Welcome to The University of Chicago, best known for the "Life of the Mind" and its location in the dreamy neighborhood of Hyde Park. Perhaps you're a prospective student or an incoming first year and you've wondered what the food scene is like on campus. Or maybe you're a second or third year looking to explore the city of Chicago more and experience the "urban campus." 

As much as we appreciate the unlimited, expensive dining plan and house tables that we haven't sat at since O-Week, we made a guide to show you the wonders of Hyde Park and beyond. Brunch for two? Dinner before the club? We've got you covered on the best places for students at The University of Chicago to live and thrive.

1. You need to grab lunch for under $10 between classes: Z&H

Zaleski & Horvath is the go-to quick lunch stop for University of Chicago students. With unique sandwiches and healthy salads, this little spot offers a fast and delicious bite to eat.

What to order: Keep your first time simple with A Little Pecorino. Turkey and pesto are the main attractions, and it'll give you the energy to last until dinner. Don't miss out on grabbing a cookie at the order counter; the baked goods are hidden but always there.

Location: 1323 E 57th St, Hyde Park (Two and a half blocks east of Reynold's Club, next to The Med)

2. You're cramming for exams and the library is full: The Currency Exchange Café

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The perfect weekend afternoon study spot, this little cafe offers a glimpse into the culture of Chicago while offering Mexican-Soul food fusion fare. Don't tell me you can study without a lil snack on the side. Come for a couple hours of quiet, and be sure to take a study break to browse their growing book collection.

Location: 305 E Garfield Blvd, Hyde Park. Hop on the westbound 55 bus at 55th and Ellis. The cafe will be on your left.

3. You're sick of Starbucks: Fabiana's Bakery

This little gem was going to make it on the list somehow. Nestled inside of University Church, this fairly new spot offers a quick cup of joe to go. Don't be rushed to get out and risk missing a taste of a wide variety of fresh baked goods, all made from scratch. The menu changes daily, but you can never go wrong with Fabiana's cinnamon rolls. 

What to order: Coffee (duh) and a cinnamon roll. If they have lemon poppyseed muffins, grab one for later - you won't regret it.

4. You're going on a Tinder date: The Point and The Museum of Science and Industry

#Spoontip: If you are staying to eat, they will heat up the roll for you if you ask.

Location: 5655 S University Ave, Hyde Park 

4. You're going on a Tinder date: The Point and The Museum of Science and Industry

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On a clear and warm fall or spring day, the Point is a great opportunity to get outside and get to know someone. Sitting on the grass chatting with the Chicago Skyline as a romantic backdrop is a perfect way to make some sparks.

Location: 5491 S Shore Dr

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On the more common overcast and cold day, the Museum of Science and Industry offers a romantic refuge from the weather. With new exhibits and old favorites, there will always be something cool to talk about if the conversation lulls.

Location: 5700 S Lake Shore Dr

5. Your parents are visiting and footing the bill: Dusek's

For this one, we recommend taking a short trip to the nearby Pilsen neighborhood for a spot that offers familiar food with a creative twist and a Michelin Star. From small plates to specials, Dusek's promises a delicious meal and an authentic Chicago dining experience.

What to order: Your parents will thank you when you offer to start off with a wood-roasted blue crab dip for the table. You can't go wrong with the roasted chicken entree, but if you are feeling a little adventurous – and exceptionally hungry – go for the duck. Never say no to dessert and always say yes to any of their fried sweets.

Location: 1227 W 18th St, Chicago 60608

6. You're trying to be healthy: Native Foods Cafe

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This one goes out to all of our University of Chicago kids who are homesick for their native West Coast state. Boasting "California-style vegan" menu items, Native Foods is a great place to go when you are trying to avoid the Freshman 15.

What to order: The Soul Bowl is a great starting point for those who are not experienced with imitation meat. With Native Fried Chicken, organic steamed veggies, brown rice and more, this bowl will fill you up without filling you out. The included fresh cornbread side is your gift for eating so well. Be sure to grab a lavender lemonade (or watermelon fresca) and a loyalty card to reap even more rewards from your healthy habits!

Location: 1518 E Harper Court, Hyde Park

7. You're craving something sweet: Magnolia Bakery

There are no words to describe the comfort Magnolia Bakery brings to my day; imagine "Breakfast at Tiffany's" in a bakery setting, and you are the star. I actually Uber to this shop after class on days when I'm feeling spontaneous or upset. Magnolia Bakery is always our go-to spot, and it should be yours, too.

