Wesleying Unofficial Orientation Series: Eating & Drinking Things at Wes

Back in Wesleying’s infancy, one of the first posts was Holly and Xue’s Guide to Eating and Drinking Things at Wesleyan. Then Usdan opened in ’07 and the whole thing was rendered completely inaccurate—until updated by a new generation of Wesleying staffpersons in ’09 and ’10. (View the original update here.)

This is mostly a repost, with a few parenthesized 2011 updates and additions for good measure. Feel free to drop additional knowledge or questions in the comments section.

Part of the Usdan campus center, the Usdan Marketplace (technically pronounced “YOOZ-dan,” zometimes pronounced “OOZ-dan” for the hell of it, nicknamed “Usdanistan”) has assumed the coveted title of “main campus eatery” from Mocon. It has your basic cafeteria staples—a rotating entrée station (“Classics”), grill, pizza, cereal, a salad bar, ice cream, a self-serve deli thing—as well as the Mongolian Grill (basically a stir-fry station—you choose your veggies and meat), a Belgian waffle station that’s always rendered inoperable when people like me forget to spray, a vegan section (note Wesleyan’s vegan-friendly reputation), and a Kosher section (formerly its own eatery, the Kosher Kitchen, which was located in the Butt A basement).

There’s also a rotating lunchtime burrito bar/big salad/”Brunch at Lunch” station next to the grill that turns into a pasta station (“Pastabilities”) at dinner. Plus, there is soft-serve ice cream on one side and yogurt on the other (both sides alternate between vanilla and chocolate); there is also a freezer with six flavors of hard ice cream, chocolate sauce, and sprinkles. The Marketplace is also the present home of Late Night, which is the only dining option open past 9:00 (other than WeShop, or one of the food carts on campus) but does not take meals. In all, it’s a pretty good deal, though if history is any indication, it’s going to turn into the freshman preserve that Mocon was with a handful of sophomores using up their  mandatory meals thrown in. (2010 note: This is an exaggeration, but freshmen definitely take up more than a quarter of Usdan dinners on any given night.) (2011 note: The Usdan pizza station has its own Facebook page, updated frequently with upcoming toppings and specials. A recent posting: “Would anyone be interested in ordering a personal size pizza before you leave your dorm or class, to have ready when you walk in??”) (UPDATE: Oh, and there is apparently “additional couch seating in Usdan in the “new gaming area behind the curved staircase.”  There will also be a grill menu on the terrace on Wednesdays for lunch, which sounds awesome. Usdan director adds: “we encourage you to consider eating before 12 or after 1 to avoid longer lines at the registers, food stations and limited seating.” Uh ooooh.)

For those wondering: Bon Appétit established to-go in the Marketplace in spring ’08—though for lunch only. For an additional 50-cent charge, you can get a to-go container (including a disposable cup) from the cashier; you have 10 minutes to fill it up but can take as much as you want. The WSA Dining Committee had also talked about expanding the Eco To-Go program (which began at Summerfields) to the Marketplace this year. (2011 update: Did this happen? Also worth mentioning, Usdan is the venue for Midnight Breakfast during finals week, which you should start looking forward to now.)

WEEKDAY HOURS (M-F): Breakfast 8:00 AM-10:30 AM; lunch 11:00 AM-3:00 PM; dinner 5:00 PM-8:00 PM.
WEEKEND HOURS (Sat.-Sun.): Brunch 11:00 AM-2:00 PM; dinner 5:00 PM-8:00 PM.
LATE NIGHT HOURS: 10:00 PM-1:30 AM 1:00 AM, 7 nights a week. (2011: Late Night ends at 1 now. Booooo.)

Arguably the best thing about living in the Butts, Summerfields is located in Butt C and was completely renovated in fall 2003. Unlike the Marketplace, Summerfields is more of a restaurant than a cafeteria—it uses a fixed menu, and while items are ordered a la carte, it has several meal combos. Its breadth of options may pale compared to Usdan—especially for vegetarians, or more health-conscious types—but if you live in the Butts, you can’t beat it for convenience, especially in the winter. (2011 update: Summerfields’ menu remains centered on cafeteria-style, often fried foods, but it did add a number of mostly successful healthier options last year, including the caprese salad. If you live in Butt C, yes it is possible to get to Summerfields without going outside. You’ll appreciate this in January.)

