Whether your parents invited everyone and their brother or your mom or dad is flying solo, take advantage of your graduation dinner. You get one last meal in Oxford, so make it count. Check out some of these graduation meal spots for literally every situation… Including when you take your parents to the bars for one last hoorah and your mom is drunk crying over your baby pictures.


graduation meal spots

Photo by Hannah Ruby

When Nana and Papa and Aunt Pam and Uncle Bill and the whole clan comes to town, Dakota’s is the place to go. With a massive dining room, outdoor patio, and bar area, there is basically no way your entire party won’t fit unless your mom invited your entire pre-K class and middle school dance team to celebrate your special day.

Dakota’s is a typical steakhouse with tons and tons of options. Choose from various cuts of steak, generous helpings of unique pasta like BBQ chicken alfredo, or stay on the lighter side with entree salads like grilled shrimp caesar. With this much variety, it’s nearly impossible for people to feel dissatisfied. Not that you really care what Aunt Pam thinks of her food. After all, it’s your graduation day.

When the bill finally comes, your parents will thank you too. After shelling out thousands in tuition, that final graduation day dinner bill may seem like chump change, but at Dakota’s you actually get some bang for your buck. Reasonably priced steak and tables long enough that you can avoid talking to annoying relatives about why you don’t have a job yet? Sign me up.


graduation meal spots

Photo courtesy of paesanospastahouse.com

If it’s just you and your parents and you’re trying to stuff your face with pasta, Paesano’s is the move. The scent of garlic basically seeps out of the walls, and the cozy little house-turned-restaurant totally mimics an Italian grandma’s kitchen, right down to the ugly curtains.

The best part of Paesano’s is the “create your own pasta” option, since your newly graduated brain is probably itching to make a mark on this world in the form of extravagant pasta. Paesano’s also has the old Italian favorites like chicken parm and ravioli if you’d rather play it safe.

Again, prices are pretty reasonable, and the pasta dishes are certainly hearty enough to make up two meals. The only real “downside” is the space can’t accommodate super large parties. But hey, that just means more meatballs for you, right?


graduation meal spots

Photo by Sarah Horowitz

If you’ve yanked your hungover butt outta bed on any Sunday morning to get to Patterson’s, it’s pretty much a guarantee you’ve sat on the sidewalk outside with your gang and waited for a table. That’s a telltale sign right there. Patterson’s is by far the best brunch in Oxford, and the ideal spot for partying it up breakfast style with the fam.

Honestly, anything on the menu is life changing, but the pancakes are particularly unforgettable. Wanna combine peanut butter chips and strawberries in one fluffy, golden pancake? Good call. What about crumbled sausage in a pancake? Yup right choice again. You get the idea.

Patterson’s is packed on a normal weekend morning, so expect the longest line of your life on graduation day. But it’s totally worth it when your parents are crying into their eggs and you think back to all of those mornings you sat in this very place with your friends trying to remember the night before.


graduation meal spots

Photo by steinkellercircle.com

Getting your ‘rents shwasted while listening to polka music isn’t exactly a graduation tradition, but it sure is entertaining. Steinkeller is just the place to do that. Celebrate your newfound freedom with a Das Boot… a pricey but worth it two liter glass boot of German beer. Want your mom to drunkenly agree to let you backpack through Europe rather than getting a job? Order her a boot and buy your tickets.

Steinkeller is a pretty even mix of German food like wursts and schnitzel and the like, as well as safer American choices like steak, salad, pulled pork, etc. Before you leave for your exciting new backpacking trip, you should probably try the chicken käsespätzle. It’s basically creamy German pasta. Plus, it’s fun to say.

As for environment, Steinkeller kills it. Every Thursday night Accordion Dave is in the house rockin’ out with polka music, and he’s sure to make a special appearance on graduation weekend. If you’re not all that into polka, just keep drinking your beer until you like it.

Kona Bistro

graduation meal spots

Photo courtesy of konabistro.com

For four years now, you’ve trekked Uptown on a Saturday, ordered some type of fried food, devoured it, and regretted it later. Well, let graduation day be your transition into adulthood. With fresh menu ingredients and good vibes, Kona is a unique spot.

Kona’s menu brags pretty heavily about their lack of fried food, and for good reason. With entrees like bricked grilled chicken, baked tofu cakes, and jambalaya, it’s a welcome change of pace from the bar food you’ve both loved and loathed all this time. Leave Kona feeling satisfied without needing to wash the oil out of your pores.

Kona is the perfect place to make your parents pay while you enjoy the newfound freedom of being a college graduate. You’re mature, you’re educated, and your palate is ready for the refined foods of Kona. Unless of course Bagel & Deli doesn’t have a line…

Fiesta Charra

graduation meal spots

Photo courtesy of yelp.com

When you’re sitting in your grad gown, draining marg pitchers with 20 of your closest friends, and realize it’s all over, you gotta eat your sorrows in chips and salsa. Fiesta Charra is pretty used to massive amounts of people swarming in at once, so feel free to bring your entire clan.

Traditional Mexican may not seem like a typical graduation staple, but Fiesta Charra is particularly amazing. All of the favorites like quesadillas and fajitas are juicy and sizzling. There are also some American options for your Aunt Pam who’s never had one of those “qwesa-dilla” things. Charra Taco Salads are perfect for meat lovers, with chicken, pork, and steak all tossed in a crunchy lettuce blend and topped with sour cream and beans.

Charra is good plain fun. Margaritas and tequila abound, the brightly painted walls practically create a party themselves. Even if you’re a little embarrassed to be in a party of 23, Fiesta Charra’s food will make you forget your graduation woes.

Bagel & Deli Shop

graduation meal spots

Photo by Jenny McGregor

Bagel & Deli is kinda a no brainer. Yes, it’s graduation weekend and mom and dad are footing the bill, but let’s be real. How many times did you stumble home from Brick Street holding your shoes and somehow find yourself  ordering a Hangover Helper and a Pizza Bagel in B&D?  It’s a special place, and you can even pay for your parent’s food now that you’re super old and stuff.

If you’ve basically been a functioning human at all over these four years, you’ve tried Bagel & Deli. But for your very last meal in Oxford, you gotta make a feast out of it. Start with a Messy Katie, and nom on turkey, colby, cream cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, sprouts & honey mustard on a bialy, move on to a Crunch N Munch, and finish up with a Cookie Monster for dessert. It’s your four years of college summed up in three bagels.

Bagel & Deli is pretty much as cheap as it gets in Ox, so do your parents a favor and hand over your own plastic for this one. Don’t forget to read the infamous tip jar advice one last time as well, just in case you don’t know what direction your life is going in. Oh, and try not to cry during your visit. They see enough of that on Saturday nights.

119 E High St
Oxford, OH 45056

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