Restaurant Review: Hard Times Cafe Will Ease Your Hard Times

Abi Hilden, features editor

Are you looking for a new study spot not too far from campus? How about a place with decent food, amazing hot drinks and vibes that are unmatched? Let me introduce you to Hard Times Cafe.

Located at 1821 Riverside Ave, Hard Times Cafe is just down the street from campus and has quickly asserted itself as my new favorite place to study and hang out. Starting with the atmosphere, Hard Times Cafe is essentially if a grunge-y dive bar and a cute neighborhood cafe came together and had a really cool, punk rock baby. This starts from the exterior of the restaurant, which is adorned with political signage and a fading yet artsy sign.

Once you step inside, the vibes don’t stop. The interior is covered in art and plants but has this hole-in-the-wall quality to it. Now, if you don’t like loud study environments, I would definitely avoid Hard Times Cafe since they also blast rock music throughout the entire space, no matter the time of day. Now if that deters you from studying there, Hard Times Cafe is still a fantastic place to just hang out with friends. They offer wifi to paying customers and have a rack of different board games that you can use during your visit.

Their menu is pretty expansive, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Hard Times Cafe also offers a variety of vegan and gluten free options in all parts of their menu. During my visit, I was able to try their stack of pancakes, hash browns and hot chocolate. 

Starting with the pancakes, they were okay. Definitely not the best pancakes I’ve ever had but certainly not the worst. They tasted like your average pancake, bready and a little sweet. My only qualm with them was the fact that they were a bit dry, so definitely order them with syrup.

On the other hand, their hash browns and hot chocolate were fantastic. The hash browns were cooked perfectly as they were not too crispy but not too soft either with a perfect ratio of salt and pepper. However, the real star of my meal was the hot chocolate by far. Unlike powder based hot chocolate, this one was made with milk and real chocolate putting it leagues ahead of most other hot chocolates I’ve had. It was not too sweet and the chocolate flavor was rich. I also appreciated the fact that it was topped with whipped cream and cinnamon, both of which were a welcome addition to an already stellar drink.

Other times that I have visited, I’ve also tried the grilled cheese which is definitely nothing to sleep on. If you can, order it with bacon as that is a real game changer.

Overall, I highly recommend Hard Times Cafe to anyone looking for a new place to try. From their wide array of menu options to their spectacular atmosphere, they have something for everyone. They even have a wide range of hours, opening at 8 a.m. for the early birds and closing at midnight for the insomniacs like myself every single day.

Make a visit to Hard Times Cafe today for all of your studying and dining needs — you won’t regret it!