Northwestern Dining Hall

December 5, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Northwestern Dining Hall

Where Do Students Eat At Northwestern?

Although Evanston may be the North Shore’s food center, Northwestern‘s extensive dining offerings ensure that students never have to leave campus for a satisfying meal.

The Northwestern University Center hosts a variety of cafes, five Northwestern dining halls, and visiting food trucks. You will have an Open Access meal plan as a first-year student living on campus, which includes unlimited dining hall swipes, five meal exchanges per week, and 125 dining dollars per quarter. Students are now able to eat at any of the campus’ many Northwestern dining halls. But since there are so many choices, it might be difficult to know where and how to eat as a freshman on campus. Let’s break down the answer to “Where do students eat at Northwestern?” as we go on.

Residential Dining

Each Northwestern dining hall provides the same fundamental services to all students at the same time, giving consumers something unique (main option, vegetarian options, cereal, etc.).

Eggs, potato or another carb, a choice of meat (including vegetarian options), pastries, hot vegan options, cereal, make-your-own waffles, and/or an omelet bar are usually served for breakfast. Depending on the establishment, lunch and dinner options may vary, but they typically include a main dish (complete with protein, sides, and vegetables), vegetarian and vegan options, allergy-friendly dishes, a grill (with hamburgers and other items), pasta, pizza, a salad bar, a sandwich station, and dessert.

Each dining hall also provides hot beverages, juice, milk (dairy and soy), soda, and water, sometimes with fruit infusions.

C-Stores and On-Campus Dining

There are various additional on-campus food options where you can purchase a meal using Cat Cash, Meal Exchanges, or Dining Dollars (which are included with your meal plan if you choose to purchase it). Pre-made or pre-packaged food is available at C-Stores, along with other sundries (such as plastic utensils or deodorant), and these items can be purchased with Dining Dollars or Cat Cash as well.

Lisa’s Café – If you need a late-night snack or missed the dining hall hours, CCS students usually head to Lisa’s Cafe. It is in Slivka, which is nearby and takes a short time to walk to.

Young man eating a sandwich while eating.

In addition to pre-made sandwiches and salads and food that you can prepare yourself, such as frozen meals and ramen, they also sell certain made-to-order items like sandwiches (Lisa’s egg sandwiches are a favorite) and chicken tenders. They offer a selection of drinks in addition to baked items including croissants and donuts. Along with selling a variety of snacks, including pints of ice cream, Lisa’s also houses Plum Marketplace.

Tech Express – It is also located inside Tech. You can purchase hot food, baked products, or a prepared salad or sandwich here if you need some fast food in between classes.

Café Coralie – On the second level of Pancoe, which is behind Tech, is Café Coralie, a branch of Patisserie Coralie in downtown Evanston. It is frequently a wonderful, quiet area to study because it offers a nice view of the lake, lots of natural light, and is not well-known. They sell a few sandwiches and other items for takeout along with French pastries and excellent coffee.

Café Bergson/BrewBike – When entering University Library, proceed past the computers and down the stairs to Café Bergson/BrewBike. Located on a mezzanine between the first and second floors, the coffee shop is staffed by students. The University Library is known to students as Main, and this location is perfect for working because it provides standard coffee shop cuisine. Almond croissants and cinnamon cold brew are highlights.

Almond Croissants placed on a metal grate.

Plex C-Store – A C-store that specializes in selling to-go meals, convenience items, and snack food is located directly outside of the Plex West dining hall.

Fran’s Cafe: The largest residence hall on campus and the biggest dorm in the Southwest region is Willard, where Fran’s is located (aka the sorority quad). Its milkshakes, burgers, and quesadillas are its three most expensive offerings. Fran’s is worth the trip from CCS because its cuisine is fantastic and the quesadillas and burgers can be meal-exchanged (you can obtain two per week for no extra cost on an open-access meal plan).

Norris – Starbucks, Dunkin’, MOD Pizza, a deli, a burger joint, an Asian fusion restaurant, a conventional C-store, and a rotating “Best of Local” stop are just a few of the dining options available at Norris. It is where various Chicago-area restaurants often come to open shops in the student center for a limited time only.

