I’m a resident assistant, which means I live in a dorm, which also means if I want to cook something, it pretty much has to be microwavable.
While I love a good cup of instant ramen as much as the next gal, sometimes I want a more substantial meal. When that feeling strikes, I typically head to the Armstrong Student Center.
Armstrong has six different a la carte dining options (and two locations that are currently closed due to COVID restrictions – RIP Cafe Lux and Haines’), and I’ve eaten at all of them many times.
Though I do like all of the options, some are undoubtedly better than others. So, without further ado, here is my personal ranking of all the eateries Armstrong has to offer:
1. Red Zone
Red Zone is a “sports bar” (admittedly, we’re using that term pretty loosely – there’s no bar) that serves typical bar food – burgers, wings, sandwiches, etc.
This may be a hot take, but I think Red Zone is a million times better than Pulley, and I’ll take that to my grave.
For one, it’s always less crowded and chaotic, and they have pretty much the same food as Pulley but with more options. There’s also an abundance of seating that is rarely full, so it’s one of my favorite “secret” study spots.
I’ve never had a bad meal from Red Zone, but I strongly recommend their soft pretzels (they have no business being as good as they are) and boneless wings.
Sumeshi is a sushi bar that opened at the beginning of the fall 2020 semester. If you’ve ever had the sushi they sell in the markets, this is the same thing, but you can make your own custom sushi rolls.
I feel like Miami sushi is something you either love or hate, and I happen to love it. Admittedly, I’ve never actually had “authentic” sushi (which is probably why I love Miami sushi so much), but the ingredients used at Sumeshi seem relatively fresh and high-quality for a college sushi bar.
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My go-to sushi is a shrimp tempura roll, which you can buy pre-packaged at the markets, so I usually just do that rather than going to Sumeshi because it’s faster. But the selection at the markets is pretty limited, so if you want something other than a tempura roll or a California roll, you should hit up Sumeshi.
3. Pulley Diner
This is the point where I might lose some people: I think Pulley is the most overrated restaurant in Armstrong.
Pulley is a diner that serves, well, diner food: burgers, fries, milkshakes, etc.
Their food is the same as Red Zone’s, but worse. Their fries are almost always soggy and it’s so crowded all the time that you’re almost guaranteed to run into an ex or someone you hate there.
The only reason I’d recommend going there rather than Red Zone is if you want breakfast food, because Red Zone doesn’t serve it. I don’t eat breakfast, though, so I can’t speak to the quality of Pulley’s offerings in that area.
Pulley’s one saving grace, in my opinion? Their milkshakes – especially the birthday cake one. Chef’s kiss.
Okay, let’s be honest here: Curve is weird.
Curve is an “international” restaurant that opened at the beginning of this school year, and it essentially acts as a catch-all for foreign food. The various types of cuisines they serve include Mexican, Korean and Indian.
I’m very curious as to whose idea this place was – the styles of food they serve don’t go together at all, and the fact that they decided to group all “international” foods together in one restaurant rubs me the wrong way.
Additionally, Curve replaced Mein Street, a stir-fry place that I was a big fan of. So, it loses even more points in my book for that.
Though I am ethically opposed to Curve’s concept, I actually quite like its fajitas. If you can get past the weirdness of the place, I recommend you try them.
5. Sundial Pizza
I feel as though I should start this section with a disclaimer: I am from Chicago, and I am not ashamed of the pizza snobbery that results from that.
While I understand that it is unrealistic to expect Miami to have a super high-quality pizza restaurant on campus, I do feel like they could have done better with Sundial.
The pasta is okay, I guess (pasta is hard to mess up too badly). The pizza is okay, too … on a good day.
On a bad day, though, it’s pretty nasty. I have a distinct memory of my co-editor, David, biting into the crust of a Sundial slice and saying he felt like he’d broken a tooth.
If you’re going to get anything from Sundial, make it the Bosco sticks. They slap.
6. The Toasted Bagel
Bagels, sandwiches and bagel sandwiches are three of my favorite foods on the planet.
Despite this – or perhaps because of this – I can’t stand the Toasted Bagel.
Like I said at the beginning of this article, I primarily eat at Armstrong because it offers food I can’t reasonably make at home. I can’t say this about the Toasted Bagel, though.
If I have a taste for a turkey sandwich, I’d much rather make it in the comfort of my own home than trek up to Armstrong and pay several dollars for one made with ingredients of questionable quality.
And, let’s be real here – if I really want a bagel sandwich made by someone other than myself, I’m gonna head up to Bagel & Deli.
I have no idea how controversial my opinions on these restaurants are because I’ve never really discussed them with anyone. But, if you find yourself at odds with my assessments, shoot me an email, and we can discuss further.