Courses are not the only important elements of college life. Commuting learners and on-campus students both use campus dining services throughout the school year. Some schools are better than others with respect to on-campus eateries. The colleges on this list boast delicious meals, a commitment to sustainability, and engaging student programming.
Many institutions on this list provide meals made by trained chefs. Instead of using large batches, these dining departments use fresh ingredients to make meals in small quantities. Some schools pay particular attention to dietary limitations. Whether learners stick to diets for ethical, religious, or medical reasons, the dieticians on staff help students meet their dietary needs. A few colleges also put effort into making the dining experience fun with themed meals, like Sundae Fun Day, Hogwarts Dining, and Chinese New Year. Several campuses on this list have sustainability programs that reduce waste and carbon emissions. Departments may order ingredients from producers within 250 miles or employ robust composting systems. Many schools do not use styrofoam, plastic straws, or trays either.
What Colleges Have the Best On-Campus Restaurants?
The taste, variety, sustainability, and innovation that this small college in Arkansas offers in its dining halls secure many awards. Several food spots at Hendrix win The Loyal E. Horton Dining awards each year. The annual dining events that the college hosts also earn prizes, such as the Autumn in Arkansas dinner in 2017.
The primary dining hall features homestyle meals with traditional, vegetarian, and vegan choices. In the World's Fare corner, the school serves at least six types of food from around the world. Students enjoy dishes like stir-fry, Cajun food, and pizza. The World's Fare corner also always has gluten-free and vegetarian options.
Hendrix practices sustainability with several programs, including trayless dining, recycling, local food sources, and organic options. Learners can meet with the college's registered dieticians to create nutrition programs.
In 2016, the university opened its West Union dining facility with top-notch restaurants from the area's top chefs. Diners can choose between 13 vendors, including vegan fare, Indian food, wood-fired pizzas, and sushi.
West Union dining facility is at the heart of Duke dining. All meat must be humanely raised and free of hormonal additives before the school purchases it. The university also purchases ingredients from in-state farms and prioritizes organic choices. Additionally, the campus incentivizes using reusable mugs with a discount program.
The diversity of Duke's nutritional offerings reflects its student population. Not only does the campus boast global cuisine, but it offers allergen-friendly options as well. Learners with allergens can work with university representatives to develop appropriate plans.
The on-campus chefs at this Maine-based college make meals from scratch each day. The cuisine variety helps learners try new foods and stay healthy. At every meal, the dining halls offer healthy meals for vegan and gluten-free students as well. All meals are free from high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats. To continually improve the dining selections, the university invites the Student Dining Advisory Committee to give feedback several times throughout each semester.
Bowdoin takes environmental responsibility seriously. The college runs a sustainability awareness campaign, which shows students how to help. The school also partners with Farm Fresh Connections to source food from farmers in Maine. Some food even comes from the school's own garden. The dining halls also use reusable mugs, unbleached napkins, and composting when possible.
|New York, NY||
Columbia students have access to all the eateries that New York City has to offer, but they often choose to stay on campus. The dining halls at this university provide delicious options for diverse learners. Diners can find gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, halal, and kosher options all over campus. The school also hosts fun events in their eateries, such as ice cream sundae nights.
Columbia is dedicated to sustainability and community programs. The school recently transitioned to compostable paper straws from single-use plastic. The dining halls feature trayless eating, reusable containers, and opportunities to recycle. The school also purchases about 54% of its food from vendors within 250 miles of the campus. Students can enjoy plenty of organic and hormone-free foods as well. To reduce food waste, the university works with local food pantries. Volunteers can feed local homeless families through the dining center.
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
In addition to great flavors, UMass brings sustainability, community, nutrition, and global experiences to its dining halls. The university supports food systems in New England year round, sourcing seafood from sustainable vendors and choosing local farmers whenever possible. Although the ingredients are local, UMass chefs dish up flavors from around the world.
Parents of UMass learners can submit recipes to the Taste of Home Cookbook that the school publishes regularly. Parents can also compile a care package online and have the dining services on campus deliver it. Loved ones can even have the dining halls create birthday cakes.
Busy students rarely have time to wait in line, so the four dining halls on this campus allow eaters to order ahead of time for pick-up or delivery.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Virginia Tech offers learners sustainable and healthy food without sacrificing variety and convenience. The Dining Services department earns awards for its dedication to the environment and works with students in the school's Department of Horticulture. Learners who want to work in the sustainable food movement can apply for the university's internship.
This university owns two food trucks that provide on-the-go, delicious meals for busy students. Several of the traditional dining halls host themed meals throughout the year. Students can indulge in dining events like nacho nights, dinners inspired by specific countries, and the Chili Challenge.
