Located on the east side of the OUC building that’s currently under construction, the Pack Cafe exists as one of Colorado State University-Pueblo’s on campus dining options. Formerly run by Chartwell’s, the company A’viands took over the university’s food services in July, including the cafeteria. Meals from the Pack Cafe can be purchased through various meal plans, or for $8.44 for an all-you-can eat visit.
After entering the building, a polite cashier was standing front-and-center to greet customers and ring up purchases. The sprawling cafeteria behind her was filled with dozens of tables large and small and smelled of pizza and bratwurst. Although the building is aesthetically blighted due to the construction, the space is clean and well-kept. I chose a small table near the corner of the room, and went about selecting a drink and some food from the three dozen or so options offered.
The drink bar is plentiful, and offers infused water, tea, four types of milk, and two fancy Tropicana fountain machines that allow you to add up to three flavors to your beverage. I selected the honeydew-infused water and it was delicious and refreshing.
Salads are typical appetizer fare, so that’s what I started with. The salad bar had a wide variety of recently-picked salad bases like spinach, iceberg lettuce and spring mix, and toppings such as raw veggies and dressings. I selected a spinach salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, blue cheese crumbles and Italian dressing. It was fresh, cool and crisp and hit the spot on this 90-degree afternoon.
The next meal I tested was what was being advertised as the vegetarian option of the day, a type of soup or chili consisting of two types of beans, tomatoes, onions, and seasonings in a red sauce. It was extremely hearty, flavorful and good. The only downside was that it was served cooler than preferred and would be best enjoyed piping hot. More than anything else, I was glad to see that PackCafe caters to vegetarians.
The final dish I tried was the pizza. As I had visited Pack Cafe in the middle of the afternoon not during the usual eating hours, some of the pies looked rather old. I selected a slice of pepperoni because it looked the freshest. The crust was a bit soggy and it tasted like a typical cafeteria-style pizza, but served its purpose well. I imagine that visiting the cafeteria during traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours would yield the freshest results.
On my way out, I grabbed a sugar cookie. It was soft, delicious, and ended up being my favorite part of the meal. There were not any desserts advertised as sugar free, which may pose a problem for those with diabetes or sugar-limiting lifestyles that still want to indulge in a sweet treat.
Pack Cafe is a great option for students wishing to package their meal costs within a plan payable by financial aid or looking to grab a bite on the north side of campus, and offers an impressive and typically fresh selection to the student body in terms of food and drink. Students who are vegetarians will appreciate the daily meat-free options available, although demographics with other special dietary needs are unaccounted for. Additionally, both the dishware and physical space are very clean. It’s without question worth a visit to satisfy your hunger, and will be relocating to the newly constructed dining hall in the OUC in January 2018.