Anyone who has ever attended college can tell you that each institution has its own unique vibe and culture. The specific school that you call your alma mater can also say scores about you, too. And we strongly believe that few things strike the core of a college’s essence than where its students choose to hang out and chow down.
Some schools have time-honored traditions that revolve around a specific local diner. At others, students rely on certain college town eateries to cure their weekend drunchies and hangovers. And even others are so rigorous their students depend on quick eateries for meals on-the-go.
So in order to show this huge diversity in cultures and dining preferences, we asked students from 39 of the most well-known colleges in the US (and Canada!) to pick one food joint in their college town that best embodies their school’s singular vibe, and this is what they told us.
These places aren’t the ones you’ll find on “Must-Eat Restaurant Hit Lists” based on high-quality food and famous chefs. These are the honest, down-to-earth joints you’ll find packed with #BrokeCollegeStudents at all hours of the day and night. And honestly, they’re probably just as excellent.
If your alma mater was awesome enough to make this list, reminisce over the good times you’ve had at your college town’s chosen eatery. And if you’re just beginning the college process, hit up these places to get an authentic feel you won’t get on your campus tour. But maybe ditch Mom and Dad first.
Introducing the Ultimate College Kid Eats Hit List:
1. American University (Cava Mezze Grill)
2. Binghamton University (Binghamton Hots)
3. Boston College (Fin’s Sushi & Grill)
4. Boston University (T. Anthony’s)
5. Bowdoin College (Wild Oats Bakery & Café)
6. Brown University (Louis Family Restaurant)
7. Columbia University (Koronet Pizza)
8. Cornell University (Collegetown Bagels)
9. Dartmouth College (Lou’s Restaurant & Bakery)
10. Franklin & Marshall College (The Fridge)
11. Fordham University (Pugsley Pizza)
12. Georgetown University (Farmers Fishers Bakers)
13. George Washington University (Founding Farmers)
14. Harvard University (Border Cafe)
15. Hamilton College (Nola’s Restaurant)
16. Lafayette College (Campus Pizza)
17. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (The Friendly Toast)
18. McGill University (Lola Rosa)
19. Miami University (Bagel & Deli Shop)
20. Northwestern University (Bat 17)
21. New York University (The Grey Dog)
22. Princeton University (Infini-T Café and Spice Souk)
23. Stanford University (Stanford Coffee House)
24. Tufts University (Helen’s Roast Beef & Pizzeria)
25. Tulane University (The Rum House)
26. University of California, Los Angeles (Diddy Riese)
27. University of Chicago (Valois Cafeteria)
28. University of Delaware (Newark Deli & Bagel)
29. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Burrito King)
30. University of Michigan (Frita Batidos)
31. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery)
32. University of Pennsylvania (Lyn’s Food Truck)
33. University of Pittsburgh (Fuel and Fuddle)
34. University of Tennessee (Cook-Out)
35. University of Texas at Austin (Hopdoddy Burger Bar)
36. Vanderbilt University (Cabana)
37. Wake Forest University (Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro)
38. Washington University in St. Louis (Kayak’s Coffee)
39. Yale University (Yorkside Pizza and Restaurant)
American University (Washington, DC): Cava Mezze Grill
Cava Grill is known around AU as “the Chipotle of Greek food,” and its fast-casual vibe makes it the go-to site for Greek organization and club fundraisers. Plus, its focus on sourcing sustainable, local ingredients reinforces its status as a true DC staple and parallels AU students’ dedication to going green.
What you’re getting: “Crazy Feta” (a feta mousse infused with jalapeños) and falafel, washed down with one of their seasonal house-made juices (kale apple cucumber ginger lemon is a winter favorite).
Perfect For: Quick Bite, Lunch Break
Location: 4237 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 11 am-10 pm
Thanks to Lila Seeley ‘15, Editor-in-Chief of AU Spoon
Binghamton University (Binghamton, NY): Binghamton Hots
At Binghamton, nightlife consists of two steps: one, making rounds at the local bars; and two, stopping by Binghamton Hots to soak up the alcohol you consumed at said local bars.
And rather than get pissed off when you shout a nonsense order at them in your drunken haze, the extremely hospitable restaurant staff have been known to just give you a free plate of fries with your hot plate to settle you down.
If you want to experience the real Binghamton nightlife experience, you can’t go wrong with Hots at night. They also serve slightly lighter fare for lunch… if you’re into that.
What you’re getting: A hot plate, Binghamton’s take on the nearby town of Rochester’s infamous “garbage plate,” the ultimate drunchies cure. Favorites include the pulled pork and sweet potato fries hot plate and the cheeseburger and mashed potatoes hot plate. Each plate comes with a housemade hot sauce, onions, mustard and a side of Italian bread if you happen to desire more carbs.
Perfect For: Quick Bite, Lunch, Late Night Drunchies, Cheap Eats
Location: 128 Washington Street, Binghamton, NY 13901
Hours of operation: Mon: 11 am-3 am; Tues-Thu: 11 am-1:30 am; Fri: 11 am-3:30 am; Sat: 4 pm-3:30 am
Thanks to Savannah Sapodin ‘16, Editor-in-Chief of Binghamton Spoon
Boston College (Newton, MA): Fin’s Sushi & Grill
A Japanese restaurant located in the heart of Cleveland Circle—one of the main BC hangouts, a shuttle stop away from campus—Fin’s is a popular, not-too-expensive choice for birthday parties, celebrations and taking a break from the school’s rigorous academics. You’ll see BC students in their best light, laughing and sharing anecdotes, surrounded by friends.
Plus, Fin’s simple decor includes two plasma screen TVs perfect for the sports enthusiasts that make up the majority of BC’s spirited campus. For everyone else, the fish tank is pretty amusing, too. Side note: Fin’s also delivers to your dorm, which is pretty clutch.
What you’re getting: The Spicy Combo and the Crazy Maki because, as one sophomore poetically explains, “that shit is cracking.”