Northwestern makes nutritious, eco-friendly dining a fun experience with exciting events and a mouth-watering menu. The Dining Services department hosts culinary events like Battle of the Chefs, Noodlepalooza, and Tour of Pork. Even on average days, Northwestern diners enjoy a wide variety of exciting dishes.
Students with dietary restrictions feel right at home on this campus. The dining halls offer clearly labeled options for students with food allergies and Celiac disease. Vegetarian and vegan students also enjoy plenty of options, including one area that celebrity chef Jimmy Bannos uses as a test kitchen. All students can meet with the university's registered dietician for personalized nutrition plans.
Liberty recently overhauled its dining services to be more sustainable, nutritious, and delicious. The university is now trayless, features recycled napkins with dispensers that discourage overuse, and it decreased food waste by 40%. The school plans to buy 20% of its ingredients from local farmers by 2020. In addition to sustainability, the university focuses on ethical sourcing. For example, the dining services feature fair-trade teas and coffees.
Like other schools on this list, Liberty gives students access to nutrition services. They can work with the school's registered dietician to ensure the foods on campus meet their needs. Liberty also works with the Partnership for a Healthier America to ensure that each meal includes nutritious choices.
University of California-Los Angeles
|Los Angeles, CA||
UCLA dining services balance convenience, nutrition, and taste. Learners can order from the university's MyPizza program to get pizza, wings, and soda delivered to any place on campus. Busy students seeking healthier options can swing by Bruin Café or De Neve and eat on the go. Diners who are too sick to go to the dining halls can order sick trays to eat in the comfort of the dorms, which keeps contagious diseases at bay.
The university made significant steps toward sustainable food choices recently. UCLA projects 20% of its food purchases to come from local sources by 2020. The dining services department also hosts programs like Green Mondays, Beef-less Thursdays, and composting. Students with food allergies can find labels on all campus food to stay safe. Students with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance can use the gluten-free pantry. This locked room has separate cooking facilities to keep learners safe from cross-contamination.
Johns Hopkins University
Diners at this prestigious university enjoy meals like house-smoked brisket, manicotti puttanesca, fresh sushi, and carved-to-order roasted meat sandwiches. The culinary team offers made-from-scratch foods, and learners with allergies and intolerances have plenty of dining options. The university hopes these efforts help students connect with one another around the dining tables.
This university invites students to participate in the decision-making process about the food that they eat. The Events Advisory Team creates fun events to engage students. Real Food at Hopkins is a dedicated group of students working with the professional dining team to increase the number of healthy food options on campus.
The eggs on campus come from cage-free hens and the milk is free of added hormones. The school is also phasing out plastic straws and uses biodegradable paper products.
James Madison University
JMU offers learners opportunities to dine at well-known chain restaurants and exclusive on-campus eateries. The campus boasts restaurants like Qdoba, Steak ‘n Shake, Chick-fil-A, Dunkin' Donuts, and Subway. When school gets tough, these familiar flavors help students feel more at home. However, the presence of fast food options is not at the expense of healthier options.
The school's classically trained chefs cook up nutritious, balanced meals each day. Diners with special diets can look for the gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, and healthy-choice labels on all foods. JMU also makes it easy for students to log their meals into MyFitnessPal, an app that helps users eat appropriate amounts of food.
JMU's sustainability program, Green Thread, ensures that the dining services department makes responsible decisions as much as possible. They source ingredients from local, socially conscious suppliers and minimize waste. Green Thread also finds innovative ways to save water.
New York University
|New York, NY||
NYU has 19 dining locations across its campus. Some of these locations offer to-go options, and others are all-you-can-eat buffets. Learners can also dine at familiar places like Starbucks, Argo Tea, and Dunkin' Donuts. Students can use their campus cash at the nearby Whole Foods as well.
Students with dietary restrictions find plenty of options here. NYU features a 100% kosher eatery and several vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, halal, and healthy eating options. Learners can also attend any of the school's special dining events, including one monthly dinner in which the executive chef serves three-course meals with exceptional service.
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability for Higher Education awarded NYU's dining services a Gold Star for its eco-friendly practices. Not only does the university source food locally, but it also reduces waste. For example, they recycle all unused oil into biodiesel.
This Nashville university encourages students to dine on and off campus. The Taste of Nashville program allows learners to eat at restaurants around the city each week with their dining program funds.
The on-campus eateries do not disappoint. VU offers cafe-style dining, 24-hour restaurants, and grab-and-go meals for convenience. The campus also has a vegetarian cafe and other options for special diets. Students with allergies can order from the university's designated system for such diners.
