The Taste of UCSB: The Four Dining Commons Reviewed

Camila Martinez-Granata
Opinion Editor

Photo By: Irene Wang

Besides catching some waves, you’ll probably want to catch a bite to eat at some point. Fortunately, there are a plethora of options to choose from in regard to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Indeed, the fumes from Panda Express will tempt you on the daily, and Nicoletti’s will draw you in with its coffee and baked goods. However, there will always be one place you can count on to satisfy your hunger: the dining commons.

There are three dining commons that the majority of freshman students will find themselves indulging in: Carrillo, De La Guerra (DLG) and Ortega. Portola, the fourth commons located on the off-campus dorm Santa Catalina, is not a particularly desired destination due to its location and rumored poor-quality meals. Here, you will find a review of the former three commons, giving you an idea and hopefully some interest in the world of dining commons foods. You might be surprised.

De La Guerra dining commons- the DLG, the “Duldge” and the famous place Jack Johnson mentions in his song “Bubble Toes” about his days at University of California Santa Barbara. DLG offers lunch, dinner and late night on the weekdays, and brunch and dinner on the weekends. Here you will find a menu largely concentrated in carbohydrates and meat entrees. Asian, American and Mexican cuisines are always featured on the menu–not to mention ice cream and dessert. For vegetarian, vegan or just plain healthy kids, there is a generous salad bar. Pizza is always served during lunch and dinner, and the chefs do not fail to change the kinds of pizza they serve you. Ever tried taco pizza? One might not think that refried beans would taste good on pizza, but somehow it does. Another well-known dish at DLG is the macaroni and cheese—a filling meal on its own, and a nostalgic reminder of your signature childhood staple. If you are hungry, DLG is the place to go. It is one of the largest (if not the largest) dining commons on campus, and it won’t disappoint.

Up next: Ortega. Ortega is dubbed the most organic and eco-friendly out of all the dining commons, while providing awesome breakfast, lunch and dinners during the week. As it is located right next to the UCen, many students make Ortega a pit stop. Sadly, Ortega closes its doors to hungry students on the weekends, but compensates by opening for breakfast bright and early during the week. Make it a point to go on a day when there are omelettes made to order, and you can customize an omelette that will be whipped up for you in a matter of minutes. During lunch, grass-fed burgers and sweet potatoes have exploded in popularity, causing an influx of students during lunchtime and longer lines. Paninis and sandwiches made to order have also drawn in hungry students looking for a filling, healthy meal. Although the availability of food during dinner tends to be on the smaller side, Ortega features a nacho, chili, ice cream or waffle bar (might I mention tater-tots, too!) every night. What it lacks in size, Ortega makes up for in comfort, and is a modern place to grub with your friends in between classes or after a long day.

Last but not least: Carrillo. Located near Manzanita, students must make the voyage past the lagoon to reach Carrillo, where most upperclassmen go to eat. For students who don’t live next to this dining commons, coming here is a treat. It is a change of pace, scenery and type of food. Carrillo takes prides in its unique entrees, like wheat pizza topped with pesto, artichoke and tomatoes and cooked in a massive adobe oven. Constantly bustling, Carrillo also provides more complex dishes of pasta, aside from the average rigatoni and marinara sauce. An Asian cuisine station is always sizzling with fresh veggies and tofu, ready for anyone who dares to try something out of the ordinary. There is also a deli station where students can make their own sandwiches, while grabbing some chips and salsa or hummus. Dessert is always a constant, but students also have access to soft-serve frozen yogurt machines, where people get quite creative. Carrillo is deeply cherished by students at UCSB, and is identified with, arguably, the most delicious and high-quality food.

Everyone has their own tastes and preferences, but whatever yours may be, any or all of the dining commons at UCSB will compliment your food schedule and interest. Bon appetit!