If you're a UGA student on meal plan who has never dined at The Niche, you're definitely missing out. Located on the Health Sciences campus, this dining hall sits about 15 minutes driving-time from main campus and serves some of the best food UGA has to offer.
With firewood oven pizza and customizable burger stations, gourmet mac and cheese, a fresh fruit bar, and a frozen yogurt machine, it's no wonder this place always seems packed. Most people rarely visit, reasoning that you need at least a two-hour block between classes, but I've found that with the right strategies you can make going to The Niche part of your weekly routine.
Here are the seven most critical tips and tricks to making your trip to The Niche worthwhile.
1. Drive, Don't Bus
When I first started going to The Niche, my friends and I would wait 10 minutes for a Health Sciences bus (the only bus that stops at Scott Hall), ride for 20 minutes, and then have to wait at least 20 more minutes in the long sandwich and pizza lines. While you can just hop on a bus after class, you also arrive with 25 other hungry students at the exact same time.
Yes, driving can be a major pain, but bugging my friends with cars to take us to lunch always ensures a speedy trip. Make sure to park in the Health Sciences visitor lot if you don't have a pass!
2. Perfect Timing is Everything
Sure, if you show up 5 minutes before close Bolton they'll (begrudgingly) still let you in, but The Niche doesn't roll with that. After all, they close at 2:30. You've got limited time here.
I've had the best luck going for an early lunch, preferably around 11am. A burger at the top of the morning (how some may see 11am) isn't the most appealing food to pair with your coffee, but there's no better feeling than walking into an empty dining all with no lines.
3. Keep It Simple
It's not rocket science: the simpler the order, the faster it's made. Instead of ordering a complicated double-bacon cheeseburger on a gluten-free bun with three different types of onions and sweet potato fries, try getting simple items like a plain cheese pizza, a chicken sandwich, or just get the buffet-style food (it is a dining hall, after all).
Even if it does have ten fillings, nobody wants to wait 25 minutes for a calzone, and you still get the gourmet Niche food.
4. Try the Buffet-Style Food
It's easy to overlook The Niche's ready-made offerings considering all the raves over the made-to-order burgers and pizza. If you absolutely can't do the lines to the ordering computers, try one of their specialty mac and cheeses, casseroles, or salmon and veggies.
5. Order Fries Á La Carte
The Niche is not only known for incredible burgers, sandwiches, and Philly Cheesesteaks, but they also serve up hand cut fries, sweet potato fries, and red onion rings. Next time you skipped out on the burger station for a hand tossed pizza, but still want a side, order fries à la carte! I had no clue for the longest time that you can just walk up to the person calling out the burger orders and ask for fries— and they just give them to you right away. Amazing, right?
6. Come Fridays for Pie
The Niche's dutch apple pie never ceases to amaze. Served every Friday, don't forget to add vanilla soft serve on top for a dining hall dessert you won't find anywhere else.
If you happen to visit on a day that isn't Friday, make one of their pecan brownies or a double fudge cookies à la mode instead.
7. Get Creative
As with any dining hall, meals can get a little repetitive if you stick with the same old go-to's every time. It's easy her to try something new each time, like getting pesto sauce on your pizza or ordering fish and chips instead of the classic cheeseburger. After all, anything you get at The Niche is going to taste delicious regardless.