A new, Southwestern-inspired build-your-own outlet has opened in the Marketplace.

As students returned to campus from Thanksgiving break, Quesera, a build-your-own quesadilla, salad and soup station, served its first customers in the Binghamton University Union. The dining station, which offers gluten free, vegetarian and vegan-friendly options, will remain open for the duration of the fall 2022 semester from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Quesera is located in the center of the Marketplace.

Tom LaSarso, general manager of retail operations for BU Dining Services (BUDS), described Quesera as a collaboration between the Student Culinary Council (SCC), a student organization that advocates for students’ dining options on- and off-campus, and BUDS. The groundwork for bringing Quesera to campus began around a year ago, according to LaSarso, with BUDS planning to phase in the station’s dinner hours after the upcoming winter break.

“The thought process was to make a change to a static station that was Farmer’s Field,” LaSarso said. “By implementing a station that serves quesadillas, [which are] popular with students, we are also given flexibility to provide vegan and vegetarian options. Customers will have the choice of [three] build your own options, each will provide opportunity for more fillings.”

Quesera’s webpage describes its services as featuring “an array of fresh ingredients to customize a quesadilla all your own.” This includes your choice of a white, wheat, jalapeño cheddar or gluten-free tortilla, a filling, including various meat options or Mezcal infused jackfruit — Mezcal being a smoky liquor made from roasted agaves — your choice of cheese and your choice of a finisher, including various salsas, avocado toppings and condiments to choose from, according to Quesera’s menu and azcentral.

Quesera also offers a soup of the day, salad bowls or chips. Featured soups of the day can be found on Quesera’s BUDS webpage, which has featured options such as poblano and cheddar and chicken tortilla soup. Lauren Tarpey, a freshman majoring in biology, tried a Quesera quesadilla while having lunch with some friends.

“The food is a little pricey, but overall good,” Tarpey said. “I like that there is a Mexican-style place on campus now.”

Farmer’s Field, a salad bar which used to be located in the center of the Marketplace, has been removed from the University Union, with Quesera taking its place. Ryan Marrone, a senior majoring in biology, said he was happy Farmer’s Field was gone, recalling how the establishment had served him a “gross” salad with “rotten lettuce in it twice.” However, Marrone recommended that BUDS and the SCC further advertise their openness to student input when it comes to introducing new dining options to campus.

“I was told that students are able to vote for what restaurants they want to see in the University Union while touring the University before my freshman year,” Marrone said. “However, I am now a senior and am just learning that you need to be a part of a club to vote. I think the voting should be made accessible to every student, either via email or on [BU] PODS somehow.”

Prior to BUDS’ contract with Quesera, BUDS was searching for a new concept to take over the Farmer’s Field station, according to the SCC. The SCC saw Quesera as a “great opportunity” to fulfill the requests of many students who were asking for quesadillas on campus.

Both the SCC and BUDS were involved in the formulation of Quesera’s menu, with the SCC prioritizing providing students of all dietary needs with vegan and vegetarian options, according to the SCC. As a part of this collaboration, the SCC was able to test and choose from the provider’s various cheese blends.

“It is exciting that the SCC has the opportunity to taste test items and be in on the discussion when new concepts are coming to campus,” the SCC wrote in an email. “We think it is important for students to be a part of the discussion when new caterers are coming to campus and that is exactly what the BUDS and SCC partnership allows for.”