College dining halls have often been steeped in controversy. Even USC was the site of the Great Biscuit Rebellion of 1852 in which 109 students signed an agreement to withdraw if the dining system was not improved.
Thankfully, on-campus dining has come a long way since then. Students no longer suffer through what university archivist Elizabeth Cassidy West called, "wormy biscuits and rancid meat." USC students have been, and still are, passionate about their food.
With an ever-expanding list of restaurants and dining halls offering food ranging from Southern classics to Asian cuisine to açai bowls, students have an abundance of dining options.
But where do students like to eat? It seems like a simple question, but the power of a meal swipe shouldn't be underestimated.
For first-year nursing student Natalie Trimble, it's an easy answer.
“My favorite on-campus dining spot would have to be Chick-fil-A," Trimble said. "I feel like it gives me enough food."
The stability and dependability of a national chain is comforting to many students, as is evident by consistently long lines at the Chick-fil-A and the multiple Starbucks locations on campus.
Students eat based on what fits into their busy schedules, so branching out can be difficult. Trimble said she hopes to make her schedule more flexible next semester so she can try other options such as Gibbes Court Bistro and the Global Café.
According to first-year biology student Parker Dhillon, Honeycomb Café, located in the Honors Residence Hall, can be hit or miss, but when it hits, it is the best around.
“It’s a roll of the dice, but it's the best roll of the dice,” Dhillon said.
Varying portion sizes have been a point of criticism of dining at Honeycomb, as they are one of the few dining options where food is served by people behind the counter in true cafeteria-style.
According to Trimble, "they don't give you enough," even when she has asked for more food.
Dhillon said some workers at Honeycomb are more generous than others. He said there is one woman who greets students with, "Oh, honey, here you go," before serving up a large portion of food.
For those who are averse to risk-taking or want standard portion sizes, Twisted Taco in Russell House is a good bet. First-year biochemistry and molecular biology student Christian Ryan said it's the most promising option for students dining on campus.
“They’re the only place with good food,” Ryan said.
According to Ryan, the ability to find consistently hot food at Twisted Taco makes it a winner. He said he recommends the “amazing” chips and queso.
While many students are familiar with these freshman favorites, some of the campus "underdogs" are hidden gems. Dhillon said he thinks the Congaree River Smokehouse is underrated.
“Nobody goes to that little corner down there. It's overshadowed by Chick-fil-A,” Dhillon said.
The key is knowing what to ask for. Dhillon said he recommends trying the hamburger, turkey burger or pulled pork sandwiches.
There is an additional campus-wide favorite that is not to be missed: Chicken Tender Wednesday. Students can expect to find fresh — never frozen — chicken tenders at most campus dining locations on Wednesdays. This campus tradition even had the power to attract a Twisted Taco diehard to Honeycomb Café.
“I’ve only been to Honeycomb once,” Ryan said. “They served really good chicken fingers.”
Some other honorable mentions include Gibbes Court Bistro, True Balance and Colloquium Café. Daily updated menus can be found online at sc.campusdish.com.