Category Archives: Food Fiends

ACLC: Bringing Eight Decades of Penn Alumni Together

Author: Stephanie Y., C08

Everyone knows that Penn loves acronyms, and some of them can be quite long and confusing. In 2007, I joined the ACLC, the Alumni Class Leadership Council. Our acronym may be difficult to say, but our goals are straightforward. The ACLC is the governing board for the Penn alumni classes. We are a group of volunteer alumni leaders dedicated to strengthening ties between alumni and the University by acknowledging and reinforcing the importance of class affiliation. We mentor class presidents and reunion committees on planning their reunions, we help Alumni Relations plan Homecoming and Alumni Weekend, and we give out two awards annually to exceptional classes: the Class Award of Merit and the David N. Tyre Class Communications Award.

The ACLC has been a major part of my alumni experience, and my feelings about this incredible group were reinforced during our first annual ACLC retreat last Thursday. Our retreat began at 12 PM in Sweeten Alumni House with lunch and our guest speaker Dr. Santo D. Marabella. Dr. Marabella, also a Penn alumnus, spoke about “best practices” for boards of non-profit organizations. He had some good insights and recommendations that our board has already discussed implementing. Next up were group discussions and breakout sessions to discuss upcoming events and initiatives. Even though the executive board spent endless hours refining the agenda for the retreat, each session ran longer than scheduled because everyone was excited and engaged in the discussions. It was 5 pm before we knew it, which meant post-retreat celebration!

We walked over to Midatlantic Restaurant, one of my favorite restaurants on campus. Located at 38th and Market, Midatlantic is rarely packed. Students don’t often wander over to that area of campus, but they should. The food is delicious, the décor is unique, and the menu is always changing with seasonal specials (my favorite dish is the fennel soup). From our group’s three-course pre-fixe dinner menu, I ordered the corn soup, Midatlantic meatloaf with a side of creamy lima bean polenta and seasonal roasted vegetables, and Tastykake Butterscotch Bread Pudding. It was all delicious, especially the dessert. You can’t go wrong with Tastykake! The post-retreat dinner gave us an opportunity to get to know each other better. Some people even talked about non-Penn topics over dinner (wait, do we have lives outside of Penn?)

It’s rare to be able to interact with eight decades of people, let alone eight decades of people who have something in common, but the ACLC has brought together a wonderful group of Penn alumni volunteers who do not see age as a barrier. We benefit from the voices of alumni from all classes, and we hope to inspire other Penn alumni to strengthen their class bond through engagement, leadership, and their love for Penn.


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Filed under Alumni Perspective, Alumni Programming, Food Fiends, Stephanie Y.

Consequence-Free Burrito is No Urban Legend; Lives and Thrives in Our Nation’s Youth

Author: Leigh Ann P.

If my mom had suggested to my 14-year-old self that it would be a good idea for me to spend the summer at venture capitalist camp at Wharton, I would have groaned, “Ugh, MOM!” and stomped back up to the roof to work on my tan sunburn. What is it with parents and their lack of understanding?

These days, when July rolls around on Penn’s campus, I am amazed at the go-getter high school students that infiltrate Locust Walk. It’s amazing to me that these kids have the ambition and the intellectual wherewithal to take advantage of their summer months further educating themselves and getting a leg up in advance of the college admission process.

When I was 14, I was thinking about three things: “When I will get my braces off?” “Do I have food stuck in my braces?” and, “What time do the ‘Hey, Dude’ reruns come on Nickelodeon in the afternoons? Am I too old to still be watching ‘Hey, Dude’?” I guess technically that was four things.

What’s really great about having all the high schoolers on campus is that the salad line at Houston Hall is so much shorter than during the regular school year, even when it’s shoulder-to-shoulder traffic down there. Remember when you were a teenager and could eat a steady diet of pizza, burritos and pasta without any consequences? Yeah, me neither. Enjoy your digestive freedom while it lasts, kids.

No salad for me ... not until I'm old like the Alumni Relations staff members.

I laugh in the face of grease and cheese!


For more information about Penn’s summer programs for high school students, check out this link.

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Filed under Academics, Food Fiends, Leigh Ann P., Penn High School, Penn in the Summer

No Students, No Lines

Author: Bart Miltenberger, C’97

Since the spring semester ended, an eerie quiet has descended on campus.  And, though it’s strange to head down Locust Walk and see only a few summer students around, there are certain aspects of life at Penn that do become a little easier when the students are gone. For me, one of those advantages is short lines at the food trucks.

