too long ago, I had a conversation with two friends from other universities. One goes to Yale, and the other goes to Oberlin, but neither are in a food-mecca like San Francisco. Both shared a common problem with their on-campus dining options; even though there are multiple choices per meal, many of the food items tasted the same. Both friends hypothesized that the cooks at their schools use the same spices in every meal. With this monotony, eating is not an opportunity for nourishment, pleasure, or relaxation, but a chore. We at USF have a unique opportunity to call San Francisco—one of the world’s most delicious cities—our home. With so many dining options around us, our on-campus options often do not satisfy. This makes me wonder how universal the issue of on-campus dining is, and if it can ever be reconciled.
Issues with Bon Appétit include inflated prices (up to a 200% markup), food quality, treatment of employees, and the company’s supposed refusal to release certain information. This begs the question—is our on-campus dining really below satisfactory? Many experts would disagree; The New York Times wrote that Bon Appétit’s food “deserves to be served with wine”; 7×7 Magazine likens Fedele Bauccio, Bon Appétit’s CEO, to food pioneers Alice Waters and Michael Pollan; The Washington Post reported on the company’s choice to only use humanely raised beef, and The Huffington Post reported on the company’s fight to ban gestation crates for pigs. It seems like Bon Appétit is a company that cares, and is possibly the best of its kind. Of course, if we, the consumers, are not completely satisfied by what it has to offer, then there is obviously some disconnect and room for improvement.
As recently as last November, ASUSF senate took action and organized a boycott of Bon Appétit. There were some food trucks on campus, giving students a convenient, fun option so that they could make a statement without starving. This was a great short-term option, but we will need to find some way to have satisfactory food on campus.
I would just like to inject a little more perspective here, not to say that our complaints are empty, but that we are in a big boat that we share with practically all college students. Actually, we are not just in this boat, but we are at its helm, in a much better position than many other college students. But this makes one wonder if there is a limit to the quality of food, and, ultimately, the quality of life a college student can achieve.
Thus, the issue is not just about food; dining is just one of the many examples of students having an inferior quality of living. Dorm life in general is not of a particularly high quality, and student loans historically have some of the highest interest rates of any. Meals have the potential to give us an opportunity to make a very personal change multiple times a day, and we need to feel some power over what we eat. We should also be able to use mealtimes as a time to step back and dive in, to truly enjoy a break so that we can better do what we came here to do: study. And that is what all of this talk about on-campus dining comes down to; making some of life’s simple pleasures less pleasant, making nourishment seem like a chore. Food is something we come into contact with multiple times a day, something that has the potential to nourish our souls and fuel our minds. There are few things more sacred than sharing a meal with friends, or sneaking a midnight snack into your bed without waking your roommates or parents. We are students, we need brain food in this time in which every inch of our beings are growing in a way that it never has before and never will again.
These issues are not all really Bon Appétit’s fault—they are symptoms of a cultural problem we all have to overcome. We are disconnected from our food; we seldom know where it comes from and how it gets to us, and we are usually too preoccupied with other things to care. We need to find a way to be more connected to what we eat, whether that means on-campus kitchens run completely by students, more student involvement in the current Bon Appétit establishment, or something else altogether. What we need is to take time away from Twitter or Facebook or even face-to-face-complaining and to get together with friends and prepare and enjoy a meal. This is something that everyone, including Bon Appétit wants; their mission statement proclaims, “breaking bread together helps to create a sense of community and comfort”. We just need to get off of our behinds and into the kitchen.
For anyone who has ever walked into a diner at three in the morning — possibly coming down from a night of drunken stupor and craving just about anything salty and smothered in goo, then you’re probably familiar with the classic diner dish Disco Fries. These are fries dripping with chicken gravy and garnished with thick slices of mozzarella or provolone.
As a New Jersey native, to be well versed in diner culture is a must. My first plate of Disco Fries served almost as a right of passage to the Garden State. Admittedly, when it comes to diner food I can be a bit of a snob; fries must always be of the Disco sort and nothing less. So needless to say, when I heard that this thing called poutine was taking San Francisco restaurants by storm, I had to see what it was all about.
Poutine, which originated in Quebec, is essentially the Disco Fries of Canada. Doing a little research, I found that Zoe’s Bar and Restaurant in the Mission District is the go-to place for the most authentic plate of poutine at a reasonable price.
Walking into Zoe’s can be a little intimidating at first. What appears to be a typical hole-in-the-wall bar is accessorized with oil paintings, ambient lighting, and what sounds like the entire soundtrack of Dazed and Confused. Naturally, my friend and I entered not really knowing what to expect from the food. Glancing over the menu, we found that the place was host to simple bar food items — like hot wings and burgers.
What does stand out, however, is the “Mushroom Poutine.” My friend, who has never had fries with anything other than a side of ketchup, and I who was still rooting for my beloved Disco Fries, skeptically placed two orders of poutine and expected to soon call it a night.
What eventually appeared before us was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. A steaming porcelain bowl filled to the brim with golden fries soaked in homemade gravy, topped with caramelized mozzarella cheese curds and scallions silenced us for a moment. And then we took a bite. I rarely get poetic about the food that I eat. The very thought of describing what I ate that night at Zoe’s via literary device makes me cringe, but honestly that first bite of poutine erupted in my mouth like a thousand exploding suns. The dish is satisfying for vegetarians and meat lovers alike. Hearty mushrooms and salty gravy warm you up the entire time you’re feasting on this bowl of goodness. What seems like something that could be fulfilling enough for three large men came at the decent price of eight dollars — which is usually around the same price I spend for a meal at the Market Café’.
I’m pleased to say that I walked out of Zoe’s Bar and Restaurant wholly satisfied and absent of any skepticism. Sorry New Jersey, but Disco Fries ain’t got nothing on poutine!
Zoe’s Bar and Restaurant
3088 24th St.
(cross street Folsom St.)