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Keeping Panthers fed

Keeping Panthers fed

FIU is ranked in the Top 10 – and No. 1 among Florida public universities – on's 2024 list of Best College Food in America. Check out new options and upgrades – and daily access to donuts! – designed to satisfy eaters on campus

September 12, 2023 at 2:00pm

Several weeks into the new school year, and one thing is clear: Panthers gotta eat.

Panther Dining and ShopFIU, the folks in charge of food on campus, have made it easier as well as tastier to fuel up.

Students hanging out recently in the GC confirmed they enjoy the wide array of offerings from outlets that include the 8th Street Kitchen, which serves as the campus cafeteria at MMC, to the popular chains.

Alexander Stone, the SGA housing senator, who had just purchased a six-inch turkey club at Subway, talked about a new eating space to which he contributed in his role as a student representative.

“We were looking to bring something on campus that would really excite the general population and, especially, the housing population,” he says of his interactions with administrators. Their brainstorming resulted in what he calls “the first university in the U.S. to have a hot-food vending lounge.”

Crave Cave in room 109 of University Towers at MMC promises to keep Panthers satisfied 24-7 by quashing hunger pangs whenever they attack. The space – complete with an air hockey table and a giant Connect Four game as well as a microwave, dining tables and couches – features a variety of vending machines, some of which take on-demand dining to a new level. On the menu are hot savories such as White Castle sliders and Asian pot stickers and warm sweet treats such as lava cakes and cinnamon buns.

Also generating interest: The debut of The Salty, a donut shop in the GC atrium. Junior nursing students Katerina Jimenez and Valentina Quijada stood in a 20-deep line (which doubled later in the afternoon) to “reward” themselves after an early morning of studying together for their pathophysiology class. “We’ve been talking about this since 8 a.m.,” said Jimenez, who planned to order a donut drenched in brown butter and topped with sea salt.

Sophomore finance and logistics double major Tim Lozano raved about his go-to, the chipotle chicken club at Tropical Smoothie Café, located in the Wellness & Recreational Center at MMC. And self-proclaimed gym rat Luis Lopez, a sophomore studying exercise science, says he often gets his protein hit at Panera, which serves a barbecue smokehouse chicken sandwich that he calls “amazing.”

Here’s the lowdown on chowing down.

Convenience first
Many more favorite spots now offer a way to avoid standing in line: self-ordering kiosks. With a trusty One Card or a credit/debit card, the hungry can select and pay for meals quickly. Previously limited to just a few outposts, such kiosks can be found at multiple spots on both campuses.

Additional machines that serve up snacks, ice-cream, coffee and more have been placed around MMC, BBC and the Engineering Center. Even better are the ones that heat up food on the spot: ramen, anyone? Look for these on both campuses. The new Crave Cave in room 109 of University Towers at MMC brings it all together. Open to everyone during the day (and accessible only to residents of FIU Housing between the hours of midnights and 6 a.m., with their One Card), the space offers all the goodies mentioned above as well as refrigerated sandwiches and grab-and-go microwavable meals. A Pharmabox selling toiletries and over-the-counter meds is also located there. (Credit cards, debit cards and dining dollars can be used for all vending purchases.)

Market reimagined
The Market at Breezeway, on the first floor of University Towers, has added more grocery items such as as fresh fruit, refrigerated juices and a variety of protein bars,frozen meals such as Amy's burittos as well as dorm essentials such as boxes of tissue and bottles of ketchup and personal-care items such as razors. Best of all, the famous chocolate chip cookies – ooey, gooey and chewy - remain available for purchase throughout operating hours (11 a.m.-11 p.m.) in response to the students, faculty and staff who have made clear they cannot get through the day without one. Check-out at the market is now completely cashless and self-serve.

Coffee connection
You can use your Starbucks app to order and pay ahead of walking over to pick up your pick-me-up at the MANGO and Green Library outlets at MMC. Best of all, both locations now accept rewards, so drink up and earn that free Frappuccino!

The Salty, a much-loved food truck that specializes in donuts and used to visit MMC just once a week, has morphed into an indoor venue. The decadent delights – in flavors such as maple + bacon, guava + cheese and white chocolate tres leches – can now be purchased in the space between lunch standbys Sergio’s and Sushi Maki.

Healthy food
To counteract the effects of the afore-mentioned fried dough, consider new health-oriented options Mia’s Shack in PG-5 and Acai U Later in AC-1 at BBC, both of which offer vegan and vegetarian fare.

Classic Cuban at BBC
Vicky’s Café has moved indoors, into the WUC food court, and offers the full menu that its fans know and love, including breakfast, pastries, coffee, sandwiches and more.