I was prepared to investigate the best times to eat at the American University Dining Hall, Terrace Dining Room (TDR), on an average weekday. However, I was not prepared for what my friends challenged me to do. They challenged me to use my free Thursday and stay in TDR all day to get the whole experience. Naturally, I refused, but later reconsidered and this is what happened.

Jonathan Dickerman

American Univerity's Dining Hall, TDR, is opened from 7am to Dining on a regular weekday. The dining hours are split up into four sections: breakfast (7am- 10:30am), lunch (11am- 2pm), mid-day (2pm- 5pm), and dinner (5pm-9pm). Though this is what it says on the website, you may not find what you're looking for at the hours listed.

Breakfast: 7am- 10:30am

I arrived at TDR around 7:30 am and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. The tables were clean, there were cups, and all of the food was being put out and put together. There were enough bowls, plates, forks, knives, spoons and cups; it's the small victories.

The food around the 7 o'clock hour is good and fresh. I choose to get an omelet (my favorite meal at TDR) with a side of the tofu potato hash. I then grabbed myself a biscuit with gravy. The gravy wasn't quite warm yet so I would be patient if you arrive right as TDR opens. I recommend this time before an 8:10 am class if you are looking for a clean table and warm omelet before your day begins.

Reese Phillips

I began to roam around TDR at around 9 o'clock to see what had changed and if TDR was still at its peak like it had been two hours earlier. The lines were getting long, but not long enough that you abandon the banana pancakes for time's sake.

At 9:25AM people began to crowd in and TDR is much more lively with open seats being taken up quickly. Because there are a lot of people coming in and out I would expect that you may not find an abundant amount of fruit or breakfast sandwiches.

The silverware and dishes were still stocked and the food was noticeably hotter. I then went to the dessert section in TDR and grabbed myself a donut. It was a pretty good donut and I would definitely grab one if you have a chance. Also, if you are looking for some refreshing orange juice or apple juice, I wouldn't look too hard; the juice machine is never turned on.

Reese Phillips

Now it is 10 am and TDR breakfast is beginning to disappoint. The omelet station and the vegan section have begun to put away their supplies and are no longer offering service. If you have an 8:10 am you may just get to TDR in time to get the food before it is put away, but I would hurry.

If you are looking for caffeine at this time, I would look somewhere else. When I went to grab my second cup, the caffeinated coffee was barely dripping. When 10:30 am rolled around I was eager to get out of TDR, as I had been there for 3 hours, but now the lunch items were coming out. With lunch comes many food opportunities for your hungry self. 

Lunch: 11am- 2pm

I will admit that it is still 10:30 am and the time for lunch is listed as 11 am, but that is how TDR is. When the 10 o'clock hour strikes, TDR begins to bring out the lunch options. So, if you look online at the hours that TDR is open and when to get certain meals, I wouldn't be too trusting. 

Lunchtime is especially busy at 11 am because classes have just let out and the people are hungry. I would expect lines at all of the usual spots: pasta and stir-fry. There will probably be enough silverware, but plates and bowls will be up to chance.

If you are craving a classic TDR burger and fries, you may have to wait until after 11 am to snag one; somethings are up to chance in TDR. Though, what isn't changed is how good the sandwich section of TDR is. I got myself a sandwich and a slice of pizza, both of which weren't too bad and make for a nice meal if in a rush.

Reese Phillips

It's now 12:15 pm and the salad line is stocked with all of the good stuff (whatever that may mean to you). However, the number of cups in TDR wee lacking. As the hour progressed the lines got longer and the free tables slowly went away. Silverware was stocked and the dish carousel was full; be patient if you can't find a place for your plates, TDR is pretty busy around this time. So, if you are craving TDR lunch then be patient and do your best to get TDR around 11 am to get a better selection of foods with relatively smaller lines. 

Reese Phillips

Though, if you have a class in this time frame or you aren't a fan of the lines then try to go to TDR around 1pm to 2pm. The food is restocked, the silverware is restocked, the dishes are stocked, there are cups, there aren't many lines, there are places to sit, and the vibe is pretty nice. However, if you get here at 2pm then the afternoon meals are put out and TDR gets much more dull. 

Afternoon: 2pm- 5pm

This is the least busy time to go TDR if you are looking for some alone time. In the afternoon time at TDR, there are fewer workers and you are normally free to serve yourself. Because there are not many workers in TDR you may not get food if it runs out. 

When I was there the only thing that was stocked up was the burger section of TDR. This may be dependent on the day or food, but I would be wary about eating at this time. As time through the afternoon progresses, people come and go until dinner time when more people begin to come to TDR. 

I would also like to point out that at this point I had been in TDR now for about 10 hours and the waffle that I had earlier was pretty darn good.

Reese Phillips

Dinner: 5pm- 9pm

It is 5 pm and dinner at TDR is just beginning. There are lines that aren't too horribly long, but getting to TDR a little before 5 pm would allow you a little more time to get what you want before the masses flood in. Most of the silverware and dishes are stocked up and ready to go. However, 45 minutes later and this is not the same.

At around 5:45 pm the lines at TDR were long, salad and cereal bowls were empty, and there were no pizza plates. I would also watch out for the toppings and dressings at the salad section; there may be a shortage of some items or even all of the items. For my final meal at TDR I choose to eat mashed potatoes, bread, and chicken. It was neither the worst or the best, but I did enjoy it. 

Reese Phillips

Around 6 pm the situation was still relatively the same with the ice cream station having no bowls. When you are done eating at this time, you can expect to see a large number of dishes and silverware on the dish carousel; you may have to wait for a small period of time to get your dishes. 

At 7 pm the plates are being restocked and the silverware is being refilled. At this time you can probably get most of the food in TDR without having to wait in a really long line. However, when I was there at this time, the waffle maker station at TDR had been turned off. I wouldn't have too many expectations just in case they put away what you want to eat.

Now it is 7:45 pm and I am getting ready to leave TDR after a long 12 hour day. Some of the stations are closing up the area but you can still find food until TDR closes but I would have relatively low expectations

Jonathan Dickerman

While spending all day in American University's Dining Hall, TDR, allowed me to get a better understanding of the dining hours, it also helped me have much more patience with TDR. No matter what time you go you may have to wait or you may not find what you like, but that's just how it be sometimes. Also, have patience with the workers in TDR because it is very likely that they have been there for 12 hours and trust me, it isn't as fun as it sounds.