The beginning of the semester always carries the excitement of returning to campus and reuniting with fellow Huskies, settling into a new schedule and visiting our favorite places. This school year’s return was long overdue, and the UConn community returns to a Storrs that welcomes back the hustle and bustle of campus life. And a big part of campus life is the food — sure, lining up for Grab ‘N Go and being told they ran out of half of the ingredients definitely seemed annoying at the time, but I’ve truly come to miss my classic chicken and chipotle ranch wrap with a big ol’ chocolate chip cookie. Dining halls are not open to outside guests, but they now can seat at 100% capacity. And Storrs Center has said farewell and hello to a few businesses amidst the pandemic – 7-Eleven, Dave’s Deli, Bonchon and Geno’s in the former category, and Fresh Fork Cafe in the latter. Special shoutout to CrossRoads Café, a plant-based UConn café in the Wilbur Cross building, which I will feature in the coming weeks as a student-led initiative.
In a spiritual successor to my selection of Storrs Center food offerings, I’ll be looking at some other places to eat around campus the UConn community can enjoy now they’re back on campus.
Fresh Fork Cafe
Located in the unit next to Price Chopper and previously housed by Bonchon, this UConn alum-owned casual eatery adds some variety to the typical college fare of pizza, wings and sandwiches – which we love, but when you realize there are not many options to eat near campus, you desire what you don’t have. As the name suggests, the cafe boasts a menu made with fresh ingredients, as well as attention to detail and care for the community. The selection ranges from all-day breakfast to sandwiches to noodles/pasta to salads and smoothies, and many of the items can be made vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free if they aren’t already. Students are always looking for more places to do work and grab a bite, and the cafe offers that change of scenery.
Be sure to check out my interview with Matt Tetrault (CLAS ‘08) and review of the cafe that we’ll be publishing in the next couple of weeks – in the meantime, check out what Fresh Fork Cafe has to offer!
Order: fried chicken sandwich, tofu bahn mi, seasoned fries, strawberry and banana smoothie
You might have passed by Hops 44 on the way to campus, situated next to Toast Four Corners. Originally known as HopKnot with a speciality of pretzels and cheese to eat with their beers on tap, the restaurant still serves classic bar food – with fun flavor twists – to pair with their drink selection. With the decor and set-up, it’s a cool place to enjoy some drinks and dinner with friends or family in a lowkey setting.
Order: Knot Your Mama’s Fries, chicken bacon ranch stuffed pretzel, The Smash pretzel flatbread, Cloudscape IPA
Tea More Cafe
Don’t be fooled by its name – what actually shines at this cafe is the food. This Storrs Center selection is cute, comforting and has a great selection of northern Chinese cuisine for reasonable prices. There is a good amount and variety of Chinese and Asian-inspired restaurants in the area that have their own merits, but I feel like Tea More doesn’t get enough love for what it offers. Most of its entrees come in a solid portion of rice and the dish, along with broccoli and a crispy spring roll – not thick and soggy, like some Chinese-American spring rolls. They offer some familiar Chinese-American dishes, like honey spareribs, crab rangoons and shumai, as well as more authentic offerings like mala tang – spicy hot pot soup with noodles – braised pork and black pepper beef. Consider Tea More when you get a Chinese food craving.
Order: crispy chicken cutlet with curry, eggplant with garlic sauce and sesame chicken
Chuck’s Steakhouse and Margarita Grill
More affectionately known as Chuck and Margs to the greater UConn community, this Mexican-inspired restaurant churns out flavorful food and the titular drinks in a fun atmosphere that also works well for events and gatherings. None of us have tried the steak or seafood on the grill options, but everything my friends and I have ordered from there so far has been delicious, and in gargantuan portions (which evens out the slightly higher prices compared to other restaurants in the area).
Order: super burrito, black bean/skillet baked enchiladas, nachos bandito, mango margarita, white peach sangria