I was recently listening to the Bad on Paper podcast and they raised the following question:
What restaurants would make up your ideal food court?
It’s a great conversation starter, and I’ve found it can draw out some pretty heated opinions.
It’s also tough question, but I decided to add even more of a challenge and limit the number of choices to five.
Here are my answers:
Typically, if I’m craving a sandwich I’ll go to Subway. It’s simple and familiar and I have the app on my phone with my order tee-d up. But there is something very nostalgic and comforting about Quiznos for me. In my early 20’s I worked in retail at my local mall and it was…a lot. There were crazy hours and crazy customers—one of which told me I ruined her granddaughter’s Christmas—and most of the time I went in with a survival mentality. I just have to get through these 8 hours. I just have to finish folding this last stack of men’s t-shirts. I just have to get to lunch. Ah, lunch. The one-hour break where I got to sit in the back room with my headphones on, and just be left ALONE. My store was inside a mall, and thus there was a full food court at my disposal, and yet I only EVER went to Quiznos for lunch, and I only EVER ordered the Chicken Carbonara on wheat bread with no bacon. After a while, the guy behind the counter started to recognize me and would start making my sandwich whenever I walked in. He felt like an ally in my battle to survive retail, and Chicken Carbonara was my comfort food.
2) Bluebell Ice Cream
I am a sucker for an ice cream cone. And sometimes in the summer, when it’s 1000 degrees and you haven’t planned anything for dinner, a double scoop in a waffle cone promises nothing but satisfaction. There are plenty of delicious ice cream shops native to Southern California, but I would choose Bluebell. As of now, Bluebell remains unavailable in California, so I only have it when I visit family back east. As a result, I constantly hold all other ice creams to the standard of Bluebell’s Salted Caramel Cookie, and nothing has come close to measuring up.
I don’t eat fast food often but when I do it is almost exclusively Chick-Fil-A. In 2020, when so many gatherings happened over Zoom, me and a group of cousins did a french fry ranking bracket, where I fought for Chick-Fil-A fries as if they were a constitutional right. I would also choose Chick-Fil-A sauce as my *condiment of choice* and they have milkshakes. So…duh.
4) Coffee Bean
I’m not a coffee drinker, but I understand the need for a shop geared towards surviving the morning. Every time I’ve taken an early flight, I’ve stopped off at a coffee shop to grab a muffin or banana, and if I’m feeling wild (or freezing) a hot chocolate. Recently, I’ve started dabbling in the world of tea which has made me feel less like a coffee shop outcast. So I feel like this would be a good fit for both who I’m becoming and for my friends and family who would boycott my food court if this was not included.
5) Pizza Press
And finally, pizza. (DUH part 2.) There are only a few pizza places that I would actively choose not to order from, as I find pizza delicious 90% of the time. So honestly, this slot could be given to any pizza chain. However, Pizza Press is another one with fond memories and one of my favorite pizzas ever: “The Times” (with no cilantro). It used to be my favorite place to order from when I visited my cousins in Irvine, and a go-to spot after Friday night softball games. There isn’t one very close to me anymore, so I mostly pop around making replicas of the “The Times” at other pizza places, though nothing is ever as good.
And that my friends, is my ideal food court.
What would yours be?