The Best College Dining Halls

February 1, 2023
By AdmissionSight

The Best College Dining Halls

Which college has the best college dining halls?

Which college has the best college dining halls? One of college life’s most basic yet underappreciated pleasures is dining out with friends and classmates. In addition to providing the ideal break from assignments and tests, eating well-prepared food is one of the finest methods to keep your mind sharp during the semester’s worth of study.

It also comes as no surprise that the food scene can make or break a college experience because so much of the day is devoted to mealtimes. AdmissionSight listed the best college dining halls in the US. Check them out below:

James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia

The typical student grade for dining services is A+.

The average semester price for a meal plan is $2,536.

James Madison University signage

Students at James Madison University have access to a variety of fun dining alternatives. The institution offers a variety of nutritious delis, markets, and typical college-style dining halls in addition to on-campus Chick-fil-A, Qdoba, Steak ‘n’ Shake, and Starbucks shops.

St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin

The typical student grade for dining services is A+.

The annual average price for a meal plan is $5,172.

St. Norbert College takes pleasure in serving tasty food to its students, earning rankings as No. 1 for the Best College Food in Wisconsin and No. 9 nationally. The Lodi Dodi Smoke Burger, which was made by the St. Norbert College cafeteria staff, is a student favorite and a finalist in the 2017 Blended Burger Project of the James Beard Foundation.

University of San Diego in San Diego, California

The typical student grade for dining services is A+.

Cost of a typical meal plan: $2,504 each semester

UC San Diego banner

The University of San Diego‘s eating selections is quite popular with students. Read one review: “I’m now a student here, and I genuinely like my time here.” My dormitories are lovely and well-kept. The meal is excellent. “There are many choices, from foods from different countries to burgers and fries.”

California Baptist University in Riverside, California

The typical student grade for dining services is A+.

The annual average cost of $5,910 for meal plans

California Baptist University

In study hall, does a Chick-Fil-A spicy chicken sandwich seem like absolute bliss? That might be the case for students at California Baptist University. The university has one of the best college dining halls in the US. It has a variety of fun places to eat, like Brisco’s Cafe, Chick-Fil-A, the Mexican restaurant El Monte Grill, and The Habit Burger Grill.

St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York

The typical student grade for dining services is A+.

The average annual price of a food plan is $4,370.

The on-campus dining at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, has gotten rave reviews. In addition to the main dining hall, Ward-Haffey Dining Hall, which has a sauté bar, pasta and pizza stations, and a stocked salad bar, students have access to a large number of café retail shops that serve smoothies, deli sandwiches, and other foods.

Bates College in Lewiston, Maine

The typical student grade for dining services is A+.

Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, the average cost of meal plans: N/A

Bates College

Refilling the gluten-free bagel bin in the dining hall is Kelly Perrault, a member of the food services team at Bates College in Lewiston. Bates obtains its bagels from the Yarmouth-based Spelt Right Bakery, which produces its goods using organic spelt flour and other all-natural ingredients. Photographs by Doug Jones, Portland Press Herald, and Getty

Best College Food in America lists Bates College at No. 5, and Best Small Colleges in America lists it at No. 14. “The cuisine in [the] Commons is always amazing, but if you’re not feeling anything at the vegan bar or brick oven, there’s always more than 30 types of cereal to select from on a daily basis,” says one senior at the institution.

Washington University in St. Louis, MO

The typical student grade for dining services is A+.

$5,024 is the average annual cost of a meal plan. the Amherst, Massachusetts, campus of the University of Massachusetts

Front yard of Washington University in St. Louis that shows it's front building

Even though Washington University in St. Louis is a tiny institution (7,074 undergraduates), it provides students with fantastic food and accommodation alternatives. One student said, “On campus, you can get many different kinds of food, from hamburgers to Asian, Indian, and Hispanic food.”

University of Massachusetts – Amherst in Amherst, Massachusetts

The typical student grade for dining services is A+.

