The Student Center was undoubtedly missing an important piece of world cuisine before Zaya, a new eatery serving Mediterranean food, officially opened at the beginning of spring semester.
After eating there for the first time, I am still left with one big question – was it worth the nearly $10 that it cost me?
To start off, customers are given the choice between four bases, including a wrap, Greek salad, bowl, or platter. They can then pick their own toppings, side, and sauce. I played it safe and ordered a chicken bowl with olives, tomatoes, feta, cucumbers, hummus, with pita bread.
The food itself was great. The pita bread was among the best I have ever tasted. The bowl was fresh and light enough that I did not feel sluggish or very bloated afterwards. That also could be credited to the portion size, though. For nearly $10, I was expecting a very large bowl of food, similar to the size of a burrito bowl at Chipotle. Instead, it was served in a relatively small and shallow carryout box.
“In general, I think that the prices could definitely be brought down,” freshman and nursing major, Caitlyn Alpi said. “However, they’re just as pricey as Burrito Bowl, but with better quality food. So it’s worth it. I’d probably eat it more often if it was a little more affordable,”
One of the upsides of this eatery is that it is inclusive of everyone’s needs. Zaya offers vegetarian substitutes for meat, such as falafel, a patty made from ground chickpeas or fava beans, or roasted veggies.
Sarah Struckman, a junior biology major appreciates the vegetarian options. “It’s nice going somewhere to eat where the needs of vegetarians were planned in advance and aren’t just an afterthought,” Struckman said. “So far, the falafel is my favorite.”
For anyone that is just craving a small bite of food, there is a section of the menu called “Not Too Hungry,” with a few options for snacks on the go. I hope as the time progresses more menu options are added to this section because there aren’t many to choose from.
I highly recommend going with the baba ghanouj if you aren’t too hungry. It’s a roasted eggplant dip or spread. While that may not sound appealing to some, it is actually quite good served with pita bread or vegetables such as carrots.
The employees are exceptional as well. They are well versed in the food and offer explanation as to what each unfamiliar item is. Not everyone is familiar with spanakopita or tzatziki sauce, but the employees are more than willing to explain. They also move quickly, so there isn’t really much of a wait. My cashier was so upbeat and kind, I actually felt sincerity when she wished me a great day.
Overall, I highly recommend Zaya to even the pickiest of eaters. You are guaranteed to find something on the menu that you truly enjoy. I would come with at least $10. You will not find an entree on the menu that will not fall within that price, especially if you order a drink as well. Personally, Zaya will only be an occasional treat for me. As good as it is, the price is a little off-putting.
Zaya is open Monday through Thursday 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Friday 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.