Studying on an empty stomach can be an awful experience. In addition to the embarrassing sound of your famished stomach gurgling within a quiet space, your diligence decreases if you are unable to focus properly and produce your best work.
Some students simply don’t have the time to squeeze in getting a bite to eat after they have a headache from all that studying—as a former undergraduate student at DePaul I know I did not. However, a simple solution to combat hunger and the subsequent study fatigue is finding a place to eat that has just the right amount of ambiance, serves good food, and is located in an accessible location in order to complete coursework in between classes or on the way home. In this article, you will find a few recommendations on where to find these little gems for a student budget.
Lincoln Park Campus
- The first recommendation is the obvious: the Lincoln Park Student Center. As an undergraduate student, I spent countless hours in this building located in the center of campus seeking out a place to do my work with a plate of food (or a snack) in front of me to fuel my efforts. Inside the Student Center, there are various places to pour over your books and a meal, such as the Inner Dining Area (surrounded by campus food options), the Blue Demon Lounge on the second floor, the lounge on the first floor, Brownstone’s, or even the third floor, which is much quieter. You can visit the Dining Services page to find out about their food options.
No one wants to eat cafeteria food all the time, though, so let’s venture out around Lincoln Park campus in search of great food! A few blocks south of Fullerton is Armitage Avenue. This street is a gold mine, with treasures lining the street just steps away from the Armitage Brown Line station.
- Chicago Bagel Authority is just one of these locations, which serves steamed bagel sandwiches with a variety of meats, spreads, and cheeses to their customers. It is located south of campus, just a few steps west of the Armitage Brown Line station.
- Le Pain Quotidien, west of CBA, is another great choice if you wish to sit in their cafe area, as this Belgian eatery serves a variety of treats and freshly baked items alongside a host of caffeinated beverages.
- A few steps east from the Brown Line station is David’s Tea, and although this is a teashop rather than a restaurant, you can pick up a treat from Le Pain Quotidien (or your own snack) and bring it with you to eat at the counter with your tea inside David’s. Space is very limited at David’s however, so make sure to visit at a time when the streets aren’t as busy.
Closer to DePaul is Webster Avenue, just a short walk south from the Quad. These places may fill you up:
- East on Webster Avenue and right across the street from the Vincent DePaul church is Snarf’s, another great sandwich shop to eat at with salads and ice cream, as well. I am fairly certain the Snarf’s staff got sick of me with how much I studied there my senior year of my undergraduate experience. There is a lot of seating available, and a quieter back room for you to sit in and do your work.
- If you are in want of a treat, a couple blocks west from Snarf’s down the street is Sweet Mandy B’s, a very famous sweets shop with a whole host of sugary goodness for your enjoyment. My advice? Get a treat to go and take it to Trebes Park across the street, where you can sit and study on benches under the shade of the trees and enjoy the fall air.
- A few steps west of Sweet Mandy B’s is Floriole, which is a French cafe and bakery that also serves sandwiches and salads. This unique cafe sources from local producers, so you can support your local farmers!
If you are feeling a little more adventurous, you can try some food options that are a little bit of a walk east from campus down Fullerton toward the lake.
- If you are in the mood to feel inspired by your surroundings, then the Bourgeois Pig is for you! Located a few blocks east of the Fullerton Red Line station, this cafe is a must visit. With an interior that feels quaint, homey, and vintage, doing work there will be like doing work in your living room. They have a variety of caffinated beverages and food items to get you through your study session.
- You might not think of a pub as a place to study, but the Red Lion Pub on North Lincoln Avenue is not your average pub. The interior design of this building makes you feel as if you are in a Medieval tavern in Britain with iron chandeliers hanging above and stained glass windows overlooking tables. This place has spaced out seating and caters to book lovers, so you won’t have to worry about getting a bath from someone’s pint while you try and read Chaucer.
- Although this is further of a walk north from campus (you can always take the Brown Line north to Wellington), Panes Bread Cafe is truly worth it. Besides the allure of well-priced, freshly baked bread and pastries, there are also a host of sandwiches, salads, omelettes, pastas, and pizzas for you to try.