Summerfields served as the home of late night from its reopening in January ’04 (taking over from Davenport) until 2007, when it moved to the Marketplace. Summerfields is the only eatery on campus other than Usdan that takes meals, and it also does take-out (for both lunch and dinner); it’s also the home of the Eco To-Go program. (Last thing: though Summerfields is usually more popular as a dinner option, it is also open for lunch on weekdays, and is a smart option if you’re on that side of campus but don’t want to deal with the Usdan rush.) (2011: According to dining email, “Summerfields will also be starting a new text order program for the new Taqueria menu.  Text your Taqueria order to 860-759-9700, receive an order number and go to the express pick up to pay without waiting in line!”)

HOURS: M-F 11:00 AM-2:00 PM, 5:30 PM-9:00 PM; Sat.-Sun. 5:30 PM-9:00 PM.

WESHOP (or “WeShop Essentials,” according to Bon Appetit)
It’s like an on-campus 7-11, only several times more expensive and open half as long. WeShop is located between WestCo 1 and 2 (perfect distance from Olin and SciLi for study breaks) and actually has a pretty nice selection for a campus mini-mart. Nothing says “freshman year” like late-night WeSshop runs to beat the midnight closing time. Just don’t be one of the jerks that views stealing candy as a way of sticking it to the man. All it does is force the honest among us to pay $6.75 a pound. (2011 update: What they said. Also worth mentioning, if WeShop is missing something you’re craving, you can request it on the white board back near the freezer. Often they’ll order it for you.) (Important 2011 update: WeShop now offers a meal equivalency for lunch on Mondays through Friday, 11:30 to 2. Exciting news for underclassmen/upperclassmen still using meals! We’ll see what the menu looks like, but it’s aboooot time.)

HOURS: Sun.-Thurs. noon-midnight; Fri.-Sat. 2:00 PM-6:00 PM.

A living lesson that attempting to combine three separate floors of dining into a roughly 3’ x 10’ space isn’t the best idea. After constantly shuffling around its offerings, Bon Appétit seems to have settled on a menu of hot and frozen drinks, snacks (namely chips and granola bars), and various sandwiches, puddings, and parfaits in a cooler, not to mention small sushi packages. It’s not much—especially to those of us who fondly remember Davenport—but it’s the only dining option open continuously during the day all week long and is helpful in a pinch. (Note: the cafe still, as of 2010, doesn’t offer meal equivalences, but the WSA continues to keep this on its agenda every so often.) (2011 update: On the bright side, none of us have been around long enough to fondly remember Davenport. Also, the cafe seems to have added a soup menu. Exciting, I guess.)

HOURS: 8:00 AM-8:00 PM, 7 days a week.

What began as a lunchtime sandwich cart outside SciLi has turned into a lifeline for science majors. Pi has a somewhat smaller sandwich selection than the Usdan Café (I’m not sure that’s true anymore?) but compensates with a larger variety of specialty drinks and baked goods. It’s a great spot to stop and get breakfast before class—especially if your first class is in Exley—but if you’re in a rush for lunch between classes, Usdan is probably the better bet (Pi is so small that it isn’t terribly conducive to traffic flow). Still, with the closing of Davenport, Pi is the only dining option in the Exley/PAC/Olin lawn area and is pretty good for a makeshift eatery in the corner of the science center lobby. Also offers computers and small study spaces, for coffeeshop-study types. (2011: Seriously, don’t underestimate Pi as a study-corner option. If you like a little bit of commotion and a lot of caffeine, it can’t be beat. Hours are often expanded significantly during finals week.)

HOURS: Mon.-Thurs. 8:00 AM-9:00 PM; Fri. 8:00 AM-5:00 PM; Sat.-Sun. 1:00 PM-6:00 PM.

