Rice cooks up new dining options across campus

Dining at Rice

In a culinary initiative aimed at embracing diversity and catering to evolving student demographics, Rice Housing and Dining has unveiled an additional meal period in residential dining and an innovative International Stations program featuring an array of worldly cuisines.

“We are thrilled to introduce these exciting additions to our dining program, reflecting the cultural richness and global perspectives of our student body,” said Beth Leaver, interim executive director of housing and dining. “We are committed to providing not just nourishment but a culinary experience that mirrors the diverse and dynamic community we foster.”

The addition of the new meal period “munch,” strategically placed between lunch and dinner, aims to enhance flexibility in mealtimes. This adjustment addresses students’ ever-changing schedules, ensuring they have convenient, continuous lunch options.

The serveries now boast a rich tapestry of flavors with stations like El Rincon Caliente, offering a taste of Latin America with its sizzling fajitas, flavorful empanadas, fresh salsa and agua frescas. Meanwhile, Wok at Sunset takes students on an Asian journey, presenting a delightful selection of stir-fries and noodle dishes.

For classic Mediterranean dishes, Mezze offers an amazing spread of hummus, pita, gyros, falafel and more. Simultaneously, Owl Masala celebrates the aromatic and diverse world of Indian cuisine from rich curries to fragrant biryanis.

A highlight of the dining experience is the Global Bowl, a culinary fusion that brings fan-favorite international dishes into a convenient bowl format like pho, bulgogi, pozole and poke. To further accommodate diners’ needs, Rice has introduced an allergen-free option in the form of a sauté station where students can select ingredients free from the top nine food allergens to customize a meal.

Dining at Rice
Photo by Sydney Troxell

Two additions currently in the works are the Regional BBQ and African Diaspora stations.

The African Diaspora collaboration is particularly noteworthy as Rice partnered with alumnus Ope Amosu, the owner of ChòpnBlọk, to bring an authentic African cuisine program to life. Last semester, university chefs joined forces with Amosu to host the first African Festival in Houston. This remarkable event not only showcased the diverse flavors of African cuisine but also served as a platform to bring together a community of celebrity chefs, students and staff for an immersive cultural experience.

“The International Stations program aligns with the department’s dedication to staying at the forefront of culinary trends and adapting to the ever-changing needs and interests of its students,” Leaver said. “As the university undergoes continual growth and forges new collaborations with international institutions, so too does its commitment to providing a world-class dining experience that celebrates the rich tapestry of global cuisine.”

The community dining landscape has undergone enhancements in tandem with the campus’s growth and development.

The introduction of the Ralph S. O’Connor Building for Engineering and Science provided space for Dandelion Cafe, a dining alternative featuring a variety of freshly made options. Operating within this space, the cafe offers a diverse menu that includes sandwiches, pizzas, fresh smoothies and more from breakfast to dinner Monday through Friday. In addition to daily offerings, the cafe expands its services to campus community catering, contributing a valuable dining option to the portion of campus surrounding the new building.

This month, Dandelion is participating in Eat Drink HTX, a citywide two-week campaign running Feb. 15-29 where smaller food and beverage vendors will showcase their businesses by offering a special menu at a set price. A dollar for each lunch sold and $3 for each dinner sold will be donated to the Houston Food Bank.

As the student center design is currently paused, Housing and Dining stepped in to manage Sammy’s, introducing several exciting dining options available at lunch and dinner Monday through Friday:

  • Whoo Deli: Indulge in made-to-order sandwiches and salads tailored to individual’s taste preferences.
  • 4.Taco: Get immersed in a gourmet taco experience at the vibrant taco bar.
  • In the Loop: Explore the culinary delights of epicurean, flatbread pizza at this delectable station.
  • Chef’s Table: Discover a rotating selection of items from all serveries with different featured dishes each day. This culinary showcase promises a diverse and delightful dining experience for everyone.

Because of the campuswide popularity of hot dogs, True Dog has broadened its reach to the community with its food truck conveniently located near Valhalla Wednesdays from 4-9 p.m. and Thursdays and Fridays from 8 p.m.-2 a.m.

Rice has also remained innovative in the way it delivers food options to the campus. Farmer’s Fridge fresh food vending machines are now located on the seventh floor at the Bioscience Research Collaborative, second floor at Brockman Hall and outside the West Servery on the McMurtry Commons side. The stations offer breakfast, bowls, sandwiches, snacks, proteins and drinks.

“Our aim is to offer a healthy alternative accessible to students, staff and faculty at any time of the day,” Leaver said. “This pilot program is instrumental in gauging demand and will guide potential expansions to other locations on campus.”

For all up-to-date hours of operations for all public dining vendors, please visit dining.rice.edu/public-dining.