With campus set to reopen this fall, Nexustentialism is priming incoming freshman –– as well as incoming sophomores (who science tells us are just more freshmen, really) –– for the luxuries they can look forward to during an on-campus school year. One of these luxuries, as if returning students need to be told, is the Ortega Dining Commons. Known for both its unbeatable ambiance and five-star dishes, Ortega is more than a cafeteria it is a place of community, of luxury and, in the spring/summer, a sought-after wedding venue. Of all the dishes new students should be on the lookout for when reveling in the Ortega experience, here are Nexustentialism’s all-time faves.

Meat Cube

A timeless classic, Meat Cube just can’t be beat. This dish will have you thinking, “What type of meat is this? And why can’t I pin down the flavor?” The answer to both? We’re legally not allowed to disclose that information! Meat cube runs S-XL, so you can curb your appetite with a cube no matter how hungry you are. 

Bowl of Water

This crowd pleaser is an innovative take on the classic gazpacho. Ortega chefs insist that this dish was in fact heavily requested by students and not created due to a tight budget.

Raw Fried Chicken 

A beautiful little paradox. 

Liquid Tostada 

The perfect lunch for the girl on the go! No need to waste energy moving those chompers when you can just slurp your meal down. Not only is the liquid tostada renowned for its convenience, but some say the consistency of the dish actually elicits a rich umami flavor that can’t be found in your traditional tostada. 

Little Lettuce Piece

Get some greens with this popular go-to! The best thing about Little Lettuce Piece is that you never know which piece of the lettuce you’re going to get. Will it be the top layer with the bug holes? Or maybe the very bottom? Your fate lies in the hands of the great Ortega and the students your age that make the stuff in there. Though the thrill of the surprise is almost as good as the dish itself, there’s no beating the fresh taste of a limp lettuce piece paired with something we can’t legally call ranch. 

Shark Fins 

This one is not a joke. 


Emma Demorest is a huge foodie and hopes to pursue a career in culinary journalism. 


Emma Demorest
Emma Demorest is the editor of Nexustentialism. She once licked the largest wooden yoyo in the world.