The transition from home-cooked meals to the dining hall is undoubtedly difficult for most freshman. Chances are, after a week of 3 meals-a-day eaten at Georgetown's infamous Leo J. O'Donovan dining hall, most students are inclined to treat themselves to a meal elsewhere and explore Georgetown's dining scene. 

It goes without saying, however, that this choice comes at a cost. Deciding to purchase a meal, rather than grit one's teeth through "Fish Friday" at Leo's, carries the expectation that spending a little cash will be worth it.

As such, I have put together some of Georgetown's "must-try's" for one's first semester on campus that offer proximity, variety, and deliciousness. 

1. Falafel Inc. 

If you toured Georgetown before coming on campus, your tour guide may have mentioned Falafel Inc. If not, it's likely you've attended an event in which the restaurant's food was catered. The tiny shop on Potomac Street was voted "Best New Restaurant in DC" on Yelp and is a staple for Georgetown students. The food is delicious, fresh and flavorful, but it's also one hell of a bargain. Customers can order a falafel or vegan shawarma pita for $4, a bowl for $5 and recently, a rice bowl for $6. If you're doing the math, every one of those options costs less than your typical latte or cappuccino...  Beyond that, Falafel Inc. aims to do more than feed hungry customers on a budget. The restaurant partners with World Food Programme, the leading humanitarian food organization, to deliver aid to refugees across the globe. When you visit Falafel Inc. consider adding the zesty za'atar fries to your meal and definitely don't skip the sauce bar! My personal favorite is the habibi sauce, but I've been known to slather them all on my meal.

2. Green Almond Pantry

Green Almond Pantry is about the closest you can get to a home-cooked meal. The small storefront in located on Grace Street in the same building as South Block and Bake Shop and is serving up made-from-scratch mediterranean inspired fare, as well as pre-prepared salads and sides, freshly baked focaccia, and desserts. I'm not exaggerating when I say the focaccia at Green Almond Pantry is one of the greatest things I have ever put in my mouth. The chicken and hummus entree is also to die for. Stop by throughout the year for a rotation of seasonal dishes and eat in store, or order online and take it to go! Green Almond Pantry is a hidden gem, just waiting to pleasantly surprise you.

3. In Bocca Al Lupo 

While not "technically speaking" in Georgetown, In Bocca Al Lupo (Italian for "good luck") opened in Summer 2022 and is only 1 mile from Georgetown's front gates. Since arriving at Georgetown I have been searching for pizza within walking distance of campus that truly excites me, and it wasn't until I set foot in In Bocca Al Lupo that I found it. The restaurant specializes in ultra-thin crust roman-style rounds, uncommon in The District, and they do it impressively well. This isn't surprising as owner Massimo Papetti hails from Italy. The pizzas are served uncut, as is traditional in Rome and the atmosphere is cozy and casual. It's a real neighborhood joint--oh--and it's also soccer themed. So, if you're attending during a big game, don't worry, there are plenty of TVs at the bar.

4. Call Your Mother Deli

Call Your Mother Deli is a Georgetown staple. With locations across the District, the Jewish bagel shop and deli has taken DC by storm. The shop started at farmers markets around DC, but owners Daniela Moreira and Andrew Dansomewhere quickly realized there was a greater market demanding killer bagels. The shops owners describe their bagels as somewhere between a classic NY-style bagel and the sweeter, Montreal-style bagels from our friends up North. Call Your Mother is known for taking classic flavors and giving them a twist. For example, their take on a bacon, egg, and cheese is served on an everything bagel and finished with hot honey...and boy is it good. My personal favorite thing on the menu is the Sonata breakfast sandwich which consists of Impossible Foods sausage, bodega-style local eggs, mozzarella, chef Maggie’s ancho chili crisp, pickled cabbage + onion, on a sesame bagel. The deli also features a variety of rotating cookies and pastries, baked daily. When the Sunday scaries come your way, Call Your Mother is calling your name. 