Dining Out

In Evanston, there are a ton of dining options. Listed here are some of the students’ favorites:

Tomate (914 Noyes St.) – The great Mexican restaurant is close to the nearest “L” stop and delivers delicious food at a reasonable price.

Coffee Lab (910 Noyes St.) – The only coffee shop near North Campus (aside from on-campus food facilities), and it’s where many CCS students go to study.

10Q Chicken (816 Church St.) – The downtown Evanston restaurant offers delicious matcha soft serve as well as traditional American fried chicken dishes with an Asian twist.

Farmhouse Kitchen (703 Church St.) – A more expensive yet superb farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Evanston, close to South Campus. An essential stop for families.

Blind Faith Cafe (525 Dempster St.) – Farther south than most Northwestern students travel to Evanston, is a vegetarian and vegan eatery with delectable, internationally-inspired food and baked pastries.

Unicorn Cafe (1723 Sherman Ave.) – One of many coffee shops in downtown Evanston, offers a welcoming ambiance and delicious beverages.

Shang Noodle (608 Davis St.) – Featuring homemade noodles and dumplings, is a fantastic Chinese eatery.

Tealicious Bubble (1565 St.) – One of two boba or bubble tea shops in Evanston which serves delicious drinks and waffles.

How Many Dining Halls Does Northwestern Have?

How many dining halls does Northwestern have? Elder, Sargent, Foster-Walker East, Foster-Walker West, and Allison are NU’s five primary Northwestern dining halls. The first two are situated on North Campus, while the latter two—commonly known as Plex East and Plex West—are housed in a building known as Foster-Walker Complex in the center of campus. The single dining hall on South Campus, Allison, has two floors of seating, a teaching kitchen, and is brand-new.

Sargent – For most of the North Campus as well as CCS students, Sargent is the preferred dining hall. The largest dining hall on campus, Sarge (as it is affectionately known by most Northwestern students), offers students food options at various stations.

Allison – Despite being on the other side of campus from CCS, Allison is close to several classes on South Campus (including humanities, performing arts, and journalism classes). Allison is slightly smaller than Sarge and provides food of a comparable caliber.

View of students eating in a restaurant.

Elder – The Elder dining hall is the most underappreciated on campus. It is one of the smaller dining halls and is just a short distance north of CCS, making it rather easy to walk to. Elder is much quieter and has a much shorter wait than Sarge’s during the lunch rush, plus the line is always indoors (a bonus when it’s pouring outside). When you don’t feel like Sarge but don’t want to trek south or use Dining Dollars for other dining alternatives, you should head to Elder.

Plex (East and West) – The Plex (formally known as Foster-Walker) dining halls are in extremely inconvenient locations, hence most CCS students hardly ever attend them. Plex is in the middle of the campus, although it’s a little hidden away on the other side of Sheridan. Anyone searching for a late meal at a dining hall frequently heads to Plex West because it is noteworthy for being the only dining hall that is open until 8 PM on weekdays. Although neither Plex dining hall is particularly noteworthy, they are both respectable choices that each serve a unique purpose.

What Time Do Dining Halls Open At Northwestern?

The accessibility to dining halls and school convenience stores is one benefit of living on campus. An extensive all-you-care-to-eat menu is offered in each of the residential dining commons. Students’ tastes and opinions are taken into consideration while planning meals, which provide a wide variety of nutritious options, classic heartland dinners, international choices, and vegetarian and vegan options. Below shows what time do dining halls open at Northwestern and the operating hours of each Northwestern dining hall throughout the week.

Dining Commons Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Allison 7:00 am – 8:00 pm 7:00 am – 8:00 pm 7:00 am – 8:00 pm 7:00 am – 8:00 pm 7:00 am – 8:00 pm 7:00 am – 8:00 pm 7:00 am – 8:00 pm
Sargent 7:00 am – 8:00pm 7:00 am – 8:00pm 7:00 am – 8:00pm 7:00 am – 8:00pm 7:00 am – 8:00pm 7:00 am – 8:00pm 7:00 am – 8:00pm
Plex West 10:00 am – 8:00 pm 7:00 am – 10:00 pm 7:00 am – 10:00 pm 7:00 am – 10:00 pm 7:00 am – 10:00 pm 7:00 am – 8:00 pm 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
Plex East 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
11:00 am – 2:00 pm
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Elder 10:00 am – 8:00 pm 7:00 am – 10:00 pm 7:00 am – 10:00 pm 7:00 am – 10:00 pm 7:00 am – 10:00 pm 7:00 am – 8:00 pm 10:00 am – 8:00 pm

Does Northwestern Have Good Dining Hall Food?

