The Fanciest College Dining Hall In The US, According To Students

If you were lucky in college, the food in your dining hall was edible most of the time. But some students have it better than others and are fortunate enough to attend colleges and universities where the dining options can compete with the fanciest of restaurants. According to students, the school with the best on-campus food is the University of Massachusetts, Amherst — also known as UMass Amherst (per The Princeton Review). 

UMass Amherst is one of Massachusetts' public universities and is located in the western part of the state. Their dining halls have won the award for the nation's best college dining for the past seven years, and students can expect to see everything from lobster dinners to sushi on any given night. The campus eatery rankings come from The Princeton Review, which publishes an annual "The Best 398 Colleges" book — created based on the opinions of around 165,000 current students — so you can trust that this information is coming right from the horse's mouth, or rather, the bellies of real students.

How does UMass do it?

As a public university, UMass Dining has the challenge of serving over 30,000 students at Amherst alone. So how do they win the award for best dining hall every year and keep all of those hungry students happy? Garett DiStefano, the director of dining services at the university, told that they emphasize directly interacting with the student body. Their students are diverse, and so are their food offerings and seasonal events — the dining halls will celebrate heritage months with different types of cuisines, and honor religious holidays. Additionally, the dining program has ambassadors — actual students — who help them create their menus, and a lot of their food is sourced from local farms.

Taking a quick scan over one of their menus, it's easy to see how a variety everyone is kept satisfied. For breakfast, you can dine on a Florentine benedict and crispy potatoes, or grab an egg and Swiss cheese sandwich on a croissant. When lunch or dinner rolls around, have chicken wild rice soup if you're not too hungry, or go for meat lasagna or yellow cheddar mac n' cheese if that's more your speed. Along with these options, they also serve "Grab n' Go" meals like sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Believe it or not, all of these offerings are at one "stand" in their larger Campus Center dining hall, and there are nine others to choose from that have everything from Vietnamese food to pizza.

If UMass is the best, who else is good?

Coming in second after UMass, according to The Princeton Review, is Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. At Cornell, there are 29 options for students to grab a bite to eat, and student favorites include a dupe for Panera mac and cheese, the pollo loco sandwich, and Sunday brunch at the Robert Purcell Community Center, which includes dim sum along with the typical brunch offerings.

Bowdoin College in Maine comes in third on The Princeton Review's list and has far fewer mouths to feed than UMass or Cornell — the undergraduate enrollment is only around 1,800 students. Even so, Bowdoin College has a butcher shop on their campus, and grows a lot of their produce in the college's "Bowdoin Organic Garden." Similarly to UMass, they also source food from local vendors and farmers in Maine. Breakfast in Thorne Hall, the largest dining hall on campus, could include brown sugar cinnamon oatmeal or "breakfast pizza." For lunch, students encounter a range of foods from beef and broccoli stir fry to grilled cheese or roast beef sandwiches.