A guide to on campus and local eateries

The incoming freshmen at Western Carolina University often have many other things to worry about aside from what they will eat. These new students, even returning WCU students, often stress about money, transportation, housing and even that boyfriend/girlfriend they may have left behind. One would believe with that all piled upon their plates, they’d have nothing else to worry about.

But most college students, current and new, worry about what they will have to eat and where they have to go to get the food. Fortunately for students attending WCU, the campus itself has a wide variety of eateries available for students to choose from. In addition, there are many popular “hotspots” located within a few miles of WCU that students can choose from if they grow tired of eating on campus.

In the dark ages, when I first began attending WCU, students had very little culinary choices. As a second semester freshman, I was able to eat at the “cyber cafe,” and over in the UC—limited to Chic-Fil-a and one other spot. Brown was also a cafeteria at the time, serving a buffet of frozen pizza and other random offerings. The variety of food wasn’t very good. WCU has since changed this.

Students living on campus now have many options to choose from. Students living off campus (those with a meal plan) can also take advantage of campus food variety. Many dining areas on campus have varied hours that often depend on student demand… WCU also offers three different “C” stores where students can purchase snacks, drinks, fruits and various other necessaries.

One popular place for students to eat is at the UC Food Court. Here, students can find Papa John’s pizza, sushi, sandwiches and Chic-Fil-a. The Food Court at the UC also has standard hours for all days of the week. In the Fall semester, they will be open from 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. If you’re not satisfied with the Food Court, then you can always go to the Courtyard. Here, you will find a variety of places to choose from. Starbucks and McAlisters are two popular places to eat at. You also have Burger Studio, which serves chicken tenders and sandwiches. You have Zoca, an eatery with a Mexican theme. Here also, you have Panda Express, which serves fast food Asian cuisine. In the Courtyard you also have Freshens, a quick serve ice-cream parlor. These are great places to spend time with friends.

For those that have block meal plans, the best place to eat daily is at the Courtyard Dining Hall, directly above the Food Court. Upstairs, hungry students can find a variety of meals. There are three buffet style lines where students can choose from a variety of meals. Chicken to fish, meatloaf to home-style green beans—usually there is something different everyday. The Dining Hall also contains a salad bar with about 50 different options. It offers milk, soda and ice-cream as well as Coldstone pizza. All of this is available for one block meal or, as a student, you can use your declining balance as well. The Dining Hall also serves breakfast buffet-style with many different types of common breakfast foods such as sausage links, eggs and bacon. Though the hours for the Food Court eateries vary, the Dining Hall is generally open from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. on the weekends.

If a student isn’t satisfied with what the university offers, then they can always go to one of the restaurants close to campus. A few of those are Rolling Stone, Papa’s Pizza to Go, the Huddle House, the China Dragon, Subway, Cat’s Nip Cafe and the Mad Batter Bakeshop & Cafe. These places all have varied hours, in most cases they’re posted on the door of the restaurant.

Papa’s Pizza to Go offers free delivery and stays open from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. Monday thru Saturday and is located by the back entrance to campus past Hunter Library. Favorites on their menu include the pizza, wings, calzones and sub-sandwiches. The Huddle House/Catamount Travel Center is another popular place for students to go. Open from 6 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. on weekends, the most popular meal for students (who mostly come in the afternoon) is the “Big Breakfast Platter.” The Cat’s Nip Cafe, located next to the BB&T bank on campus, offers sandwiches and milkshakes, favorites being their special reuben and “hot mama,” with their specialty cappuccino milkshake being one of the most popular among students. Cat’s Nip is open from 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday and sometimes opens for special occasions on Saturdays. The Mad Batter offers vegetarian cuisine in line with popular trends and is open from 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday thru Friday and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.. Of course, hours are subject to change depending on student demand.

Those restaurants are all within easy walking or driving distance from WCU’s student food centers. But what does a student who wants to go a bit further do (or has to take a trip to Wal-Mart)?

KFC, Bojangles, Pizza Hut, Dominoes, Sonic, Zaxby’s and others are all easily accessible along with Burger King, Taco Bell and Wendy’s. College students do have favorite hang-outs though. O’Malley’s is one of these. Opening at 10 a.m. and closing at 2 a.m. Monday thru Saturday, 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. on Sundays, the dining experience includes such favorites like wings, draft beer (for those that are 21), Philly sandwiches and their reuben. Another popular place for students is Speedy’s Pizzeria. They’re open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Fridays, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. and Saturday’s and Sundays, 2 p.m. – 10 p.m. Preferred menu items are the pizza, cheese sticks and their $5 lunch specials. Bogart’s, another popular eating spot is open from 7 a.m. – 10:30 p.m. during the week and 7 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. on weekends. They offer a “to-go” menu with the same items as dine-in customers while favorites include dishes such as salads, burgers, grouper and steak. They also have a bar.

Wherever a student, new or current, chooses to eat, they have many options from which to pick. However, no comprehensive story on food choices for WCU students is complete without mentioning El Pacifico or “El Pac.” Open from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and, 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Fridays, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. on weekends, the restaurant is the quintessential student social spot. They offer many Mexican dishes and serve beer but what separates them from other Mexican restaurants is that the food is authentic.

So do not despair my fellow Catamounts, the variety of food on campus is great, the choices for eating away from the food courts on campus is superb and if you must go off campus to eat, you have an endless cornucopia of restaurants to choose from.