We’ve got you covered for coffee in the MAPH office, and the food at social hour is always plentiful, but it can be tricky to find out where to get a good lunch on or near the University of Chicago campus. If you bring your own food, you can always heat it up in the office microwave, but chances are there will be at least a few days where you look in your fridge and spy absolutely nothing worth carting to campus.
The University has created a helpful page listing all of the on-campus coffee shops, dining halls, and restaurants, but while helpful, it’s a bit overwhelming. Here’s a condensed version that doesn’t include things like the cafés in the hospital and the undergrad dining halls (though I know a few people who did eat there periodically, I never found their food to be particularly worthwhile). I’m also listing a few options that are just barely off campus, for those of you who don’t mind a bit of a walk.
Classics Cafe: Just upstairs from the MAPH office, the Classics Cafe is extremely convenient, offering coffee, tea, panini sandwiches, cookies, and a few refrigerated sandwich and salad options. If you like the selection here, but want a quieter area where you won’t run into your MAPH buddies all the time, try the coffee shop in the basement of Stuart, which has similar food, but is slightly harder to find.
Cobb & Swift: I’m grouping these two together, because for me, the stand out thing about them is the same. Both cafés bring in lunch options from many Hyde Park restaurants, so you can choose from a wide variety of warm lunch options, ranging from hot soups and pizza to delicious Thai, Mediterranean, or Indian food. These two cafés are in the basements of their respective buildings, and have excellent coffee in addition to a wide range of lunch options.
Ex Libris: Coffee, tea, refrigerated sandwiches and the like. The key here is that it’s in the basement of the Regenstein, so it’s ideal for a quick study break. You have to exit the part of the library where the books live, so you may need to disassemble your study area and check out your books, but it’s still much faster to duck down here than to go anywhere else.
The Law School & The Business School: Though both of these options are a bit out of the way (across the Midway for the Law School, across University Ave for the Business School), and full of people wearing much posher clothes than the average humanities grad student, they can be great lunch spots, if you want something a bit different. The Business School has a worthwhile salad bar, and the sandwiches at the Law School are excellent.
University Market, Medici, and The Medici Bakery: The Medici family owns this block of restaurants and markets, all Hyde Park classics. Medici is a sit-down place, with pizza, pasta, salads, burgers, milkshakes, and desserts. The Medici Bakery is their take-out option, with a wide array of breads and other baked goods as well as fantastic chili and ice cream. University Market is more of a convenience store, but serves excellent made-to-order sandwiches in the back, all on Medici-made bread, of course. These can all be found on 57th St., just a few blocks east of campus.
Noodles Etc: Just a little beyond the Medici complex lies Noodles Etc., a sit-down restaurant where you’ll find an assortment of Asian dishes, including delicious fried tofu appetizers, lots of noodle dishes, and rich, sweet Thai iced coffee. They do also offer take-out.
There are, of course, plenty of other places to eat in Hyde Park, but many of them aren’t quite close enough to campus to be convenient for lunch, or are the Starbucks at Barnes and Noble, which is only worthwhile because they have ice cream sandwiches and take credit cards. Their non-ice-cream sandwiches? Totally not worth it.