To everyone that thinks Purdue is just a college town littered with nothing but greasy chain restaurants, I’m here to tell you to think again. The West Lafayette area is full of dining gems. Some we simply take for granted because they’re so ingrained in our Purdue culture, while others just have to be sought out.
Here’s your guide to every awesome, original place you have to dine or drink at when you come to Purdue.
1. When you have the munchies at 2 am: Mad Mushroom
The first thing you do after you get back from a party is order food from HungryBoiler. We’ve all been there. But, order directly from their website and you’ll save a cool $2 on delivery charges. Use that extra money to maybe buy yourself a side salad to go with whatever cheesy goodness you’re about to order, cause you know, health.
What to order: If you don’t get Mad Mush Cheesestix every time, do you even go to Purdue? Go for the giant 20 inch if you’re sharing amongst a group. And the answer to, “What sauces do you want with that?” is yes. All the sauce.
Location: 320 W State St. West Lafayette, IN 47906 (20 minute walk from the heart of residential campus)
2. When you need lunch between classes for under $10: Oasis
Show up as early as possible and you’ll be rewarded. It’s rarely crowded early in the morning, and relaxing music is always on, adding to the atmosphere that so fits its name. Their specialty lattes are no joke and are the perfect way to reward yourself after that three-hour lab you messed up a few times too many.
What to order: How does $4.99 for a filling wrap and a side of your choice sound? The black bean wrap comes with cream cheese, a flavorful black bean mixture, rice, greens, and salsa, all served up in your choice of wrap. Gluten free wraps are available for only $.80 extra so you don’t have to break the bank to fit your diet.
Location: 101 N Grant St West Lafayette, IN 47906 (8 minute walk from the Engineering Fountain)
3. When you’re cramming for exams and the library is full: Boiler Bistro/LavAzza
Marriot Hall has a huge wall of windows, letting in natural light that can boost your mood when you’re cramming (which, let’s be honest, is always). There are usually plenty of chairs and tables available and some of the high tops have built-in outlets. Just remember that the Bistro is only open for lunch, so at any other time, the pastry offerings from Lavzzza will just have to do.
What to order: This might be the only place you can get awesome salmon on campus. Do so with their smoked salmon sandwich or rocking salmon burger, both reasonably priced at $7 or less. Any flavor of gelato from Lavazza is nice to drown your sorrows in, too.
Location: 900 West State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47906 (5 minute walk from HIKS)
4. When you’re sick of Starbucks: Vienna
Also, when you’re sick of Greyhouse. It’s the oldest coffee shop in West Lafayette and it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. When you need a good cup of coffee sans the annoying girl ordering a drink with a name longer than the organic compound you’re trying to remember, this is your place. Come hungry, cause the food they’re serving up can certainly fuel your study sesh.
What to order: Their chai anything is amazing, but order a double vanilla chai if you really want to be amazed. The fresh baked cookies are bigger than your orgo textbook, so pick one up to munch on all day.
Location: 208 South St West Lafayette, IN 47906 (5 minute drive from the Starbs on Third Street)
5. When you’re going on a Tinder date: Town & Gown Bistro
The perfect bistro to decide the tone of the date based on your plate. They serve breakfast all day, so you can order an omelet if you’re trying to come across as relaxed, or a full on pasta dinner if you’re trying to say you’re serious about this. Plus, it’s located in the hub of Chauncey, which is a good place to disappear if the date is seriously going south.
What to order: The pancakes are served with any topping of your choice and bigger than the plate that they are presented on. Perfect for sharing if you and your date are both into breakfast for dinner. Otherwise, go for the pan-seared salmon to come off classy af.
Location: 119 N River Rd, West Lafayette, IN 47906 (10 minute walk from the Union)
6. When you’re craving Mexican: Fiesta Mexican Grill
The first thing you’ll see when you walk into Fiesta are the fresh tortillas being made. The line tends to move slowly during peak dinner hours, so prepare to come early or wait for your burrito. Make it all worth your while and order something extra to make up for the fact that they’re closed on Sundays.
What to order: Don’t stick to your basic Chipotle and Qdoba tendencies. Order a huge pork burrito and get it enchilada style for a saucy experience that will have you coming back on the weekly.
Location: 102 N Chauncey Ave, West Lafayette, IN 47906 (One block down from Qdoba)
7. When you’re craving something sweet: Silver Dipper Ice Cream
Award-winning Wisconsin ice cream is served up in every flavor you could imagine. Feel free to order as many cleverly named flavors (Exhausted Parent, anyone?) since a sample scoop is only $.90. Just remember that this is a cash only establishment.
What to order: If your cravings aren’t exactly Mini Monster Challenge intense, chocolate lovers must try the Zanzibar Chocolate. If you’re not a chocolate lover, the strawberry cheesecake has real chunks of strawberry in it.
Location: 201 E State St West Lafayette, IN 47906 (7 minute bus ride from Lilly Hall)
8. When you turn 21: Harry’s Chocolate Shop
Everyone learns the “Go ugly early” catchphrase long before they’re old enough to step inside the old speakeasy. It’s constantly rated one of the best college bars in America and is a Purdue right of passage you can’t wait a minute longer to visit. Come for the strong drinks, stay for the free popcorn.