Established in 1991 by Karen Kaffen and Ed Thorndike ’89 and located in the basement of 156 High St. (the former eating club of Delta Tau Delta, right by the intersection of Church and High), WesWings’ menu is based primarily not on wings but on fried chicken, and its atmosphere and menu feels more like a ski lodge eatery than a college cafeteria. WesWings tends to be on the pricey side (especially the daily specials), but it’s well worth it (again: especially the daily specials, updated on the website everyday). It’s also the only (on-campus) breakfast option on weekends other than Usdan and is a generally advisable weekend option, since Usdan dinner sucks on weekends. For those of you that live in the Butts and like to kvetch about the location, keep in mind this eatery is literally right in your backyard. Check out the restaurant’s site for cool old photos and WesWings history. (2011: WesWings posts its daily specials on its site daily. Often worth checking before making the hike–and don’t miss the Bruschetta Salad.)

HOURS: 11:30 AM-2:00 PM, 5:30 PM-8:00 PM, 7 days a week.

Red & Black is run by the same folks who own WesWings (Ed Thorndike ’89 and his business partner, Karen Kaffen) and is located in Broad Street Books. Like Pi, the menu consists primarily of soups and sandwiches, but fresher prepared and arguably with a bit more variety. It’s a bit out of the way (unless you live in Hi/Lo Rise or work for The Argus), but always helpful if you’re in the area. (2011: R&B has expanded its menu to include a few home-style dinner options, like Thanksgiving specials and mac and cheese, and I would argue the freshness and variety far exceeds, say, Pi. Orientation hours are 9-5; currently accepting applications for employment. Additionally, the cafe is known for offering promotions and discounts through its Facebook page.)

HOURS: M-F 8:00 AM-8:00 PM; Sat.-Sun. 9:00 AM-5:00 PM.

Espwesso is Wesweyan’s student-wun wate night café, serving fwee dwip coffee and other dwinks from 9:00 pm to 1:00 am, Sunday thwough Thursday. It is located in tha Awbwitton bwasement and opened last awtumn thanks to a genewous donation fwom Wobert Awbwitton ’92, twustee and owner of The Politico.

HOURS: S-T, 9:00 PM – 1:00 AM

Located in Alpha Delt, S&C has a rotating menu (like Summerfields) and its own chef. The food consistently receives high marks, though S&C only accepts points (but the first three freshmen through the door eat for free). (Check Wesleying each Monday for the weekly menu. Keep in mind, too, that S&C  has its own chef, and is  therefore particularly prone to sudden or frequent closings.)

HOURS: Mon.Tues.-Thurs. 12:00 PM-12:30 PM, Mon.-Thurs. 5:00 PM-7:30 PM.

Here’s all I know about Chique Chaque, courtesy of Holly and Xue’s old guide: “The dining brochure lists Chique Chaque, but no one eats there except Psi U brothers.” An ’09 commenter adds the following:

Technically, Chique Chaque is open to everyone. You can eat there for lunch5 days a week or dinner mon-thurs. I think it’s like 6 or 8 points, which is a great deal because it’s unlimited food–but it’s only one meal, there’s no options. Yeah, it’s open to everyone, but to be honest it’s always a little awk unless you’re a rush, pledge, or invited by a brother.

It’s not technically campus dining (nor does it accept points or Middletown Cash), but the Neon Deli probably receives more traffic from Wesleyan in a school year than Wesleyan-operated dining facilities. The owners are super-nice and seem to hire primarily Wesleyan students, and the sandwiches are amazing (and they now have quesadillas!). Neon also has a small grocery section comparable to WeShop (and much cheaper), though the nearby supermarkets (see below) are obviously your best option for substantial shopping.

