With so many delicious foods served on a daily basis around the St. Thomas campuses, it is no small feat to rank the 10 best. In fact, it was too much for one person, so the Newsroom staff divvied up the tasty task and ventured out to sample the university’s wares and rank our favorites.
Staff members Brian Brown (executive director, senior editor), Patty Petersen (editor), Kelly Engebretson (editor, writer), Kate Metzger (associate director of the Newsroom) and Jordan Osterman (writer) each submitted two foods, and everyone ranked those foods into a personal top 10; the scores from those rankings were consolidated into the definitive ranking you’ll find below. Let us know what you think we missed and what we were oh so right about in the comments section.
10. Protein and veggies at The View (Patty)
My philosophy is: healthy meals and decadent desserts. “Healthy” to me means protein (but not tofu) and vegetables. Forget the bread and put beef (like from a French dip sandwich) and maybe a small grilled chicken breast on a mountain of greens and veggies. Mine are usually spinach and lettuce leaves, green and red peppers, tomatoes, some broccoli (I’m not a big fan, but they’re good for me), no onions (I have to go back to work and don’t want onion breath) and a sprinkle of cheese. Shower on a generous amount of sunflower seeds and a less-generous amount of Italian dressing and leave a little pool of it on the side, just in case the meal tastes too healthy.
9. Frozen yogurt at T’s (Kelly)
I’m a big proponent of the-sky-is-the-limit thinking, plus I love sugar and a great deal, which is why frozen yogurt cups at T’s are my preferred mid-day treat. A couple years ago, wanting more than a sensible portion, I asked a staff member if there was a height limit or, perhaps, a cap on the number of swirl revolutions allowed under the price of a single cup. In other words, does my $3 grant me the opportunity to create a gravity-defying tower of I-can’t-believe-it’s-fat-free cold deliciousness? I didn’t see a sign that stated otherwise. The staff member’s reply? Yes. Yes it does. To all who are as shameless and thrifty as I am: You’re welcome.
8. Soup at The View (Brian)
Why is soup so underappreciated? Often relegated to a small side cup or part of lunch combo, soup deserves better. After all, when you’re sick or worn down from a tough week, what one food item do you crave? It’s soup. The View offers a surprisingly wide variety of soups throughout the week: You’re not stuck on some rote tomato and chicken noodle rotation. A few of my favorites are brown/wild rice with chicken, red pepper and smoked Gouda, and potato, cheese and ham. Grab a bowlful (with saltines, if you prefer) and let soup cure what ails you.
7. Cornbread at various St. Thomas dining establishments (Jordan)
My love for cornbread has been a decades-long affair, and some of the best chapters are at the St. Thomas caf. The recipe is simply phenomenal, and the fact they can turn it out on such a large scale is mind-bending. The sticky-sweet top layer, the crumbly bottom layer falling apart with each bite? Forget about it. Catching a warm pan fresh out of the kitchen is just plain perfection, best enjoyed by the half-dozen.
6. Self-made root beer floats at The View (Kate)
My favorite cafeteria hack is the perfect way to end a gorge session at The View. After you’ve taken down a Cubano, a slice of pizza, some stir-fry, a salad – and one more slice of pizza – head over to the beverage area and pick up a glass. Fill it halfway with vanilla soft serve, then top it off with root beer from the fountain and you’ve got yourself a malt shop-quality root beer float.
5. Do-it-yourself ‘good carb’ wraps at The View (Kelly)
Because I can put the “all-you-can-eat” in all-you-can-eat buffets like a champ, I rarely set foot in The View. But when I do, I concoct my own wraps at the deli/salad bar island. Skip the wraps and bread and ask for two slices each of the deli meat options (turkey, ham and, my favorite, roast beef), a slice of cheese and one generous dollop of hummus, then head to the salad bar on the other side and load up on spinach, mixed greens, bell peppers and tomatoes. Layer a bunch of the healthy fixin’s onto a slice of animal and roll it up. Repeat.
4. Firecracker chicken wrap at Scooter’s (Brian)
How about a little love for Scooter’s? Named after St. Thomas icon Monsignor James “Scooter” Lavin, Scooter’s offers standard short-order fare in an upscale setting. I like flavor – something with kick – so my go-to is the firecracker wrap. (Think Buffalo chicken salad in an easy-to-handle package.) If you want to be decadent, toss in a side of cream cheese wontons.
3. Stir-fry station at The View (Patty)
I love stir-fry – if I’m patient enough to stand in line for it. Spinach and lettuce leaves, green and red peppers, tomatoes, some broccoli and onions. If there’s shrimp, I’m so grateful that I don’t even beg for them to add more. I’m not a fan of teriyaki sauce (too sweet) nor sweet chili or Sichuan sauce (I’m a wimp) so I go without sauce. Luckily the oil they cook in provides enough moisture so that when I add a mountain of white rice, it’s not dry. Or, if it is, I drink more milk.
2. Philly cheesesteak at T’s Action Station (Kate)
The Philly cheesesteak at T’s Action Station is a must-eat whenever I see it on the menu. Sauteed onions and peppers nestled atop shaved roast beef and smothered with liquid cheese. It typically comes with a side of fries, which I like to dip in a mixture of ketchup and sriracha. The ensuing food coma that follows is worth the price of admission – and luckily T’s has a wide selection of caffeinated beverages to help power through the afternoon.
1. Custom burger from Burger Bar at The Binz (Jordan)
The number of possible combinations at The Binz’s Burger Bar has about 15 zeroes attached to it, but here’s the single combo you want: cheeseburger, bacon, fried onions (aka haystacks), pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, onions and bourbon barbecue sauce slathered on top. Head over on a Thursday so you can score tots, too, get a cup of the chipotle barbecue sauce on the side for some extra kick, and you’re in sweet, sweet burger heaven.