Colman Commons (OPH)
- Make your own smoothie bar
- Overall most spacious and quiet dining area
In my opinion, this place may be the most underrated space on campus to eat, hang out, or even study. Commuters may be deterred from using this space, since Colman Commons is connected to the OPH residence, but rest assured that the staff welcome all students equally. Despite spending over a year at UTM, I’ve never stepped into this dining area before now, but I will return to it frequently in the future.
This dining area has the greatest variety compared to all the other food spots on campus in my opinion. Toasted sandwiches, a customizable pasta bar, and an assortment of other items, such as burgers and fries, await at Colman Commons, not to mention an extensive assortment of desserts, snacks, and drink options. Meals can range anywhere from $5 to $10 depending on what you’re in the mood for. The smoothie bar is a hidden gem—you can add customizable ingredients to make your own smoothie for around $6 to $7, making it a healthier alternative to Davis’ Booster Juice.
As I wandered around Colman Commons, I was blown away by random items such as jars of Haagen Daas ice cream, frozen pizzas, a variety of teas and coffees, and breakfast options that rival your Timmies favourites, like tasty cereals and bagels.
All this wholesome food is surrounded by jumbo windows with a spectacular view of our campus woods. This spot is definitely the best dining area for its variety and quiet, calming atmosphere.
While I can’t think of any cons for this location, there have been several complaints over the years. Students have previously complained about the “mediocre” quality of food present, and overpriced items. Another complaint is the long walk to Colman Common—though the walk is very scenic, so there really isn’t any reason to complain.
The Blind Duck Pub (Student Centre)
- $5 for eight wings on Tuesdays
- Best place to socialize
Sometimes the Student Centre feels a little removed from the campus. In fact, I rarely find myself entering it. That being said, the pub is one of my new favourite spots on campus. The food options include burgers, sandwiches, salads, the famous wings ($5 on Tuesdays), and tasty appetizers. Most of the food falls within the $6–$10 range, with the option to upgrade mains such as burgers, wings, and fish to combos with sides likes onion rings, fries, and salads for an extra $3.
I had originally assumed that the prices would be high, but I was pleasantly surprised by the prices and portion sizes at the Blind Duck. The $5 Tuesday wings special attracts crowds of students and the general consensus is that the wings are amazing.
The best part about this dining area is that it feels removed from classes and is a great place to relax with friends. Another fun note is that students can play pool, making it an overall winner for best place to chill with friends and socialize.
If you’re looking for quiet, this isn’t the place you’re looking for. The blender managed to go off every five minutes and sounds constantly echoed through the whole room, so pick your seat wisely.
Additionally, depending on what time you get there, you could be facing a long lineup. For lunch, your best bet is to beat the rush and get there around 11:00 or 11:30 because the line moves very slowly. After placing your order, wait times can be anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes, so this isn’t the place to grab a quick meal between classes, but rather the place to dedicate a lengthier break to.
The Duck Stop (Student Centre)
- Cheapest snacks
UTM’s freshly minted convenience store doesn’t exactly count as a food service outlet, but it does have enough inexpensive snacks to get you through a lengthy exam jam or a Netflix marathon.
The Duck Stop advertises that they have the lowest prices on campus, and after visiting, I was pleased to see just that. While I can’t attest to whether they have the cheapest prices of every item of its kind on campus, the prices all around seemed reasonable. The cheapest item I found was a fig bar for $0.99, while the most random item I found was a $3.50 pack of beef jerky.
All in all, there is definitely a variety of items in the Duck Stop, but beyond the packets of instant noodles or the small microwavable Kraft Dinner cups, you probably can’t make a meal out of the items that can be found there. This is more of a place for small snacks, so it fits the purpose of a convenience store well.
In terms of healthy options, while I initially saw rows of chips and candies there, the store was redeemed when I found yogurt granola cups, hummus packs with chips that seemed to be pretty sophisticated, and a few healthy snacks.
Temporary Food Court (Davis)
- Variety of international cuisines
This is a cafeteria-style food court with a variety of food options, including a few international cuisine outlets.
If you’re really hungry, this is where heaping plates of food can be found at reasonable prices. There are several international food options, ranging from curry bowls to tacos. Among the popular outlets is Pizza Pizza, offering less expensive pizza than Deerfield with the compromise of knowing that you’re likely taking a hit on the health scale.
Although this is going to sound creepy, Davis is by far the best dining place to people-watch, because there is just so much going on. For instance, I once saw someone eat an entire salad with their fingers—a commendable feat, really.
Overall, I avoid TFC because of the atmosphere. For commuters who only eat lunch at school, the large serving sizes here can be a pro if you’re a foodie, but a con if you’re a fan of lighter lunches.
While the chairs may seem small, whenever someone pulls one out to sit down, loud screeching noises can be heard, which can get unnerving, especially if you’re trying to relax during a lunch break. The harsh lighting gives me flashbacks of my high school’s cafeteria.
I was also let down by the Vegilicious outlet; the foods I saw in the window didn’t seem all that enticing.
North Side Bistro (Deerfield Hall)
- Loose leaf teas
- No long queues
This is a bright and wholesome food vendor in Deerfield Hall. They offer a variety of organic teas and coffees, an authentic pizza oven, a soup section, and a salad bar.
The food here seems extremely fresh and wholesome. You can tell that the pizzas and calzones are made with great care, and that their soups are made with great ingredients. They have an extensive selection of loose leaf teas here that come in exotic flavours like peaches and cream and mint chocolate.
The dining area also has a great atmosphere. There are large windows that let in the sunlight and given that there are rarely any lineups, it’s a great place to grab a meal quickly.
We’ve all heard it before: the prices here are just a little too steep. The $9 salads here are really the point of protest, but it comes down to how much value you attach to organic foods, especially since there are less expensive places to grab a salad on campus, such as OPH and the On the Go stations.
While I’m positive that the soups here are great for you, some flavours just taste a little too healthy for my taste—particularly the vegetarian varieties.
On the Go (CCT, TFC, IB, OPH, and Kaneff Centre)
- Cheapest salads and sushi!
The On the Go food fridges are stocked with a variety of fruits, sandwiches, wraps, and salads, with a great number of vegetarian options as well.
The sandwiches in the On the Go stations are pleasantly sophisticated with types like grilled vegetables with goat cheese, and offer a great meal for a price that can fall anywhere between $3 and $6.
There is also a great range of salads, such as the chicken caesar and the Tex Mex for around $6, making them a much less expensive alternative to the salads offered in the North Side Bistro. In some of the On the Go stations, like the ones in OPH, CCT, and the TFC, I saw generous sushi packs from $8, which seem to be pretty popular across campus.
I suppose the freshness of the On the Go foods could be called into question, but I’ve never had a bad experience with any of their foods. Overall, I find this to be a viable alternative to some of the pricier food options on campus.