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Great Colleges for Food

By Brendan Conway updated on Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Food. It's what's for dinner.

The food quality at the college cafeteria might seem like a weird factor for your choice of college, but you never know what'll help you make a good decision.

With that in mind, here's some information on some of the best food you can get in the college world.

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Bryn Mawr College

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

  • Chocolate chip waffles, omelets, pumpkin juice, and treacle tart!
  • Other available dining halls at Swarthmore and Haverford
  • 513 restaurants nearby


Bryn Mawr College
 gives its students great food and great service, with takeout meals and award-winning theme dinners. Bryn Mawr even puts on an international dinner series during the year.

Famed foods at Bryn Mawr include chocolate chip waffles and omelets, alongside stir fry. Bryn Mawr even served delicacies from good ol' Hogwarts, including pumpkin juice, treacle tart, and Bertie's Every Flavor Beans.

The college not only has great food on its own campus, but also offers to its students the opportunity to eat at the dining halls of Swarthmore and Haverford.

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Wheaton College

Wheaton, Illinois

  • Food made from scratch with locally-grown ingredients
  • Domestic shrimp and fusili pasta with Sicilian lemon sauce
  • 895 restaurants nearby


Wheaton College
is a Christian liberal arts school to the west of Chicago. It's also a college recognized multiple times for its amazing food. Wheaton College gets its food through the Bon Appetit Management Company, and boy does it pay off.

The college's dishes are known to be made from scratch as often as possible, with locally-grown ingredients. If you're looking for a college with meals like domestic shrimp and fusili pasta with Sicilian lemon sauce, then Wheaton may be the right place for you. 

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Bowdoin College

Brunswick, Maine

  • Lobster, lobster, and more lobster!
  • Varied other kinds of seafood like sushi and mussels, in addition to land food
  • 104 restaurants nearby


Bowdoin College
 is another school of culinary heaven. Bowdoin's food is made from scratch, daily, as much as possible, including its herb-baked bread and, of course, its lobster. That's right; you didn't think that a school located in Maine could get away with not serving lobster, did you?

At Bowdoin's first 100% compostable lobster bake, the college served over 1,250 lobsters in total, among other delectable dishes. Other dishes from Bowdoin include sushi, mussels, and even grilled organic tofu. If you're a lobster or seafood kind of person (or heck, just a good food kind of person), then give Bowdoin a look. 

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Boston College

Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts

  • Chocolate bar, with chocolate, and other things, like more chocolate
  • The entire, vast eating options of Boston at your fingertips
  • 468 restaurants nearby


Boston College
 has one pretty huge claim to fame among its own fantastic foodstuffs: a Chocolate Bar. No, not just a single foil wrapped Hershey; we're talking chocolate fondue fountain, chocolate-covered nuts and fruits, chocolate pastries, and chocolate covered chocolate.

If that alone doesn’t sell you on Boston College's dietary prowess, then firstly, you should take a good hard look at your life, and secondly,  Boston College has plenty more to tickle your tummy, including gourmet wraps, toasted sandwiches, homemade potato chips, and more.

But seriously, guys and gals. CHOCOLATE BAR. Do you really need to know anything else?

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Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

  • Menagerie of different on-campus eating locations and options
  • Special events with world-class chefs
  • 245 restaurants nearby


Cornell University
 has 30 different on-campus dining locations. Yeah. 10 of them are all-you-can-eat. Across this cavalcade of different dining locations, the variety of food served is enormous, ranging from (make-your-own) omelets to stir-fry to pasta to Kosher foods to well-renowned ice cream to college staples like pizza or meatball sandwiches.

Cornell even brings in world famous chefs to serve students at its famous Cross Country Gourmet events. Good food, and more of it than you can shake a stick at!

Well, I guess you could shake a stick at it. That's your prerogative. You stick-shaker you. 

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Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Virginia

  • Home-made recipes at college
  • A menu full of items from around the world
  • 249 restaurants nearby


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
 has robots that serve you food!

Okay, no, it doesn't.

But what it does have is Maine lobster, in Virginia. What it does have is steak filet. What it does have is a menu system that actually goes so far as to collect recipes from students' parents, and add them to the menu.

Yucatan lime soup. Cookie dough-topped brownies. Blueberry French toast casserole. All this food is offered across 11 different dining centers on the Virginia Tech campus. And Virginia Tech even has special vegetarian and vegan meals.