According to its website, sustainability lies at the heart of Northwestern University’s dining goal. The school in the Chicago area prioritizes using regional ingredients in its on-campus cafes and purchases organic vegetables from its farm in Osseo, Wisconsin. Illinois-sourced milk from hormone-free cows is obtained, food for school eateries is grown in the Wild Roots on-campus garden, and all resident dining facilities use fair-trade organic coffee. Any leftovers are given to those in need in the neighborhood.

Group of students talking on a table.

You might wonder “Does Northwestern have good dining hall food?” Here are some cuisines from each Northwestern dining hall that are popular among students.

Sargent: Highlights include Taco Tuesdays for lunch, veggie sausage and avocado toast for brunch, and S’mores bars for dessert. Due to its size, Sargent experiences the worst backlog at prime mealtimes, yet queues are never too long.

Sargent is also home to the CCS dining room, where we occasionally invite faculty chairs and fellows to join us for meals. For CCS employees, it’s the most practical place to eat, and while the food is never great, Sarge always serves a respectable dinner.

Allison: It’s been said that Sargent’s breakfasts are better, but Allison’s pizza is far better. A Kosher (meat, but with vegetarian options) station that consistently serves up delicious food is another unique feature of Allison. CCS students will almost always be at Allison when they have classes or other events on South Campus.

Elder: Elder recently underwent renovations that included the addition of a street-food station that offers top-notch, fresh food from all around the world. There are only a few food alternatives available at each meal, making Elder’s Kosher station somewhat hit-or-miss. Elder also has a limited selection of other food options.

Plex East: Plex East is distinctive in that it only sells Pure Eats, or meals free of allergens. While other dining halls feature Pure Eats stations, Plex East goes a step further by limiting its menu to items free of the top 8 allergies and gluten, including made-to-order stir-fries.

How Much Is the Northwestern Meal Plan?

How much is the Northwestern meal plan? The Open Access food plan will be made available to all first- and second-year students. The Open Access Meal Plan offers 3 Guest Meals per quarter, $125 Dining Dollars, and UNLIMITED meal swipes per week in any of the four resident dining halls. This includes having the freedom to enter and exit the dining hall several times during any mealtime.

Meals are served every day of the week throughout the academic year, and hours are listed on the dining website. Depending on the academic timetable, the times and places may change, but you can receive food in the Northwestern dining halls all day long, from breakfast until late-night dining at 11:30 p.m.

Dining credits do not lose value every three months. Until the end of the academic year, any unused dining credit will roll over to the following quarter. At commencement in June, all meal plan swipes and dining bucks will expire.

There are extra food options for transfer and upper-class students to choose from. These choices are detailed below.

Additional options for meal plans:

  • Base 14 Meal Plan: The Base 14 Meal Plan offers $225 in Dining Dollars per quarter, 3 Guest Meals, and 14 meal swipes per week for use in any of the five Northwestern dining halls.
  • Flex Pack 330: The Flex Pack 330 includes $275 in dining dollars and 110 meals per quarter. Guests may use Meal Swipes at any time.
  • Flexible Pack 210: Only students who join a Greek house, buy the house meal plan, and stay in resident accommodation are eligible for this meal plan option. The Flex Pack 210 includes 100 Dining Dollars and 70 meals per quarter. Guests may use Meal Swipes at any time.
  • Purple 50/50 Plan: The Purple 50/50 Plan provides commuters and volunteer purchasers with 50 Meals Swipes and $50 Dining Dollars each quarter.

The Northwestern dining hall is only one of the several impressive features of Northwestern University. An “Ivy of the Midwest,” Northwestern University is situated in Evanston, Illinois. The prestigious institution is a part of the Big 10 athletic league and offers esteemed, elite academics, and performing arts programs. If you are aiming to get into Northwestern and you need assistance with your application, AdmissionSight is here to help. Set up an appointment for an initial consultation with AdmissionSight experts to see how we can help you in your college admissions journey.


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