Caltech Dining Hall

December 2, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Caltech Dining Hall

Where Do Students Eat At Caltech?

Where do students eat at Caltech? The Caltech dining halls Lee F. Browne Dining Hall, Red Door Marketplace, and Open Kitchens located in the individual apartments all provide dining options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On the weekends, these places are still open for breakfast and lunch, but for dinner, students are invited to explore the options that Pasadena has to offer or to develop their own cooking talents in the apartment kitchens on campus. The Broad Café, which can be found in the northwest corner of the campus, is open Monday through Friday and provides both breakfast and lunch. Vending machines are also available all over the campus.

This variety of dining locations gives students the widest possible range of alternatives to choose from and the ability to arrange their meals at times that work best with their personal academic and extracurricular activity schedules.

Browne Dining Hall

Formerly the Harry Chandler Dining Hall, Browne Dining Hall is the largest dining facility on campus, and it features a menu that features a wide variety of alternatives. There is something for everyone on the menu, from pizza cooked in a wood-burning oven to sushi that is produced fresh every day.

Red Door Marketplace

Breakfast, lunch, and supper are served at the Red Door Marketplace, which is situated within the Hameetman Center and provides a dining experience that is both fresh and relaxed in a café setting. There is a restaurant, a coffee shop, and a convenience store all located on the premises. We provide a selection of pastries, beverages made with espresso and tea, and delicacies that can be either sweet or savory.

Stop in to refuel for class with a freshly baked chocolate croissant from the in-house bakery, get an espresso to get your study group off to a good start, or enjoy a great sandwich with your friends. The bakery is located on the first floor of the building.

Broad Cafe

Have a nice meal in the newly renovated patio seating area. We have also included several pre-made salads that may be purchased for your convenience. The Café at Broad, which serves breakfast and lunch, and serves coffee all day, is situated close to the Broad Biology building and is open during the day.

View of four students eating on a table.

Coffee, pastries, breakfast bread, and espresso are included in the menu items for breakfast. At this time, we have decided to discontinue indoor eating from the Broad Café until further notice.

Avery Kitchen

Lunch is served daily at Avery Kitchen, which specializes in dishes with an Asian flavor profile, and is open to all members of the Caltech community. Avery is now the only House Kitchen at Caltech that welcomes members of the surrounding community to use their facilities. The Ramen menu will be available Monday through Friday at Avery Kitchen while we get everything sorted out with the opening of all locations.

Once everything has been ironed out, Avery will get started on implementing the other BOWL offers. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, you can get your fill of curry ramen.


For now, every single site where vending machines are located is open. At this very moment, Caltech is still working on refilling each one of the vending machines. Here are some locations inside the campus.

  • Avery
  • Baxter
  • Beckman
  • Braun
  • Church
  • Downs
  • IMSS
  • Fairchild
  • Morrisroe
  • Facilities Shop
  • Spalding

How Many Dining Halls Does Caltech Have?

Although the campus is rather small, there is a wide range of dining alternatives available to students. So, how many dining halls does Caltech have? On campus, there are three primary dining halls: the Lee F. Browne Dining Hall, the Hameetman Center (which houses the much-loved Red Door Cafe), and the Broad Café.

View of a teacher talking to a student.

The Caltech community and its guests can take advantage of the award-winning meal service that is provided by Caltech Dining Services (CDS).

  • Beginning with the Fall semester, board students can select a dining plan that is tailored to their specific requirements. CDS provides dining services to five different student dining halls, two different café concepts, and one major multi-concept dining area that serves the larger community.
  • From ten in the evening until two in the morning, every day of the week, throughout the regular school year, Red Door Marketplace transforms into a lively late-night cafe (excluding Institute Holidays). The establishment serves alcoholic beverages, food, and retail goods right up until it closes.
  • During the months of the Summer Board, Browne Dining Hall and the Red Door Marketplace are both available for service on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday (excluding Institute holidays). Both Board Plans offer access to the Open Kitchen and House Dinners during the whole year.
  • Brunch is served on the weekends in Browne Dining Hall, and when that establishment closes its doors, Red Door Marketplace opens its doors and stays open until 2 in the morning.