Perfect For: Dates, Big Groups, Celebrations, Dinner With Parents
Location: 354 Chestnut Hill Ave, Brighton MA 02135
Hours of operation: Mon-Sat: 11:30 am-11:30 pm; Sun: 12 pm-10:30 pm
Thanks to Jenna Corcoran ’17 and Anne Williams ’17
Boston University (Boston, MA): T. Anthony’s
Located right across the street from campus, T. Anthony’s is an iconic BU hangout. On weekend nights, the authentic Italian-style pizzeria is flooded with hungry students, many of whom have gotten to know the owner, Joe, and his wife personally, and photographs of the college’s athletic teams line the walls.
T. Anthony’s is a BU rite of passage: it’s the first place you go as a wide-eyed lil’ frosh. The pizzeria thrives off the fierce loyalty of its collegiate patrons. Ask any BU student, and they’ll insist that T. Anthony’s is “the best pizza in Boston.” And probably fight you if you disagree.
What you’re getting: You can’t go wrong with the classic cheese pizza, but the eggplant parm is also magnificent if you aren’t feeling a pie.
Perfect For: Late Night Drunchies, Big Groups, Quick Bite
Location: 1016 Commonwealth Ave, Boston MA 02215
Hours of operation: Mon-Thu: 7 am-1 am, Fri-Sat: 7 am-2 am, Sun: 8 am-1 am
Thanks to Rachel DeSimone ‘15, Editor-in-Chief of BU Spoon
Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME): Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe
At first glance, Brunswick seems to be made up of two incompatible populations: the older townies and the budding young college students at Bowdoin. But they coexist harmoniously partly thanks to Wild Oats, which provides a warm, central hub where “all are welcome.”
There, you’ll find bubbly staff (often in costume), college students and townies intermingling and chatting over freshly baked pastries and sandwiches. As one student notes, Wild Oats captures Bowdoin’s (and the college town’s) “goofy, community-oriented and driven” nature.
What you’re getting: A green smoothie (with local veggies) and the avocado & cheddar sandwich on made-from-scratch maple oat bread (made with Maine maple syrup).
Perfect For: Lunch Break, Study Spot, Quick Eats
Location: Tontine Mall, 149 Maine St, Brunswick, ME 04011
Hours of operation: Mon-Sat: 7 am-5 pm; Sun: 8 am-5 pm
Thanks to Ella Driscoll ‘17
Brown University (Providence, RI): Louis Family Restaurant
Louis’ was founded in 1963 by ex-World War II army cook and Italian immigrant, Louis Gianfrancesco. Since then, the diner has transformed into a local hotspot for hungry Providence residents and Brown students alike, all of whom enjoy the lively atmosphere and hearty breakfast food.
Louis’ has even hosted an eclectic crew of notable guests, like John F. Kennedy, filmmaker Steven Spielberg, the Beatles’ George Harrison and, in 2009, Guy Fieri, when it was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. And its odd hours inspired the “Louis’ Challenge,” a Brown tradition entailing staying up all night and getting your breakfast on when the diner opens at 5 am.
What you’re getting: The “Number Two” breakfast special (two eggs, toast, home fries and your choice of breakfast meat) with a side of Fieri-approved pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes.
Perfect For: Late Night Drunchies, Hangover Helper, Big Groups
Location: 286 Brook St, Providence RI 02906
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 5 am-3 pm
Thanks to Jake Kuhn ‘17
Columbia University (New York, NY): Koronet Pizza
In a city that’s famous for its pizza, Koronet’s is definitely not even close to the best (though its ingredients are remarkably fresh), but it might have the highest size-to-cost ratio in the city.
On Thursday, Friday or Saturday night, you’ll find hordes of Columbia students competing to scarf down greasy slices “as long as your forearm and as wide as two iPhone 6’s end to end,” all while gazing at themselves in the mirrors that line the counters (there’s that indulgent, competitive Columbia vibe!).
Chances are you’ll run into the kid in your LitHum class, half of your freshman floor and your RA, and they’ll all probably be blackout drunk. If you’re looking to have a classy meal with your parents, maybe head to Community Food & Juice instead; but if you’re looking to cure mad drunchies, Koronet’s is the place.
What you’re getting: For $6, a jumbo slice of pepperoni pizza that could feed half a family, folded so you can fit it in your face. The regular slice is still big, but wholly manageable. And after a certain time of night, the wait staff pretty much stops asking for your preference and just assumes you’re going jumbo.
Perfect For: Drunchies, Big Groups, Quick Bite, Cheap Eats
Location: 2848 Broadway, New York NY, 10025
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 11 am-4 am
Thanks to Elana Sulakshana ‘17, Ellie Moriearty ‘17 and Alvin Zhou ’17, Spoon National Contributor
Cornell University (Ithaca, NY): Collegetown Bagels
In an isolated college town like Ithaca, building a strong community becomes especially important. And thanks to its central location at the intersection of Collegetown and campus, as well as its focus on sourcing ingredients and staff locally, Collegetown Bagels (or CTB) is essential in uniting the town and the college.
The family-owned bagel shop is the center of Cornell daily life: kids stop by for eccentrically-named bagels (many invented by past students) and quality coffee in the morning before class, during the day while studying (thanks free WiFi!) or at night, after the bars have closed.
CTB is one of the first places you go as a freshman during orientation, and you’ll keep coming back throughout your four years. It’s as much a part of the Cornell experience as the classes, the parties and the traditions.
What you’re getting: The classic Nova Lox & Cream Cheese on a “Long Island Bagel,” CTB’s local twist on an everything bagel.
Perfect For: Quick Bite, Late Night Drunchies, Cheap Eats, Hangover Helper, Big Groups, Brunch, Study Spot, Caffeine Fix
Location: 415 College Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 6:30 am-2 am
Thanks to Jared Exter ’17
Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH): Lou’s Restaurant & Bakery
Dartmouth prides itself on three main things: its tight-knit community, its long-standing traditions and its president’s sweet ‘stache, and Lou’s definitely embodies the first two. A minute from the college’s main green, the diner has satisfied hungry locals, remedied hangovers and provided cakes for student birthdays since 1947.