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James Madison University

Harrisonburg, Virginia

  • Multiple food courts with an array of eateries, including a Mongolian Grill
  • Dining services staff uses social media to keep students updated
  • 246 restaurants nearby


James Madison University
 features an array of foodstuffs and other services. The dining services staff actually post updates on important information, like events, contests, and hour changes, on their Twitter and Facebook pages. But more importantly, they cook up fantastic foods at the university's myriad of eating locations.

James Madison has places like the Festival Food court, which features everything from burgers to sushi; its Lakeside Express, with pizza and desserts; its Top Dog Café Food Court, with a Mongolian grill; and its Madison Grill, with steaks, gourmet sandwiches, and other specials. And that's only a portion of the eateries available on campus.

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Claremont McKenna College

Claremont, California

  • High ratings for special foods, along with numerous locations
  • A place called the Athenaeum
  • 1,032 restaurants nearby


Claremont McKenna College
 boasts a dining hall by the name of the Athenaeum, which has to be one of the greatest names for a dining hall to ever have been uttered. The Athenaeum is a particularly classy dining hall where students can get good food while listening to one of the esteemed speakers Claremont McKenna often has visiting. But who cares about speakers like Salman Rushdie or Janet Reno? We're here for the food!

Which is why it's good that CMC brings the food. Not only does CMC hvae the Athenaeum, but it also is part of the Claremont cluster, giving students access to five other dining halls within five minutes of the Claremont McKenna campus, any of which will tantalize your taste buds. Claremont McKenna is also consistently rated very well by students for its vegetarian and vegan options, its ethnic food options, and its late night options.

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St. Olaf College

Northfield, Minnesota

  • Locavore's heaven
  • Healthful, good food produced in ethical and safe ways
  • 72 restaurants nearby

Ever heard the term "locavore"? Isn't it a wonderful word? "Locavore" refers to those who like to eat locally grown foods, and for locavores, St. Olaf College is a magnificent, heavenly buffet. St. Olaf pulls almost all of its delectable foodstuffs from local sources. Fruits, vegetables, and herbs come from St. Olaf's student-run organic farm. Apples come from an orchard minutes away. Milk comes from a creamery within 20 miles of the college. Meat and poultry come locally, without antibiotics or hormones.
 
And students attest to St. Olaf's incredible array of delicious desserts, similarly made from local ingredients. Healthful, tasty, good food. Doesn't the life of the locavores at St. Olaf College sound pretty darn good? (And isn't locavore STILL a fantastic word?)

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Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly Schools

A number of the schools mentioned above offer tremendous variety in their food choices and make sure to cater to vegan or vegetarian students, so just because your diet is restrictive, don't count any of the above schools out. But if you want to know about schools that are particularly well-suited to a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, here are a few good examples.

University of Florida
The University of Florida makes it a point to offer vegetarian menu items, ranging from Portobello mushroom burgers to lasagna and veggie wraps. UF also has Meatless Mondays and the event VegFest, which is all about animal-free eating and offers many different dishes along that intent, like vegan chicken tacos and tempeh salad with espresso-chili vinaigrette. 

Yale University
Yale University is renowned for its 18 dining halls and their varied menus. For the vegetarian eater, Yale offers menu items like Peruvian vegetable stew and barbecue vegan ribs, along with a dietary and food allergy guide, so that students can easily figure out what is included in every meal.

Indiana University
Indiana University makes sure to offer plenty of vegan options for its students, all of them clearly marked as meat-free to make picking easy. Some of Indiana's options have included split pea soup and vegan sugar cookies.

Humboldt State University
Humboldt State University has a cavalcade of alternative food choices, ranging from Tofurkey, lactose-free rice cheeses, and sweet and sour tempeh, to the offerings of its fully stocked salad bar and its gluten-free menu.


Have any suggestions about colleges or universities with exceptional food? Drop us a line on our Facebook page and let us know! Inquiring stomachs are interested!

About the Author

Brendan Conway is the Web Content Editor for Peterson's Interactive and is well-versed in the world of higher education and admissions. He is a graduate of Hamilton College, and has been working in admissions advice, test-prep advice, career planning advice, and similar fields for the majority of his career since graduation. Brendan endeavors to provide the most relevant, useful, and interesting information via Peterson's Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds. Brendan enjoys lexicological oddities and voraciously reading in his free time.

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