UChicago Dining Hall

November 8, 2022
By AdmissionSight

UChicago Dining Hall

Where Do Students Eat At UChicago?

UChicago Dining aspires to offer exceptional and varied dining experiences that support the growth of a lively campus community. The UChicago dining halls are popular places for students to socialize, unwind, and establish community throughout the day. Hutchinson Commons, which hosts five local vendors, three specialty coffee shops, the Maroon and Midway markets, as well as eight academic cafés, are all managed by UChicago Dining. Let’s now learn more about “Where do students eat at UChicago?” with the following dining options.

House Tables/Dining Halls

In one of the three dining commons, each House has a designated House Table where members of the House can gather to eat meals as well as to organize future House outings, carry on class discussions, work together on projects, and discuss anything and everything.

Everything is a fair game around the dinner table at the House, from current events to a challenging physics issue requiring direct current to the wonderful currant scones you enjoyed during the previous study break.

Young woman eating on a table and looking out the window.

Whenever you wish to visit the UChicago dining hall, you will have a spot to sit among friends if you have a House table. Practically speaking, the House table offers you the opportunity to socialize with a wider range of your peers than you otherwise would regularly.

Students can enjoy “continuous meals” for the whole week. Thanks to the all-day dining commons from opening to closing, you are free to come and go whenever you like. The dining hall does not serve dinner on Saturdays, so many Houses make use of this time to organize House dinners and off-campus cultural events.

Academic Cafés and Student-Run Cafés

It’s unusual to find two cafés at UChicago that are the same; they are all different and probably as broad and varied as the student community. Undoubtedly, students have too many options because of the campus’s widespread coffee addiction.

There are upscale hangouts for econ bros, hipster-friendly galleries, and quieter locations for serious study sessions, so there is something for everyone. Cafés are the perfect place to study in the company of your classmates if you’re trying to escape the deafening stillness of the library or the lonely seclusion of your room.

Café Logan

Café Logan, which is housed at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, offers a diverse selection of wraps, sandwiches, salads, and small plates. The cooks use regional foods and Counter Culture coffee and espresso, one of UChicago students’ favorite local roasters. Wine and craft beer are also available at Café Logan.

The menu for food, coffee, and beverages will change seasonally. Special menus are occasionally served during performance nights.

Quantum Café

The interior of Quantum Café is decorated with scientific imagery, with a drawing of Schrodinger’s Cat taking center stage. It also provides a choice of drinks and fresh cuisine. It is a sizable, peaceful area inside the posh new Eckhardt building that is ideal for studying for exams.

Pret A Manger

On the first level of Reynold’s Club is Pret A Manger. There are 324 locations in London alone. It is a chain having locations all over the world (there are 184 Starbucks in Chicago for reference).

The tuna and cucumber sandwich is a crowd-favorite pre-packaged food since it’s “ready to eat,” which is what it means in French. They also feature a huge seating space, an outside patio, and a variety of coffee and pastries, making it a fantastic place to study in between courses or grab lunch with friends.

Ex Libris

The Joseph Regenstein Library, usually affectionately referred to as “The Reg,” is home to UChicago’s major library, Ex Libris, which is situated on the first floor. It is a true classic and is probably where I go for coffee most often.

Ex Libris is a good blend of modern and brutalist, but the energy and sense of community are where this coffee shop really shines. Even though it is located in a library, “Ex Lib” is a focus of student activity and is frequently crowded with undergraduates, graduate students, and even professors.

Ex Libris offers me more than just coffee; they also have a wide selection of dinners and sandwiches from local eateries. Additionally, they have the top-notch donuts and scones ever; just be sure to arrive early before they are all gone.

Hallowed Grounds

Of all the UChicago coffee shops, Hallowed Grounds, which is on the second level of Reynolds Club, is arguably the oddest. Hallowed Grounds is one of the best coffee shops to hang out in whether it’s to play pool, “do work,” or meet up with some pals because of its weird music and busy billiard tables.

A cup of coffee placed on a table with coffee beans.

Harper Café

The Harper Café is a fantastic spot to catch up on work or grab a coffee and cake on your way to class. It is situated on the third floor of the Harper Memorial Library, near one of UChicago’s most popular (and beautiful) study rooms. Despite being next to a quiet reading room, it is constantly crowded with both teachers and students. This energetic and enjoyable vibe is reflected and enhanced by the café’s famous red walls.

Cobb Coffee Shop

The cheapest coffee shop on campus is Cobb Coffee Shop, which is housed in the basement of Cobb Hall, the university’s oldest academic building.