5. Chaia Tacos

Vegetarians and meat eaters alike can rejoice in the delicious experience that is a meal at Chaia. The woman-owned refined, fast-casual taco chain has taken the District by storm in recent years. Offering seasonal vegetarian tacos bursting with flavor in addition to soups in winter months and drinks on tap ranging from tea and kombucha to beer and wine, Chaia is sure to be a hit. The restaurant focuses on fresh ingredients without breaking the bank. My go-to is a taco trio, but if you're not in a taco mood, try out some of Chaia's enchiladas, quesadillas, the Farm Tostada or the Sweet Potato Nachos!

6. Il Canale 

Looking for a spot for date night? Il Canale might just do the job. Georgetown's quintessential Italian restaurant offers delicious wood-fired pizzas, pizzas, mains, and desserts. Owner Joe Farruggio was born in Sicily, and made it his goal to create a place where Washingtonians and visitors alike could come together for an authentic Italian meal. Il Canale is is critically acclaimed--only restaurant in D.C. to receive the top culinary honor from the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce and the National Institute of Tourism! Many of the District's big wigs have dined here, but don't worry, stick to most of the pizza's and pasta's and Il Canale's menu won't break the bank! 

7. Mai Thai

Mai Thai is a Georgetown classic. The menu includes comforting Thai classics like pad see ew and numerous curries in addition to a variety of maki and specialty sushi rolls. My go-to orders include the Awesome Roll, basil eggplant with tofu, or the red curry. Better yet, Mai Thai offers customers a free meal on their birthday! If you're over 21, Mai Thai serves quite the variety of alcoholic pitchers which make it a great place for drinks with a group of friends. From mojitos to piña coladas, to the signature  Mai Thai, there's an option for everyone. If you're not feeling up to dining in, Mai Thai also makes for great take-out. Orders placed online are filled quite timely, and the walk from campus is under ten minutes! 

8. Thomas Sweet

Leo's only offers ice cream until 8pm, and if you're like me and your craving for something sweet strikes much later. That's where Thomas Sweet comes in. T-sweet - as it is commonly referred to by students - started in Princeton, NJ and is the ultimate neighborhood ice cream parlor. Serving everything from cones and milkshakes, to ice cream sandwiches, chocolates, malts, and blend-ins, there is no doubt your sweet-tooth will be satisfied. I'm team blend-in when it comes to ordering at T-sweet because I love the soft serve consistency and the ability to pick and choose my favorite flavor combinations. I know it sounds weird, but banana ice cream with Snickers blended in really hits the spot... 

9. Oki Bowl

When the weather starts to take a turn for the colder during the first semester at Georgetown, head to Oki Bowl for something that will surely warm you up. The restaurant is located just a short walk from campus on Wisconsin Avenue and serves up some pretty killer ramen and rice bowls. It's a cozy spot with eclectic, colorful decor, sure to keep customers entertained while they wait for their meal. I usually go for the Tom Yom Ramen, a hearty bowl of noodles in a red chili infused with lemongrass soup, served with bean sprouts, cilantro, mushroom and lime juice swimming with jumbo shrimp. 

10. Stachowski's Market

The first time I walked past Stachowki's, I was curious and I wish I had strolled in rather than waiting until the 10th time I passed. The shop, located at 28th and P streets, only slightly past Wisconsin avenue is adorable. Painted red, the corner deli welcomes customers in to the sight and smell of fresh, local food and groceries. Massive pickles swim in a homemade brine, $1 a piece and certainly worth adding to you order. The deli serves a number of grinders, larger than most people will be able to comfortably finish in one sitting. That's a good thing though--for the price of one, you truly get two or three meals. The homemade sausages are also divine. My favorite is the Italian sausage which is layered with succulent sautéed peppers and onions and nestled in a buttery brioche bun. While there isn't a space to devour your meal inside the market, it is just a short walk from Friends of Rose Park on P Street--the ideal picnic destination.