How does Diana’s late night menu compare to the reigning queen of late-night dining on campus, JJ’s? Leave it to three Texans to tell you what’s hot and what’s not.
If you are a Diana Center Cafe enthusiast, you know what it’s like to be in desperate need of a smoothie. Sunday at 5pm, one Bwogger made her journey to Diana and per usual, she immediately joined the smoothie bar line. Ready to order, she looks down and sees… a giant tub of nacho cheese? Unaware of how this was even possible, she checked her email, and there it was, in a Barnard 4-1-1: Diana Late Night Dining. This sparked an investigation into Barnard’s late-night dining culture, and culminated in three Bwoggers from Texas putting Diana’s new menu to the test.
Suburban teenagers across the nation know the allure and the lore of Sonic drive-in—a Route 44 Dr Pepper, piping hot mozzarella sticks, grilled cheese, and some french toast sticks to boot, being among the most popular. And while JJ’s has never been able to quite capture the thrill of piling into a 4Runner or Prius and sliding up to a Sonic at 11pm on a Friday night, they’ve managed to capture the general flavor profile of Sonic quite nicely.
However, Barnumbia students now have another option in the mix, Diana— known for its smoothies and burrito bowls— now has a late-night menu (which is really just a tasteful deconstruction of their already-existing options) that makes some welcome improvements on the JJ’s model. From the hours of 9 to midnight, Monday through Thursday, students can now order burgers, a variety of sandwiches, quesadillas, nachos, and fries. And while we didn’t get pizza this go-around, they do offer it on the late-night menu! They are currently not doing any daily specials like JJ’s, but their core menu is super solid.
The real test is how Diana’s quesadillas, fries, mozzarella sticks, and burgers stack up against JJ’s. Our first impression of the quesadillas was how similar they were to Taco Bell’s. Rather than using the stacking method with their tortillas like JJs does, the fantastic and efficient Diana grillmasters opted instead for laying down one larger tortilla and then folding it over and cutting it. This means bigger individual slices, and a larger quesadilla in general (which is always a plus). Also, just like the amazing burrito bowls, you are able to put on your own toppings!
Diana’s quesadilla is the closest you’ll get to Taco Bell. Minus the jalapeño mayo, it’s nearly identical, and had a pretty epic cheese pull. We unanimously preferred it to JJ’s. Next up was the nachos, and if you’ve ever had a hankering for some classic gas station nachos, these are for you. They had the round chips and the fake cheese sauce that you know and love from 7/11s across the nation, as well as the toppings bar. One disappointment with these is that they didn’t come with any protein, but they’re perfect for a movie night à la AMC Theatres, and the toppings totally make up for it.
Next up we tried two sandwiches, a bacon egg and cheese and a grilled cheese. Quality-wise, the bacon egg and cheese was the best thing we ate, but the consensus among us was that you have to be in the right mood for it. The bacon was crispy, the yolk was perfectly jammy, and it had the perfect amount of cheese. The grilled cheese was also stellar, and while it didn’t have Sonic’s Texas Toast (if you know, you know), Diana’s bread was still really good. It comes with a side of fries, and we recommend dipping the grilled cheese in the marinara sauce for a tomato soup effect.
Unfortunately, the biggest let-down were the mozzarella sticks. To be fully transparent, they weren’t the freshest when we ate them, but there was no cheese pull, and the ratio of cheese to fried coating was way off. It’s also important to note that these did not come with a meal swipe. We’re willing to give them another chance, but JJ’s has the superior mozzarella sticks in terms of crunch and cheese. However, anything is good dipped in marinara sauce, so if you’re at Diana and really dying for mozzarella sticks, definitely get them!
Per usual at Diana, it is not an all you can eat hall, so there are in fact limitations on how many servings of fries you can eat with a singular dining swipe. After some investigation, we found that a swipe got us a drink, entree, and side (which were fries that automatically came with the entree). Everything was also purchasable with dining dollars, but we definitely think a swipe is a better bang for your buck. Maybe it was the fact that the three of us got four individual entrees and sides, but we did not leave hungry.
As far as the overall atmosphere of Diana Late Night, we found the experience to be much more laid back. While the made-to-order system got a little confusing at times, at 10:30 on a Tuesday, there were only around ten people dining, which we found to be a relief, especially considering the hectic JJ’s crowd we’ve become so acquainted with. Additionally, the staff was extremely understanding and kind. Notably, Wesley, at the register, and Ricky, who went out of his way to get us a cup of marinara sauce for our mozzarella sticks (and eventually our fries, too) without us even having to ask.
Overall, Diana’s late-night menu gets the Texan stamp of approval. It’s an admirable competitor to JJ’s, and we strongly encourage readers to check it out ASAP while it’s still pretty underground.
Diana Late Night Announcement via Barnard Dining