What makes a great college dining hall? Sure, a beautiful facility with stunning architecture can enhance the experience, as can convenience and location. But let’s call a spade a spade: it’s the food that matters most. And today’s college campuses are upping their game.
Food culture has changed quite a bit in the past decade, as a renewed focus on health (think: more good fats, less sugar), variety (colorful veggies, fish), and sustainability (composting, local sourcing) has spurred overhauls of university food programs across the country. Schools are placing more and more emphasis on whole foods, they offer kosher and halal options, and they provide detailed nutritional information online.
In all, the trend among the best college dining halls is to maintain taste, flavor, and variety while cutting back on “freshman 15” classics like french fries, burgers, and cookies. Those options still exist, but the modern campus dining experience leans more toward healthy plates and sit-down dining. Some schools offer restaurant-like experiences you’d be hard-pressed to find in some cities: lobster bakes, Japanese steakhouses, farm-to-table produce, and more.
Here, based on quality, variety, and food practices, are some of the best college dining programs in America.