On-campus dining is improving, but not yet perfect

Duke Archive Photo
Duke Archive Photo


By Ollie Gratzinger | Opinions Editor

If you’re a freshman, there’s a good chance you’re probably wondering what the heck is up with Duquesne’s food situation. Hogan Dining Center in Towers is a far cry from home-cooked meals you might be used to, and the pizza you can pick up at Incline is, like, mostly grease. In a uniquely bad way.

The truth is, food at Duquesne has changed a lot over the course of the last few years. In some ways, it’s gotten better than what it once was, and in others, much worse.

Back in 2016, before Cinco and Chick-fil-A moved into the space on Union’s fifth floor formerly known as Options, there were, well, more options to choose from.

At the old, since-retired taco booth, you had the choice of hard or soft shell. There was a station that sold mac and cheese, chicken tenders and more; a sushi stand, where you could sometimes watch the chefs prepare the fishy cuisine; a salad bar, like Incline’s but bigger; a sandwich shop and a place to grab Chobani yogurt. While the latter still exists downstairs at Incline, other choices have been eliminated entirely, and in their place came fast food.

We don’t all have the time for a sit-down meal in Towers, and folks with dietary restrictions or severe food allergies might have a harder time finding something there anyway, even if it’s better than it used to be. But nevertheless, what other choices does a fast-paced student have except for Chick-fil-A or Cinco? Fast food isn’t the most nutritious thing, even if it is delicious.

Incline and Campus Market both offer on-the-go meals for a meal swipe, usually salads or sandwiches, with sides such as chips, fruit or recently added yogurt at Campus Market. Fisher Market, which doesn’t accept meal swipes, can offer students a place to pick up a quick bite between classes, even if they have to pay for it with either FLEX, PLUS or real adult person money.

Both fast-food locations on campus have healthier selections on the menus, like tofu or quinoa at Cinco and salads or grilled alternatives to the typical fried chicken at Chick-fil-A. However, these options are still usually more expensive (at least at Chick-fil-A) and a meal swipe won’t cover it all, either. At Options, you could at least mix it up a little more.

Not only that, but a meal swipe could carry you a whole lot further back then, too. At the old taco place, for example, you could get two tacos, chips and queso for a meal swipe all day every day. No FLEX, PLUS or debiting the difference required.

At Cinco, where two tacos — only soft shell, unfortunately — cost about a meal swipe, you’ll have to pay extra for a “combo,” to add a drink, chips or dip, like salsa, queso or guacamole. The quality, too, hasn’t really changed that much, despite Cinco’s impressive facade. If anything, it declined a bit, since there’s no longer the option for hardshell tacos.

Incline was always on the higher end of the price spectrum, and that hasn’t changed. Though I do appreciate the new StoK Iced Coffee stands. I can’t complain about everything, after all.

Duquesne’s dining options fell sharply in quality last year while also rising in price, but after a period of transition, things are beginning to even out. That isn’t to say they’re perfect, or even good. Just beginning to get a little better.

The allergy section of Towers’ dining hall, while still far from ideal, is better than it has been in years past. Healthier options are out there, even if they’re more expensive. Students with dietary restrictions or allergies, though, still turn up the short end of the stick time and time again.

When the day comes that meal swipes can actually get you a decent meal outside of Towers, Duquesne might be onto something good.