Student review of Duncan Student Center restaurants

The Tuesday after Christmas break I stumbled into LaFun looking for a coffee. To my surprise there was not a line stretching out of the Starbucks. Then I went to go study in the commons, and the place was half empty. My first thought was that the rapture had occurred and I was stuck on earth. Then I remembered that the Duncan Student Center had opened.

For those of you who have not been to the student center yet, you should go as soon as possible. The design of the building is so unique to Notre Dame. The spaces and amenities are student centered, leaving room to grow for years to come. Perhaps most importantly, Duncan is home to three new eateries.

The Hagerty Family Café is a convenient place to grab a quick coffee after class or an indulgent dessert to top off dinner. The first thing you’ll notice when you approach the café is the large selection of gelato. Let me be clear: this is not Baskin Robbins with an Italian label on it. This is authentic gelato, comparable to what you might find in Florence or Rome. With too many flavors to try at once, you can ask the servers to mix two together if you want to vary your taste. In addition to gelato, the café also boasts a case of mouthwatering deserts ranging from torts to tiramisus. You can also order a refreshing shake at a side smoothie bar. Though the coffee demands a more mature taste than Starbucks, I think it’s just as good. If you want gelato during a weeknight, get there before seven or you’ll be stuck staring through the case. The staff has been thus far very knowledgeable and friendly.

Modern Market is a great place to grab a sandwich or a salad for lunch or dinner. Think of ABP, minus the pastries plus pizza, flavored oatmeal, and avocado toast. The salads are priced about the same as ABP but they are much fresher and much more generous with their dressings. Their sandwiches range from breakfast to burritos. They also have a large selection of toasted sandwiches including chipotle steak, blueberry pesto, and basil chicken. The brick oven pizzas are also unique. You can get chicken, bacon, or salsa pizzas, just to name a few. Like the Café, if you want to try this place get there early because they close at six. Unfortunately, the lines can really pile up around lunch and dinner time.  

Star Ginger is an Asian Grille and Noodle Bar. I was initially very excited about eating there but my enthusiasm soon dissipated. First, the line is poorly planned, causing you to wait in the middle of dining area. I ordered the orange chicken, which was good, just very small. For the orange chicken meal, you get about four to five pieces of chicken, a spoonful of rice and a handful of green beans. While the food is tasty, it’s not that much better than the stir fry you’d find in the dining hall. Additionally, your meal plan isn’t charging you over seven dollars for five pieces of chicken. Star Ginger has decent food, just know what you’re paying for.

All in all, the Duncan Student Center is a fantastic addition to campus. The eateries and study spaces give students a place to work, eat, and socialize in a beautiful environment. So, if you have a spare moment, pick up a gelato and walk around your new student center with pride.

Alexander Arroyo is a first-year Political Science major. He enjoys jazz, seafood, and sketching. Contact him at