The dining hall food gets monotonous. Fast. You can only have so much grilled chicken and pizza before you feel your taste buds disintegrating. Luckily, we are #blessed with meal equivalences to get some grub that isn't in a dining hall. Here are some ideas for when you want a change of tone.

Ramen from NU Sushi

truffle, spaghetti, noodle, vegetable, mushroom, pasta
Alex Schwartz

NU Sushi is notorious for its rolls and sashimi, but the real star is its ramen. Coming from Los Angeles and having access to Little Tokyo, I'm a ramen snob. However, NU Sushi receives my seal of approval. 

When you get to the counter, you have the option of checking off what kind of protein and noodles you want and vegetables to add. I always get ramen noodles with beef, mushrooms, green onions and bean sprouts, but it's totally up to what you're craving! No matter what you get, you'll enjoy it. The broth is hearty and warm, perfect for the chilly winter season. Ingredients are always fresh and high-quality. Servings are generous, so you'll leave Norris satisfied.

Cat Shack During Themed Station Week

dairy product, gyro, cheese, meat, chicken, vegetable, bread, lettuce
Alex Schwartz

Cat Shack is notorious for its comfort food, and while I certainly enjoy a good burger once in a while, its themed station is far superior. For an entire week, Cat Shack rotates dishes from a plethora of different cuisines, from Italian to Mexican. Most recently, Cat Shack hosted a Mediterranean week, and the chicken schwarma with seasoned fries was one of the best meals I've had here.

Einstein Bros. Bagels

When you're running from Orgo in Tech to Spanish in Kresge and don't have time to eat lunch in the dining hall, Einstein is for you. This local favorite offers a wide variety of delicacies, including ham and cheese egg sandwiches for an on-the-go lunch or chocolate chunk cookies for a midday sugar kick. Pair your food with some freshly brewed coffee and you're good to go.

Fran's Café

On those late nights cramming for your French oral, Fran's is the place for you. This popular spot, open from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., has everything you could wish for: seasoned waffle fries, quesadillas and (my personal favorite) thick and creamy milkshakes topped with Oreos or M&Ms. Studying was never more tolerable.

Ben and Jerry's

tea, coffee
Alex Schwartz

The most underrated way to spend your meal equivalence is to hold off later on in the day and go ham at the C-Store. From 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., meal equivalences increase from the normal $7 to $9. So, you can buy 2 pints of your favorite Ben and Jerry's and fatten up for the winter or deal with the stress of midterms.

Exploring the options that Northwestern offers is always a good way to get out of a food rut and reinvigorate your taste buds. So, go out and use those swipes!