College is often known for two things: parties and bad food. The dining halls at U of I don't do much to break out of that stereotype. Most students agree that instead of working hard to make creative new foods and variety, the University should just stick to learning how to make Rice Krispie treats properly. Cafeteria food is always going to be cafeteria food, though, which means either boring repetition or outlandish creations that make you skip right to the cereal bar.
Keeping the food fresh is also a problem, as students who have eaten slimy lettuce or stale Cheerios can tell you. It is a good idea to come early to take advantage of the fresh food. On the other hand, the hours can also be a problem. Most students don't like eating dinner by 6:30 p.m., especially when they are going to be up until 2 a.m. studying. Consequently, most dorm rooms are stocked with snacks and sodas. Seven specialty restaurants like A La Carte offer better food at more reasonable hours. When you are up late studying or just hanging out, there is nothing better than pizza or onion rings at Illinois Avenue Residence Hall. If it was not for specialty restaurants, the dining at U of I would be bleak. Even with these options, the University must work on its healthy food menu, as most main courses and appetizers are all simmering in grease and fat. Also, the vegetarian fare is limited to pasta and salads in most residence halls, which is less than tempting. All in all, the dining experience at U of I is stereotypically bad.