Let’s face it. Eating Top Ramen and leftovers from Sunday family dinner week after week can get pretty old. You probably won’t get enough sleep in college, so you might as well make at least one smart decision by choosing a school with excellent dining services. Forget the notorious “freshman 15” and go for the fine dining!
Top 5 College Dining Halls
|New Haven, Connecticut
We researched the top 15 schools with phenomenal dining halls and considered multiple factors such as a focus on nutrition, sustainability, accommodation of dietary restrictions, availability of diverse dining options, and student reviews. Check out these awesome dining services, but don’t get too hungry along the way.
Here are the 15 Best College Dining Halls in America
If you’re looking for a gourmet dining experience, Bowdoin College is the place for you. With vaulted ceilings, wooden tables, and stunning views of the surrounding pine trees, you’re in for quite a treat at the Thorne dining hall. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night students gather for a SuperSnack meal that continues socializing into the evening. As tempting as Thorne Halls sounds, it’s not the only on-campus option. Students can eat at Jack’s Pub and Grill, The Cafe, and the Moulton Union dining hall which offers express take-out lunch and dinner for long study nights in the library. Bowdoin has its own meatshop and bakeshop deliver fresh goods to both Moulton Union and Thorpe dining halls.
All Wildcats at Northwestern University have access to meet once per quarter with the campus dietitian to review their eating habits and to create a health plan. The campus dietician reviews all the meals served in campus dining halls to secure the health of students. If you’re considering Northwestern University as a school of choice, surely the weekly hot cookie bar will push you over the edge. In order to indulge in this treat, student have to use a spoon to scoop the cookie up since they are still so warm and gooey. Add a little ice cream and chocolate sauce, and you’ve found yourself a new guilty pleasure.
The Fresh Food Co. at Marciano Commons is one of the finest dining halls in America with a sleek, modern feel. This two-level cafeteria can seat up to 920 students at a time. Students can get food from over twelve different food stations and choose from new, inventive dishes and BU’s favorites. The Marciano Commons accommodates students with all kinds of eating preferences and serves vegan and gluten-free meals. BU takes seriously the call to provide the best dining experience possible for everyone. The Marciano Commons even has a separate kitchen for preparing both vegan and gluten free meals. Once you have your meal you can kick back and watch sports or the latest reality TV show on one of six 40-inch TVs or cozy up next to the fireplace on a snowy, winter night.
Students at Berkeley have many opportunities to take a study break for a little bite to eat. From Crossroads restaurant, Cafe 3, Foothill restaurant, and CKC, there are options for everyone in the dining commons. The menu includes Belgian waffles and smoked chicken apple sausage for breakfast, herb roasted turkey breast for lunch, and a full nacho bar and vegan margherita flatbread pizza for dinner. Berkeley also has several on-campus cafeterias for students to visit like Brown’s cafe. This restaurant serves only locally grown food, and it only cooks with food that is milled, preserved, and processed within 250 miles of the university. The menu includes dishes prepared with grass-fed beef and organic chickens. This forward-thinking cafe is located in the Genetics and Plant Biology building.
Freshmen are required to have a meal plan at Yale, but they are in for a treat with 26 on-campus restaurants and dining halls to choose from. Yale accommodates students who have special dietary needs with an entire kosher dining hall and dining hall for just graduate students and their families. Vegan and vegetarian meals are offered at every restaurant for every meal, and more than half of Yale’s students actually choose a vegan meal once a week even if they don’t have a dietary requirement. If you are on the run, you can schedule a to-go order online up to three days in advance using your student ID number. Each year Yale provides farm tours for students to visit local farms that source all of food for Yale’s dining halls. On the tour students can talk directly with the farmers, walk the fields, and even snag a few samples.
University of Notre Dame
Students can look for various featured nutritional items which are marked with an “H” for a healthy option, “V” for a vegetarian option, and “L” for a lower calorie, fat, and sodium option. Both the north and south dining halls offer menu items without barley, wheat, and rye for students who don’t eat gluten. In addition to the dining halls, students can dine at Notre Dame’s restaurants including Legends, Reckers, and Cafe de Grasta. From firewood pizzas to piadina sandwiches, you can find the finest dining experiences on campus. After every home game, the dining halls host white tablecloth and candlelight dinners with ice sculptures and seafood to show a little fighting Irish pride. Each year the North and South dining halls hold a survey for students to vote for the cereals they would like to be served in the coming year. Check out the results for the 2016-2017 school year here. Lucky charms might be the lucky pick.
If you’re a meat lover, you’ll fit right in with other Hokies! Virginia Tech serves whole lobsters and ribeye daily. The school’s Meat Science Center serves, produces, and processes meat for the various dining halls on campus every day. Students also have the opportunity to get to know their professors better through backyard BBQ’s and faculty-student dining days that the school hosts. Virginia Tech holds special events and themed dinners like a commencement breakfast, Brownie Bash night, and Election Day Sundaes. Virginia Tech is proud of their strict food safety regulations and extensive food production training procedures.