The annual cost of the typical meal plan is $5,396.

The eating scene at UMass Amherst is well known. The university has one of the best college dining halls in the US. There are many delicious and healthy meal options available to students at UMass Dining, the biggest collegiate dining services program in the US. 4,000 sushi rolls are made each day by UMass Dining, according to the institution.

Virginia Tech is in Blacksburg, Virginia

The typical student grade for dining services is A+.

$3,988/year is the typical cost of a meal plan.

Virginia Tech signage on a brick wall

Students emphasized the meals at Virginia Tech in their reviews. a sophomore student at the institution said, “My time at Virginia Tech has been fantastic. I’m a sophomore right now, and life is amazing! “There is always something to do, and the food is amazing!”

University of California – Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California

Average student rating: A+

Average meal plan cost: $5,192.93/year

The best dining hall meals in the nation are available to University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) students. The variety and caliber of the food pleased Business Insider’s Ciara Appelbaum when she dined at the university’s dining hall in 2017.

UCLA campus aerial view

B-Greens Plate’s & More Salad Bar focuses on seasonal ingredients, including a selection of greens and toppings, as well as homemade dressings, according to the article. Students can create an enormous salad with all the fresh fixings and even have a waitress spin it for them, according to the statement.

How do college dining halls work?

How do college dining halls work? The university’s housing and food services often include college dining hall operations. They normally operate as follows:

  1. Meal Plans: Most students choose to purchase meal plans, which grant them access to the dining hall for a predetermined number of meals each week or a predetermined amount of money to spend in the dining hall.
  2. Operating hours: Dining halls are normally open at specific times and serve breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks.
  3. Food selection: Main entrees, sides, salads, and desserts are frequently available in college dining halls along with other food choices. They might have options for vegetarians and vegans as well as those with other dietary needs.
  4. All-you-can-eat: The majority of dining halls are all-you-can-eat establishments where students are welcome to come back for second and third helpings of their preferred cuisine.
  5. Swipe or scan: Students enter the dining hall by scanning a QR code connected to their meal plan or swiping their student ID card.
  6. Clean-up: Following meals, students are usually required to empty their trays, get rid of their trash, and wash their dishes.
  7. Feedback: College dining halls often want to hear what students think about the food, service, and facilities. These halls may make changes based on this feedback.

Now that you have an idea of the best college dining halls, let us now discover how to eat healthily in college dining halls.

How to eat healthy in college dining halls

Here are some suggestions for eating well and healthily in college dining halls:

  1. Plan ahead. To make educated decisions, look over the dining hall’s menu before you arrive.
  2. Focus on whole foods. Go for nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats.
  3. Balance your meals. Make an effort to eat a meal that is composed of a variety of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.
  4. Watch the portion sizes. Dining halls frequently provide all-you-can-eat selections, but it’s crucial to pay attention to the quantities of your meals to prevent overeating.
  5. Limit sugary drinks. Instead of soda or juice, which contains a lot of added sugar, opt for water or other unsweetened liquids.
  6. Choose grilled or baked alternatives. Rather than frying or sautéing your meats and veggies, choose grilled or baked options.
  7. Make use of salad bars. Use salad bars to receive your daily dosage of vitamins and minerals.
  8. Request healthier options. If there isn’t a dish that appeals to you on the menu, ask the staff if they can make a healthier version of it.
  9. Bring your own snacks. Carry healthy snacks like yogurt, fruit, or almonds with you at all times in case you need a fast snack.

So, there you have it – AdmissionSight‘s list of the best college dining halls. If you’ve been wondering which schools have the best dining halls, hopefully, this post has greatly helped. If you want to discuss your college aspirations with professionals that specialize in creating a college admissions plan tailored for you, book your consultation today! Fill out the form and our enrollment specialist will contact you today to set up a free consultation. We’re available via Zoom to help students across the globe.


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