DeKalb needs more diverse food options.
Lincoln Highway is lined with restaurants and fast food joints. McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Culver’s can still be tempting and The Junction is a DeKalb favorite when it comes to comfort food, but it’s not satisfying or particularly exciting.
As a hungry college student, I want more options. I don’t always want to eat unhealthy fast food or quick-to-make comfort foods.
To be fair, DeKalb does have some options: in just the five miles surrounding NIU’s campus, there is a multitude of Chinese takeout places and different Mexican restaurants. Downtown DeKalb also offers a Thai restaurant, which is a personal favorite of mine.
What’s missing is variety.
Yes, Lincoln Highway is lined with restaurants, but options are still fairly limited when it comes to ordering. Chicken nuggets, burgers or pizza top the menu in most restaurants close to campus, with the exception of only a few.
Many of the Chinese restaurants in DeKalb and Sycamore are typical takeout places — you won’t find anywhere that offers a more varied menu, like Chinese hotpot or dim sum.
The Mexican restaurants in DeKalb have the same pitfalls. Many of them offer similar dishes, and while they’re delicious, they don’t exactly offer anything special.
Obviously, there has to be a viable market for new restaurants. If there’s not, they won’t make money.
But what’s a more viable market than a university campus? College students are perpetually hungry and usually open to trying new things, especially when it comes to food.
As someone who will try most things at least once, the food scene in DeKalb is a little depressing— there’s nothing new or exciting about fast food chains. It’s predictable, and not in a good way.
Time is also a factor. Technically, fast food does offer students meals at a quicker pace than an actual restaurant. But it also takes away the experience of dining and bonding with friends over good food.
Having more diverse restaurants in the area can also allow students to find food that suits their dietary needs, especially if they have dietary restrictions, such as being vegan or gluten-free.
Of course, students always have the option of cooking at home if they don’t like what DeKalb has to offer. However, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from cooking and treat yourself to a nice restaurant meal.
While students shouldn’t rely on unhealthy restaurant meals, they can provide a more varied diet and the experience of trying new foods with friends.
Surely with a campus full of hungry students, DeKalb can find a way to diversify its palate, and if it wants to keep students interested in going out, it should.