Cobb is perhaps the most convenient coffee store, and they are known for their reasonable prices and distinctive look. Cobb Coffee is well situated for a quick pick-me-up before class because almost every undergraduate is sure to take at least one class in Cobb Hall.

Grounds of Being

Although there are many more coffee shops dotted throughout campus to discover, this article’s final coffee shop is the one with the most likely-excellent coffee: Grounds of Being.

Grounds of Being is a site in the Divinity school at the University of Chicago that is also referred to as “Where God Comes to Drink Coffee.” The drinks at Grounds of Being have amusingly religious titles like the “Hail Mary” and the “Irish Catholic.” The store only accepts cash and its coffee and food supplies are extremely sustainable.

There are a ton of other students- and non-run coffee shops on campus, but these are the ones I suggest visiting at least once—or maybe even a hundred times—if you ever have the chance to go to UChicago.

How Many Dining Halls Does UChicago Have?

How many dining halls does UChicago have? Four dining commons are run by UChicago Dining and are accessible to both the general public and UChicago students, teachers, and staff. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, Kosher, and Halal food stations are available in every UChicago dining hall.

Teenage girls eating and talking while sitting next to a table.

Baker (5500 S. University)

Baker Dining Commons was constructed in 2016 and is situated at the intersection of 55th and University, off of the urban plaza. The cafe is open constantly throughout the day, with breaks for lunch, dinner, and the morning.

Bartlett (5640 S. University)

Bartlett Dining Commons, which formerly housed the university’s track and gym, is open constantly during the day with breaks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Cathey (6025 S. Ellis)

Cathey Dining Commons, which is situated on the south campus of the University of Chicago, is open constantly throughout the day with breaks for breakfast, lunch, and supper.

Woodlawn (1156 E. 61st)

The Woodlawn Dining Commons, which is situated on the south campus of the University of Chicago, is open constantly during the day, with breaks for breakfast, lunch, and supper.

What Time Do Dining Halls Open At UChicago?

Incoming students, or even applicants, might wonder “What time do dining halls open at UChicago?” The dining halls are open constantly during the day, with breaks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However, around 10:30–11:00, is the break time between breakfast and lunch, and 2:30–4:00 is the time between lunch and dinner. During these hours, deli, grill, soup, pizza, and salad products will still be available in the UChicago dining hall.

Hours of Operation

Monday – Thursday: 7 am – 8:30 pm
Friday: 7 am – 7:30 pm
Saturday: 8 am – 2:30 pm
Sunday: 8 am – 8:30 pm

Does UChicago Have Good Dining Hall Food?

All prospective students should think about a university’s eating facilities when evaluating colleges. So, does UChicago have good dining hall food?

Three friends looking cheerful while eating on a dining hall.

Most students would concur that while the University of Chicago excels in many things, dining hall food is not one of them. Any University of Chicago student will typically complain about the cuisine in the dining halls and debate which UChicago dining hall is the best. However, we’ll discuss three out of the four UChicago dining halls and what are the best things they offer.


Because of their consistency, Cathey holds the distinction of greatest dining hall on campus. Cathey, out of all the dining halls, provides higher-quality alternatives more frequently than Baker or Bartlett. In contrast to the other two dining halls, where there are many times when students find the only food supplied to be cold cereal, most students would agree that there is always something decent to eat at Cathey.

The pasta bar and the stir fry station at Cathey are two of the top factors on this list. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, kids can assemble their own stir-fry plate. There are plenty of fresh veggies to choose from, and the meat is prepared in front of them. On the remaining days of the week, students can create their own pasta meals. Whole wheat and white pasta, chicken and sausage, white and red sauce, and cooked veggies are all available at the pasta bar.

Students frequently mention that Cathey is so wonderful that they would be willing to cross the Midway for their supper.


Baker and Bartlett are closer than you might anticipate in these rankings, but Baker prevailed in the end for several reasons.

The omelet station is the key factor separating Baker from Bartlett. You can receive an omelet every morning that is created with fresh eggs or egg whites and can include everything from vegetables to bacon. In addition to making wonderful omelets, the Baker crew is also helpful, quick, and will remember your order if you frequent the restaurant.

The selection of fresh fruit at Baker is another aspect that makes it superior to Bartlett. Baker offers up to six enormous tubs of fresh grapes, pineapple, berries, and melons throughout the day, but Bartlett only offers three small tubs that are each only slightly larger than those at Baker.

The fact that Baker serves ice cream in a cone whereas Bartlett only sells ice cream bars is the last factor that influences most University of Chicago students to choose Baker over Bartlett.


Bartlett is at the bottom of the list not because its food is subpar but rather because it just has fewer options than the other dining halls.

In comparison to Baker, its omelet station is lacking: it just produces scrambles and doesn’t supply egg whites. The subpar sandwich station at Bartlett is another grievance that many students have. You may create your own sandwich at Baker and have it toasted.

Many different types of meat, cheeses, and toppings are available, however, there are fewer lunch meat options at Bartlett and no hot sandwich choice.

Taco station is one thing Bartlett does well. When nothing else in the dining hall seems delicious, tacos can always save the day with warm tortillas, pico de gallo, and guacamole. Even vegans can appreciate this station now that it serves tofu or seitan in addition to its chicken, beef, and hog options.

Although the cuisine served in the UChicago dining halls is occasionally not the most appetizing, it is nonetheless edible, and UChicago dining makes a significant effort to get its products from small farms and companies in the area. Any student who feels prompted to express their ideas has the chance to do so because UChicago Dining also invites feedback through its student surveys.

Dining halls are a crucial component of student life. When students enter a dining hall, they are seeking more than just a meal. They also want to hang out with their friends and take a break from the pressure of their studies.

How Much Is the UChicago Meal Plan?

UChicago Dining has a sizable selection of menu choices to accommodate different dietary requirements and lifestyles. The chefs concentrate on making meals from scratch, so they can provide important ingredient and dietary information and know exactly what is in the food.

View of two people talking next to a computer.

Dining in the UChicago dining hall is an essential component of Housing and Residence Life. It is not possible to cancel or switch to the Apartment meal plan for students who do not live in apartments; rather, a meal plan is automatically given to each student living in a House on campus. You may read more about meal plans FAQs at the UChicago website.

How much is the UChicago meal plan? Incoming and returning students should be contemplating this question. Here are the dining rates for 2022/2023 meal plans at UChicago.

2022/2023 Dining Rates

Unlimited Plan – $2,376/quarter
  • An unlimited number of visits to the dining commons.
  • 100 Maroon Dollars per quarter
  • 3 meal exchanges per quarter
  • 5 guest swipes per quarter for dining commons
  • 10 to-go swipes per quarter
  • Saturday Night Meal Swipes available at Hutchinson Commons or Woodlawn Dining Commons
  • $7,128 per year or $2,376 per quarter
  • The plan can be purchased at any time during the quarter.
  • Default meal plan for freshmen and 2nd-4th-year students living on-campus and not in apartments.
Phoenix Plan – $2,376/quarter
  • 150 visits to the dining commons per quarter (about two meals per day)
  • 150 Maroon Dollars per quarter
  • 15 meal exchanges per quarter (taken from the total 150 meals).
  • 5 guest swipes per quarter for dining commons
  • 10 to-go swipes per quarter
  • Saturday Night Meal Swipes available at Hutchinson Commons or Woodlawn Dining Commons
  • $7,128 per year or $2,376 per quarter
  • The plan can be purchased at any time during the quarter in the UChicago academic year.
  • 2nd-4th year students on the unlimited meal plan can switch to this meal plan through 4 pm Friday, September 30th.
Apartment Plan – $1,684/quarter
  • 90 visits to the dining commons per quarter (about one meal per day)
  • 200 Maroon Dollars per quarter
  • 8 meal exchanges per quarter (taken from the total 90 meals)
  • 5 guest swipes per quarter for dining commons
  • 10 to-go swipes per quarter
  • Saturday Night Meal Swipes available at Hutchinson Commons or Woodlawn Dining Commons
  • $5,052 per year or $1,684 per quarter
  • The plan can be purchased at any time during the quarter in the UChicago academic year.
  • Default meal plan for 2nd-4th year students living in an on-campus apartment.
  • Students living on-campus and not in an apartment are ineligible for this meal plan.
Off-Campus Plan – $153/pack
  • 10 meals in Dining Commons
  • Packs of 10 (max 6 per quarter)
  • No guests or meal exchanges allowed.
  • Students living on-campus are not eligible for this meal plan.

The University of Chicago consistently ranks among the top ten universities in the country. UChicago is now ranked sixth overall among American colleges in the 2022 edition of US News and World Report’s annual college rankings list. If this information piqued your interest in attending this prestigious university, start preparing for your application now.

AdmissionSight has assisted thousands of students through the challenging college admissions journey to elite institutions in the world. If you would like to check what AdmissionSight can offer, set up an appointment for a free initial consultation now.

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