The quality of a university’s dining halls is something all prospective students should consider when looking at colleges. At the University of Chicago we do a lot of things well, however, most students would agree that dining hall food is not one of these things. Complaining about the dining hall food and arguing about which dining hall is the best are typical conversation points for any UChicago student. Check out these rankings and see if they match the ones you and your friends have been talking about since your first year.  

1. Cathey

Cathey claims the title of best dining hall on campus for one reason: consistency. Of all the dining halls, Cathey offers more quality options on a more regular basis than Baker or Bartlett. Most students would agree there is always something good to eat at Cathey, whereas with the other two dining halls, there have been many a meal where students find the most appetizing thing offered to be cold cereal. Two major contributors to Cathey’s top ranking are its stir fry station and its pasta bar. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, students can build their own plate of stir fry. The meat is cooked right in front of them, and there are loads of fresh vegetables to choose from. As for the other days of the week, students have the option to build their own pasta dish. The pasta bar offers whole wheat and white pasta, chicken and sausage, white and red sauce, and cooked vegetables. Cathey is so good you will often hear students saying they were willing to cross the Midway for their meal.  

Charlotte Waechter

2. Baker

Baker comes in second. I’m not going to lie, Baker and Bartlett are closer than you might expect in these rankings, however Baker ultimately came out ahead for a few reasons. The main thing that places Baker ahead of Bartlett is the omelette station. Every morning you can get an omelette made with fresh eggs or egg whites and can add in everything from vegetables to bacon. Not only does the Baker staff make delicious omelettes, but they are friendly, fast, and if you are a regular, they will remember your order! Another reason Baker is better than Bartlett is because of the fresh fruit selection. Throughout the day Baker offers up to six large tubs of fresh grapes, pineapple, berries and melons, while Bartlett only has three small tubs, each about 1/4th the size of the ones at Baker. The last thing that makes most UChicago students frequent Baker over Bartlett is that Baker offers ice cream in a cone: Bartlett only offers ice cream bars. Baker loses points for its consistently dry grilled chicken and a few of its staff members who will cut off your hand if you try and leave the dining hall with more than one banana. 

Charlotte Waechter

3. Bartlett

After eating lunch their nearly everyday of my second year winter quarter, Bartlett really grew on me, and I began to realize that the quality of food between Baker and Bartlett is not that different. Therefore, Bartlett sits at the bottom of the rankings not necessarily because its food is bad, but because it just doesn’t have as much to offer as the other dining halls. Its omelette station is a disappointment compared to Baker: it offers no egg whites and only makes scrambles. Another issue many students have with Bartlett is its sub-par sandwich station. At Baker, you build your own sandwich and even get it toasted. There are a variety of meats, cheeses, and toppings, however at Bartlett, there are less lunch meats to choose from and there is no hot sandwich option. What Bartlett does have going for is its taco station. With warm tortillas, pico de gallo, and guacamole, tacos can always save a meal when nothing else in the dining hall looks appetizing. And with it now offering tofu or seitan alongside its chicken, beef, and pork, even vegetarians can enjoy this station. Bartlett also has better, juicier grilled chicken than Baker. Another factor which closes the gap between Baker and Bartlett is that Bartlett serves as the ideal dining hall for students looking to maximize the swipe their friend gave them: Bartlett staff couldn’t care less when you leave with a handful of grapes, a sandwich, or even a tupperware filled with grilled chicken, broccoli, and rice. Yes, I have done all of these. 

Charlotte Waechter

Although the food at the University of Chicago dining halls may not always be the most appetizing, it is edible, and UChicago dining works very hard to make sure they get their ingredients from local farms and small businesses. UChicago dining also welcomes feedback through its student surveys, so any student who feels compelled to share their opinions has every opportunity to do so. 

Dining halls are an integral part of the college experience. When students walk into a dining hall, they expect more than just a meal: they are looking for a place where they can temporarily escape the stress of their classes and socialize with their friends. Even if the food could taste a little better, the dinings halls at the University of Chicago fulfill this role.