The wait for a table can get egregiously long during prime weekend brunch hours (similar to line for pong at night in frat basements), but there’s a to-go counter and counter seating if you’re looking for something quicker.
Lou’s has become such a Dartmouth institution that it has earned its own place in the college’s repertoire of traditions. Before graduating, most students will complete the “Lou’s Challenge,” where you pull an all-nighter with your friends, then head to Lou’s for a hearty breakfast when it opens in the morning.
What you’re getting: The “Big Green,” which comes with buttermilk pancakes or French toast, eggs, breakfast meats, home fries and a choice of toast, an English muffin or a muffin. If you’re all about going big or going home (like Dartmouth students), get it with “Lou’s Cruller Donut French Toast,” which is exactly as terrifying and delicious as it sounds.
Perfect For: Brunch, Big Groups, Hangover Helper
Location: 30 Main St, Hanover NH 03755
Hours of operation: Mon-Fri: 6 am-3 pm, Sat-Sun: 7 am-3 pm
Thanks to Tarika Narain ‘17, Editor-in-Chief of Dartmouth Spoon
Franklin & Marshall College (Lancaster, PA): The Fridge
In Lancaster, one of the oldest settlements in the USA, you’ll find an interesting interplay between old and new. The city itself is humming with locals and young F&M students, but drive for less than ten minutes and you’ll probably come across an Amish resident in a horse-drawn carriage.
This strange dichotomy finds equilibrium at The Fridge, a gourmet pizza and craft beer café. Here, locals and students intermingle, and you’ll frequently run into a classmate, teammate, professor or coach unwinding over an artisanal brewski.
What you’re getting: The Fridge is famous for its 500+ types of craft beer and cider, all of which live in the giant refrigerator that spans the entire back wall (and gives the eatery its name), but their wines and cocktails are also good options. Also, the porcini mushroom, kale and gruyere flatbread pizza, made with locally-sourced ingredients, is a must-try.
Perfect For: Quick Bite, Casual Drinks
Location: 534 N Mulberry St, Lancaster, PA 17603
Hours of operation: Tue-Thu: 11 am-11 pm, Fri & Sat: 11 am-12 am, Sun: 12 pm-8 pm
Thanks to Jessica Love ‘15, VP of Operations for F&M Spoon
Fordham University (Bronx, NY): Pugsley Pizza
When a Fordham student craves pizza (and in college, that’s 24/7), Pugsley’s is the first place that comes to mind. The pizzeria wears many hats: by day, it’s a chill hangout space for students; in the evening, it turns into a cozy date spot; late at night, there’s no better place to cure your drunchies (or compete in Trivia Night Tuesdays).
And on Valentine’s Day each year, the beloved owner, Sal, offers a behind-the-counter class, where he teaches couples to make their own heart-shaped “Love Pie.” Just call him the Cupid of Fordham.
What you’re getting: The chicken roll, which is a less messy version of pizza with all the satisfaction. For dessert, get the Nutella pie: pizza dough with Nutella and powdered sugar.
Perfect For: Big Groups, Late Night Drunchies, Date Night
Location: 590 E 191st St, Bronx, NY 10458
Hours of operation: Mon, Wed & Sat: 11 am-3 am, Tue, Thu & Fri: 11 am-5 am, Sun: 2 pm-3 am
Thanks to Alexandra Laird ‘17, Editor-in-Chief of Fordham Spoon
Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.): Farmers Fishers Bakers
In the true DC spirit of nationalism and cosmopolitanism, Farmers Fishers Bakers offers a classic American menu with some diverse twists, like some surprisingly good sushi. For students, it’s a great treat yo’self spot, or, more accurately, have your beautiful angelic visiting parents treat yo’self spot.
FFB’s farmhouse decor and superb view of the Potomac makes it, like Georgetown, a popular escape from the bustle of downtown. Also like Georgetown, FFB is “comfortably indulgent without being showy”—for example, the lemon-scented candles in the bathroom and the water served from milk jugs.
Its commitment to sourcing ingredients from American family farmers also mirrors Georgetown’s strong values and penchant for sustainability.
What you’re getting: Go ham on the starters, especially the table-side guac and brick oven pretzels. For lunch, students swear by the Farmer’s Daughter sandwich (avocado, roasted veggies and brie on an unbelievable cinnamon raisin bread), which is so good even an orthodox carnivore couldn’t hate. They also have some solid hipster beers and other dranks.
Perfect For: Dinner With Parents, Special Occasions, Brunch Buffet
Location: 3000 K Street NW, Washington Harbour, Washington, DC 20007
Hours of operation: Mon-Wed: 7:30 am-10 am, 11 am-10 pm; Thu: 7:30 am-10 am, 11 am-11 pm; Fri: 7:30 am-10 am, 11 am-12 am; Sat: 9 am-12 am; Sun: 9 am-10 pm
Thanks to Alicia Kaneb ‘17
George Washington University (Washington, D.C.): Founding Farmers
Located minutes from the White House (hey Barry O!), Founding Farmers is a classic D.C. farm-to-table institution. Its handcrafted community tables and rustic decor lend a quintessential American-dream feel, while its location in the IMF Headquarters tethers it to the present. Like GW, Founding Farmers is a sort of bubble of authenticity in the heart of a hectic, powerful city.
Coincidentally, it’s the sister restaurant to Georgetown’s Farmers Fishers Bakers, just as GWU and Georgetown are sort of sister schools. Okay, maybe they’re more like close cousins or family friends, but the comparison still stands.
What you’re getting: The lobster mac & cheese for dinner, or anything from the brunch buffet.
Perfect For: Weekend Brunch, Breakfast, Late Night Eats, Special Occasions
Location: 1924 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20006
Hours of operation: Mon & Tue: 7 am-10 pm, Wed & Turs: 7 am-11 pm, Fri: 7 am-12 am, Sat: 9 am-12 am; Sun: 9 am-10 pm
Thanks to Evan Frasca ‘17
Harvard University (Cambridge, MA): Border Cafe
Harvard is often seen as that unattainable unicorn of colleges, the crème de la crème. And yet, its students are just like any other: they sleep, go to the bathroom, laugh, cry, pull all-nighters, eat and get drunk off margaritas bigger than their giant Harvard brains. The last two, they do at the Border Café in Harvard Square, where they pair said margaritas with delicious complimentary tortilla chips.
