Kantina Life Hacks

kanitna finalWriter: Megh Bindra

Editor: Amelie de Leon

The Bearcat Kantina is a myriad of different cuisines, flavors, dishes and more. As each lunch bell rings, students and teachers from all sections of the school flood into this common area, seeking for ways to satiate their hunger and thirst through a variety of different vendors. 

 As the years go by, students have found cult favorites, as well as ‘secret menu’ items and ways to bend the traditional menu. Some of these are widespread throughout the ISM community, while some remain hidden gems. All of which, however, will be unpacked within this article. Get ready to have your tastebuds blown away.

Tip: Build relationships with the Kantina staff

Everyone loves being asked for something with a smile and polite words of affirmation. Don’t forget to give the Kantina staff the respect they deserve, especially because you never know what’ll come out of it – maybe even a friendship! Many students build rapport with staff and janitors, and it can always help if you need a recommendation on a certain food or just want them to know your ‘go to.’ 

Secret menu item: Creamy tomato with penne from Prego

How to order: Ask the lady at the register for ‘creamy tomato’

To the surprise of many students, this cult favorite menu item is actually not on the menu. Although not a very well kept secret, Creamy Tomato is an ISM staple. You’ll definitely see students walking around with bowls of steaming, hot pasta no matter the time of day! Creamy tomato is also served with 2 pieces of bread, another student favorite. 

Student spotlight: Junior Natalya G and her sister, Tatiana have been accredited for introducing creamy tomato to ISM. She describes the ‘invention’ of this pasta dish when her and her sister “asked for a special request from preggo by asking them to mix carbonara and tomato sauce.” When asked about why she thinks its gone so ‘viral,’ she commented that “at first it was just a thing between friends, but they introduced it to their friends and it spread like a chain reaction.”

Hidden gem: Soft serve at Yogichef

How to order: Just ask for soft serve and then your choice of sizing and toppings

Many are aware of the classic ‘frozen yogurt’ order at Yogichef, but few have tried the soft serve, which is a slightly creamier, more ‘vanilla ice cream’ like take on the original. Many new students are also unaware of the fact that honey does not count as a topping, so take advantage of that!

Student opinion: Junior Emily K. swears by the topping combination of honey, sliced almonds, and chocolate chips.

Rising star: Taho at Annie’s Kitchen

How to order: Simply ask for Taho! Pronounced “tah-hoh.”

As a new addition to the Kantina, many were hesitant to try out this new vendor. However, ‘Taho,’ a traditional Filipino snack made out of soft/silken tofu and sago pearls has become a hit within the community for its convenience and low price. 

Student tip: Senior Dania S. swears by Taho from Annie’s, but advises students that it usually “tastes better in the morning than later on in the day.”

Life hack: Sauce it up

Many may have seen the rack of hot sauces next to the checkout in Chihuahua, but few really take advantage of these. Several students have taken to seasoning their food with these sauces from other vendors, as well. One popular combination is taking the Mac n Cheese from Good Eats, lightly seasoning it with salt from Yogi Chef, drizzling hot sauce over it, and microwaving it for a good 30 seconds to get that “cheese-pull” effect.

Menu Hack: Copycat Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl

How to order: Ask for a burrito bowl with your choice of meat, preferably chicken. 

Ask for black beans, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and shredded lettuce.

A common and somewhat healthy way to jazz up an average chicken burrito bowl is by ‘Chipotle-ifying it!’ This is the perfect way to zest up your normal order.


All in all, there are several culinary opportunities in the Kantina just waiting to be explored. Get to eating and feel free to share any tips and tricks that have made your Kantina experience great!