When I first came to Penn, I was a little skeeved out by the concept of the food truck. Where these things even remotely sanitary? Well, maybe, maybe not. But I can tell you that since my first food truck meal back in 1993, I have probably eaten from food trucks a couple thousand times and never gotten sick once. I absolutely can’t say the same for restaurant eating.

Here are my current top three recommendations in case you happen to be near West Philly any time soon:

Don Memo’s (38th Street just north of Walnut) – corn flour tacos and burritos as big as your forearm. The ingredients are fresh. They cut up the avocado and chop the tomatoes and cilantro right there in front of you while they make your food. It’s not the cheapest truck around, and the workers are fairly slow, but when the lines are short, you can get your order in ten minutes. Much better than the usual 45 minutes during the school year. If students are willing to wait that long with their busy schedules,you know the food is good. In fact, it’s easily one of the best trucks at Penn and probably in the whole city.

Magic Carpet (at the bottom of Locust Walk at 34th and Walnut) – the line for this vegetarian food truck can be 25 or 30 people long during the school year. At lunch today, there were only five or six people in line. The food is prepared fresh every morning at an off-site kitchen. The workers are friendly (one is the owner), and they always play music to listen to while you wait. My favorite dish is the Magic Meatball “meal” which consists of tofu meatballs cooked in a marinara sauce served over mixed rice (brown and long grain) and vegetables. And a nice warm piece of pita bread. It’s delicious, although the garlic and onion content is rather high so when I go home and kiss my wife she always seems to know when I’ve had the Magic Meatball. Even gum doesn’t help. Oh, well. It’s a fair price to pay for a great and healthy meal.

Hemo’s (on Spruce Street just below the 37th Street entrance to the Quad) – this truck mainly features grilled chicken sandwiches served on long hoagie rolls. On the surface, nothing all that special…that is until they top it off with “Hemo Sauce.” My discriminating palate tells me that Hemo Sauce is probably a mix of mayonnaise and a sweet Dijon mustard. That’s it. But somehow, it does make the sandwich taste really good.  And Hemo’s also makes a delicious egg and cheese breakfast sandwich too.

Check them out, if you can. Just keep it between us, so we can keep the lines manageable over these next few student-free months.

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Filed under Bart M., Campus Life, Food Fiends

Working at Penn Can Be Tough on the Waist Line

Author: Emily Siegel

It’s 4 PM on a typical Tuesday afternoon.  I’ve managed to eat well all day.  I’ve faithfully ignored the candy dishes around the office that call my name as I pass by.  I’ve avoided diving into the homemade treats that seem to show up every day on our free-for-all counter.  Just a little bit longer and I can make it home to the safety of my temptation-free kitchen.  I look at my calendar and see that I have one last obstacle:  Finals Study Break with our PASS & Linking Legacies students.

I psych myself up to avoid whatever chocolaty-goodness this event is bound to throw my way.  In my head, I hear Bob and Jillian telling me to “focus on the people, not the food.”  But then they arrive.: a stack of four pizza boxes filled with warm, delicious cookies.  And not just any ordinary cookies…Insomnia CookiesBringing with them all of their straight-from-the-oven, gooey on the inside, and perfection on the outside wonderfulness.

My only hope now is that the students ordered four boxes of sugar cookies (not my favorite). Those,  I could easily ignore.  But no, they were filled with all of the favorites temptations:  chocolate chip, M&M, chocolate-chocolate, and peanut butter.  Obviously, my plan changes from ignoring them to having just one.  But who can do that?  If I have a chocolate chip cookie, I need to round it out with a peanut butter cookie.  But then my pallet misses the chocolate already and wants a sample of the M&M.  And then, before you know it, I go from eating no cookies, to devouring three of them in 10 minutes.

Luckily, I am never alone in this.  The students and other staff at the event are always right along with me.  And really, who can blame us for giving in when cookies look this good…

Good to the Last Crumb

This may be the cookie coma talking, but Insomnia Cookies might just be my favorite start-up by our Penn alumni yet!


Filed under Emily S., Food Fiends

New Eats on Penn’s Campus

Author: Stephanie Yee, C’08

May is quickly approaching, which means Alumni Weekend is right around the corner! Young alumni are always asking me why they should come back to campus for Alumni Weekend. They still keep in touch with classmates because they only recently graduated, and they most likely just came to campus during Homecoming last fall. First, I tell them about all the great events planned for Alumni Weekend, starting with the 3 P’s: parade, picnic, and parties! Then, I gush about the new restaurants and food trucks they have to try. Here are some of my new favorite food places at Penn:

Tyson Bee's Food Truck

Come back to Penn for Alumni Weekend and let us know what your favorite eats are!


Filed under Alumni Weekend, Campus Life, Food Fiends, Stephanie Y.