The Tex-Mex-Cajun fusion restaurant is the perfect spot for Harvard club functions and group celebrations thanks to its massive portions, giant tables and vibrant atmosphere. Every year, it hosts “Senior Bar,” a traditional bar outing for the college’s seniors to socialize and intermingle over free chips, salsa and a Harvard-themed “Crimson Margarita.”
What you’re getting: Chicken fajitas and a huge-ass marg, of course. Plus, the tortilla chips are seriously crack-level addicting, so you’ll be fighting off everyone else at the table for your chance at the bowl.
Perfect For: Big Groups, Special Occasions, Dinner With Parents, Dranks, Late Night Eats
Location: 32 Church St, Cambridge, MA 02138
Hours of operation: Mon-Thu: 11 am-1 am, Fri & Sat: 11 am-2 am, Sun: 11 am-12 am
Thanks to Megan Mers ‘17
Hamilton College (Clinton, NY): Nola’s Restaurant
Located in a tiny college town with few decent restaurant options, Nola’s is a godsend to Hamilton students. It’s nice enough to impress your visiting parents or a potential lover, but casual enough that you can wear jeans, and it serves up some of the best farm-to-table food in the area.
Partly because of the size of the college, you can’t help but run into half the people you know there, including a professor or two (so don’t expect privacy on your date night). Both Nola’s and Hamilton take high-quality, local ingredients very seriously, which accounts for the constantly-changing but always satisfying seasonal menu.
As a student explains, Nola’s is a “diamond in the rough, just like Hamilton. Cheesy, but true.”
What you’re getting: The Steak Nicholas if the ‘rents are paying. Otherwise, the Nola burger, with blue cheese and BBQ onions on grilled brioche, for a less pricey but still delicious option. The rest of the menu changes according to the season.
Perfect For: Big Groups, Special Occasions, Dinner With Parents, Date Night, Casual Drinks
Location: 9 W Park Row, Clinton, NY 13323
Hours of operation: Tue-Thu: 11:30 am-2:30 pm, 5 pm-9 pm; Fri & Sat: 11:30 am-2:30 pm, 5 pm-10 pm
Thanks to Gabe Myerson ‘16, Editor-in-Chief of Hamilton Spoon
Lafayette College (Easton, PA): Campus Pizza House
At Lafayette, both Campus Pizza and its adored owners have become an essential part of daily college life. So much so that if you “know what’s good for you,” you’ll refer to the eatery as just “Campus” (I just saved you from utter humiliation, you’re welcome), not to be confused with the actual Laf campus, which is in fact not a pizza joint.
Unexpectedly, Campus is not only a restaurant favorite, but is also an important part of Lafayette nightlife: after attending respective Greek house parties, the majority of students convene at the pizzeria, which on weekend nights turns into a quasi-club with music, beer and sweaty dancing.
What you’re getting: A pita pizza (individually-sized pizzas with toppings of your choice on a pita. Because sharing is overrated) and a Greek salad with grilled chicken. The owners are Greek, so you know you’re getting the real stuff.
Perfect For: Big Groups, Late Night Drunchies, Turning Up, Quick Bite
Location: 133 McCartney St, Easton, PA 18042
Hours of operation: Sun-Thu: 11 am-12 am, Fri & Sat: 11 am-2 am
Thanks to Katie McGuire ‘15, Editor-in-Chief of Lafayette Spoon
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA): The Friendly Toast
MIT’s distinctive, somewhat eccentric vibe becomes apparent from the moment you step foot on campus. It’s a place where students are inventive, expressive and all-around unorthodox, so naturally, they love The Friendly Toast.
Like MIT dorms, this Kendall Square diner is littered with quirky gadgets and retro memorabilia, and populated by hungry, sometimes barefoot guests with crazy-colored hair. It’s accepting of people from all walks of life, and more importantly, it serves delicious breakfast food all day to accommodate a college known for never sleeping.
Walk into the Friendly Toast with a hungry stomach and an open mind, and you’re golden.
What you’re getting: The “D.G.G.C.” (Damn Good Grilled Cheese) because with cheddar, American cheese and olive-garlic spread on cayenne-cheddar bread with strawberry-habanero sauce, it lives up to its name for sure.
Perfect For: Hangover Helper, Big Groups, Study Break
Location: 1 Kendall Square, #b3101, Cambridge, MA 02139
Hours of operation: Sun-Thu: 8 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat: 11 am-12 am
Thanks to Liz Martin ‘18
McGill University (Montréal, QC): Lola Rosa
Most American teenagers will head to Montréal at least once to enjoy the Canadian city’s vibrant bar and restaurant scene. But McGill students live the dream all day every day, and they do it at Lola Rosa, located in the heart of the university’s “student ghetto.”
Known as “the meat-eater’s favorite vegetarian restaurant” thanks to its hearty plant-based menu, Lola Rosa is constantly packed with college kids enjoying the warm, relaxed atmosphere and Tibetan décor.
And guests are invited to leave their mark on the restaurant: the wooden tables contain past diners’ notes, poems, love letters and comics scrawled on napkins or scraps of paper.
What you’re getting: Share a plate of Lola’s Nachos with some friends over drinks, or get either the burrito or the three-cheese and spinach lasagna for yourself. Whether or not you’re a vegetarian, you’re sure to be satisfied.
Perfect For: Special Occasions, Casual Drinks
Location: 545 Rue Milton, Montréal, QC H2X 1W5, Canada
Hours of operation: Mon-Thu: 11:30 am-9:30 pm, Fri: 11:30 am-10 pm, Sat: 12 pm-10 pm, Sun: 12 pm-9:30 pm
Thanks to Erika Hantho ‘17, Marketing Director of McGill Spoon
Miami University (Oxford, Ohio): Bagel & Deli Shop
From the retro neon sign out front to their “always steamed, never toasted” bagel creations (each created by past students), the Bagel & Deli Shop is a late night eatery as unique as the college it caters to.