Like many schools on this list, VU is committed to sustainable dining. The school's Eat the World, Save the Earth program teaches students eco-friendly and socially conscious kitchen habits that last a lifetime. The plan labels choices that are vegan, organic, local, or fair trade so learners can make informed decisions about their habits.
|Los Angeles, CA||
Oxy offers students food variety, environmentally friendly practices, and opportunities to get involved in the dining process. Diners can choose from delicious meals like wood-fired pizza, pasta, salads, and homestyle meals. Chefs also serve meals like braised beef ribs and vegetarian options, like butternut squash risotto.
Learners can also visit the food trucks that come to campus, which serve diverse cuisine, or the student-run coffee shop, Green Bean. Tiger Cooler is the dining hall that stays open the longest each day, offering staple foods like smoothies, hamburgers, and snacks.
Oxy has partnered with the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute since 1997 to devise socially responsible food practices. For students seeking an active role in food sustainability, FEAST is a student-led organization that advocates for sustainable practices on campus.
University of Georgia
UGA's residential dining halls offer a variety of foods, like salad, woks, barbecue, tacos, grills, sandwiches, and vegetarian meals. Students can also visit retail food locations, including Au Bon Pain, Bulldog Burger, and Chick-fil-A Express. UGA has a food truck on campus as well -- Taqueria 1785 serves Latin-inspired food on the go. Student organizations can request to have the food truck attend their events.
Many of the school's eateries offer gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, and heart-healthy choices. Learners can use the Build Your Plate tool to plan meals and balance their nutrition. UGA also has a dietitian and nutritionists on staff who work with nutrition students to create engaging nutrition programs. Students can get personalized nutrition advice through the Peer Nutrition Education Program. Those with certain health issues can talk to registered nutrition professionals, as well.
BU's famous pub alone could earn it a spot on this list. Students who are 21 years old and over enjoy the pub-style food and 50 types of beer. Patrons who sample each type of beer earn bragging rights and a full knighting ceremony. While this attraction is unique, it is not the only factor that sets BU's dining services apart.
BU is home to four primary dining halls and dozens of smaller eateries throughout campus. Learners can treat themselves to favorites like pizza, salads, smoothies, soup, and sushi. The campus also has a few well-known franchises, including Einstein's Bagels and Jamba Juice. Several of the dining halls host themed meals, like Thanksgiving and ‘90s dinners.
BU's Sargent Choice program helps diners learn how to make healthy food choices on campus and after graduation. The campus also has plenty of options for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, halal, allergen-free, and kosher students.
Wellesley shows outstanding commitment to student wellness and global sustainability. Learners can choose from a variety of high-quality dining halls and enjoy fresh sushi, pizza, stir-fry, and sandwiches. The Pomeroy dining hall features vegan, peanut-free, gluten-free, and kosher dishes. Gluten-free students can also use dedicated rooms to prepare food, helping learners avoid cross-contamination.
Students run three on-campus eateries: Café Hoop, El Table, and Punch's Alley. The Cafe Hoop co-op serves late-night snacks like nachos. El Table started as a single table near an elevator and grew into a full cafe with sandwiches, soups, and snacks. Punch's Alley is the school's pub.
Since 2012, Wellesley dining halls use composting to reduce waste. This program is just one step the college takes for the environment. The school also recycles cans, bottles, paper goods, and cooking oil. Additionally, students use reusable mugs, compostable greenware, and single-serve napkin dispensers.
SUNY College at Geneseo
In 2015, SUNY Geneseo signed the Taste NY Pledge, which demonstrates the school's commitment to buying locally. Campus Auxiliary Services, the department that runs the dining halls, spends at least 20% of its budget on local foods. The department also has sustainability programs, including reusable mugs, oil recycling, and composting. Additionally, the campus is styrofoam-free.
Students do not sacrifice convenience or taste for environmentally friendly plans. In fact, learners can order their food online and have it waiting for them in the dining halls. Diners can also go online to check the menu. The school clearly labels everything for gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, vegetarian, and dairy-free students. Learners enjoy the varying menu with items like Korean barbecue, tacos, noodle bowls, pasta, and salads.
Cornell's chefs regularly compete in cooking competitions and bring home awards. Diners enjoy wide varieties of food, including popular items like the Impossible Burger. The dining department at Cornell also wins awards for their allergen-free foods and programs. Students with religious dining preferences, such as halal, kosher, and Seventh-Day Adventist, can find several delicious options.
The chefs keep it interesting throughout the school year with fun events. For example, dining halls sometimes serve traditional Chinese fare during the Chinese New Year or bring Hogwarts to life with magical treats.