Here is where you get to eat at some really unique places! The Loop campus is in the heart of the city, so you can find some really interesting eateries around this area outside of all the Chipotle and McDonald’s you could ever want.
- The Art Institute is very close to the Loop campus (about a few blocks east), but did you know there are a variety of dining options? You can sit in the North Garden and have lunch, eat a meal in the Modern Wing, or head to the self-service Museum Cafe for a quick meal. Sounds fun, right? You can get in free if you show your DePaul ID!
- Of course, there is always the Barnes and Noble Cafe at the DePaul Center (which is located east of the Jackson Red Line stop and south from the Adams/Wabash Brown Line stop) yet it can be hard to grab a table. There are other places to sit within the DePaul Center, and different eateries within (like Thai food) that you can check out. Don’t forget that the Loop Student Center is also located here on the 11th floor with various food options.
- Located on South Wabash Avenue (which is a couple blocks south of the Loop campus), Eleven City Diner is a cozy place to grab a good, wholesome meal and a cup of coffee while you get your work done. There are booths available for you to sit at and plenty of space to have your books open around you.
- If you are looking for a hearty Italian sub, Fontano’s Subs is for you! With subs, hot sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and more, Fontano’s is sure to have something for everyone, and it is a short walk east from the DePaul Center for those cold winter days.
- Whether you are in the mood for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert, Goddess and the Baker is here to help. East of the Loop campus on South Wabash Avenue, this elegant cafe has healthy, wholesome, and sweet options to fill you up while you work. The bright, clean interior also makes for a nice space to work in.
- A fan favorite on Yelp, Hero Coffee Bar is a great place to work and eat with great coffee and delicious sandwiches. It is a very short walk south from the Loop campus, which gives you plenty of time to get there and grab a table. The light from the glass storefront windows filters in very beautifully among the tables, which is perfect for an afternoon study session.
Ogilvie Transportation Center
If you are a commuter, there are great places to eat and read while you wait for your train:
- On the first floor of Ogilvie Transportation Center is the food court, with choices like McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Subway, but also options like the Great Steak and Potato Company, Jaffa Bagels, and Indian Swaad. On the second floor is Corner Bakery Cafe, with plenty of seating and even more to choose from on their menu.
- The Metra Market is Ogilvie Transportation Center’s hidden gem. Not every commuter knows about this market underneath the Metra tracks, but everyone should! Accessible from either Canal or Clinton street, the Metra Market has everything from a pharmacy to a shoe repair stall in case you break a heel or wear out that sole. Vending machines line the terminal, and the Ovie Bar and Grill gives you a chance to have a drink and wind down before taking you train. Le Pain Quotidien and Roti Mediterranean Grill are also located in the Metra Market, giving you two great options to dine and study at while waiting for your train. However, the most enchanting locations of them all is the Chicago French Market, located under track number eight. This charming European style market boasts the most impressive and unique eateries from Vietnamese to Indian, Belgian to to Japanese, and, of course, French. Here you can buy breakfast, lunch, or dinner from around the world! The market sells cheese, bread, beer, chocolate, pastries, meats, vegetables, fruits, and much more. There is a seating area for you to eat at within the market, and plenty to try.
If you are commuting out of Union Station, here are some places to eat and study, whether in the restaurant or carrying your food to a bench:
- On the Mezzanine level, you can find Gold Coast Dogs, Starbuck’s, Robinson’s Ribs, Au Bon Pain, Chicago’s Finest, Uno’s Pizza, Kelly’s Cajun Grill, The Junction Pub, Dunkin’ Donuts, Sandella’s Flatbread Cafe, Corner Bakery, and McDonald’s.
- In the Annex, you can find another Dunkin’ Donuts and Baba’s Village Restaurant, which serves Pakistani and Indian cuisine.
With your DePaul ID, you can get a student discount on food, tickets, and other neat things. Visit this page for more information on the eateries!