After local bars close, drunk college kids head to the Bagel & Deli Shop to take a Crunch and Munch bagel (turkey, cheddar, lettuce, honey mustard and parmesan peppercorn topped with your choice of crumbled chips) straight to the face.
Miami students’ college bucket list includes several Bagel & Deli Shop challenges: one, try a Crunch and Munch; two, try each of the over 100 bagel creations; and three, get your personal bagel masterpiece on the deli’s permanent menu (pretty much the Magna Cum Laude of bagel-related honors).
What you’re getting: The Crunch and Munch, obviously. Otherwise, the Cookie Monster, a blueberry bagel with cream cheese, cinnamon and a tiny chocolate chip cookie. Or create your own and see if it’s good enough to earn a spot on the menu.
Perfect For: Late Night Drunchies, Quick Bite, Breakfast To-Go, Cheap Eats
Location: 119 E High St, Oxford, OH 45056
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 8 am-3 am
Thanks to Molly Barreca ‘17, Editor-in-Chief of Miami Spoon
Northwestern University (Evanston, IL): Bat 17
For a sports bar, Bat 17 manages to do it all; it’s a consistent crowd-pleaser for any occasion. Northwestern students love Bat 17’s “high class, collegey vibe” so much that they awarded it the title of Best Evanston Restaurant.
In terms of NU school spirit, Bat 17 is probably second only to the college itself. Bat 17’s local owners have decorated the bar with tons of NU paraphernalia and broadcast NU games on the bar TVs.
It’s famous for its massive sandwiches, awesome beer list (including insane beer towers) and newly-renovated bar. Students will make any excuse to hit up Bat 17 (like the free unlimited coffee), and more often than not, you’ll see an entire sports team out for a meal together.
What you’re getting: The “Samson & Delilah” is a surprisingly popular tuna salad sandwich, or the “Blue Lightning” with Buffalo chicken. The triple-decker “Terminator” is a great option for hardcore burger fanatics, with two 10 ounce patties, 4 slices of American cheese, bacon and onion strings on Brioche. For brunch, people rave over the “Balawats,” aka absurdly good breakfast sammies.
Perfect For: Brunch, Dinner With Parents, Date Night, Casual Drinks, Big Groups, Special Occasions
Location: 1709 Benson Ave, Evanston, IL 60201
Hours of operation: Mon-Thur: 11 am-11 pm, Fri: 11 am-12 am, Sat: 10 am-12 am, Sun 10 am-11 pm
Thanks to Analiese Trimber ‘13, Spoon National Contributor
New York University (New York, NY): The Grey Dog
Effortlessly cool and charming, The Grey Dog undoubtedly captures NYU’s essence. It’s a cute, cozy and relatively quieter escape from the insanity that is New York City college life; unfortunately, that escape is inevitably brief, because there’s a constant line for seating and you’re sure to receive a stank-eye or two if you overstay your welcome.
On weekend mornings, the eatery bustles with students and Greenwich Villagers desperate for a cup of coffee and brunch that won’t cost them an arm and a leg (which is pretty damn hard to find in NYC). And at dinner, the dim lights and flickering candles can really set the mood for a romantic college date night.
What you’re getting: The Grey Dog’s Breakfast: a hearty meal of eggs, pancakes or French toast, your choice of breakfast meat and home fries, all for less than $14. If you’re in a rush, grab an oatmeal nutella cookie or the egg sandwich with cheese on a croissant.
Perfect For: Classy Brunch, Quick Bite, Caffeine Fix, Date Night
Location: 90 University Pl, New York, NY 10013
Hours of operation: Mon-Fri: 7 am-11:30 pm, Sat & Sun: 7:30 am-11:30 pm
Thanks to Elana Rubin ‘16, Spoon National Contributor
Princeton University (Princeton, NJ): Infini-T Café and Spice Souk
When planning the café, Infini-T’s owner, Mary Fritschie, wanted to bridge the long-existing gap between Princeton’s locals and its students.
She, like many Princeton students, is both family-oriented and passionate about global issues such as sustainability, women’s issues and human rights. Infini-T’s embodies these students’ love for travel and appreciation for different cultures, which has allowed it to work its way into many college kid hearts.
The café is also a popular study spot, with comfy antique chairs (and outlets!) lining the interior. And thanks to a blueprint concocted by several regulars majoring in Econ, the shop recently redesigned its layout to reduce customer’s wait time while maintaining the shop’s exotic ambiance.
What you’re getting: Customers love the refreshing Moroccan Mint or the non-caffeinated Chrysanthemum and Goji Berry teas. Its seasonal menu of vegetarian and vegan bites changes weekly, but they sell some really high-quality Turkish pistachio nuts, if you’re into that.
Perfect For: Study Spot, Caffeine Fix, Quick Bite
Location: 4 Hulfish St, Princeton, NJ 08542
Hours of operation: Tue-Sun: 8 am-10 pm
Thanks to Kei Yamaya ‘17, Editor-in-Chief of Princeton Spoon
Stanford University (Stanford, CA): Stanford Coffee House
Nestled between a bike shop and a Jamba Juice (classic crunchy Cali), Stanford Coffee House, or “CoHo,” is a classic Stanford establishment. Its location in the campus’ most popular food court makes it a prime spot for meetings, coffee dates or studying.
CoHo hosts open mic nights, jazz workshops, comedy shows and other performances intended to help kids unwind after an exhausting day of being a college student. And its wide menu caters to every diet (yes, even you, vegans and Celiacs).
CoHo epitomizes Stanford’s passion for nurturing student talent and for abbreviating words to create “Stanford-isms.” And, of course, their major obsession with good food and coffee.
What you’re getting: The grilled cheese with tomato soup or a kale salad, paired with a “hella fancy” cappuccino. And maybe even a gluten-free almond cookie.
