‘Tenders to Tacos’: Students react to Lisa’s Cafe interior and menu changes


Seeger Gray/Daily Senior Staffer

Lisa’s Cafe has a new menu, featuring meal-exchangeable items like tacos and burritos.

Jessica Ma, Reporter

When Weinberg sophomore Beckett Sands walked into Lisa’s Cafe for the first time this fall, he thought to himself, “What the heck? Where are the sodas?”

As students returned to campus, the familiar spot looked a little unfamiliar to many of them. Lisa’s Cafe underwent changes this summer to its interior design and menu, which features new meal-exchange options. 

“My whole world has been thrown upside down,” Sands said. “I’m in a new room. Everything’s new except for friends. I expected a consistent Lisa’s, but it’s just changed.”

The new menu offers meal exchanges for burritos, tacos, quesadillas and nachos. The burrito, tacos and quesadilla come with tortilla chips and salsa, while all options include bottled water. 

In the past, Lisa’s meal exchange options included items like chicken or vegan tenders, as well as crudité hummus subs. While refrigerated items are still available, the new menu consists solely of burritos, tacos, quesadillas and nachos. 

Weinberg sophomore Abby Coffey said she appreciates Lisa’s proximity as a North Campus resident. She said she was initially sad to see the chicken tenders leave the menu. But after trying the new burrito, Coffey changed her mind.

“While I did like the chicken tenders, I do feel like the dining hall has them a lot,” Coffey said. “It’s a loss, but it’s not that big of a loss.” 

Sands shared the sentiment and said he appreciates the greater variety in the new menu. 

Director of Dining Stacey Brown said the menu changes incorporated previous feedback from students. Every fall, she said, Northwestern Dining does a survey that allows students to give quantitative and qualitative evaluations. 

“We heard very loudly, as part of that survey, that Lisa’s needed some changes,” Brown said. “Students were looking for more meal exchange options. They were looking for more variety.” 

In the spring, Brown said NU Dining spoke to students in focus groups, made up of about 80 total participants, that confirmed the survey results.

The new menu is also customizable, which Brown said works better for students with dietary restrictions. For example, cheese doesn’t come standard with any item, Brown said, so students can add it if they please. 

To create a cozier space, NU Dining swapped furniture from the front of the cafe to the back, Brown said. Now, rows of colorful snacks line the wall facing the cash register. The prevention of shoplifting wasn’t part of the thought process for the interior changes, Brown noted. Coffey had different thoughts on the new interior and said the seating area feels more cramped in the corner. 

Ultimately, Lisa’s hasn’t reached its final iteration yet, Brown said, and more is still to come. 

“We’re going to have more shelving come in. We’re going to have more coolers. We’re going to see some more products,” Brown said. “We’re just excited to be able to offer some more things.” 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JessicaMa2025

Related Stories:

A guide to NU dining: where Wildcats grab a bite

After 49 years in Evanston, D&D Finer Foods owner reflects on his journey

Brewbike puts the brakes on operations after six years