Unless you're some of the lucky few to live in the Village or Hawks Crossings at Montclair State University, your primary food source is catered by Chartwells. With over 20 places to get food on campus, deciding where to go can sometimes be a hard choice.

There is no doubt that after three and a half years on this campus I have figured out where I like to eat and where I will never go again. And after asking around, I've found that most Montclair students feel the same way.

So whether you're new to the school, looking at Montclair to further your education, you have yet to try Montclair's food, or you just don't know what to eat for the day - here are the best and the worst of Montclair State's dining options.

The Worst:

Sam's Place and the Balance Kitchen at Freeman Dining

Let's get these places right out of the way. If you have under 30 credits at Montclair State University you are required to get a Red Hawk Unlimited Pass (oooh sounds fancy). Red Hawk Unlimited plans allow students to enjoy access to the all-you-care-to-eat Sam’s Place and Freeman Dining Hall as often as you like throughout the week.

Problem number one: This food could be super fresh or could be sitting out all day long. You might never really know by look because many of the foods are unknowingly preserved so it can probably survive for decades. As a buffet style you can never really ensure when the food was being put out aside from watching the workers open bags of lettuce or take the fries out of the fryer.

Problem number two: It's "all-you-care-to-eat". And who wouldn't want to eat endless food (if it's fresh) ? There is plenty to choose from at Sam's Place and Freeman. It offers a salad bar, sandwiches, an International bar, Italian food, and more. Mix all the cuisines together your stomach will definitely not thank you. So you can just sit there all day and eat however much you want. AKA, a clear path to bring on the freshman 15, or maybe 50.

Let's be honest, Sam's and Freeman are great places to go when you're hungry with pals, but so are many other dining spots at Montclair. Save yourself and your friends from over-eating this food that may or may not destroy your stomach lining.

2 Mato

To start, 2 Mato has always been super slow with getting out its food. Sometimes it even forgets you've ordered and don't even make your food. Other times it puts your food in the oven and forgets about it, then asks you if you want a new one as though someone would like to eat a burnt to black piece of pizza.

On top of its speed, it recently changed the ingredients it uses to make its pizzas. I have no clue why, because its pizza was pretty decent for a college campus to begin with. And now it's arguably just plain gross. The first change was from a recognizable mozzarella to a more processed mix of several cheeses, none of which are good. Then sauce changed from a simple marinara to a one that is sometimes sweet and sometimes spicy, which typically I wouldn't mind, but there is just something wrong about the inconsistency. Finally, on its menu it switched to a thinner mozzarella stick, which isn't a deal breaker but I'm honestly just over 2 Mato and all of its bad habits.

Au Bon Pain

Although Au Bon Pain is conveniently placed in the same building as the library, it has racked up a list of bad experiences within the time of their opening. Despite the amazing macaroni and cheese during the middle of studying for midterms or finals, ABP just can't seem to get their food together. With the long list of bad problems, walking from the Heights or Blanton isn't the most fun in the cold weather. So if you don't need to head to the library why bother?

Problem number one: On the list of bad experiences ABP only takes 1 block between 11pm-2:30am. 1 block (or swipe) is a pre-determined amount of $6.55 for lunch and dinner or $4.70 for breakfast. I've been to ABP once when they accepted blocks because of finals, and I was the only person there so I don't know how many students are actually using this.

Problem number two: Secondly, many of the items on its menu are way too expensive for what they are offering. There's no reason for bread, tomatoes, mozzarella, and some pesto sauce to be more than $7.

Problem number three: When I asked people what they thought were the best and worst dining places to eat at Montclair, many mentioned they are never going back to ABP because they found hair in their food.

The Best:


Every now and then I need a good salad. If you've been buying pre-made ones from the C-Store, please stop for your own good and go to Chop'd in the Rathskeller. 

Your options are endless here as well to make many different salad creations. It offers pre-planned salads such as a chicken Caesar salad or a Greek salad. Otherwise you can make a salad and add a variety of ingredients to fill yourself up.

Its salads always taste great and they're a pretty good size too. Every salad leaves you feeling full, but still healthy at the same time.


Although Chili's doesn't really cater to vegetarians and vegans specifically, with or without the meat, students love their food. From the chips and salsa to the salads and  burgers, it just makes food taste good here. Even thinking about Chili's is making me want go grab some food there right now.

If you live in Blanton then you're lucky enough to be able to just go right downstairs. Even if you don't, this is one of the closer dining places to the main dorms, so go out and get yourself some Chili's.

#SpoonTip: I'm a huge fan of the Quesadilla Explosion Salad. I order it without the chicken but the salad is still filling and the quesadilla is pure cheesy goodness. And from what I've heard, their burgers and fries are awesome too.

So Deli

I will start off by noting that So Deli is far superior to Which Wich and for so many reasons. To start, So Deli offers more than just a sandwich on one type of bread as Which Wich does. I am a huge fan of the fact that So Deli will make any order with several types of wraps, a roll, and many more options. So you can forget about all those boring sandwiches since there are so combinations you can make yourself.

Beyond that, ordering is so painless. I've never had to wait too long for my sandwich, even if there is only one person working. So Deli is just a straight-forward sandwich place that knows not to make things too complicated, which is why I think it deserves to be on the best list.


Einstein Bros. Bagels

If you're willing to take the hike to College Hall for some food, you won't regret going to Einstein Bros. With the best coffee on campus and fresh bagel sandwiches like those you'd find at your favorite hometown bagel shop, the walk isn't so bad.

You may or may not agree with this list. Everyone has different taste buds and enjoys food in their own unique way! You may have different favorites than what is on this list I've put together with the help of other Montclair students. But, with 20+ places to eat at Montclair, there's definitely more places to try other than what's on this list. Now, get out there and eat!