Can you say “build-your-own-pancake bar?” If you’re a Cornell Big Red Bear you sure can! Sunday mornings students can adorn their pancakes with m&m’s, sprinkles, fruit, or whatever else they can get their hands on in the dining hall. If you don’t care for sweets, you can opt to make your own omelet at the breakfast bar. If you’re especially lucky, you can attend the Night at Hogwarts event to indulge in chocolate frogs, butterbeer, and other British delicacies. Don’t miss out on Big Red Cheddar cheese produced at Cornell’s very own dairy farm. Cornell introduced “Flavor Stations” this year to cut down on sodium intake and to spice up their menu. From Italian herb blends to grated cheese and hot sauces, students have many choices to add a little customized flavor to their meals.
The Bruins are known for being one of the most vegan friendly schools in the states. FEAST at Rieber serves the best asian food you can get at an American college campus with stir fried glass noodles, caramelized eggplant flatbread, and seared tofu. UCLA was one of the first schools to open an on-campus dining hall themed for nutrition. Students can easily calculate the nutritional value of meals served in the dining halls based on the serving portions online. The De Neve Late Night cafe is open from 9 pm until midnight for students studying late or playing with friends. The De Neve Cafe, Bruin Cafe, and Cafe 1919 all accept student meal plans. UCLA also offers My Pizza and Wings for students who are too busy to sit down for a meal. You can just place an order online and pick up your pizza and wings anytime between 8 am and 11:30 pm.
John Hopkins University
John Hopkins treats their senior students like royalty with food and wine pairing events. In addition, once a month the school hosts brunch for their students with a live jazz band, baked brie, and bananas foster. Breakfast lovers are in for a treat with a fresh orange juice squeezed on campus. John Hopkins composts all of their food wastes and only uses compostable paper products to increase sustainability. For students who are in a rush to get to finish a paper, get to class on time, and scarf down lunch, the Meals in a Minute program is an easy decision. This program is offered on class days includes an entree, two sides, and a drink. The Fresh Food Cafe offers all-you-care-to-eat meals almost all day and even prepares meals to go for students on the run.
University of Massachusetts
UMass Minutemen have over 30 choices to grab a bite to eat. There are four different dining commons in residential areas on campus with a sushi bar, pizza station, an international bar, a cereal station, and even a vegetarian station. Many of these dining commons offer a Grab’n Go option for students who don’t have time to sit and eat. The Hampshire Dining Common is dedicated to providing healthy and sustainable options for students and sources many of their goods from local farms. UMass also has an award winning bake shop for you to indulge in anything from rolls and pastries to elegant cakes and tarts.
Stanford doesn’t mess around when it comes to food. Their state-of-the-art facilities are often home to celebrity chefs giving cooking demonstrations in action. Students can even get a sweet view of the chef’s with several video cameras positioned all around the kitchen. The school has a full-time nutritionist available for students and athletes to consult so they can perform well mentally and physically in school and extracurricular activities. Students can use their meal plans at cafes and markets on campus when they’re not near the dining halls to indulge in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, a South American salsa bar, or rotisserie grilled meals.
Washington University in St. Louis
If chicken and waffles every night after 10 pm doesn’t have you sold, the a green chile pork burrito is bound to reel you in. With about 30 different on-campus choices, you definitely won’t be a starving college student. Ibby’s Bistro is a student favorite located at the center of campus serving meals inspired by the seasons. These meals include wild mushroom soup and stuffed spaghetti squash. Save room for a S’mores tart or Raspberry Chip Milkshake while you are there. The campus dietician sits down with students for private consultations. Washington University also sponsors competitions for students who live healthy lifestyles with a Fitbit Flex as a reward.
Food from Asian Food Night, a recipe collaboration with Dining Chefs and students of the Asian Clubs at Tufts.
At Tufts Dining, food is the solution. Tufts enjoys strong partnerships within its community, and students enjoy scrumptious foods that delight their taste buds. While famous for Tuesday night’s General Tso’s Chicken, Tufts Dining is much more. Most menu items are prepared from scratch and Tufts Dining provides students opportunities to learn about food, its impact on the environment, and how mindful food choices support better daily performance and long-term health. All9Free is Tufts’ answer to flavorful food made without the 9 most common allergens including sesame seeds. Accommodating dietary needs is second nature here. A full time dietitian is available to assist students in navigating the dining experience that best meets their preferences. Autumn in New England is especially beautiful and brings with it a bountiful local harvest utilized by Tufts Dining chefs who create favorites including Butternut Squash Bisque and Apple Crisp. Tufts Dining crafts a wealth of vegan and vegetarian items daily all over campus as well. At Tufts, Food really is the Solution!
Kennesaw State University
If fresh and local food matters to you, then look no further than Kennesaw State University. Its two
campuses are within ten miles of one another and feature two all-you-care-to-eat dining halls plus 11
original and nationally recognized restaurants. Recipes are prepared in small batches, and the produce is
locally sourced to ensure the freshest possible meals for guests who dine at Stingers and The Commons.
The University Dining team also runs a 1,200-square-foot herb garden and a community garden where
they test various urban agriculture models. Students can sign up for a multi-farm CSA program that is
100% Georgia Grown and works with many small farmers and producers. Students may also
shop at the weekly Farmers Market for locally sourced produce and artisan items. The dining halls have
a strict recycling and closed-loop composting program, which prevents more than 40,000 pounds of
waste from entering landfills each month. University Dining also donates food to the Kennesaw Campus
Pantry to help address food insecurity for students at the school.