Campus restaurants

You have 20 minutes before your 400-level psychology class and are running on an empty belly that grumbles loudly with every step. Where should you eat? Better yet, which restaurants should you steer clear of?

You have 20 minutes before your 400-level psychology class and are running on an empty belly that grumbles loudly with every step. Where should you eat? Better yet, which restaurants should you steer clear of?

Below is a breakdown of on-campus eateries that strive to answer those two all-important questions so you’re not the obnoxious “grumbler” in the back of the room.

Big Town Hero (A) / $1923 S.W. Sixth Ave. / 503-228-0360M-F 7 a.m.-8 p.m. / Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.It’s tough to find a good sandwich on campus, but look no further than Big Town Hero. After opening their first sub shop in Corvallis in 1981, Big Town Hero has become the staple of what good sandwich places should be: affordable, fast, friendly and tasty. Another plus is Big Town subs actually feature freshly baked bread and even fresher veggies, unlike some other “larger” sandwich chains.

Blue Fin Sushi (B) / $1988 S.W. Broadway / 503-274-7922M-F 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. / Sat. Noon- 9 p.m.One of the only sushi options near campus, Blue Fin features one of those mesmerizing conveyor belts that wind throughout the restaurant and around every table. Sadly, the belt is the most compelling feature at Blue Fin, where the sushi is decent but affordable. Saturdays and evening hours feature sushi specials, where all plates are priced at just $1.50.

Chit Chat Café (C) / $1907 S.W. Sixth Ave. / 503-224-3730M-F 7 a.m.-8 p.m. / Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.One of the few coffee alternatives to Starbucks, Chit Chat offers at least two amenities that the mega shops have trouble accomplishing: a quiet place to sit and enjoy your beverage, and free wifi. Unfortunately the slow service can keep some people away. In addition to coffee, they also serve the normal breakfast fare and sandwiches for your post-breakfast cravings.

Rice Junkies (B) / $620 S.W. Ninth Ave. / 503-274-2154M-TH 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. / Fri. 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m./ Sat. 11 a.m.-6 p.m.Students looking to get their bento fix have had to search high and low for Rice Junkies, tucked underneath the Urban Studies Building behind Seattle’s Best Coffee. Junkies features tasty bento dishes at very affordable prices. Plan on getting your food to go, because there is virtually nowhere to sit inside the restaurant.

Paccini (C) / $-$$1717 S.W. Park Ave. / 503-219-8000M-Sat. 11 a.m.-2 a.m.In an attempt to provide students with a more upscale dining experience, Paccini often misses. Although the happy hour is terrific and $1 beer night on Tuesday attracts many, the food, service and atmosphere at Paccini leave you wondering why you didn’t make the trip downtown to a real restaurant or bar. The lunch special is a good bargain, coming in under $5, but usually the service is slow and the wait is long.

Pho Thanh Long (B) / $635 S.W. College St. / 503-223-1660M-Sat. 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.Excluding the fine men and women that work as campus security, Pho Thanh Long features one of the friendliest staffs around and some pretty tasty food as well. Keep in mind: The Vietnamese restaurant specializes in the perfect kind of soup for those long, damp days that are fast approaching.

Park Avenue Café (D) / $1525 S.W. Park Ave. / 503-225-9335M-F 7 a.m.-8 p.m. / Sat.-Sun. 7 a.m.-7 p.m.This café sits in the beautiful South Park Blocks, but its location may be the only thing going for it. Average service, below-average coffee and espresso, and above-average prices makes you wonder how this place stays in business. The café seems to cater more to administration and faculty than students.

Loco Locos Burritos (A) / $1728 S.W. Broadway / 503-497-1016Nestled in a cozy basement on Broadway where Annie’s used to be, Loco Locos is your new hotspot for oversized burritos in every variety. A recent addition to the campus scene, this Mexican restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner at reasonable prices. The food does not compare to the departed Cha! Cha! Cha!, but is a flavorful upgrade from that other burrito place up the road.

Aramark (C) / $First floor, Smith Memorial Student Union / 503-725-4511M-F 7 a.m.-7 p.m. With a wide variety of food and a convenient location right in the heart of campus, there are more than a few reasons to choose Aramark for your hunger-satiating endeavors. Plus, the staff is quite personable and the prices, while sometimes a bit steep, are typically decent. The only problem: The food is completely average. Nothing more and nothing less.

Freshens (C) / $M-Th 7 a.m.-7 p.m. / F 7 a.m.-3 p.m.It’s tough to find a good smoothie on campus, but that doesn’t mean you should turn to Aramark to fill your fresh-fruit cravings. The service is slow, the “fresh fruit” tastes artificial and, given those circumstances, Freshens is less than desirable. Plus, you get trampled by all the caffeine heads who are rushing to add their nonfat milk and two packets of sugar to their morning buzz.

Grille Works (C) / $M-F 7 a.m.-3 p.m.Of all the options for burgers and fries on campus, Grille Works ranks somewhere in the middle. Burgers and chicken sandwiches usually satisfy if that’s what you’re after, but the prices are a bit more than necessary.

Miso (B) / $M-Th 10 a.m.-3 p.m. / F 10 a.m.-2 p.m.The best of all the available dining options in Smith, Miso features Asian cuisine staples like sweet and sour chicken and rice. The portions are generous and the food is tasty, albeit a bit greasy. Miso also has some affordable sushi available with a good deal on California rolls.

Noah’s Bagels (A) / $ M-Th 7 a.m.-6 p.m. / F 7 a.m.-3 p.m.Hands down the best option at the PSU food court, Noah’s offers tasty sandwiches and delicious bagels that are always the perfect treat to pick at while in class. Make sure you budget an extra couple minutes when grabbing a bite at Noah’s, as the lines often become snake-like in a flash.

Sbarro (C) / $ M-Th 7 a.m.-6 p.m. / F 7 a.m.-2 p.m.Have you ever tried the Sbarro at the Pioneer Place food court? Yeah, well, stop reading this review immediately because you already know the drill. The Sbarro at Portland State is a spitting image of the one in the mall complete with pedestrian pasta and pizza that pales in comparison to either Hotlips or Pizzicato.

Zoca (B) / $ M-F 7 a.m.-3 p.m. While there are other Mexican options around campus, Zoca is certainly the closest and the food is actually pretty decent. The burritos and tacos are serviceable, but the one menu item you have to try at Zoca is the taco salad-it’s yummy. One complaint: The prices are a little steep.

Baan Thai (B) / $-$$1924 S.W. Broadway / 503-224-5155M-Sun. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Whether you decide to dine in or order out, Baan Thai is an excellent option. By no means does Baan Thai boast the best pad thai dish in Portland, but on some days it is right up there. However, on the flip side, there are times where the food leaves something more to be desired. Also, talk to enough people around campus and you’ll hear some chatter that Baan Thai’s service is not exactly cordial.

Green Onion Restaurant (A) / $$636 S.W. Jackson St. / 503-274-4294M-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m. The Green Onion Restaurant does not serve the best Persian food in Portland-that is almost a fact. But here’s another couple of facts for you: You will not find a kinder, more amiable staff at any food establishment on campus and the atmosphere hits a homer every time. Even better yet, it’s a switch-up place, you know, the kind of joint you hit up when your body can’t withstand any more subs, burritos or pizza.

Hotlips Pizza (A) / $1909 S.W. Sixth Ave. / 503-224-0311Sun.-Th 10 a.m.-10 p.m. / F-Sat. 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. If you want a slice of pepperoni or extra cheese, bring up a Google search, type in Pizza Hut and give them a call. On the other hand, if you want a wild pizza concoction, well, stroll over to Hotlips. With down-to-earth personnel and both unusual and traditional choices, the pizza at Hotlips is not only a bit different, but better than most.

Katie’s Cafe (B) / $-$$1300 S.W. Sixth Ave. / 503-241-4762M-F 7 a.m.-3 p.m.As Portland State begins to permeate downtown more and more, students must expand their food-consuming horizons. Unknown jewels like Katie’s Café are the reason those long, arduous treks to PSU buildings seemingly three time zones away are not entirely bad. A few blocks from the new Clay Building, Katie’s offers some quality lunch mainstays like sandwiches, soups and salads, and the service is always excellent.

McMenamins Market Street Pub (A) / $$1526 S.W. 10th Ave. / 503-497-0160M-Sat. 11 a.m.-1 a.m. / Sun. Noon-MidnightNo one has ever questioned Market Street’s hearty burgers, succulent sandwiches or tasty beer. What Portland State students and community members have always knocked was the restaurant’s shoddy service, claiming that’s the one thing holding it back from being beloved by all of campus. Well, times have changed and the service has improved at Market Street, easily making it one of the best food joints on campus.

Spicy Pickle (A) / $1220 S.W. Sixth Ave. / (503) 228-0413M-F 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.Please don’t let the fact that Spicy Pickle is a large corporate chain or its not-so-close proximity to campus deter you from enjoying its deliciousness. Seriously, if there is any place near campus that is an untapped resource for supreme food goodness, it is Spicy Pickle. With an array of yummy options-including sandwiches, soups, salads and, best of all, Panini-Spicy Pickle is the ultimate switch-up place.

Pizzicato (B) / $ 1708 S.W. Sixth Ave. / 503-227-5800M-F 11 a.m.-8 p.m. / Sat.-Sun. 12 p.m.-8 p.m.Like any college, there are plenty of places to grab a good slice of pizza on the Portland State campus. And the options differ only slightly. That is why Pizzicato’s comfortable setting as a place to hang for a couple hours or holding a group meeting for that upcoming presentation make it a valuable asset for students. Oh, yeah, the pizza is tasty, too.

The Cheerful Tortoise (B) / $-$$1939 S.W. 6th Ave./ 503-224-3377M-F 7 a.m.-2 a.m. / Sat.-Sun. 9 a.m.-2 a.m. So you wouldn’t want to take someone to the Cheerful Tortoise on a first date-unless you’re extremely confident, I guess. It is not the kind of place to bring the parents if they wish to be introduced to campus life at Portland State. Face it, like almost every bar, the Cheerful is a little sleazy, but that’s what gives it character and makes it the only place to go for a couple of afternoon beers or a late-night bite to eat after a taxing day of work.