It’s a warm, Sunday afternoon, you finally get a break from studying, and you decide to go out to eat. You plop down into a booth with a few of your closest friends, look down at the menu and frown. The menu consists of the usual burgers and tacos, but it also has a couple of strange foods. Foods that have such crazy flavors, you wonder what the chef could have possibly been thinking. Wishing you were adventurous enough to try it, you stick with your usual.

I used to be just like you, but then I bit the bait and went where only a few Gators have ever gone before: I ordered from the weird side of the menu.

And I liked it?

1. Roasted Pork Belly Steamed Buns from Crane Ramen

Kristen Smith

When I first saw the name of this dish, I felt two things: confused and nervous. Separately, each word made sense (roasted, steamed, belly, pork and buns), but placed together, (roasted pork belly steamed buns) and I had no idea what to expect. As it turns out, it is pork belly rubbed with star anise (a spice) in between two white, steamed buns with pickled radish, microgreens and a spicy mayo sauce.

The pork was cooked to perfection. The light spicy mayo sauce gave the dish some heat, while maintaining a distinct flavor. The steamed bun was my favorite part. The soft and squishy texture made it fun to play with and provided a nice contrast to the pork.

2. McDonald’s Crepe

Kristen Smith

Want to be boujee on a budget? Technically, the McDonald's crepe is not on the menu in America, but it is possible to create your own (therefore, it’s on the secret menu). Order hotcakes and the fruit n’ yogurt parfait. Then, spoon the parfait onto one or two of the hotcakes. Fold the hotcake over the parfait, if you can. Sprinkle the granola over the crepe and drizzle pancake syrup on top.

It is not an exact replica of a French crepe, but it is a good imitation for McDonald’s. Once you get past the oddity of putting a parfait and pancakes together, it tastes pretty good. It is perfect for those who like a sweet treat in the morning. The fluffy pancakes complement the sweet berries and crunchy granola well. I would recommend ordering a side, like fries, to curb the sweetness and add a more savory element. 

3. Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake from Gigi’s Cupcakes

Kristen Smith

Gigi’s strawberry shortcake cupcake will satisfy even the most extreme sweet tooth. The cake is unusually accurate in its flavor with strawberries baked into the strawberry cake. It tastes like a strawberry shortcake was poured into a cupcake tin. The sweetness of the cupcake comes from the strawberry, buttercream frosting on top. The sugary frosting is made with real strawberry juice that gives it an extra kick. On long days, when you have had too much coffee but still need a rush of energy, this cupcake will give you all you need.

Spice Up Your Life

The next time you eat out, order something unusual, different or weird. Go outside of your comfort zone and explore the options available. You may find a new favorite dish or at least appease those curious thoughts that pop into your head each time you see the menu.