“I don’t know, where do you want to eat?” is a common question among bored college palates. But for students at the University of South Florida, dining options are not so bleak.
To start off a long day of classes, a hearty breakfast is a must, and the quickest bacon and eggs are served every morning at First Watch on Fowler Avenue.
“Our average table time is twenty-nine minutes,” said Katherine Hancock, a USF student and waitress at First Watch. “The restaurant opens at 7 a.m. and students are sure to get out the door in plenty of time to make it to class.”
Fowler Avenue also offers an array of choices for lunch. Gourmet submarine sandwiches can be found at Jimmy Johns, and authentic Mexican tacos and burritos, complimented by an extensive hot sauce bar, abound at Tijuana Flats.
The historic Mel’s Hot Dogs restaurant, which lies off of Busch Boulevard, is yet another great selection. Making hot dogs healthy by using only 100 percent vienna beef cooked in pure canola oil, Mel’s has been in business for over thirty-five years.
On the contrary, students who crave vegetarian mid-day sustenance should opt for the Pita Pit.”Pita Pit offers Vegans and Vegetarians unlimited options,” said Brett Werner, Pita Pit’s general manager. “Our pitas can be stuffed with vegetables, hummus, falafel or even a roasted eggplant spread called babaganouj.”
“Our mission is to provide the students at USF with a fresh and healthy alternative to fast food,” Werner said.
Whether you are looking to eat fast or take your time, the university area boasts several intriguing alternatives to the basic American menu.
Ethnic lunch choices can be found at atmospheric venues such as Mr. Dunderbacks, a charming German restaurant conveniently located inside the University Mall, as well as a quaint Greek eatery, Louis Pappas Market Cafe.
At Louis Pappas, which is located on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, you can dine inside or outside and feast on enticing Greek salads, gyros and freshly baked bread at a ten percent discount with your USF identification card.
“Our prices are reasonable for the amount of food you get,” Paul Angelis, general manager of Louis Pappas, said. “We offer affordable, fast, Greek food of the finest quality.”
Superior food at an excellent price is no stranger to two sports venues highly garnished in USF paraphernalia. Fletcher Avenue’s Bull’s House, which also offers ten percent off to USF students, and Rocky’s Sports Grill are excellent places to grab some wings while playing pool or watching the big game.
“At Rocky’s, we offer an eight- ounce hamburger and french fries for five dollars,” Mike Kalojiannis, the restaurant’s general manager, said.
While Rocky’s is certainly a great place for an after-class nibble, Ichiban Japanese Cuisine and Sushi Bar on Fowler is ideal for dinner. The restaurant is always coming up with a new specialty sushi roll that is sure to tantalize your taste buds.
Perhaps just as enticing are the dinner entrees served at two very authentic Italian eateries. Antonio’s Pasta Grill and Savino’s La Vera Cucina Napolitana are a skip away from the university, but the food will make you feel like you have been carried away to Italy.
At Antonio’s, expect to find large portions of Italian favorites like chicken parmigiana, fettucini alfredo and gourmet pizza at a ten percent discount for USF students.
“Our servings are so large, you literally get two meals for the price of one,” said Jim Montevago, the owner of Antonio’s. “It’s a great place for everything from a casual meal to a special occasion.”
But if an occasion such as a date is on your dinner agenda, make a reservation at Savino’s for a more romantic dining experience, complete with dim lighting and bona fide Italian music playing softly in the background.
“Savino’s is a restaurant where you are never rushed out,” Chris Argutto, the restaurant’s owner, said. “You are here to dine and can stay all night if you wish.”
Whether you are accompanied by a date or a group of friends, the Victorian Coffee House and Sweets Shoppe is the place to head after dinner for the most extensive assortment of dessert delicacies.
Aside from its fine chocolates, truffles, retro candy, fudge, handmade ice cream and other decadent desserts, the shoppe prides itself on flavored coffees and an espresso bar.
“We offer lots of variety and a great place to just hang out,” Janet Gillis, owner of the shoppe and USF alumna, said.
With Victorian Coffee and Sweets acting as the cherry on top, these thirteen restaurants offer the best of the best in the university area. From Mexican, Greek and Italian favorites to Kosher and Vegetarian alternatives, there is surely something for everyone around the USF campus.