Binghamton University may have four dining halls spread throughout campus in the residential communities, but at the heart of campus lies the Marketplace in the University Union. With higher prices and (potentially) fancier quality, the Marketplace represents a haven for students where they can get better quality food without having to cook for themselves. But does the Marketplace truly live up to this hype and which individual restaurants are worth the extra few dollars?
Potentially controversial, Subway is the lowest of the low when it comes to choosing where to dine in the Marketplace. While it may be one of the cheaper options, its quality and freshness in ingredients sorely lack. To put it best, the establishment can be summed up in one word — forgettable.
The newest addition to the Marketplace is also, unfortunately, at the bottom of the list, at least for now. Quesera attempts to bring quesadillas to BU but is unsuccessful due to a lack of breadth in the menu. The main cheese blend used at Quesera is quite spicy and without another non-vegan cheese option, this limits the appeal of Quesera to those who can tolerate spicy food. Furthermore, while the basic quesadilla option is one of the cheaper Marketplace options at $4.99, any quesadilla with meat will set you back $10.99, a hefty price for a singular quesadilla.
10. Hissho Sushi
Sushi is something that can never be terrible but can definitely be mediocre. Hissho Sushi provides that craving in a convenient and accessible way but runs out of variety over the course of the day fairly quickly and does not satisfy as much as it should. The prices are okay, however, and if you get there earlier there’s a lot to choose from.
Chick-N-Bap is a unique option at Marketplace with choices of chicken sandwiches, rice bowls and wraps. If you have a fix for corn, kimchi, spicy pork, hummus or some good sauces, Chick-N-Bap is a great choice. Chick-N-Bap suffers though from a lack of options as the day wears on and the proteins never taste that fresh.
8. CopperTop Pizzeria
The Marketplace’s Italian option features a wide menu including a variety of specialty pizzas, sandwiches and pasta. While Coppertop’s menu looks impressive, it falls to the bottom half of the list as it fails to truly do anything great. The best that can be said about CopperTop is that it is average, as the pizza is average and the sandwiches are decent, but they lack the pizzazz that the Marketplace should have since it is pricier than the dining halls.
7. Tully’s University
Tully’s is known for one thing and one thing only, their chicken tenders. With either buffalo, Asian or original, the chicken is not amazing but has enough tender texture to be an enjoyable time. If you don’t want tenders, they also have sandwiches, bowls and desserts to try out. Tully’s is not the best chicken offering at Marketplace, but it fulfills its purpose passionately.
6. 2nd Heaven
Founded by a Binghamton alumnus in 2021, 2nd Heaven makes for a decent spot to grab a refreshing drink whether it be on the way to class, catching up with a friend or right before a study session. The quaint bubble tea shop offers a variety of milk teas including rose milk tea and honey milk tea, as well as more traditional flavors such as black milk tea and jasmine milk tea. One has the option to include tapioca pearls in the teas for an extra $.50 if they so desire. They also have juice teas with flavors ranging from passionfruit to mango with the option to add lychee jelly for an extra $.50. While 2nd Heaven may not entirely be consistent with their drinks and in some instances run out of certain flavors and toppings altogether, they ultimately offer a unique spot on campus for a sweet drink.
5. Breakfast & Beyond
As the only true breakfast option at the Marketplace and its earliest opener at 8 a.m., Breakfast & Beyond has free reign to dominate the infamous first meal of the day and it does with resounding success. Value-wise, Breakfast & Beyond is one of the best deals at the Marketplace as it offers $4.99 breakfast sandwiches and allows students to select from their breakfast platter, which includes eggs, pancakes, bacon and more. In particular, the chocolate chip pancakes are delectable. They even have a lunch and dinner menu which is available from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. too.
4. Mein Bowl
What is there to say about Mein Bowl’s customer service that has not already been said? Mary, Pee May and the rest of the employees at Mein Bowl are extremely friendly and excited to see you. If you get their food a lot, you may get sick of it quickly, but if you have it once in a while, the huge portions with various proteins will satisfy anyone who wants to go.
3. Royal Indian
Taking the third spot is Royal Indian — a place to go for a hearty, fulfilling and flavorful meal. Arguably the best spot for vegetarian and halal dishes, Royal Indian does a fairly good job of maintaining quality food. Despite their hefty prices for the average college student with main combos starting at $8.99 and their singles which range from $1.99 rice to $8.95 chicken biryani, the establishment makes it worth your dining dollars as they purposefully pile on the food in the to-go containers.
2. Red Mango
Stowed away in the back of the Marketplace by the bookstore is the hidden gem Red Mango, a smoothie-based eatery. From its selection of ten smoothies to its frozen treats menu, which includes parfaits and frozen yogurt, Red Mango is downright reliable with its consistent and high-quality food. Beyond its high quality, Red Mango has great prices as its smoothies start at $5.69 and parfaits at $4.99. Furthermore, protein can be added for $.99 to any smoothie.
1. NY Street Deli
No eatery is perfect, especially at BU, but NY Street Deli comes awfully close, thus making it number one. With the option to choose one of their sandwiches such as “Harpur College” — a grilled chicken sandwich with mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, pesto mayo and balsamic on focaccia bread — or entirely customize your own, this sandwich shop has something for everyone. Despite the same choice of toppings which can become repetitive, NY Street Deli maintains the freshness in its ingredients. Prices are around the $6.99 range or sometimes a dollar or two lower depending on the sandwich, making for a fairly affordable meal while still being tasty.