What Time Do Dining Halls Open At Caltech?

Caltech dining halls have been arranged in such a way as to make it possible for students to share meals. Students, staff members, and faculty members can eat together anywhere on campus, including their own houses, one of the many cafes, or the market.

View of students eating in a restaurant.


Now, what time do dining halls open at Caltech? Let’s look at the schedule for each Caltech dining hall below.

Browne Dining Hall

Monday – Friday

Breakfast: 7 am – 10:3 0am

Lunch: 11 am. – 3:30 pm

Dinner: 5 pm – 7:30 pm

Saturday & Sunday

Brunch – 9 am-3 pm

(All locations are closed on Institute holidays)

Red Door Marketplace

Monday – Friday

Open from 7 am- to 2 am.

Saturday & Sunday

Open from 3 pm to 2 am.

(All locations are closed on Institute holidays)

Here are some ideas that can help students be served more quickly in this Caltech dining hall:

  • Plan your visit at off-peak times, such as between the hours of 5 – 9 p.m.
  • Rather than going by House, better choose to come by yourself or by pair.
  • Before you get over to the register, think about what it is that you want to order for your meal.
  • Reduce the number of special orders, which typically require more time to prepare.

If there is a long line, please come back later or wait in line outside the doors leading into the establishment.

Pay attention to your number to be called.

Broad Cafe

Monday – Friday

Breakfast: 7:30am – 10:30am

Lunch: 11 am and 2:30 pm

(All locations are closed on Institute holidays)

Avery Kitchen

Monday – Friday

Open from 11:30 am to 1 pm.

Does Caltech Have Good Dining Hall Food?

Food is a unifying force, as evidenced both by history and modern scientific research. Not only does the dining table provide a setting for social interaction and the formation of new connections, but it also offers the opportunity for debate, discussion, and the sharing of ideas and the possibility of resolving at least one or two puzzles.

Everything from beverages made with freshly ground espresso beans to ramen may be found here. Each Caltech dining hall has its own distinct menu.

In addition, students who adhere to Muslim or Jewish dietary rules can order Halal or Kosher meals from Caltech Dining Services. Students with gluten intolerance can order gluten-free meals, and students with any other specific dietary need can request a meal from Caltech Dining Services.

Students standing next to each other while talking.

There are also dinners prepared by each house with support from Caltech Dining Services.  Dress dinners are formal, served dinners that are held once per term in each house.

Every Thursday, except for Avery and Bechtel, homes barbecue their own cuisine in the courtyard. The homes come stocked with a variety of foods, including steak, chicken breasts, fish, and alternatives for vegetarians. CDS is responsible for providing the delectable side dishes that make the grill night feast even better!

Students are also informed of the pop-up dinners through various social media platforms, and those who respond first will be awarded a complimentary five-course gourmet meal that will be prepared and served by one of the CDS Chefs!

Dinners with a specific theme are planned for each term by the CDS and the Food Committee. The most recent events that took place were a celebration of Mardi Gras, a Texas BBQ, a Luau, and a Beach Party Dinner. In addition, CDS provides a black-tie Senior Dinner for all the seniors who are graduating, as well as themed Browne Dinners for all of the students throughout the school year.

During the week of final exams, CDS gives snake kits to students to assist them in maintaining their energy levels throughout the week’s rigorous studying and examination schedule. The day before and the day following Midnight Madness, from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm, kits will be available for purchase. Students may get through a long night of studying with the help of a buffet called a “Snake Kit,” which includes delectable fried cuisine, hors d’oeuvres, candies, fruit, cookies, chips, and anything else they could possibly need.

