Eat! A selective campus dining guide

The recently opened Smoothie King in the Lakeside Village has become one of the more popular food options for UM students.
The recently opened Smoothie King in the Lakeside Village has become one of the more popular food options for UM students. Photo credit: Alex Carnochan

Considering all the hours freshmen spend on campus, knowing where to get the best meal for different appetites, palates and diets is important. It’s easy to fall into the convenience of just getting food from the dining hall, but the University of Miami provides plenty of options. Here is an evaluation of some campus dining options worthy of mention.

Hecht-Stanford Dining Hall

Monday – Friday: breakfast 7 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.; lunch 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; dinner 4:30 – 7 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., 5 – 8 p.m., late-night 11 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Sunday: 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., 5 – 9 p.m.

If you are a freshman living in the dorms, this is the dining hall you will eat at most of the time. Conveniently located between the Herbert Wellness Center and Stanford, the Hecht-Stanford Dining Hall operates on a meal swipe system, so one swipe at the door gets you unlimited food. In comparison to other college dining halls, UM’s dining halls are not too shabby. The breakfast and lunch options are actually appetizing. A customizable omelette station and a waffle maker – which only sometimes tastes like cardboard – are favorites among students. A sandwich/wrap station always has a line at least 10 minutes long and the french fries are respectable. There are always three different dinner options available. If they are cooking Latin food, make sure you get some because it is delicious. Overall, the freshman dining hall is a lively place to hang with friends and eat your heart out with good college food.

Mahoney Pearson Dining Hall

Monday – Friday: breakfast 7 – 10:30 a.m.; lunch 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.; dinner 4:30 – 9:30 p.m.; Saturday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., 5 – 8 p.m.; Sunday: 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., 5 – 9 p.m.

The Mahoney-Pearson Dining Hall was traditionally for upperclassmen, but freshmen travel across campus because it has gained a reputation for having higher quality food. The food options are relatively similar to Hecht-Stanford’s, although the two dining halls never offer the same food on the same days. If you are on the far side of campus for classes, it’s a convenient place to stop for breakfast or lunch. And, unlike the freshman dining hall, Mahoney-Pearson has outdoor seating.

Vicky Cafe

Food Court

Monday – Friday: 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Vicky Cafe is one of the main attractions of the food court. With Cuban food that ranges from pasteles (a traditional dish in several Latin American and Caribbean countries) to massive Cuban sandwiches, Vicky Cafe has everything you need to satisfy a Latin-food craving. For non-hispanics, beware of Cuban coffee though, because for one thing they put a boatload of sugar in if you don’t tell them not to, and Cuban coffee is hands down the strongest coffee you could possibly drink. Two sips in and it will undoubtedly give you the shakes, so make sure you pair it with a croqueta or empanada.

Sushi Maki

Food Court

Monday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Sushi Maki is the only place on campus to get sushi. Pretty standard, although some sushi connoisseurs will tell you it’s a waste of money because you can get much better sushi elsewhere off campus, which is probably true, but as a freshman without a car, if you want sushi, Sushi Maki has it.

Pollo Tropical

Food Court

Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Friday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

If you go to Pollo Tropical, it’s because you love it, and if you don’t go to Pollo Tropical, it’s because you hate it. That’s all.

Tossed

Food Court

Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

If you’re craving a salad, Tossed is pretty much the only option. Sometimes the lettuce is wilted, and definitely don’t order wraps because they are not great, but the salads are overall sufficient and you are able to customize your own. But make sure a salad is really what you want because they are expensive.

Lime

University Center

Monday – Friday 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday: 4 – 10 p.m.

Lime is easily a favorite among UM students. It’s relatively inexpensive, good Mexican food. Unfortunately, Lime was closed the majority of this past spring semester, which upset a lot of students. But after students took it up with Student Government leaders, they were able to facilitate the return of the place. Tacos, burritos, quesadillas and loud music make it a great place to unwind after a late class or long-night working on campus. Be prepared to wait for a weirdly long time though because it’s always crowded and the service is slow.

“I am honestly very happy that Lime is back,” said sophomore Mario Gordon. “Lime is a late-night hangout that you go to when the dining hall is not open. Especially on Friday nights when the dining hall closes at 7 p.m., Lime is the go-to ”

Daybreak

Lakeside

Monday – Thursday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Inspired by Buzzfeed’s Tasty-style videos, Daybreak centers around waffles. The restaurant, which opened during spring semester, is nestled on the first floor of one of the buildings in Lakeside Village and was designed to offer new dining options in fun and creative ways. Everything on the menu is under $8 and can be paid for with dining dollars, but not meal swipes.

“I appreciated how low the prices were,” said sophomore Amani Mmari. “But I think the addition of meal swipe options would really take this place to the next level.”

So far, the most popular menu item has been the chicken and waffles on a stick, says Elizabeth Berado, Daybreak manager. Unlike classic chicken and waffles, Daybreak’s is fried chicken cooked into the waffle rather than on the side. You can also purchase coffee, but if you appreciate good coffee, I would not go there specifically for coffee. Overall, Daybreak is definitely the unique food option on campus.

Smoothie King

Lakeside

Monday – Thursday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Friday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Saturday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Smoothie King also opened spring semester. As a popular smoothie chain, it has become one of the most visited places on campus. It’s a great location – in Lakeside Village facing out to Lake Osceola – which makes it easy to grab a smoothie on the go before class or after the gym.

Ana Alvarez, executive director of auxiliary services at UM, said UM wanted to bring in a smoothie place that resonated with what students want. Smoothie King prides itself on being all-natural with no artificial flavors or syrups, and it uses organic fruits and vegetables.

“Plenty of students want a full meal replacement…Smoothie king offers that,” Alvarez said. “We go to conferences, we hear about this stuff, and it is very relevant. You don’t have to have your traditional meat and potatoes meal to feel satisfied.

Einstein Bros Bagels

Law school

Students who go to Einstein Bagels will not be shy in telling you how much they love the place. Although the bagels are not New York bagel quality, for the cheap price, they are really good. And the coffee, which is equally as inexpensive, especially compared to Starbucks, is fantastic. The workers are always incredibly friendly, and if you go there, then you know Jonie Mae, a campus celebrity who will always genuinely and boisterously ask you how you are doing before taking your order. In between classes, there is always a line. Much to the dismay of students last year, Einstein was closed, and it is not known if it is returning.

Pura Vida

The Pura Vida on campus, located by Ponce de Leon, is a healthy, trendy place for students. With six other locations around Miami, Pura Vida has delicious food, but if you’re not using dining dollars, it is really expensive. The atmosphere inside is great though, and it’s a nice change to the heavy food that is offered at most other UM dining places. Pura Vida is another place that was closed during Covid, but students are hoping for its return.

Rathskeller

Shalala

Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

If you go to UM, you have to love the Rat. There is no alternative. In the ground level of Shalala facing out at Lake Osceola, the Rat is a sports-bar type place that offers foods ranging from the classic burgers and fries to tacos and salad bowls. The food is not mind-blowing, but it’s the Rat, you don’t always go there for the quality of the food. Prior to Covid, the Rat served alcohol and ordering pitchers of beer on a Thursday or Friday afternoon was a right of passage for students 21 and older, but this past year because of restrictions from Covid-19, the Rat stopped selling alcohol, which made students mad. There has been no decision on whether the restaurant will bring back alcohol in the fall semester. There was no indoor seating this past year either, but the gliders outside are a fun place to sit and dine.