Perfect For: Study Spot, Caffeine Fix, Quick Bite, Getting Cultured
Location: 459 Lagunita, No. 1 Tresidder Union, Stanford, CA 94305
Hours of operation: Mon-Fri: 7 am-12 am, Sat & Sun: 9 am-12 am
Thanks to Dilly Sanborn-Marsh ‘17
Tufts University (Medford, MA): Helen’s Roast Beef & Pizzeria
During the day, Helen’s is just your average pizzeria; but on weekend nights, it turns into the Holy Land for drunk college students. Somehow, Helen’s has managed to create the most iconic Buffalo chicken calzone out there.
Tufts kids worship this “Blue Zone,” which each of them will consume in a regrettable but extremely satisfying haze of drunchies at least once (but usually many more times), in their college careers. Something about its perfect combination of indulgence and messiness fills strikes right at the heart (and stomach) of every inebriated Tufts student.
At Tufts, getting a Blue Zone from Helen’s is essentially a rite of passage. If you haven’t had one, your degree is meaningless.
What you’re getting: The Blue Zone, if you’re drunk (it’s a lot less appealing sober). But they also make damn good sandwiches, especially the BLT, and some dope fries.
Perfect For: Late Night Drunchies, Cheap Eats, Quick Bite
Location: 321 Boston Ave, Medford, MA 02155
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 11 am-3 am
Thanks to Rae Steinbach ’15, National Contributor
Tulane University (New Orleans, LA): The Rum House
In a city famous for its lack of open-container laws and its abundance of bar scenes, a Caribbean taqueria with the word “rum” in its name fits right in. The Rum House is a Tulane favorite, both for its flavorful cuisine and for its prime location.
When college students return from break or from studying abroad, their first stop is at the Rum House. And on Taco Tuesdays especially (best day of the week), the restaurant is packed with Tulane kids feasting on their famous $2 tacos and catching up with friends over a tropical cocktail.
What you’re getting: The Rum House is notorious for its delicious and highly-Instagrammable tacos, especially the Calypso beef taco, as well as its mojitos and margaritas. Get the “Two Dat” combo of two tacos and two sides, which should be mac n’ cheese and coconut mango rice if you know what’s up.
Perfect For: Date Night, Big Groups, Dinner With Parents, Casual Drinks, Special Occasions
Location: 3128 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115
Hours of operation: Sun-Thur: 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat: 11 am-11 pm
Thanks to Lena Grossman ’15, Editor-in-Chief of Tulane Spoon
University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA): Diddy Riese
Devoted fans journey from all over the city to wait in an absurdly-long line for a custom-made Diddy Riese ice cream sandwich, but UCLA kids are lucky enough to have the cookie shop right in their backyard.
After a sporting event or dinner in town with friends, students typically head to Diddy’s for dessert. They love the store’s college-budget-friendly prices, as well as the fact that, like UCLA, they cater specifically to every customer’s individual needs.
First, you pick from 12 flavors of Dreyer’s ice cream; then, you choose a type of freshly-baked cookie. You can even mix and match two types if you can’t decide. Finally, your server assembles your personalized, drool-worthy ice cream sandwich while you cry tears of ecstasy.
What you’re getting: The ice cream sandwich of your dreams (the snickerdoodles and chocolate chip cookies are reliably awesome). Happiness has a price, and it is $1.75.
Perfect For: Quick Bite, Cheap Eats, Sweet Tooth
Location: 926 Broxton Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024
Hours of operation: Mon-Thu: 11-12 am, Fri: 11 am-1 am, Sat: 12 pm-1 am, Sun: 12 pm-12 am
Thanks to Madison Craig ’17, Editor-in-Chief of UCLA Spoon
University of Chicago (Chicago, IL): Valois Cafeteria
Ever wanted to eat like Barry Obama? Known as the President’s favorite diner, Valois sports a special menu board listing “President Obama’s favorites” in addition to their regular menu of cheap, true-blue American breakfast specials.
More importantly, Valois is the dining-hall-away-from-campus for UChicago. Its cafeteria-style service and casual atmosphere make it the perfect hangover brunch spot for students. So on Sunday mornings, the place is college-kid central.
Plus, it’s the location of choice for “awkward date night,” an eccentric UChi tradition that randomly pairs two students in the same residential house and forces them to get a meal and fulfill odd tasks together. At a college known for academic rigor and drive, dining at Valois is a relaxing study break.
What you’re getting: If the bacon and hash browns are good enough for Barry O, they’re good enough for you too. But the “Everything Omelette” is also a satisfying option.
Perfect For: Hangover Helper, Big Groups, Quick Bite, Cheap Eats
Location: 1518 E. 53rd Street, Chicago, Illinois 60615
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 5:30 am-10 pm
Thanks to Sofia Butnaru ’18
University of Delaware (Newark, DE): Newark Deli & Bagel
On weekend mornings, you can’t miss the swarm of college kids waiting in line at Newark Deli & Bagel. This Main Street staple lacks any crazy decor or gimmicks, allowing its authentic (New Jersey and New York student approved), honest-to-goodness bagels to speak for themselves.
The ever-busy UD students know they can always rely on NDB for a satisfying meal on-the-go before class or on Sunday mornings after an epic weekend. They love it so much, they’re even willing to withstand the absurdly long line. And anyway, chances are you’ll run into someone you know to chat with while you wait.
What you’re getting: The classic bacon egg and cheese on a toasted everything bagel, with a hash brown on top for kicks. Don’t forget to ask for hot sauce and a pickle on the side.
Perfect For: Hangover Helper, Quick Bite, Cheap Eats
Location: 136 E. Main Street, Newark, DE 19711
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 7 am-5 pm
Thanks to Rachael Piorko ’16, Editor-in-Chief of Delaware Spoon
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Champaign, IL): Burrito King
At UIUC, a crazy night out is never truly complete until you hit up Burrito King (which until recently was named Tortica’s, but it’s still the same place). After a couple of drinks, the outgoing UIUC students crave two things: friendship and burritos. And Burrito King is the perfect place for both.