This renowned university hosts several sustainability programs, as well. Students who do not finish their meals can take home reusable containers rather than wasteful styrofoam alternatives. The university employs two students as sustainability coordinators to help make Cornell more eco-friendly, and the school buys 26% of its food locally.
This small college has four dining halls on campus. Café Bon Appetit runs two of these eateries, prioritizing made-from-scratch meals, commitment to the environment, and ethical hiring practices. Meals in these Pitzer restaurants include gourmet sandwiches, breakfast items, and snacks. McConnell Bistro serves food 12 hours per day and features vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free selections without using plastic straws.
The other two dining options on campus are just as impressive. The Grove House serves homemade meals from locally grown ingredients. Diners enjoy homemade sticky buns, seasonal fruit, and gourmet sandwiches. Student organizations can ask The Grove House to cater their events as well. Students founded and run The Shakedown Cafe at Pitzer, where learners gather to eat, socialize, share art, and listen to music. The cafe offers locally sourced foods that are as delicious as they are ethical.
University of Connecticut
UConn's dining department regularly wins awards for innovations in health, taste, and sustainability. Students with special diets eat well here. The university wins awards for its vegan recipes and allows students to meet with the dietary team to learn more. The school's Smart Check system allows learners to easily identify meals with low sodium, local sources, healthy ingredients, and nuts. The labels also identify vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. MyUConn, the university's mobile app, allows students to check each dining hall menu and find nutritional information.
UConn runs several sustainability programs to keep the campus eco-friendly. In addition to employing common sustainability methods, like buying local, the university also applies innovative ways to go green. For example, the burgers on campus are half-beef and half-mushroom to reduce the environmental impact of consuming meat.
Café Bon Appetit runs Brown's dining services. Each dining hall focuses on serving meals that taste great and build a more sustainable future. The chefs use local food sources, which reduces carbon emissions. Diners also enjoy from-scratch cooking. Not only does this process taste fresher than over-processed alternatives, but it also creates healthier meals with less waste. Brown encourages composting and gives students reusable to-go containers.
The 11 dining halls on campus serve a wide variety of foods, such as vegan autumn bisque, pork adobo, and fresh pizza. The online menu allows students to easily identify halal, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. The school's MyMeal program helps students make healthy food choices and tells them what goes into their meals. Students with contagious illnesses, like the flu, can order from dining services for pick-up.
University of California-San Diego
|San Diego, CA||
San Diego is full of amazing restaurants, and the eateries on the UCSD campus are no exception. Professionally trained chefs from some of the world's best culinary schools run the 17 on-campus dining options. Two of these eateries are full-service restaurants. Sixty-Four North offers California classics with ingredients from local sources. Chefs at The Bistro serve dishes from the Pacific, including noodle bowls, vegetarian meals, and fresh seafood.
Students can also choose from any of the six to-go markets, which offer snacks, sandwiches, drinks, and baked goods. Other dining options include restaurants like Cafe Ventanas, which offers food inspired by different regions.
UCSD is focused on supporting learners with dietary needs. Diners can register with the school and set up special dietary plans. Each menu has clear labels so students with allergies and intolerances stay safe.
Emory is another university that relies on Cafe Bon Appetit for its dining services. Students can quickly search the site to find out what is open, what each dining hall serves, and which meals cater to specific dietary needs. The campus has 17 dining locations, including three places for food trucks and a large food court. Students can dine at familiar places, like Starbucks or Peet's Coffee. They can also choose from the several dining options that serve recipes from around the world.
Because Emory uses Cafe Bon Appetit, students know that their food is sustainable, healthy, and delicious. Chefs at the university make food from scratch and put programs in place to reduce waste.
Diners with special diets can register with the school's Office of Accessibility Services to get individualized meal plans. Learners who are sick with contagious illnesses can have a friend pick up meals at the dining halls for them, but they must first call the eateries.
University of Rochester
|Monroe Count, NY||
More than 40% of the food that Rochester sells comes from local producers, which reduces the school's carbon footprint and makes the food taste fresh. Each semester, the university hosts Local Foods Week to raise awareness for nearby producers. Learners can choose from 10 on-campus eateries, including one full-service restaurant, Starbucks, Peet's Coffee, and grab-and-go options.
Rochester also participates in a composting program and uses recycled products whenever possible. All recyclable materials that go through the kitchen go to the proper recycling bins, and the university is trayless and styrofoam-free to reduce waste.
Students can grab favorites like fresh sushi, pizza, burrito bowls, and the Garbage Bowl. Vegan, vegetarian, and flexitarian learners feel right at home on this PETA2-certified campus. The menus also label food for students with food allergies and intolerances.