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Array Cafe has good food down to a science

The first time I visited Array Cafe was last year, when I was lured in by a sign outside of the Institute for Genomic Biology that read something along the lines of “Come into Array Cafe, where we have good food down to a science!” I wasn’t aware the IGB building had a cafe, but being a sucker for cafes and for a good pun, I found myself needing to check it out. For those who don’t know, the IGB building is southeast of the quad, and is the building with the colorful blob sculptures outside of it.

Array Cafe is located in the lower level of the IGB building, so in order to get in from outside, you have to first go down a flight of stairs. This leads you to the outdoor seating they have, which features tables with futuristic looking metal umbrellas. Directly inside you’ll find the cafe, which is simply a counter and a bakery case. The menu is located on a flat screen hung vertically on the wall. There are plenty of tables located beyond the counter. Most of the workers are students and the entire cafe is non-profit. 

The menu for breakfast includes a variety of breakfast sandwiches, as well as items such as muffins and croissants from the bakery case. The breakfast sandwiches are only $3.25, which would almost get me out of bed early to grab breakfast before class.

The daily lunch menu has a variety of salads, like chicken Caesar, mixed greens and romaine, and Greek. Daily sandwiches include basics such as a club wrap, a BLT panini, and ham or turkey sandwiches. However, everyday there is a fancier sandwich on special. Some examples are a meatball sandwich, a pulled pork sandwich, an Italian beef sandwich, or a cranberry chicken salad sandwich. The going rate for these sandwiches is $6.25. There are also daily soup specials featuring delicious options such as cream of broccoli, twice stuffed baked potato, Wisconsin cheese, and beef chili. Array Cafe’s daily specials are posted on its Facebook and Twitter pages.

On my most recent visit, the special was a Tuscan panini and beef chili. The panini came on toasted sourdough bread with a delightfully crispy crust. The bread had only a slightly tangy taste, so it almost tasted more like white bread than sourdough bread. This was just fine with me, as I’m not the biggest fan of sourdough. The panini included both ham and salami. There was a perfect balance of the two, as the sandwich didn’t taste more like one meat than the other. The ham was a honey ham, so it added a slightly sweet taste to the panini. Also, the panini had provolone cheese which gave the sandwich a richer flavor. The cheese worked well with the creamy sauce, which tasted like Italian dressing, red pepper, and a hint of basil. The tanginess of the sauce matched the slight tanginess of the sourdough bread and the smoothness of the cheese matched the sauce well. Overall, I thought it was very tasty.

The chili, on the other hand, wasn’t anything too special. There wasn’t too much of a kick to it, which doesn’t always make chili bad, but in this case it was pretty bland. The chili included beans and only small chunks of beef, making the overall texture not very hearty. This chili just didn’t stand out, but I suppose that is to be expected from a place that doesn’t specialize in chili.

For dessert, I decided to get the caramel apple muffin. The top was crusty and the middle was moist and fluffy with goey caramel chips scattered throughout. It tasted predominately like apple, but there was a definite cinnamon flavor to it. Also, the muffin tasted a bit like butter, as I’m sure there was a lot of it in there. This was definitely more of a dessert muffin than a muffin I would eat for breakfast, probably because it was so sugary.

I feel like Array Cafe is either unknown or forgotten about. I know I never really think to eat there when I’m contemplating quick lunch destinations. Perhaps it’s the rather hidden location within the building and also the fact that not too many students visit the IGB building. But, there’s no reason not to visit Array Cafe. The prices are reasonable, the service is good (I only waited about 5 minutes for my panini), and the daily specials all sound very tempting. I think this is a great place for if you happen to have class in the area or maybe want to grab a quick bite before hitting the ACES Library. And above all, this place is very appropriately named, as there certainly is a wide array of items at Array Cafe.

Array Cafe is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Array Cafe will be open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 24-28. 

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