At this Mexican eatery, you’ll find an army of college students, chatting with each other and making random new “less than sober” friends. Its staff, too, is always amiable to all its hungry customers, whether they’re stone-cold sober or blacked out.
What you’re getting: The chips and queso dip to share with the new friends you just made, and a Super Burrito for yourself.
Perfect For: Late Night Drunchies, Big Groups
Location: 408 E Green St, Champaign, IL 61820
Hours of operation: Mon & Tue: 4:30 pm-2:30 am, Wed-Fri: 11 am-2:30 am, Sat & Sun: 12 pm-2:30 am
Thanks to Molly Doroba ’15, Editor-in-Chief of UIUC Spoon
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI): Frita Batidos
When it comes to food choices, UMichigan students are more than #blessed. Ann Arbor boasts a vibrant restaurant scene, with cuisines ranging from Korean to Mediterranean and everything in between. And yet, Frita Batidos and its Cuban-inspired street food manages to stand out from the rest, and has won the hearts of students and locals alike.
This diverse group of college kids love Frita’s for its unique ambiance and mouthwatering food. It’s famous for its frita: a Cuban burger made from beef, fish, chicken, chorizo or black bean, and topped with shoestring fries and your choice of mouthwatering toppings, like a sunny side up egg or cilantro-lime salsa. The other half of its name comes from the batido, a tropical milkshake made from fresh fruit and ice cream.
Somehow, Frita Batidos manages to keep both the atmosphere and food light and refreshing, just like the vibe you’ll encounter at UMich.
What you’re getting: UMich kids go big or go home with the Loco Chorizo Frita: chorizo patty and fries with every topping (hence the “loco”). In terms of batidos, the passionfruit flavor is a crowd-pleaser (pro tip: they’ll add rum if you ask. And you should).
Perfect For: Big Groups, Study Break, Casual Drinks
Location: 117 W. Washington St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Hours of operation: Sun-Wed: 11 am-11 pm, Thu-Sat: 11 am-12 am
Thanks to Allison Arnold ’17, Editor-in-Chief of Michigan Spoon
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC): Top of the Hill Restaurant & Brewery
Top of the Hill, or “Topo” as students call it, overlooks the main street of UNC’s campus. The restaurant, brewery and organic distillery has been there so long that it has become an all-occasion place of gathering for students, professors and community-members alike.
It’s famous for its home-brewed beer and delicious food; and, at night, its lively bar scene transforms it into the center of UNC nightlife. Over the years, it has hosted radio talk shows starring UNC coaches and athletes, demonstrating a fierce Tar Heel school spirit equivalent to the average student’s.
What you’re getting: The popular shrimp and grits cakes, washed down by their signature Old Well White beer. In the summer, they also brew a seasonal blueberry wheat beer that UNC students swear by.
Perfect For: Big Groups, Casual Drinks, Turning Up, Dinner With Parents
Location: 100 E Franklin St #3, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 11 am-2 am
Thanks to Sara Tane ’17, Editor-in-Chief of UNC Spoon
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA): Lyn’s Food Truck
Philly isn’t lacking in awesome restaurants, but Penn’s super-busy students ain’t got time for that. Instead, they prefer to grab a cheap, reliable meal on-the-go from one of the many food carts and trucks sprinkled across campus. And their truck of preference is Lyn’s.
Students, hospital staff, university employees and basically everyone else in the area head to Lyn’s cart for a hot sandwich and a warm smile from Lyn herself. Lyn knows all her regulars’ orders by heart; and just show up, and she’ll know what you want before you even do.
What you’re getting: The classic bacon, egg and cheese will keep you going through those brutally-long Penn lectures. The healthier (ugh) egg white wrap with spinach is popular with the ladies. For lunch, the eggplant parm pita is a crowd favorite.
Perfect For: Quick Bite, Hangover Helper, Cheap Eats
Location: 3600 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Hours of operation: Mon-Fri: 6 am-3 pm
Thanks to Samantha Klein ’16, Editor-in-Chief of Penn Spoon
University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA): Fuel and Fuddle
When Fuel and Fuddle closed briefly over the summer for renovations, Pitt students had a collective anxiety attack. The gastropub is such an essential part of the college life there that they were deeply lost without it. But, luckily for them (and you!) it’s now back and more popular than ever.
On any given night, you’ll find a diverse sampling of Pitt’s student body, from athletes to band kids, enjoying Fuel and Fuddle’s lively, comforting atmosphere, gas station-style decor and “bomb” late night specials.
And before graduating, students aim to get inducted into the elite Beer Cult. Every time you try a different type of the bar’s fancy house brews, mark it down in your “Beer Bible.” Reach a certain number, and your name goes on the restaurant’s Beer Cult shrine. Aka, the highest honor imaginable.
What you’re getting: The “Smashed Potato Pizza,” with bacon, cheddar, veggies, buttermilk ranch dressing and seasoned smashed potatoes instead of marinara sauce. Also, the sweet potato fries are “to die for,” and why not cross off one of those brewskis in your Beer Bible while you’re at it?
Perfect For: Late Night Eats, Casual Drinks, Brunch, Big Groups
Location: 212 Oakland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 11 am-2 pm
Thanks to Rebecca Berland ’16, Editor-in-Chief of Pitt Spoon
University of Tennessee (Knoxville, TN): Cook-Out
At UT, the diversity of the student body means that people generally do their own thing during the day. Kids study, grab meals and attend parties with small groups of friends.
But late at night, no matter whether you’re an athlete or a sorority girl, or whether you’re intoxicated or fresh from the library, you head to Cook-Out. This classic regional fast-food eatery is as much a part of UT nightlife as any frat party. It’s a gathering place, or even an unofficial after party, for the entire student community to revel in.
What you’re getting: One of their famous “Fancy Milkshakes” from the dessert menu. The half cherry cobbler, half cherry cheesecake milkshake comes highly recommended.
