If there’s one thing you learned in your first semester at UR, it’s that the dining halls are not where it’s at. Now that you recognize how wonderful the Pit is in all its greasy glory, it’s time to up your Commons game. Let these hacks show you just how many options you have when dining in WilCo.

First, the three basics:

1) Palatable proteins

Photo by Hayden Carder

Your meat choices aren’t just limited to the oily Panda and cold, salad bar chicken and tuna. The Commons Grill keeps its chicken pre-cooked under the counter, so ask for a piece of grilled chicken if you want something juicier and better seasoned than the salad bar stuff. If the Burrito Bowl isn’t swarmed with people, you can bring your salad bar box over and politely ask a worker to load it up with your meat of choice. As long as it’s in that container, it’ll be charged like a salad at the cash register.

2) Getting saucy

Photo by Hayden Carder

Yeah, the sauce cups are kept next to the ketchup, mustard, etc., but don’t think those are the only things you can fill them with. Bring them into the actual Pit and load them up with Mel sauce, pesto, “tzatziki,” salad dressing, or even parmesan. You can also ask Burrito Bowl or Blimpie’s Rocky’s workers for guac.

3) The new Hillside

Photo by Hayden Carder

The Pit is good for more than instant gratification – namely, getting ingredients in smaller quantities and for lower prices than at Hillside. Between all the stations, there’s a huge array of individual ingredients at your disposal that can be loaded into salad bar containers for personal culinary experiments. For instance, get some Grill chicken, salad bar onions, peppers and shredded cheese, two sauce-cups of BBQ sauce and one of Mel sauce to make an excellent BBQ chicken pizza on a store-bought or homemade crust. You’re welcome!

Now some specific suggestions, since a la carte is for chumps:


Photo by Hayden Carder

  • Self-made salad + Panda entrée = less guilt about eating Panda
  • Pizza Pi pasta + Grill pesto + salad bar spinach and shredded cheese = an actually flavorful pasta dish
  • Panda noodles or rice + Grill chicken = a less oily meal and a more pleasant morning-after
  • Self-made salad with crispy noodles and orange wedges + Grill chicken + Panda sauce packet = fast and easy Asian chicken salad
  • Self-made salad + Grill chicken + Burrito Bowl guac = fast and easy Mexican chicken salad
  • Mac and cheese + Grill chicken + Mel sauce = heaven
  • Salad bar hummus + bag of chips/pretzels = a better carb-to-hummus ratio than Sabra cups
  • Rocky’s ciabatta toasted with spinach, tomatoes and provolone + Grill pesto or Pizza Pi marinara = faux caprese sandwich

Bonus Pro Tip: Make Friday Burrito Bowl day. Even at mealtimes as normal as 12:30 and 6:00, I’ve managed to only have to wait behind two people to get my ‘Mexican’ fix. Maybe people are too hungover from Thirsty Thursday, maybe they’re eager to get off campus and start the weekend – whatever the case may be, Fridays seem to be prime burrito time.

More ways to improve UR dining adventures: