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Which university’s menu is right for you?

With the heavy academic workload and high stress in top U.S. colleges, dining has become an essential part of the student experience.

After evaluating nearly 1,400 universities, combined with data from the U.S. Department of Education, Niche nominated the best college dining in the United States for 2021. Its scoring standards mainly come from:

1. 85% — students’ scores on the college dining experience;

2. 15% — The average food cost.

Without further ado, let’s check out some of these mouth-watering college dining options!

University of California — Los Angeles

UCLA Food and Beverage Services is nationally recognized for its high-quality cuisine, state-of-the-art facilities and innovative services. No matter what kind of preference or taste you have, you can probably satisfy it here.

UCLA has four larger canteens. The largest one, De Neve, can accommodate more than 700 people. It has delicious food from all over the world. Students choose burgers, pizza and meats like beef and lamb. Ice cream and milkshakes are also available.

At the Covel canteen, which mainly features Mediterranean cuisine, you can get a taste of all kinds of European delicacies. Feast is considered a glorious canteen by most UCLA students. Everyday there is a variety of Asian cuisines, from Japanese, Korean to Chinese. Bruin Plate is the healthiest canteen in UCLA. It uses environmentally friendly tableware and organic food to provide students with the healthiest meals, such as salads, fruit cups, yogurt, sandwiches, etc.

The superior dining experience is one of the reasons why students firmly choose UCLA. While busy with their studies, students don’t forget to satisfy their stomachs.

Washington University in St. Louis

Dining at WUSTL is well-known across the United States. The school has more than 30 restaurants and cafes, working with nationally renowned college dining providers to ensure freshness and tastiness of the food. There are different dishes and cuisines every day. At the same time, the school also provides kosher recipes, Islamic recipes, vegetarian food and allergen-free recipes to meet various needs.

WUSTL provides students not only with great food, but also the opportunity to participate in cooking classes. In the class, students can work with professional chefs to hone their cooking skills. The university canteen holds up to five events every week, such as chef competitions, Dr. Seuss Night, Low-Carbon Diet Day, etc. It’s committed to providing students with “artistic” food.

WUSTL also has a Bear Balance tradition, which guarantees at least five kinds of fruits, five kinds of vegetables and two kinds of whole-grain products for each meal, and only one kind of fried food. Calories are attached to the dishes to encourage a healthy diet.

Bates College

Known as the three-star sustainable restaurant, Bates College has a professional catering team to provide students and faculty with high-quality, clean and safe food. The school has invited a dedicated nutrition consultant to customize the weekly canteen recipes as well as answer students’ questions about healthy eating. There are more than 50 restaurants in the school, each providing different kinds of cuisines. Whether it’s fast food or traditional meals, Western-style simple meals or refreshing Thai dishes, you can find everything here.

Bates’ canteens also attach a list of ingredients next to each main dish at the ordering station, to help health-conscious students choose according to their own dietary preferences. What’s more unique is the “Napkin Board” tradition, which allows students to upload a photo of a napkin on the website and write down any opinions or suggestions about the restaurant, food or employees. Every single napkin will be received and viewed.

University of Georgia

The University of Georgia has five canteens. One of them, Suwanee, has a lot of Korean and Chinese food, especially Sichuan cuisine. The canteen has a total of over 1,200 dishes and handmade snacks to choose from. The school also features special selections to provide special dishes for students with food allergies.

The small town of Athens has a lot of food options. There are two Chinese restaurants and Mexican restaurants. You can also buy spices and fresh vegetables from two nearby Chinese supermarkets. If you drive for one hour to Duluth, a city near Atlanta, there is a large Chinese supermarket and many authentic Chinese restaurants.

Cornell University

At Cornell, the toughest question on students’ minds is probably: “Where to eat today?” Cornell University can be called “foodies’ paradise”. There are about 300 canteens, restaurants and various stalls. As a research university, the cafeterias here also uphold the good habit of researching and developing new dishes. They integrate the world’s flavors, featuring bubble tea, omelet, Vietnamese Pho, hand-kneaded sushi, Beijing roast duck and many more. Whatever food your heart desires, you might find it here. Cornell’s famous Hotel Management school even has a three-Michelin-star restaurant!

Vegetarian foodies also find themselves pleasantly satisfied at Cornell. Moosewood, for example, is a world-famous, award-winning natural food restaurant. For the health of students, Cornell also has a dairy farm to supply fresh dairy products, even establishing an ice cream shop called Cornell Dairy. In between classes and after parties, you will find food trucks that shuttle around the campus offering delicious snacks on the go.

Bowdoin College

Someone has said: “Although the admission rate of Bowdoin College is low, there are still many students who apply for Bowdoin College because of its delicious food in the cafeteria.” Probably because there are fewer students, Bowdoin College commits to making the dining experience exquisite. On the first day of school, you might smell charred meat, corn and salt. This taste comes from Bowdoin’s annual Lobster Bake. This event is always held at the beginning of each school year, providing traditional barbecue and Maine lobsters for students to enjoy.

The five canteens in Bowdoin can satisfy every student’s desire for Italian, Chinese, American Western or Mexican food. They provide a variety of nutritious food, including fresh local beef, school-grown organic vegetables and fruits, baked desserts and bread made with natural cream, and even local Maine lobsters. The most distinctive feature is that most of the food here has abandoned trans fatty acids and high fructose corn syrup, and every meal is free of gluten to prevent students from allergies. The college is also committed to reducing food waste by cooperating with non-profit organizations.


As we can see, good universities not only invest in academics, facilities and the environment, but also pay close attention to their students’ physical and emotional well-beings. Having a great college dining experience is important to elevating the quality of your higher education and overall campus life. Don’t forget to choose a school that fits your appetite!

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