Collected Wisdom: David Broder ate here

The pundit and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist once took a turn as the Maroon’s in-house food critic

By Jordan Holliday

By way of reminder that we all start somewhere, here’s a young man named Dave Broder dishing on the finer points of Hyde Park dining in the 1949 Orientation Issue. David Broder, as we now know him, went onward and upward from here to cover politics in Washington, D.C., where he picked up a Pulitzer Prize and, if Wikipedia can be trusted, appeared on Meet the Press more than any other press member.

Today, there’s still a coffee shop off “Mandel corridor” and food service in Hutch Commons, the Quad Club, and B-J, but the author himself would outlast every other establishment mentioned here: they’ve all closed shop or operate in much-reduced fashion, whereas Broder is now eighty years old and still churning out two columns a week for the Washington Post.


September 20, 1949

International House eatery tops UC list

By Dave Broder

Though this may come as a severe shock to entering students, it is tolerantly expected by the University of Chicago that its eager would-be alumni will have appetites for other things than book-learning.

And, while the food hereabouts may not compare in quality or flavor to the intellectual bill of fare, dining on and near the campus can be a fairly rewarding affair for the tongue, palate, and gastro-intestine.

Commons, Ida chief campus cafeterias

Of campus eateries, the biggest and most-frequented is Hutchinson Commons, located in Hutchinson Hall, which forms one side of Hutchinson Court (just to locate it completely). Substantial dinners can be secured there for a dollar or less, and the food is equally nourishing at the cafeteria-style breakfast and lunch.

The Cloister Club in Ida Noyes serves substantially the same menu as the Commons, but does so with more style.

Further on down Fifty-Ninth Street is probably the best dining-room on campus, the cafeteria at International House. For somewhat less than it costs at the Commons or Ida Noyes, one can eat better food in a nice room, and feel like a cosmopolite to boot.

The only other place to eat on campus (unless your instructor asks you to lunch at the Quadrangle Club, which hasn't happened in eight years) is the dining-room at Burton-Judson, which is open to guests of the residents. There is no choice of entrees, and—well, you know the Burton-Judson boys. But if that's what you want, okay!

C-Shop inhabited by characters

Notably absent from the Maroon's list of eateries is the Coffee Shop, which lurks, subversively, off Mandel corridor. This—place—which passes as a caloric refueling station—is actually nothing of the sort. It serves as a meeting hall for campus politicians, class-cutters, fraternity men, club girls, and other unoccupied souls.

Occasionally, however, even the strongest duodenum rebels at the unending mediocrity of campus food, and looks for greener fodder in the surrounding area.

Neighborhood spots provide variety

On such occasions one is well-advised to wander down Fifty-Seventh Street to the Tropical Hut, with its ever-changing decor and good barbecue, or to Gordon's, newly-redecorated and featuring an improved menu and faster service. Or, you might travel as far as Ken and Jock's, at Fifty-Sixth Street and Lake Park Avenue, for spaghetti and pizza. Down in that neighborhood, too, are Morton's and Schall's, both serving standard American dishes and drinks. Further east on Fifty-Sixth Street is the Anchorage of the Windermere East, which attracts a fashionable clientele to its Sunday brunches.

Or, taking a different tack, you can head south, to Phelps and Phelps, on Woodlawn Avenue near Sixty-Third Street, for some old-fashioned American dishes. On Sixty-Third Street, near Dorchester, is found Alexander's, a restaurant-bar that serves far-and-away the best salads on the South Side, while its namesake at University and Sixty-Third is renowned for its late snacks.

Chicago has many fine restaurants

The further one is willing to travel from the University, the wider the variety of edibles becomes. The Loop and the Near North Side offer a number of fine restaurants, both for those who are aficionados of culinary oddities, and for those who like a plain slab of roast beef well-cooked.

"Eating Out in Chciago," Elizabeth Rannels' little booklet, is a reliable guide to Chicago restaurants, but perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is the uniqueness of individual taste.


More Collected Wisdom: Welcome to ChicagoAn Argument for Understanding (with J. Z. Smith) – Aiming Nowhere at All (with David Brooks) – Sex, Drugs, and VietnamHot CoffeeDown on the Dorms