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Power Ranking: HUB Dining Options

The HUB lives up to it’s name; it’s quite literally the hub of student life on campus. Not a day passes without some sort of involvement fair, performance, or club meeting. That means that the HUB is always bustling with people. And those people, as you can guess, need to eat.

Luckily, the HUB has over a dozen dining options. It’s a pretty diverse mix of food, meaning that all of these restuarants should satisfy ever taste. But let’s face it: not all HUB food is created equal. So since I’ve eaten at pratically every dining spot in the HUB over my years at Penn State, I decided to rank them all for you. Here they are:

13. Sbarro 

Let’s face it. No one likes Sbarro pizza. The cheese is like rubber, the sauce is just too sweet, and the crust is nothing to write home about. But if you’re in desperate need of sustenance at your local shopping mall or airport, Sbarro can do the trick. But I believe that the HUB’s Sbarro is a special breed of awful. The pizza just sits there all day, saturating itself with grease and general sadness. The crust has an extra pound of flour caked on it, so it coats your lips in glutenous gunk whenever you take a bite. Simply put, Sbarro is, and never will be, worth it. You’re better off walking downtown to Canyon for a $1 slice.

12. Panda Express

I firmly believe that if Penn State’s nuclear reactor exploded, Panda Express’ food would be the only thing in the area to survive. It is the essentially the cockroach of HUB dining. There are little to no fresh vegetables available, and most of the food is deep-fried into oblivion. And the sauces that drench every Panda dish basically fossilize anything underneath. If you need a large meal, I guess Panda is your best bet in the HUB. But at what cost?

11. Panda Express Sushi 

If you even remotely like sushi, Panda Express Sushi should not be considered actual sushi in your book. It’s hurriedly thrown together, and it just doesn’t taste that good. On the plus side, it’s one of the healthier options in the HUB. On the flip side, it’s not one of the freshest options in the HUB. Now I’ve never gotten sick from Panda Express Sushi, but is that really the standard for good dining on campus?

10. Blue Burrito

Whenever I dine in the HUB, I always pity Blue Burrito. There never seem to be any customers lining up for the HUB’s Tex Mex creations. Here’s my theory why: Blue Burrito is just okay. Their assorted burritos and bowls taste homemade, but not in the good way. The food tastes like you made it in your apartment’s tiny kitchen with very limited ingredients. So why would you spend all of that money on something you could make yourself? Instead, make a quesadilla at home at save that $7 for a burrito at Chipotle.

9. Diversions

Real talk: I’ve never actually eaten here. In fact, no one I know has ever eaten here. But the desserts and gelato look tasty enough. Moving on.

8. Mixed Greens

This made-to-order salad place is one of the pricier options in the HUB. The salads are fresh, and they have a pretty large selection of ingredients. But here’s the problem: there’s a limit to how many ingredients can be added without extra charge to any given salad. Take, for example, a small salad. If you don’t want to pay more than the set price, your salad can only have three ingredients other than lettuce. To me, that’s a pretty boring meal. I much prefer having free reign over how many ingredients I want in my salad, which is why I frequent the HUB’s salad bar. But more on that later.

Pro tip: You can add pasta to your salad at no additional cost.

7. Burger King 

Burger King is my go-to spot in the HUB for eating my feelings. If I’m having a particularly miserable day, there’s nothing better than inhaling a medium order of Burger King french fries. The food is greasy, salty, and just terrible for you. It tastes good in the moment, but there’s an 85% chance you will regret your BK order later in the day. Burger King is definitely not the highest class establishment in the HUB, but sometimes, it’s just what you need.

6. Starbucks

The HUB Starbucks is, in theory, like any other Starbucks. They offer delicious espresso drinks and tasty pastries. But what separates the HUB’s Starbucks from every other Seattle-themed coffee spot is the line. It is never-ending. Regardless of what time it is, Starbucks always has someone waiting for a drink. To be honest, the wait time is often too much for me to handle.

5. Salad Bar

The HUB’s Salad Bar is a truly special place. It’s like a candy store– except, you know, with vegetables. It offers three types of lettuce, fresh vegetables, cheeses, meats, and more. Plus, you pay by the pound. That means that if you want a ton of cucumbers, but only a few baby carrots, the Salad Bar can hook you up. Just make sure to avoid loading up on too much salad. When the cashier rings up your $9 salad, you’ll probably regret it.

4. Higher Grounds 

Higher Grounds is like Starbucks’ neglected, but totally underrated, younger brother. For those of who don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s the coffee shop on the first floor of the HUB. Higher Grounds is so high ranked on this list because of two words: Irving’s. Bagels. That’s right, Higher Grounds is one of the few places where you can buy Irving’s without trekking downtown. It’s a truly special place, and the line isn’t quite as long as the one at Starbucks. It’s a win-win.

3. Chick-Fil-A

Chick-Fil-A is consistent. You can always count on their fries being crispy, their chicken being juicy, and their sandwiches to come with two pickle slices. Chick-Fil-A’s food is simple, so it’s praise is simple as well. It’s just good eats.

2. Jamba Juice 

Jamba is one of the newest establishments to grace the HUB. And boy, it’s made a big splash. Smoothies are one of those drinks that will never go out of style. They’re sweet, refreshing, and are *somewhat* good for you. Jamba knows how to make a damn good drink, and they offer a myriad of choices.

1. McAllister’s Deli

McAllister’s took the HUB food scene by storm when it opened last year. It’s one of the few places where every item on the menu sounds delicious. It’s the perfect blend of tasty, while still being somewhat nutritional. I could spend hours praising their macaroni & cheese and their monster baked potatoes, but I’ll save that for another day. McAllister’s is simply the best of the HUB.

***

If you disagree, please let me know! Maybe you can even buy me a meal from your favorite HUB establishment. Because I’m that #basic, I’ll never say no to a free meal.

About the Author

Anna Foley

Anna is a senior majoring in Communication Arts & Sciences and Spanish with a minor in Theatre. Yes, she went to Spain. Follow her half-funny thoughts @exfoleyator and send her chain emails at [email protected]

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