10 Colleges with Reputations for Having Great Food

There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing which college you will attend. You may have narrowed your list down based on location, your field of study, or the size… but is “good food” also on your list? 

Finding food that tastes good is important, but it’s even more important to find food that is healthy for you. With a demanding class schedule, you need to be eating nutritious foods so your body and brain can function at their best. Staying up late to study, writing papers, and participating in extracurricular activities require you to operate at optimal capacity. How do you keep up with it all? With high-quality, healthy food that you enjoy! 

According to students who have taken to TikTok and national polls to rank their college’s dining hall as one of the tastiest, you may be able to find some of the best food in the country while you are in college. From ethnic cuisine to accommodations for dietary restrictions, there are options that can fit your wants and needs. Let’s explore the colleges with some of the best reputations for their food—it just may be enough to sway your college decision.

What to Look For

On-campus dining doesn’t have to mean watery side dishes, hard bread, or cold chicken. On-campus dining can be a pleasant part of your college experience if you choose a college that has good food. Trust us, you will want to have good food to eat after you have used all of your dining dollars at the campus coffee shop. So, what does good food mean?

Most colleges have a variety of food choices to select from, so you can choose what kind of food you want and how often. This can be an opportunity to try new cuisines or rotate a schedule of food so you don’t have to eat the same dish over and over. This is also favorable if you have dietary restrictions based on preference or allergy.

Food also inspires fellowship. When you are enjoying a meal with others, you begin to develop a sense of community. Good food is a way to bring people together, which is something most college students want. Good food with good company makes for a great college experience!

So, here are some colleges known for having really great food. These ten institutions stand out for their exceptional culinary offerings by going beyond the standard. They care about things like using fresh and local ingredients, trying new foods, and being kind to the environment. From growing their own veggies at Bowdoin College to using innovative robots for food delivery at James Madison University, these colleges have demonstrated a commitment to providing not only delicious food but also the tools for students to make informed and health-conscious dining choices.

10 Colleges With The Best Food

1. Bowdoin College

Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine has some of the best college food in the country. They host a lobster bake tradition and provide gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian meal options. 

This college has its own organic garden, and all meals are made from scratch using homegrown herbs, fruit, and vegetables. 

2. Hendrix College

Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas cultivates community by hosting “Sundae Thursdays” and celebrating holidays and birthdays in the dining hall. They focus on sustainability and recycling through small changes such as giving students the option to use a tray instead of a plate and a tray, when applicable. They source many of their ingredients from local farms as well so you know exactly where your food is coming from. 

3. University of Massachusetts-Amherst 

UMASS Amherst focuses on local, healthy ingredients, with local and global food options in four dining commons. UMASS Amherst holds a tradition that asks students to submit a family recipe that will be put in a cookbook and served in one of the dining commons. How cool is that? 

4. University of San Diego

The University of San Diego in California offers global cuisine options and the dining hall hosts special events and festivals throughout the year. They also provide various healthy food options, so you can have access to preferred foods and know it’s high quality. 

5. Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri has a variety of dining options, including an on-campus bistro. There is something for everyone here, and the meal plan options are relatively affordable. The university’s commitment to sourcing locally grown ingredients, supporting community farmers, and promoting eco-friendly practices in its kitchens contributes to the outstanding quality of its food. Additionally, the university’s on-campus bistro not only serves as a hub for delicious meals but also as a platform for students to explore cultural cuisines and experiment with culinary trends.

6. Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia hosts food trucks with over 40 venues and cuisine options. They are focused on limiting their food waste, so they compost all of it! Virginia Tech students run their very own Homefield Farm, which supplies their dining hall with fresh produce year-round. 

7. Cornell University

Cornell University in Ithaca, New York offers ten buffet-style dining rooms with vast menu options. They are also famed for their annual Harry Potter-themed dinner, and a lot of their food is grown locally and organically. They also value sustainable eating habits and incorporate that in their dining halls. 

8. University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina offers a variety of healthy food options, including smoothies and salads. They host over 30 food venues that include global cuisines, a creamery, buffet-style options, and various restaurant chains. The best part? Their dining hall standard is to offer food options that are free of the top 8 allergens. 

9. James Madison University

James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia provides all-you-can-eat dining options as well as chain restaurant options. Students can also get their food robotically delivered from the dining options on campus. They also provide nutrition facts and food education for their meals and provide students with a daily menu. This college also offers a nutritional calculator and implements sustainable eating habits within its dining halls. James Madison University gives you high-quality food with the tools necessary to make well-informed decisions regarding the food you choose to select in nourishing your body. 

10. University of California

The University of California in Los Angeles hosts four separate dining halls. They provide global and ethnic cuisines equipped with salad and soup bars. They also offer multiple quick-service cafes in addition to healthy restaurants and options within the buffet-style halls. From high-end sushi to Taco Bell, UCLA has it all.  

Bon Appetit

Nutrient-rich, fresh foods give your body and brain the energy it needs to help you retain information and focus while in class or working on assignments. College is also a time to meet new people and develop lasting friendships. What better way to do that than while eating great food? So while “good food” may not be a top priority in your college decision-making process, it is a factor to keep in mind.

Love food, but looking for something else important to your dream school? Use our College Match Tool to find schools that fit your wants and needs.

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