What to order: Aside from the cupcakes frosted to perfection, my immediate impulse is to get the chocolate banana pudding and lemon bar. The chocolate banana pudding is unlike anything you've had before, the lemon bar counteracts the sweetness with a slight tartness, and the two together are a match made in heaven. This is basically our breakfast and lunch, folks; this could be yours, too.

Location: 108 N State St, Chicago

8. You're craving a slice: Quartino's

We seriously love this place. The food is always spot-on, and the customer service is great. From the Quattro Stagioni pizza to house-made Gnocchi, you'll be in food heaven. Forget school for a couple hours and come here to enjoy comfort food with company. Does your SOSC discussion make you feel the same way pizza makes you feel? How about waking up for a 9 am instead of waking up to the smell of a freshly baked pizza? School will never love you the way Quartino's loves you, and that is why this place is our #1.

What to order: EVERYTHING. You can't go wrong ordering anything on this menu. We absolutely love their food. 10/10, you'll see us at dinner on Friday night. Walk off your meal by heading to Magnolia Bakery and get a second dessert like a hardcore Spoonie.

Location: 626 N State St, Chicago

9. You're hungover: MAD Social

Whether you barely made it to the party or threw back one too many last night, it's morning and your head hurts like hell. Guess what? Your Uber pool has arrived and you're on your way to MAD Social where your friends have just ordered mimosas for the table. You enter the rustic, chic restaurant and find them in a booth waiting for you. Congratulations, you made it.

What to order: Short rib Benedict and/or chicken and waffles. The short rib Benedict is topped with poached eggs and a delicious Hollandaise sauce. Did your friend order the chicken and waffles? It's a churro waffle with perfectly breaded chicken topped with pork belly and maple syrup. It even comes with a house-made MAD hot sauce, and we're not talking about the hot sauce you carry in your bag. It's to die for, really.

Location: 1140 W Madison St, Chicago

10. You're craving Mediterranean: The Nile (BYOB)

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When you're craving food from the Mediterranean, the Nile is close to campus and pretty easy to get to. Did we mention that this place is also BYOB? We're really killing two birds with one stone here.

What to order: Lamb and beef shawarma is really the best of both worlds: large servings of marinated lamb and beef over rice pilaf and sautéed vegetables. The baklava is delicate and the perfect dessert to compliment your dinner. Easy for dates or casual dinners.

Location: 1162 E 55th St, Hyde Park

11. You're craving brunch: The Hampton Social

Come for brunch, stay for the rosé. As the logo on the wall reads, Rosé all day. We absolutely agree with that, and let us tell you why: winter quarter was not a fun time for us. Cold temperatures and no sun for months on end, crowds of Canada Goose and Monclers huddling together -- there is no solace for students in the winter. With no snow days and no comfort, we turn to rosé. Transport yourself from an afternoon of working in the Reg to taking pictures of the wall and ordering brunch with your friends. Not only is the vibe of the entire place an experience to be had, but this restaurant is a haven from the winter's wrath.

What to order: The banana bread French toast comes with candied pecans and banana caramel. When have you ever heard of banana caramel? There's a first time for everything. If you're feeling savory, go for the crab cake Benedict: two cakes and two poached eggs with arugula, crispy ham, and spicy Hollandaise. Don't forget your rosé wine!

Location: 353 W Hubbard St, Chicago

12. You're doing it "for the Insta:" Firecakes Donuts

Let's all take a moment of silence for all the donuts we've eaten this past year. This place is easy to get to in the city and has some of the nicest employees around! Because these donuts are so good, they sell out pretty fast, and items come out in limited quantities.

What to order: Ice cream donut sandwich and a boxful of seasonal and regular favorites. You cannot leave this place with just one donut. Seasonal favorites include the chocolate old-fashioned and peanut butter & jelly. For the ice cream donut sandwich, imagine a layer of frozen vanilla gelato topped with a chocolate drizzle lovingly smooshed between glazed donuts. This, my friends, is ecstasy. Forget your school pride and any other worries that you have because you you have yourself a donut ice cream sandwich. Blessings on blessings on blessings.

Location: 68 W Hubbard St, Chicago

Are you hungry yet? Here at the University of Chicago, we try to expand our horizons and take advantage of the Windy City when we can. Food is how you live and Chicago is not where good food comes to die. Also, you may have noticed that some of these pictures are taken by our chapter Instagram account @spoon_uchicago. That's because our social media team is on point and these restaurants all have quality lighting. Did we just reveal our secret for food photography? You'll never know unless you join our awesome team of food lovers!

Interested in all things Spoon UChicago? Click the links below to get more information about our campus chapter, how to get involved, and stay updated by being a part of our community:

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