For me, the University of Memphis dining experience is one of chaos. Nothing stays the same through a whole semester. While one location improves, another becomes disappointing.
I ranked the restaurants on campus from the areas that need improvement to the dining options that are the most reliable. For my methods of ranking, I took my opinions of their convenience (hours open), quality, variety and health options. I excluded some locations either because they are not on the main campus or because they are too obscure.
12. Bene Pizza
I don’t think anyone should find this one as a surprise. If I wanted super greasy pizza, I would just go back in time to last semester’s Tiger Den. The only real service this location provides is a short line. Also, they are only open for seven hours per day.
11. Dunkin’ Donuts
If you want donuts, they have donuts. If you want anything else, there should be at least two better places to find what you are looking for. Their breakfast sandwiches are mediocre and not worth the money.
10. Taco Bell
I feel like this location is a bit misplaced. Taco Bell is served best at 2 a.m., and they close too early for that. When eating at this Taco Bell, it is best to have a box of Tums handy.
9. Steak & Shake
This one is my guilty pleasure. It’s the best place to find a milkshake, and they have a campus-wide monopoly on fast-food hamburgers. However, if you’re craving anything esle, you’re better off heading to the Tiger Den.
Bland and boring. Subway has always been a one-trick pony as a company, but when you cut half of their menu out, it becomes much worse. They have higher prices than normal Subways and just always come off as average. However, they always reliable, and the lines move quickly.
7. Chick-fil-A Express
Dakota Smith, one of the photographers at The Daily Helmsman, called this location the “worst Chick-fil-A in the world,” and I agree. They are constantly out of everything and their chicken does not live up to the quality of a normal restaurant.
But they’re open until 9 p.m., which is more convenient for students who work late or spent the whole day studying, and they have a few healthy options.
6. P.O.D. Market
After you wade through the hot sushi and packaged salmon, you can find delicious and convenient salads and sandwiches. While it’s not a hearty hamburger, it is accessible across campus. If you’re running late to class, the P.O.D. makes a great stop, but there are always better places to eat.
5. Einstein Bros. Bagels
This location is a diamond in the rough walk to the library. There are few locations in the expanse of campus near the library, maing Einstein Bros. Bagels a great oasis. To top it off, they have the best quality for most of their products. While Einstein Bros. is not my thing, I can understand why people like this location.
4. Cyber Café (FedEx Building)
If you’re craving pasta, you can’t go wrong with Cyber Café. You get a massive to-go box of pasta with garlic bread, which is perfect if you’re sharing. This is priced well enough to beat other places on campus for a single meal. I’ve had everything they offer, and I can say the pasta is worth the money.
3. Tiger Den
They have made huge improvements since last semester. The hot meals and available seating makes it a great spot for lunch or dinner. But, there is a lack of healthy options, and the hours aren’t very flexible for people who live on campus.
2. Panda Express
Panda Express consistently provides healthy options and a varied at a good quality. But, there is nothing “Express” about this location. If you’re eating here, prepare for a wait.
1. Tiger Restaurant
I have to give Tiger Restaurant two scores. Tiger Restaurant deserves first place if you’re eating there before 7 p.m. They have the best variety and quite a few healthy options. However, after 7 p.m., their quality takes a hit. They also like to close some areas of the restaurant way before they actually get ready to close down for the night.
Kelsey Bowen contributed to this story.