The Den at Cal Dining is arguably one of the most underrated dining locations at the University of California, Berkeley. Students talk about the Golden Bear Cafe so much that it has earned the nickname “GBC,” and there are often long lines that cross the roads at Crossroads. The Den, however, has yet to achieve this kind of popularity.

Alina Yu

Some might say that The Den just offers too few options. But if we take a closer look, in particular at the wraps, it's easy to see that its menu items are some of the most healthy from Cal Dining.

Nutrient-Dense Ingredients

Alina Yu

In contrast to the menus of other Cal Dining locations, The Den’s menu is the first one that introduced me to healthy carbohydrate options other than the whole-grain wrap, most notably the spinach wrap.

The wrap options boast 11 choices of vegetables, seven of meat, and five of cheeses, each of which you can mix and match to your preference. Whatever you choose, the Den’s wraps can help cover most of the veggies, proteins, and healthy fats you need in a day.

#SpoonTip: Most Americans don’t eat enough of the recommended daily fiber intake. For maximum fiber, choose the vegetarian option with the spinach wrap.

Serving Size

Alina Yu

Unlike other dining halls, The Den allows students to control (to a small extent) how much they want to eat by decreasing or increasing individual ingredients in wraps. As a result, many students find the portion size of The Den's breakfast wrap to be perfect—big enough to enjoy by itself, but small enough to leave room for lunch in about four hours.

Additionally, there is no temptation to get all the wraps you can for as few meal points as possible, since one wrap is all you get for a set number of meal points. Because there is an upper limit on how many items you can include in your wrap, The Den effectively limits both your spending and lateral expansion.

#SpoonTip: If you do need more to eat, grab a healthy side salad or multigrain sandwich from one of the fridges in the corner!


Dipa Halder

The Den reduces students’ calorie intake by serving only the most freshly and naturally made wraps—there is no frying, glazing, or barbecuing involved. It also decreases the amount of condiments and sauces in wraps and thus, unnecessary calories that can turn the healthiest option into a fattening meal.

#SpoonTip: For a wrap with the lowest calories, choose the spinach wrap, any of the vegetables you desire, chicken as your meat option, and feta cheese for your healthy fat.

Other Healthy Options

Alina Yu

The Den also tries to promote students’ health without sacrificing taste. In addition to labeling calories on its menus, it recently introduced the personal pizza, which comes in multiple delicious flavors, one of which is vegetarian and, unlike the Hawaiian pizza, features many types of vegetables.

The Den also increases the nutritional content of popular but unhealthy treats and fast foods, for example, by using sources of chlorophyll, vitamins, and essential elements in its wholesome smoothies.

Whether you're a freshman struggling with the “freshman fifteen,” a sophomore who has gone to Crossroads too many times, a junior who is too lazy to cook for lunch, or a senior who wants to get a last taste of Cal Dining before it's too late, The Den is a great option, offering meals with high nutrition content, appetizing taste, and reasonable serving sizes.