Applying for graduation is actually a pretty simple process. You just verify your degree audit, choose which ceremony you plan on attending and provide written proof that you have patronized UniMini in the small hours of a Sunday morning.
Oh come on, don’t try to deny it. Call it a rite of passage, a time-honored tradition or a cry for help, but I’m willing to wager that you’ve borne the fluorescent bulbs of this 24-hour Charles Village institution before.
We can pretty much agree that it’s a mandatory stop on a weekend crawl, but the debate still rages as to the ideal offering at this monument to Svedka and regret. So this past Saturday, I, in the name of journalism, concluded my nighttime promenade by walking the hallowed aisles of UniMini and chatting with the inebriated revelers about their favorite selections from the green placards above the grill.
Of course, these interviews were conducted with scientific precision, and I was greeted with astounding eloquence.
I started my investigation with an easy question: “What’s your order tonight?”
One patron spoke in a thick Staten Island accent, which his friends explained was due to his British heritage (what?). But like a good culinary reporter, I knew to defer to the Euros, and so I persisted. He was on the hunt for some chicken tenders and fries to fill not just his stomach, but his heart and soul, as he put it.
A classic, for sure, just like the mozzarella sticks that seemed to enjoy the most attention from the crowd. Most agreed that those pleasantly plasticky bites are best enjoyed with a side of cold marinara, although some detractors preferred barbecue sauce.
Another patron was less concerned with selecting a sauce than with finding correctly sized Band-Aids for her friend’s bleeding knee. I hope she’s doing well.
Along the way, I learned of a couple hidden gems among UniMini’s offerings. The war hero I just mentioned, for example, insisted that the Philly cheesesteak is the true piece de resistance.
And of course, a few kids sang the praises of the weekend special with hash. I know this piece sings of journalistic integrity, but I’ll venture to editorialize a bit and name that sandwich the champion of all drunk eats at UniMini.
But a few spirited debates raged there on Saturday night/Sunday morning. For one, there was the choice between chicken tenders and chicken nuggets.
My new British (?) friend had some choice words for the nugget faithful. His friends, who I guess identified with that camp, came to their own defense.
The wounded soldier retorted that nuggets without fries are a better deal than with them. I’m not sure about that math, but okay.
But there’s one question that really haunts me at night, that I can’t get out of my head during each visit to Charles Village’s premier dining establishment. If by some freak accident I found myself at UniMini stone cold sober, what would I order?
I asked a few of the evening’s nugget- and tender-seekers to help me settle the question. A couple of them were consistent with their choice of the evening. A few opted for something a little more substantial, like the special with hash (chicken fingers, American cheese, hash browns, bacon, and barbecue sauce on what I believe is a potato hot dog roll) or a proper hoagie.
One gentleman turned me onto the breakfast platter, which I had no idea even existed. Mozzarella sticks fell out of favor for the most part, and those that would typically go without French fries added them on.
But of the dozen or so responses these future hangovers gave, one dominated. I finished by asking, “What would you order if you came here sober?” They simply replied that they wouldn’t be there if they were sober.
Anyway, UniMini is an essential part of the student experience here, and it deserves the attention it gets as one of the only 24-hour spots in Charles Village.