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Redesigned Canyon Vista Marketplace Debuts Mouthwatering New Menu

The Warren College marketplace now largest halal-certified residential dining facility in nation

Canyon Vista Marketplace building

A bold new sign greets visitors in Warren College. Photos by Erika Johnson/UC San Diego Communications

Drawing inspiration from San Diego’s Liberty Public Market and a desire for inclusivity and efficiency, the newly redesigned Canyon Vista Marketplace in Warren College is now a one-stop eatery and marketplace. The new space features a whole food menu—from protein bowls to a garden bar and tea house—and has become the largest halal-certified residential dining facility in the nation.

“We wanted to utilize more space in the updated Canyon Vista,” said Leo Acosta, assistant director of dining operations at Housing Dining and Hospitality (HDH). “We’re hoping to encourage transparency with food preparation and student collaboration, with more expansive study areas and an exposed kitchen.”

Canyon Vista Marketplace officially opened its doors to the campus Jan. 14 with a grand opening ceremony. This official ribbon-cutting was attended by more than 100 people and included comments from Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla, Warren College Provost Emily Roxworthy, HDH Executive Director Hemlata Jhaveri, Warren College Student Council President Liz Niculescu, and Muslim Student Association and HDH Liaison Salma Shaikh. Chancellor Khosla complimented HDH for demonstrating the university’s commitment to diversity by offering more inclusive menu options.

More than seven years ago, students from the Union of Jewish Students and the Muslim Student Association lobbied HDH, asking for more menu options that catered to their dietary needs, such as halal and kosher. Halal is an Arabic term meaning “permissible” and often references foods produced in accordance with Islamic law, specifically ethical butchering practices. While Marshall College’s OceanView restaurant has a kosher section as well as some halal ingredients, HDH saw the opportunity to design a fully halal eatery to be even more inclusive. HDH worked with the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) to provide guidance on the halal certification process for Canyon Vista Marketplace. The dining team reviewed hundreds of recipes with IFANCA, vetting more than 1,000 ingredients across seven different vendors to ensure the recipes met the needs of the Muslim community.

As the first location on campus to combine a market and restaurant in one convenient location, Canyon Vista aims to be a healthy, one-stop shop. Earl’s, a market formerly located on the second floor, is now incorporated into the layout of the marketplace. Students can pick up living essentials and groceries at the same time as their lunch. The space formerly occupied by Earl’s now serves as home to the J. Kevin Wood Lounge, named for a Resident Dean (now referred to as Director of Residence Life) of Warren College from 1986 to 1992. With a staircase connecting the two levels, the facility offers students more study and lounge space.

students ordering food

Eager students wait in line at the Three Sixty station to pick their ingredients for their made-to-order Mongolian-style bowls

Numerous dining stations are available, including:

  • Earl’s – full coffee and tea house with smoothies and boba
  • Fusion Grill – breakfast served all day, with traditional grill options such as burgers and sandwiches
  • Fresh – the campus’s largest garden bar with homemade dressings, build-your-own soup station and fresh-squeezed juices
  • Three Sixty – Mongolian-style grill with made to order bowls with a variety of proteins, noodles, vegetables and grains, and an Island Suite with scoop and serve entrees and sides for faster service

A new menu rooted in flavor

Canyon Vista’s menu was developed in part with HDH’s new initiative Rooted in Flavor, which focuses on sustainable, healthy and thoughtfully crafted meals. Launched in Fall 2019, it’s inspired by Menus of Change, a groundbreaking movement from The Culinary Institute of American and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Some of their key dining goals for 2019-2020 include increased seafood and whole grain options as well as reduced beef.

Student feedback is important to HDH. Dining Ambassadors worked diligently to gather student responses at tasting sessions and focus groups across campus during Spring and Summer 2019. Their comments were reviewed by the culinary team and incorporated into the menu development process.

When designing the menu, HDH Senior Executive Chef Vaughn Vargus prioritized less processed ingredients, while still being delicious and full of flavor. “If I wouldn’t feed it to my family, I wouldn’t serve it to students,” he said. “We were originally leaning towards more vegetable-forward recipes because of Rooted in Flavor, so when we decided to make Canyon Vista completely halal, it wasn’t difficult to make that transition at all.”

Herbs were planted outside of the Canyon Vista Administration Building in vertical hydroponics towers. “We’re trying not to let anything go to waste and emphasize a farm-to-table vibe,” said Acosta. “Those herbs will be picked and used daily. Veggies from the Fresh bar will be used in all the other stations and vice versa.”

burger and fries

A black bean burger with sweet potato fries from the Fusion Grill

According to legend, the Bobcat breakfast sandwich, consisting of round sourdough bread, egg, cheese and two pieces of ham or bacon, was named after a bobcat prowling around the canyon in the 1990s. Originally just unique to Canyon Vista, the sandwich soon became so popular that students from other colleges were requesting it at their own dining halls. “For a while, we stopped serving them because the bread wasn’t available anymore,” said Acosta. “But we found a new supplier and we were able to bring it back. We made sure the Bobcat was still a part of the new Canyon Vista menu.”

Whether you stop by for a tea, need to pick up some fresh produce, or are craving a Mongolian-style protein bowl, there is something for everyone at Canyon Vista Marketplace. The space is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., with the market and coffeehouse staying open until 1 a.m. On Saturday and Sunday, it’s open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.