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Best College Campus Eats

Hi Chowhounds,

I work for a website that is trying to put together a list of the best college campus eats across the country. With the basketball season about to kick off, we think the madness shouldn't be limited to only on the court.

We are trying to answer the question: What school has the best campus eats?

Here are a few preseason contenders:

Baylor University’s Dr Pepper Float
Florida State’s The Animal Sandwich
Gonzaga University’s Cog Cookies
Marquette University’s The Marquette
University of Montana’s Griz Burrito
Syracuse University’s White Coney (+ chocolate milk)
Temple University’s Koagies (Korean hoagies)
Purdue University’s Boilermaker Pete

I would love to hear about any of you guys' college campus experiences and dishes that are must-have's.


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    1. re: ferret

      fat mojo please! i always had one when visiting friends at rutgers...i also forced whoever to split it with me as that is a scary caloric bomb!
      perusing the new menu though, i really want to try the veggie butt! oh the names!

    2. Check out Cal @ Berkeley. They're doing amazing things both with quality of raw product and finished dishes. I'd eat there any day, any week, any meal.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mamachef

        MC, which of the cafeterias did you try? I've been to Crossroads and the I House. I like the variety, quantity and cost, but the food seemed just a step up from Hometown Buffet (which I like on occasion). They do a better job of feeding the faculty at the Men's Faculty Club. I do like the breakfasts (especially the oatmeal and tator tots) at the Golden Bear.

        1. re: chocolatetartguy

          I love I-house - the variety and quality seems to me a step up from the Bear, though I wholeheartedly agree about the oatmeal. The Crossroads - for all it's touted to be, I didn't find it was THAT much more special. I've gotta try the MFC - you've mentioned some REALLY nice meals (lunches) that you've enjoyed there.

      2. University of Connecticut Dairy Bar Jonathan Supreme Ice Cream. 28 lovely flavors including Toasted Almond Amaretto.

        1 Reply
        1. re: DonShirer

          YES! I grew up on that ice cream!

        2. I graduated from Marquette University and still frequent the campus somewhat regularly. That said, I have absolutely no idea what you're referring to by "The Marquette". Care to elaborate?

          If you're looking for Marquette-related establishments, the best known is probably Real Chili (http://www.realchili-milwaukee.com/). It was founded in the basement of the priests' residence hall on campus in the 1920's and is still an institution.

          If we're talking about that "other" university down the road (aka the University of Wisconsin), the winners are either Ian's Pizza (crazy rotating flavors like Fish Fry Pizza and Chicken Mashed Potato Pizza) or the Babcock Hall Dairy (ice cream parlor operated by the University's department of Food Science.) Craaaaazy good ice cream made in-house with local ingredients.

          13 Replies
          1. re: mse924

            I think he means campus food, and I can't remember anything decent from mine. Do the little individual boxes of Frosted Flakes count? If so, put that down for Texas Tech.

            1. re: mse924

              my sister went to the University of Wisconsin, and i remember everyone loved the giant Rice Krispy treats they sold at the KK.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                I loved those....they were the size of a burrito.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  University of Wisconsin - I spent a summer there in 8th grade and could not get enough of Gumby's. The Pokey sticks were addictive.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    Gumby's is actually a national chain now. when they first opened at Emory i thought we were the only ones fortunate enough to have it nearby - it was off campus. and yes, i inhaled my share of Pokey Sticks (dipped in a combination of red saue & ranch dressing - gack).

                    thinking back to it, they weren't even good. they were just there.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Yes - always with marinara sauce and ranch dressing!! Exactly, not good but oh so good. I'm surprised to hear it's a national chain. I live in the mid-Atlantic and have never seen one but will keep my eye out when traveling. I'm sure I'd find it appalling if I actually were to consume some pokey sticks now

                      1. re: fldhkybnva


                        interestingly, the ATL location is no more. so much for the memories!

                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        National, but in college towns, yes? Only college kids can keep a chain in business by giggling while ordering a "16-inch Pokey Stix" or a "Gumby Dammit."

                        If they have expanded beyond the co-ed market, then my college memories are probably tarnished forever.

                        Oh, and I think I need to hear more about a Boilermaker Pete. I was a grad student at Purdue, not an undergrad, but have never heard of such a thing.

                        1. re: Wahooty

                          you know, i didn't even notice it before but they're all listed as college campus locations. the one near Emory was far enough away that you had to have it delivered or drive to pick it up.

                          i'm not surprised that one didn't survive - they probably couldn't handle the competition from Mellow Mushroom, which was far better.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            It's funny you mention Mellow Mushroom. My best friend is from Tennessee and is in love with Mellow Mushroom - best pizza ever he proclaims. I have never had it but if I'm ever in Nashville I'll have to make a stop.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              Mellow Mushroom isn't even close to the "best" i've had, because i grew up eating NY pizza. but it's pretty great when you're wasted at 4 am...or from Tennessee ;)

                              seriously though, it's been 20 years since i last ate the stuff so i have no idea if it's good - at the time i was a fat-phobic vegetarian college girl who appreciated that they offered low-fat cheese as an option. i do recall liking their Greek salad and the calzones, and my roommate who had a sweet tooth loved their fresh-baked cinnamon sugar pretzels.

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                I think that's his definition of "the best" - not a very discerning palette, so great when wasted = top notch.

