The Only Guide You Will Ever Need for On-Campus Eating


Brenda Payan Medina

(Design by Brenda Payan Medina | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Luke Jackson


It’s 2 p.m. on a Thursday and you just finished class. You couldn’t pay any sort of attention because that cute little tummy of yours was singing away like a dang whale. You knew you should’ve eaten breakfast, but all you had in the fridge was some ketchup and one weird, bruised banana. You ask yourself, “Should I just get some food here? Or stop by the grocery store on the way home and grab some … ramen, I guess?”

This age-old question has been asked by college student after college student. You know deep down in your heart of hearts that you really don’t want ramen. You’d rather just eat on campus. However, this is a more daunting task than just picking the closest place. Somehow, there are far too many and far too little options all at once. On top of that, none of the establishments are familiar. Qualms begin to swirl and suddenly, you are too overwhelmed to eat at all.

Well, my sweet friend, the time has come to qualm no longer, for below is the only guide you’ll ever need regarding what to eat on campus. Whether you are down in Presidents Circle or up at the Student Life Center, there’s something to munch without having to go too far.

Best of the Union

The Olpin Student Union is the hub for Ute fine dining. You’ve got your classics: Panda Express, Jamba Juice and Einstein Bros. Bagels, each option more ho-hum than the last. Then there’s the regular ol’ food court with grocery store sushi and pizza from The Hive. All fine options if you’re in a pinch, but nothing that’s going to knock your socks off.

However, there is a shimmering gem, a Shangri-La, housed in the Union that towers above the rest. Yes, ’tis a wiener who wears the crown of best in the Union. You heard me right, I’m talking hot dogs, baby. A wiener expertly crafted by the folks at J. Dawgs is unbeatable.

Now, you can be a scientist or whatever and say that hot dogs are a child’s food for babies. Or, you can open your soul to the transportive simplicity of a gourmet dog. It’s not fancy, and it’s not pretending to be. There are no Michelin stars here, just a good old-fashioned weenie slapped between a bun.

Personally, I’d recommend a Polish dog with ketchup, mustard, special sauce, pickles, onions and sauerkraut. However, there are really no wrong answers when it comes to the menu. A hot dog, a bag of chips and a drink will run you about $10, so not only is it tummy friendly, it’s wallet-friendly as well.

Best of Food Trucks

Not in the mood for dogs? No sweat, compadre. This next establishment is equally as delicious. Cupbop is a classic Utah eatery with several locations throughout the state. On campus, they have a roaming food truck which is most commonly positioned in the space between the Union and Gardner Commons.

The entire concept is Korean BBQ in a cup. They load you up with your choice of protein, noodles, rice, veggies and some real tasty sauces. The meal is incredibly filling and easy to slam down your gullet. The serving size is also quite large, so if you’re feeling inclined, save half for tomorrow’s leftovers. I might be a bit nuts, but I think day-old cold Cupbop hits almost as hard as when it’s fresh.

The only thing that might throw you off about Cupbop is their “sauce levels.” They give you a scale of 1-10 — which refers to spice, not the actual amount of sauce. Numbers 7-10 have a nice kick of heat, if that’s what you’re into. Their hot sauce is a sort of tangy sriracha that tingles your tongue between each bite. Sometimes it can be a bit much for me, so I tend to stick to a 6 or 7. The lower levels come with a sweet teriyaki and creamy mayo that is sure to satisfy.

Whatever level you choose, make sure to ask for extra sauce. If you don’t, you’ll probably have some dry noodles left at the bottom.

My personal pick is the Rock Bop at a 7.5. The juicy, tangy and spicy fried chicken has a playful little crunch that I think about at least once a week. However, there are a lot of options, including veggie and tofu for our vegetarian friends. Whatever your cuisine preference, I’d say Cupbop is worth the stop. Depending on your protein, a cup costs about $11, so all in all, it’s pretty good bang for your buck.

U Hungry Cafe

The U Hungry Cafe is a bit of a sleeper pick. It’s located in the mysterious V. Randall Turpin Building, which is literally invisible until you walk through its doors. The Turpin building is right next to the Jon M. Huntsman Center and directly across from the University South Campus TRAX stop. Once you walk in, head up the staircase, say, “what’s up” to Randi the receptionist and the Hungry U Cafe will be found.

The Cafe, for the most part, is exactly average. If you’re in a pinch and up on the top of campus, it’s great for a quick bite. Their burritos, sandwiches and quesadillas are all just fine. Absolutely nothing to write home about, but a good option to have when you’re feeling snacky.

However, the real trick for the U Hungry Cafe is to check out their specials. Each day of the work week they whip up something new, with the exceptions of Taco Tuesday and Burger Friday. The menu is slightly elusive but can often be found on their Instagram page, @uhungrycafe.

Just the other day I stopped in with my own rumbly tum on Fried Chicken Sando Day. I’m a real sucker for these beautiful babies regardless, so of course I ordered one. It cost me $10, but it came with a free side. The sandwich though? Oh brother, the sandwich. Perfectly crispy chicken that was tender and juicy, pickles and tomatoes tucked into a fresh bed of lettuce, and a perfectly sweet and spicy sauce that accented each and every bite. I was expecting an unremarkable meal, but I devoured this very impressive piece of American cuisine.

So, keep your eye out for U Hungry Cafe, order the special, roll the dice and you might just be blown away.

Two Creek Coffee House

This one’s for all you folks down in Presidents Circle. When you’re at the bottom of this ridiculous hill we call campus, the last thing you want is to have to gain 3,000 feet in elevation just to grab some grub. Luckily, Two Creek Coffee House has got you covered. There are a couple of different options for food down on this end of campus, but I submit Two Creek Coffee as your best bet.

Tucked away on the second floor of the gorgeous Crocker Science Center, Two Creek Coffee House has vibes that are nothing short of immaculate. With brown marble walls, long white stone tables and checkered flooring, it’s a pretty place to be. Regardless of the food, it’s a good and decently quiet place to hang out and get some work done.

This coffee house focuses on drinks and has a pretty decent spread of teas, coffees, mochas and smoothies. I gave the seasonal strawberry lemonade a go and it for sure quenched my thirst. In terms of food, you’ll have your choice of pastries, scones and sandwiches. They aren’t on the menu, so just ask your barista and they’ll be more than happy to help.

If the turkey Reuben is available, jump at the opportunity to sample this tasty treat. Deliciously marbled bread houses thinly sliced turkey, cheese and sauerkraut. The whole thing is grilled to perfection, creating a beautifully melty mouth experience. The side sauce is a sharp mayo that has a nice flair of flavor.

If you’re not down in Presidents Circle and you still want to give it a go, Two Creek has two other locations on campus: one in the William Browning Building, and the other in the Law School. However, I personally can only vouch for the Crocker Science Center location.

Two Creek is a new place for me, but quickly it’s becoming a favorite. Stop by for your morning coffee or light lunch and give it a go. It’s more than worth your time.

Get Munching!

You are now equipped with the only guide you’ll ever need for on-campus eating. Sure, there are other places to check out, and if you feel inclined to do so, follow your heart. All I ask is that if you find a place not in this guide that tickles your taste buds, let me know. I’m always in the market for new and delicious culinary experiences.


[email protected]