Perfect For: Late Night Drunchies, Big Groups, Study Break, Quick Bite, Cheap Eats
Location: 2123 Cumberland Ave, Knoxville TN 37916
Hours of operation: Mon-Thu: 10 am-4 am, Fri & Sat: 10 am-5 am, Sun: 10 am-3 am
Thanks to Alana Stein ’16, Editor-in-Chief of UT Spoon
University of Texas at Austin (Austin, TX): Hopdoddy Burger Bar
If the Lone Star State does one thing right, it’s meat. And Hopdoddy serves up some of the best (as everyone in the line that wraps around the building knows).
The burger bar’s famous creations are flavorful, yet balanced (adjectives that also happen to describe Texans). Its ingredients are organic and locally-sourced, so you’re getting an authentic taste of Texas.
University of Texas students are all about state pride. Like the restaurant and its seriously classy burgers, the students are bold, creative and furiously loyal to their roots. So naturally, their eatery of choice is Hopdoddy (though it doesn’t hurt that the food and drinks are “damn good”).
What you’re getting: The Primetime burger, made with a tender Texas Akaushi beef patty, brie, truffle aioli, arugula, caramelized onions and steak sauce. Get a side order of perfectly-crisp truffle fries, and wash it down with a Nutella & chocolate pretzel milkshake.
Perfect For: Dinner With Parents, Special Occasions, Casual Drinks
Location: 1400 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Hours of operation: Sun-Thu: 11 am-10 pm, Fri & Sat: 11 am-11 pm
Thanks to Gabby Phi ’16, Editor-in-Chief of Texas Spoon
Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN): Cabana
For Vandy kids, there’s no better place for a celebration than Cabana. The reasons: the stellar drink deals, the fact that it accepts “Commodore Cash” (because real money is not a thing in college) and the upscale Southern comfort cuisine.
Cabana’s pièce de résistance, though, is the seating arrangement after which the restaurant was named. These “cabanas” are private party booths outfitted with curtains, pillows, and personal TVs with AUX cords that you can use to play your own music or watch movies while you eat.
Plus, Cabana is right around the corner from a Tuesday night bar that’s popular with college students. So each week, hoards of kids will hit up Cabana on their way to get their Tipsy Tuesday on.
What you’re getting: First things first, get the Cabana fries with horseradish dipping sauce. The Cabana burger and the spinach and kale salad are solid entrées. And if you’re celebrating, pop some “Bubbly Bitch” champagne.
Perfect For: Special Occasions, Big Groups, Casual Drinks, Dinner With Parents
Location: 1910 Belcourt Ave, Nashville, TN 37212
Hours of operation: Sun-Thu: 4 pm-12 am, Fri & Sat: 4 pm-2 am
Thanks to Emily Steinberg ’16, Editor-in-Chief of Vandy Spoon
Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC): Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro
Wake Forest students love brunchin’, and their favorite place to do it is at Mozelle’s. Like the vibe you find on the college’s campus, the bistro is homey, eclectic and cozy for brunch and for dinner.
Plus, the food is pretty damn fresh (as the bistro’s name implies), which is why it’s always packed with Wake Forest kids. If you want authentic, delicious Southern cuisine and just the right touch of that famous North Carolina charm, Mozelle’s is the place to be.
What you’re getting: Fried pickles and fried chicken, no doubt about it.
Perfect For: (Boozy) Brunch, Dinner With Parents, Casual Drinks
Location: 878 W 4th St, Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Hours of operation: Mon-Thu: 11 am-2 pm, 5 pm-9 pm, Fri: 11 am-2 pm, 5 pm-10 pm, Sat: 11 am-10 pm, Sun: 11 am-9 pm
Thanks to Taylor Olson ’16, Editor-in-Chief of Wake Forest Spoon
Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO): Kayak’s Coffee
If you’re a student at WashU, chances are you spend more time in Kayak’s than you do in your own dorm. Located just far enough that it’s a nice walk, it’s the go-to spot for studying alone (there’s free WiFi!), meeting for group projects or grabbing a quick cup of local coffee before class.
Your average day at this rustic, ski-lodge-themed coffee shop might begin with spreading your work out at a large wooden table or at a counter. Then, you’ll probably run into a friend and spend an hour having a philosophical conversation before getting back to your paper.
The coffee shop’s selection of food and drinks (including an extensive tea menu) is always fresh and delicious, and the service captures that renowned WashU and Midwest friendliness. As a bonus, you can pay with the college’s “Bear Bucks.”
What you’re getting: Head to Kayak’s for breakfast and get the Sicilian sandwich, with cheesy baked eggs, marinara, pesto and mozzarella, served with orange wedges, and a tea or coffee (the latte art is on point). As an after-class treat, stop by for a gooey butter bar, an indulgent St. Louis staple.
Perfect For: Quick Bite, Study Spot, Brunch, Caffeine Fix
Location: 270 N Skinker Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63130
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 6:30 am-10 pm
Thanks to Lauren Chase ’17 and Erica Sloan ’17, Editor-in-Chief of WashU Spoon
Yale University (New Haven, CT): Yorkside Pizza and Restaurant
With world-famous pizzerias like Pepe’s and Sally’s in their backyard, Yalies are more than blessed when it comes to getting a good slice. But interestingly enough, students will often choose Yorkside over those more famous New Haven-style institutions.
Here’s why: Yorkside is centrally located, making it the ideal spot for meetings, reunions or curing your drunchies post-Toads (the popular local club). Plus, Yorkside absolutely dotes on its college customers. Photos and magazine covers featuring Yale sports teams plaster the walls.
And, if you aren’t feeling pizza, they’ve got a wide variety of surprisingly great Greek and Italian alternatives.
What you’re getting: The Greek salad is highly recommended, but you obviously can’t go wrong with a pizza. Try either the “Yorkside Special,” piled high with meats and vegetables, or the Buffalo chicken. It’s better as a whole pie, so bring some friends (or don’t, you do you). Pro tip: the Moosetracks Milkshake is apparently “killer” in more ways than one.
Perfect For: Quick Bite, Big Groups, Late Night Drunchies
Location: 288 York Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Hours of operation: Mon-Sun: 11 am-1 am
Thanks to Sarah Strong ’16, Editor-in-Chief of Yale Spoon
While you’re in the area, try out these other college kid-approved restaurants: