Dining in Danville: A Student Guide
RELEASED: Nov. 23, 2005
[Note: Hillary Eason, a junior from Johnson City, Tenn., wrote this piece. She is arts and leisure editor for the Cento, the Centre College student newspaper.]
DANVILLE, KYAs a general rule, the bon vivants of Centre's student body take eating as seriously as they do socializing or studying. While some might think that a small town such as Danville could lack fine dining options, any Centre student worth their meal plan can name options ranging from a cozy breakfast to a romantic night out.
In my year and a half as the Cento's resident restaurant critic, I've seen the best (and worst) of what our local food scene has to offer. But fortunately, with the help and recommendations of students and faculty, I've been able to experience Centre President Roush-worthy meals on a starving-student budget. Here are some of my favorites. You can eat at all of them for $10 or less—the "budget" classification refers to the least expensive restaurants, usually with counter service, and the "upscale" to slightly more expensive and formal (sit-down) restaurants. None, however, require more than jeans and a t-shirt.
Let's start with the morning. If you like eating the same cereals day in and day out, go to Cowan Dining Commons on campus. If, on the other hand, you are (like me) partial to delicious pastries, especially the cheap kind, try Burke's Bakery on Main Street. It's three or four blocks down from the North Side dormitories and serves excellent danishes and cookies that are usually under $1 and, in some cases, less than 50 cents. (Their cakes are also delectable and, at less than $5, a total steal.) The Hub, also on Main Street, adjoins the new Centre bookstore and offers muffins, bagels and hot breakfast sandwiches, along with a wide variety of coffee drinks; it's a little more expensive, but the food's also a bit heartier.
For lunch, La Hacienda (off Second Street) provides the ideal energy booster between classes. My favorite thing to order is the tacos, which are small but crammed full of authentic fillings (from shredded pork to lamb to tongue) and $1 each on what I like to think of as "Taco Wednesday." I have vegetarian friends who are partial to the quesadillas and tortas (sandwiches) offered as well. Two bonuses: delicious Jarritos brand sodas are offered (get the tamarind), and there are always cute kids running around and hanging out with the super-friendly staff of waiters. The quiche at Three Babes and a Monkey (Fourth Street) is amazing, with a perfectly flaky crust. And if you don't mind eating at the same place twice, The Hub also makes great panini.
Most inexpensive places for dinner are fast food, but some of those aren't bad. Fazoli's (Fourth Street) isn't the most authentic Italian around, but it is a great place to get free breadsticks (even if you just get a drink). Arby's (Fourth Street) is open all night, which will prove to be a boon when you're hungry at four in the morning. And it may be only Wok N Go (Fourth Street), but as the sign says, I do indeed like it—everything but the chicken dishes, which I find unpleasantly dry. Go with the moo shu pork instead. Still hungry for dessert? Baskin Robbins offers $1 scoops on Tuesdays.
If you're looking for a solid breakfast after a rough night out, the enterprising student can do no better than Cracker Barrel (Fourth Street), which has been providing Centre students with pancakes and grits for years. Just be sure to avoid the post-church Sunday rush—Centre students aren't the only ones partial to home cooking.
For lunch, both Guadalajaras (or "Guadys") are open, although most students prefer the larger location off Fourth Street, by Wal-Mart. (It serves alcohol to those over 21.) The distinctively named "Fajitas The Cook" are a student favorite, although I prefer the steak ranchero (yes, even for lunch). Their salsa is flavorful without being too hot, and the chips are hot and crisp.
But dinner is where you'll find the most options. Applebee's and O'Charley's (on Skywatch Drive and Fourth Street, respectively)are decent if not spectacular, and Applebee's half-price appetizers during happy hour are a great way to have a sit-down meal when you're short on cash. El Manantial, on Hustonville Road in Junction City, offers a wider variety of Mexican entrées than the aforementioned Guady's; their guacamole is fantastic, and the enchiladas mole are worth trying too. Wah Mei, in Harrodsburg, offers a better-than-average Chinese buffet, and their potstickers (dumplings) and sesame noodles are inexpensive, delicious and filling. And one of my new favorites, the Old Owl Tavern, also requires a 10-minute drive out of town, but it's definitely worth it—their menu ranges from burgers to crab cakes, and my recent Hot Brown (a decadent sandwich native to Louisville) made me wish it was Derby time again.So there you have it. We may not have the widest variety of restaurants, but the best of the ones we have are certainly nothing to sneeze at. You have to exercise a bit of creativity, but the reward—whether it's a scoop of pistachio ice cream or blueberry pancakes shared with friends—is worth the effort.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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