by Mary McKeown
Options for lunch in the MCC-Business and Technology area are few and far between. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway and Taco Bell – safe, predictable options. But what if you want as much from life as you want from your education?
- By far, the best bet in the BTC area is Johnny C’s Deli & Pasta (7012 Universal Avenue), hiding from the Front Street traffic in an office park on Universal Ave., right behind McDonald’s. Johnny usually works the register and is the quintessential host: he is friendly and helpful and treats you like a regular, even on your first visit. My favorite here is the Muffaletta sandwich, which has ham, Genoa salami and a diced olive salad on the sandwich. Dee-licious. Another favorite is Johnny’s Palermo: turkey, pepperoni, provolone cheese, tomato, onion and Italian dressing served on an Italian roll and heated. Most sandwiches are about $6 and include a bag of chips. Their tomato salad alone is worth a special trip, but the pasta, side dishes and desserts vary by day, so call ahead if you want something in particular.
- Denny’s (6887 East Front Street) has a $2, $4, $6, $8 special. The $biscuits and gravy with hash browns and an egg is do-able. It’s not great, but it is good and best of all, only $2. I’ve spent that much in a vending machine on Little Homies. The $4 all-you-can-eat-pancakes deal is great for someone who can eat a lot of them. The $6 and $8 menus are not worth the money.
- Those who appreciate family-owned businesses should try River BBQ (6511 East Front Street). Their fried fish is good but a little pricey for lunch at $6.95. My favorite is their gumbo for $3.95, which is good, but not for anyone from the South. The gumbo is to southern food what the Encherito is to Mexican food: good, but not what you would expect.
- A frequent haunt in the neighborhood is Quik Trip (6820 East Front Street). I know what you’re thinking, but it is just right for me. Good service, lots of very affordable options, and I can get gas and a Powerball ticket while I’m there. They have a hot dog, jalapeno sausage, taquito, and just introduced a cheeseburger dog served on a hotdog bun for $1.19 each or 2-for-$2. You can also get a 32-ounce fountain drink for 49 cents and, another benefit of lunch at QT is the variety of drinks, chips and dessert. Their sandwiches are $3.99 or more, freshly made and surprisingly good quality for a convenience store. I alternate between the taquitos and the turkey and Swiss or ham and cheddar sandwiches. Another recent addition is the “homestyle cooking” options, which includes enchiladas, lasagna or chicken alfredo pasta in individual servings for $3.95, or family sized servings for $9.99.
- At the Flying J (1300 North Corrington Avenue) down the road, you can get fried chicken gizzard and livers, catfish, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese and much more. The menu varies day-to-day, so stop by to see what is cooking. It is classic truck-stop food priced by the pound, so keep your expectations low and you might be pleasantly surprised.
So when you find yourself at the BTC for more than a few hours, such as a whole semester, give some of these places a try. There is good food in this industrial neighborhood; you just have to know where to look.