Campus for a Foodie

Author: Christine Uyemera, SEAS ’13

If I had to pick just one thing that I love, it would easily be food. Technology and sleep are close seconds, but a good meal has the greatest potential to make me absolutely satisfied with my life for the moment. Unfortunately, I don’t have the funds or time to eat delicious meals on a regular basis. This year I moved off campus and share groceries with my roommates (one of which who is vegetarian) in lieu of purchasing a meal plan. On a regular day I might eat oatmeal, some variant of an omelet and pasta (all vegetarian, much to the dismay of my carnivore instincts). However, on certain special occasions, my friends and I love to venture out into the world (really just University City) and spoil ourselves with something tasty.

Penn loves to boast the urban setting of our campus, and I think this is one of the main aspects of Penn that attracted me. City = lots of restaurants. Lots of restaurants = greater possibility of a fantastic meal. The offerings are incredibly varied in ethnicity, price, and atmosphere. Before coming to Penn, I had never considered food carts to be anything more than cheap, dirty food that people had to get sometimes when they were in a rush, but now I’ve discovered that they are cheap, tasty options for any time and any day. Magic Carpet, Koja, and Buis are three of my favorite. They offer Vegetarian Mediterranean , Korean/Japanese food, and sandwiches respectively, and you can get a good meal for $6 at all of them. The food cart culture is definitely a unique component of the eating experience at Penn.

Koja Truck

Apart from the food carts, there are also sit-down restaurants on campus that I love to go to any time I have the opportunity. Pari Cafe Creperie is located right in Houston Hall and makes one of my favorites since being here, a huge chicken pesto crepe.

Another fantastic place to get quite a few bites is a new addition this year near Hill College House: Baby Blues BBQ. This is where I escape my accidental vegetarian life and get my meat fix. My roommate and I were innocently walking down Sansom one night when the aroma of barbecued ribs pulled us into the restaurant like dogs. We ended up splurging and ordering full on meals (as opposed to the regular bbq pork sandwiches) and it was worth every dollar. Being from Georgia, I am a barbecue fiend, and the quality and flavor of the meat at Baby Blues was incredibly satisfying.

Baby Blues BBQ

One more restaurant that I have to mention in University city although it is not on campus (44th ish and Walnut) is another new one, Manakeesh. This restaurant/bakery serves lebanese “manakeesh” which are kind of like folded pizzas on pita-like bread with more delicious things on top. This restaurant is ridiculously cheap (which is dangerous to realize with an empty stomach) and everything is quality and authentic.


Writing this is making me really hungry, and these are just a few of my favorites. I wish I could write a blogpost about the restaurants that I love in all of Philadelphia, but I’ll save that for another day.  The take home point: college campuses in the city are the way to go for anyone who is excited by good food. And who isn’t?

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Filed under Campus Life, Chris U., Food Fiends, Review

The Fellowship of the Burrito

A beautiful, sunny day on campus means many things, but mainly it means it’s time to forget about that Lean Cuisine you stashed in the office mini fridge freezer section you didn’t know existed until recently, and head out to one of University City’s fabulous restaurants for a lunch break!

When we’re not working hard on relating to our alumni, we’re thinking about our next meal or snack, or emergency trip to the frozen yogurt place.  Today, that lucky lunch spot was Chip0tle, and this was our journey through campus: The Fellowship of the Burrito, and the campus elves and ogres we saw along the way.

Behold, Locust Walk!

What a beautiful tree coming back from a long winter’s rest.  Welcome, floral friends!

Oooh, Volcanic Corruption!  Wonder what that’s about.  Who cares?  It’s so fun to say:

How many licks does it take to get to the center of campus?  Mmm, Tootsie Pops.  We’re hungry.  Too bad we’re not already at Chipotle.

We won’t say who, but one of us was too lazy to walk up the incline of this bridge.  So we went around it.

So many food trucks.  So much temptation.  We yearn to stop where we are and forget about the Fellowship of the Burrito.

Ooooh, look!  A flower!

Check out all these frat houses.  We’re pretty sure we’re going to be trudging uphill for the last leg of the journey.

We have arrived!  Thank goodness a delicious meal awaits us inside.

Oh no.  What a long line!  And someone’s luggage – someone traveled even farther than we did to get here!

Spotted: Clark Kent powering up on delicious Chipotle food.  I wonder if he’s going to use his post-meal strength to turn the Earth’s rotation so we go back in time and we can eat our burritos again.

Home Sweet(en) Home.

-Aimee and Leigh Ann

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Filed under Aimee L., Food Fiends, Leigh Ann P., The Sweeten Life