Throughout the weeks leading up to the end of the semester, CDS hosts a Midnight Madness event for one night. On this evening, Browne Dining Hall stays open until midnight to serve the students a delectable late-night lunch accompanied by a variety of fun activities. Browne Dining Hall is completely transformed into a show during Midnight Madness thanks to the collaborative efforts of CDS management, cooks, and dishwashers.

Finally, to answer the query “Does Caltech have good dining hall food?” at Caltech, there are two notable cuisine categories, each with a somewhat distinct level of excellence.

The first is the selection of lunches offered by Caltech Dining Services (CDS), which is normally pertinent to practically everyone at the institution. Second, and only for undergrads living on campus, are CDS house dinners.

The Caltech dining halls are all run by CDS. Most Caltech undergraduates dine here every day throughout the week as part of the board program. Undergrads in general agree that Browne’s selections are rather tasty and of great quality. The cafe has stations for sushi, pizza, salads & sandwiches, pasta, a grill, and Mongolian barbeque. All the food is created to order and is noticeably superior to that found in most cafeterias with settings comparable to theirs.

However, older students occasionally complain about repetition. If you’re willing to walk across campus for a quarter mile to obtain one, Broad’s sandwiches are also excellent. To cap off, the lunch menu has some reasonably well-balanced and healthful selections.

The cuisine at house dinners always draws complaints from students regarding its quality. They are of poorer quality when compared to the lunch options. The good news is that these meals typically offer at least one entree that people can enjoy among the many selections, and they have gotten better over time.

How Much Is the Caltech Meal Plan?

In order to cater to the wide range of dietary requirements that students have, Caltech has provided two different meal plans for students to choose from during the regular academic year that begins in Fall. Students who are enrolled in undergraduate studies have the option of selecting either the Anytime Plan or the Flex Plan.

Young man serving meals on a canteen.

Undergraduate students at Caltech who enter the Board Plan will automatically be enrolled in the Anytime Plan regardless of whether they are new or returning students.


How much is the Caltech meal plan? The following fee will be charged to students for a particular meal plan:

Flex Plan: $2,337.00 per term

Anytime Plan: $2,597.00 per term

The Anytime Plan

The Anytime Plan is the most flexible and all-inclusive food option that we offer to students living on campus. The Anytime Plan provides access to weekday House Dinners, weekend Brunch service, weekday Open Kitchen, and Special Dinners, as well as all food items that can be purchased for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks at Caltech dining halls during normal operating hours.

The Flex Plan

The Flex Plan only includes a select number of meals per day and a steadily decreasing balance. Weekday House Dinners, Weekday Open Kitchen, and any Special Dinners are all included in the Flex Plan. The dwindling amount can be applied toward the purchase of any further meals, such as breakfast, lunch, snacks, and meals enjoyed on the weekend, at any of Caltech dining halls during normal operation hours (excluding vending machines).

All purchases made that are more than the money that has been allocated for board funds will be charged to the student’s Bursar’s Account. Then, by the end of each academic year, any funds that have been left unused will be forfeited.

Notifying CDS and submitting the form on the Board Terms and Conditions page below allows a student to switch from one plan to another without incurring any additional fees. Before the beginning of each new term, all deadlines for switching food plans must be satisfied.

At CDS, the mission is to provide students with great food and service and to provide a Board Program that can be tailored to meet the needs of an individual’s lifestyle and budget.

If the Caltech dining hall and dining options pique your interest in Caltech, how much more is the prestige of this institution? In terms of science and engineering, Caltech is regarded as a little powerhouse. With only 982 undergraduate students on its 124-acre campus in Pasadena, California, Caltech is substantially smaller than its east-coast rival, while it occasionally invites comparison as the “MIT of the West.” Despite this, Caltech is still at the top of the list of MBA admissions advising services.

AdmissionSight has been assisting students in their college admissions journey for more than 10 years now. If you would like to boost your application to Caltech or any other top universities in the US, do not hesitate to contact AdmissionSight. Set up an appointment for an initial consultation to discuss your application strategies.


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