What to order: The well-known Baltimore Zoo should be the first thing you ever consume at Harry’s. But you can have your cake and drink it too with their chocolate cake shot.
Location: 329 W State St, West Lafayette, IN 47906 (13 minute walk from Armstrong)
9. When you’re hungover: Triple XXX
No matter what you think of Triple XXX, no self-respecting Purdue dining guide would be complete without it. Most people think of it as the famous burger joint, but they’re actually perfect as a morning breakfast spot. They open at 5:30 in the morning and the only way you can get a spot in the tiny diner is if you show up way before the lunch rush. Make a stop at the ATM if you blew all your cash the night before, no plastic accepted here.
What to order: Combine the best their all day breakfast menu has to offer and order the Nick Hardwick Special. It comes with the classic breakfast staples – 2 eggs, bacon, and toast, but with their perfectly indulgent gravy over potatoes.
Location: 2 North Salisbury Street, West Lafayette, IN 47906 (5 minute drive from McCutcheon)
10. When you’re craving seafood: Maru
In the Midwest, any good seafood you’ll eat will most likely be in the form of sushi. Some of the best and most cleverly named rolls you can get on campus are at Maru. Eat in the restaurant for a sushi experience complete with small plates while you wait, or take it to-go if you can’t wait for a table, as the space is small.
What to order: The Playboy roll comes highly reviewed. But other seafood offerings, like the Ahi Tower and Seafood Pancake, are sure to fill your seafood cravings at our landlocked university.
Location: 111 North Chauncey Avenue, West Lafayette, IN 47906 (10 minute walk from University Hall)
11. When you wanna watch the game: Scotty’s Brewhouse
The atmosphere here is overpowering on a regular night, but during a game, being a part of the loud crowd is exhilarating. It does get very busy so stick to simple, quick happy hour drinks and foods. You’ll get the best deals that way, too.
What to order: A triple play (3 apps of your choosing) lets you try the best of the best starters and easily share amongst friends. If there are any gluten free goers amongst your group, go for the Buffalo chicken dip or Macho Nachos.
Location: 352 East State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47906 (8 minute drive from Mackey)
12. When your parents are in town and they’re paying: Bistro 501
Impress your parents with how cultured you’ve become by taking them to this swanky French restaurant. Get a multi-course dinner with a good wine and dessert to fully take advantage of your parents’ love. If you’re looking for a more casual dining experience, visit during brunch hours.
What to order: Now’s the time to try dishes you couldn’t afford to enjoy on your own budget. Start with the roasted bone marrow or steak tartare. You can’t go wrong with the duck or lamb entrées, but the real treasure here are the desserts. Order the crème brulée for there and get a slice of seasonal cheesecake to go.
Location: 501 Main Street, Lafayette, IN 47901 (5 minute drive from the Union)
13. When you’re with your friends who don’t eat meat: Restauration
There are probably way more places than you realize that you can eat vegetarian (and vegan!) on campus. But, whether it’s vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free – Restauration can do it all. They’ve also got killer meat dishes, so this is a place that can make anyone on any sort of diet happy. The prices are probably a little more than a meal you’d pay for on campus, so come for lunch if you’re trying to be savvy.
What to order: You should order the Monte Christo pork sandwich with Swiss cheese and bacon jam. Your vegetarian friend should look forward to the heartiest veggie burger they’ve ever had, complete with sriracha mayo and pickled red onion.
Location: 731 Main St, Lafayette, IN 47901 (15 minute bus ride from Lilly)
14. When you’re trying to be romantic: La Scala
Nothing says romance like Italian food. The intimate space and romantic lighting create an ambiance you can’t beat, so sit inside if you’re really looking to impress. Resist the temptation to eat four slices of warm bread with olive oil if you want to save room for one of their decadent desserts.
What to order: Pronounce the Gratinée Del Mar correctly on your first try and you’ll probably get props from your date and an amazing seafood and pasta dish. You could always split the Pasta Fresca to go Lady and the Tramp style. If taking food advice from Disney your thing.
Location: La Scala, 312 Main Street, Lafayette, IN 47901 (5 minute drive from the Union)
15. When you’re trying to be healthy: Fresh City Market
Think of it less as a high-end grocery store and more as your key to healthy lunch success. The soup and salad bars are full of endless combinations and you can create a killer lunch combo for less than a sandwich at Panera. Their hot bar selection changes daily so be sure to visit their menu online.
What to order: Stop by the juice bar for their banana avocado drink. It’s surprisingly delicious and it’ll make you feel like a trendy healthy food blogger. Their granola bar also lends itself to nutritious, totally customizable parfaits.
Location: 720 Northwestern Avenue, West Lafayette, IN 47906 (12 minute walk from Wetherill)
There certainly are more treasures in Lafayette/West Lafayette, and even more hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. Don’t be afraid to try something new because- really- after 4 years, when are you ever coming back? Savor your time as a student at one of the best universities in the world and make the experience worthwhile. Boiler Up.