I was a very lucky freshman, even with the crummy room situation and a less-than-flawless transcript. I made friends with upperclassmen, who, in addition to owning cars that could transport me around, knew the best haunts of the area and how to get to them. I’d been at Hamilton for less than a year, and I’d already feasted on the finest of Central New York cuisine – beyond, of course, our fine dining halls.
In retrospect, I might have come to Hamilton solely because of Minar. We do have Indian restaurants in Tulsa, but, for some reason, Minar is infinitely better. A full dinner – with appetizers and a mango lassi – is around $20, but the weekend lunch buffet is an absolute steal at $10. While the employees of Minar don’t know us by name, they do know us by sight. The rice is always ready, the naan is hot, and I’m pretty sure there’s something in the masala sauce that releases extra serotonin in the brain. After a midday meal at Minar, dinner is unthinkable, which means you can use your allotted dinner to get equivalency at the Diner; nothing tops off an Indian feast like a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
I was skeptical of Tex Mex at first – mainly because its name is just “Tex Mex,” and because, as an Oklahoman, I felt nothing in New York could beat Taco Bueno, either in price or taste. Finally, though, I was sold into the cult of the One Pound Burrito – although I always order a Half-Pounder. The food is cheap, filling, and delicious. Chips are free with every meal, and the salsa bar puts Taco Bueno’s to shame. There’s also a spectacular vista on the drive there, which is just as amazing at night as it is in the day.
Lastly, there’s the Only Café, which, appropriately, I’ve only been to once. It’s called the Only because there’s only one guy who works there, and he does everything. The menu is a little limited, but the atmosphere – specifically, the inane amount of kitsch on the walls – makes up for it. The Only prides itself on hot sauce and strawberry shortcake; not only is there a veritable library of Tabascos, but the shortcake is entirely handmade, down to the whipped cream. If you’re in a rush, the Only’s a bad choice, but if you’ve got time to kill with people you like, it’s definitely worthwhile.
And, of course, there’s a McDonald’s in Clinton, if you’re feeling particularly homesick. Or stir-fry at McEwen, in addition to random entrees – last week I had some Garbanzo Croquettes with Tzatziki Sauce. Not bad for a campus meal plan.