Neon is located at 130 Cross St., right by the intersection of Vine and Cross (in back of Fauver/across and a bit up the street from Freeman); notably, the building in which the deli resides is owned by Wesleyan (the abandoned store to the right used to be Club Liquors but closed a few years ago). The university had planned to turn the whole building into an expanded WeShop, but it seems those plans have been shelved for the time being. Some Neon Deli history, courtesy of The Argus. (2011: Neon Deli owner Fran Galle has been embroiled in his fair share of controversy over the past year, most notably this incident and this reaction, and even regardless of that, some would argue the sandwiches’ prices overshadow the deli’s quality. You can make the call on whether or not to let campus politics get in the way of sandwiches with names like “Bob’s Cardiac Attack.” Those who’ve frequented Neon since orientation frosh year continue to love it. I do, however, find it sketchy that this original post included a blurb for Neon but none for Marco’s Deli, so check below.)

HOURS: 6:00 AM-10:00 11:00 PM M-W; 6:00 AM-midnight Th-Fri.; 7:00 AM-midnight Sat.; 7:00 AM-10:00 11:00 PM Sun.

Also not actually on-campus dining, but if you live in Lo-Rise, it might as well be. The hole-in-the-wall Williams St. deli runs significantly cheaper than Neon for basic sandwiches (and faster, since there’s less student traffic on the daily), but you won’t find any menu array of specialty sandwich options—just the basics. You can usually find owner Marco, whose real name is Mark Sbona (“Marco actually sounded a little bit better for the business”), in the deli all day any day, tuned in to a news channel and chatting with locals. The deli’s been around in Middletown since the ’50s, and so has Mark, who remains committed to selling coffee at one dollar a cup. Beat that at Pi.

HOURS: can’t seem to find this online. Feel free to comment if you have any clues.

Like Neon, it’s technically not campus dining, but the falafel cart (based on Mamoun’s Falafel in Manhattan—one in St. Mark’s Place, one on MacDougal Street) receives as much patronage from Wes students as the on-campus locations (and probably more). In addition to its namesake, the falafel cart, which was born out of a failed Main St. restaurant, serves burgers, hot dogs, chicken wraps, and undoubtedly other menu items I’m forgetting.

There are two carts: one is located on High St. in front of Eclectic (200 High), and the other is on Pine St. just to the side of Exley. They’re only open at night—I’d guess they open around 10:00 or 11:00 and stay open until at least 2:00 or 3:00, but I’m not sure of the exact hours; if anyone can be more specific, please comment.

A handful of other Frat Row-vicinity food carts arrived to bring Mamoun’s some competition last year. Cruisin’ Cafe typically sets up on the corner of Church and High and sells basic greasy cuisine—quessadillas, Philly cheese steaks, chili cheese fries, egg sandwiches—without overlapping with the Falafel Cart menu. Then the Whey Station began popping up on William Street last semester to offer a slightly classier (and pricier) option: gourmet grilled cheeses. “Menu items include a Smoked Tomato Bisque, all-pork German hotdogs, and sandwiches with ingredients like onion confit, poached pear, apple chutney, and monger’s mix,” reported the Argus last semester. This cart’s not kidding around with its menu, although $4 or $5 for a sandwich at 3 am can be a bit much. Follow the Whey Station on FB for menu updates and when it’s out and about.

And for good measure, the local grocery stores:

416 East Main St. (take the “A” bus). Open 6:00 AM-midnight Mon.-Sat. and 7:00 AM-10:00 PM Sunday.
195 West St. (in Cromwell, in the big shopping center with K-Mart—take the “D” bus). Open 6:00 AM-midnight Mon.-Sat. and 7:00 AM-midnight Sunday.

820 Washington St. (big shopping center—take the “C” bus). Open 7:00 AM-11:00 PM Mon.-Sat. and 7:00 AM-9:00 PM Sunday.

10 Main St. (right at the intersection of Main St. and Church St.). Open 8:00 AM-9:00 PM Mon.-Sat. and 9:00 AM-6:00 PM Sunday. (I know it’s not technically a supermarket, but Rite-Aid has a pretty decent selection of foodstuffs—especially in its new location, which just opened last October and looks to be twice the size of the old one.)

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6 thoughts on “Wesleying Unofficial Orientation Series: Eating & Drinking Things at Wes

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  3. anony

    Eco-To-Go is at Usdan for lunch only. Not a lot of people use it, but they technically have to offer it. 
    -Dining Committee 09-10

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