                      3. re: fldhkybnva

                        Oh Pokey sticks....Pokey sticks and Loose Juice.....

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      that ice cream is fantastic. it literally wins awards, and I don't mean "best campus food" for it's type. ;-)

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Totally overrated. Or maybe the quality's just gone down.

                        1. re: linguafood

                          or could it be you just don't like philly style ice cream?
                          Just sayin'...
                          (n.b. it's always been best with fruit...)

                          1. re: Chowrin

                            No, I just don't think it's all that it's made up to be. Overhyped. I find the ice cream at Meyer's dairy better, and I am not alone in thinking that the overall quality of the creamery has gone down.

                            But given the alumni, I have no doubt this fine old tradition will continue regardless.

                        2. Hoagie Haven at Princeton
                          Also a few amazing ice cream shops - Bent Spoon, Halo Pub

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            evident nj loves their sandwiches...the haven is heaven! can't miss the sanchez...a riff on the classic fat sandwich.

                          2. thinking back (a looong time ago) to my undergrad years at Emory, the spicy curly fries at Dooley's Den were an addictive late-night snack.

                            i went to grad school at SDSU, and the food options there were truly awful. fortunately i commuted there, so if i was going to be on campus all day i just brought something from home to eat between classes.

                            1. Cornell:

                              The Dairy Bar on campus is famous (although currently under construction), many varieties of ice cream made on campus and served at The Dairy Bar and in the dining halls!
                              Dijon Burger at The Ivy Room
                              PMP (Poor Man's Pizza) from The Hot Truck
                              Cornell also produces its own apple cider and milk and serves that in its dining halls as well - even mocha milk!

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Solstice444

                                There's question about when Cornell will go back to producing its own ice cream once the new dairy facilities are open. For now, Perry's ice cream fills the void....but sadly, the shoes are awfully big to fill!

                                1. re: 4Snisl

                                  Yes, I feel lucky that I attended when their own ice cream was available in the dining halls!

                                2. re: Solstice444

                                  + 1. Cornell had great food when I attended and even better when my daughter went there.

                                3. When I was a student at University of Maryland there was a Roy Rogers in the student union. I think there's a food court there now. Roy Rogers was my favorite fast food growing up. They're still around, but with far less restaurants. I have to go to Gaithersburg or Frederick to eat there now.

                                  1. UIC has to be the winner of greasy eats and street food. Within walking distance of campus you have three of the best Italian beef stands in the city: Al's No. 1, Patio Beef, and Carm's. Tender thinly sliced, almost shredded, roast beef in a gravy-soaked roll topped with hot giardinera... that's a last meal before the firing squad for me. And then you've got the dueling polish sausage stands of Jim's Original and Maxwell St. Express. Snapping into that juicy smoked polish on a bun overflowing with griddled onions and hot peppers, right across the expressway from the glorious skyline, there's no experience more Chicago than that.

                                    1. I know WHO Boilermaker Pete is, but is there a restaurant or food named after him ?

                                      1. Free State Brewery. Lawrence, Kansas.

                                        Rock Chalk Jayhawk.

                                        1. The Original Hot Dog Shop...(Pittsburgh, PA)

                                          1. Stanford is pretty good. The new dining hall that opened this year has lots of organic, local, healthful food. There's a vegetable garden outside and an open kitchen inside. Very attractive. I've never eaten there, but my son does. He thinks it's good, but maybe not as good as it thinks it is...if that makes sense.

                                            There are more than 30 "eateries" on campus. Some are pretty bad, but the museum has a very good cafe overlooking the Rodins and the made-to-order buckwheat crepes at the outdoor cafe near the library are great.

                                            Oh, and the cafe in the business school has all you can drink mimosas on Saturdays. So I've heard. And the juice is organic...naturally.

                                            1. Just to clarify -- dishes can be on campus or off. If there's a local diner or restaurant or bar that serves something all the kids are eating, that fits the bill, too!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: sickelka

                                                Ah! Then in that case, for Cornell:

                                                Deep dish pizza and corn nuggets at The Nines
                                                DP Dough (although this is a chain...but it's very popular!)
                                                Wings Over Ithaca (also a chain but popular)
                                                Anything at Collegetown Bagels
                                                Greek food at The Souvlaki House
                                                The Pinesburger at Glenwood Pines - a legendary burger!
                                                Purity Ice Cream - great, locally made ice cream
                                                Viva Cantina - tasty, fresh Mexican

                                              2. Is this you guys? I was shocked to see my alma mater JHU at #33. I would have rated it from my years there at 33 from the bottom. But I suspect the food has improved considerably at most schools since my day.


                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Bob W

                                                  My alma mater's cafeteria was routinely shut down for health dept. violations.

                                                2. The question is: “What school has the best campus eats?”

                                                  My vote would be for The Culinary Institute of America.

                                                  All of their campuses have restaurants that are open to students and the public which offer superb cuisine cooked by students nearing graduation. Many of these restaurants have won awards and are rated highly in Zagat and other surveys.


                                                  There really is no dishes that can be recommended since the menus in these restaurants seem to change every three weeks or so.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: RetiredChef

                                                    Amen to that! I had two of the best dinners in recent memory at their Italian and French restaurants. Also, in the cafe I picked up a chocolate bar for my friend's son. He loved it so much that the following Christmas he pleaded with his parents to drive there to get a chocolate bar for his teacher's gift.