On-Campus Eats

Harry Potter Night!
Harry Potter Night!

Though this is probably coming at an inconvenient time for any pre-frosh visiting for Cornell Days seeing as they’re almost over, I thought I’d write it anyway because what better topic is there than food? I haven’t eaten everywhere yet (it’s a goal of mine), but here are my thoughts on the many dining options offered on campus.

Dining Halls:

  • RPCC (Robert Purcell Community Center): Typical freshman dining experience. With the Mongolian Grill make-your-own-stir-fry, pizza/pasta bar, salad bar, hot entree bar, and grill station, the options are essentially endless. Definitely a lot of variety if not the greatest quality food (it’s still good, just not the best). Sunday brunch though–to die for. Dim-sum and pancake bar? Yes please.
  • Appel (North Star): The other typical freshman dining experience. Fewer options than RPCC, but still a wide selection including a Kosher station. Food tends to be of similar quality to RPCC, and they always have the most desserts. Their brunch isn’t as great as RPCC’s, but it’s still very strong and it’s much less crowded.
  • Okenshields: As the only swipe dining hall on Central, Okenshields gets suuuper crowded during lunch. However, dinner usually isn’t bad. They, like RPCC and Appel, also have an Asian food station along with a “traditional” hot entree and pizza/pasta. Their sandwich bar is unique in that they have better breads than the rest of the dining halls. Food is pretty good, but not something I’m always willing to brave a long line for.
  • Risley during its annual Harry Potter Night
    Risley during its annual Harry Potter Night

    Risley: Though I’m partial because it’s my home base, I think Risley is very underrated. There are much fewer options due to the dining hall’s smaller size, but this semester especially, the food has been great quality. The custom stir-fry line is heavenly (even if you have to wait for a bit), and there are always really yummy vegetables in the hot entree line. There’s also a grill station that makes custom omelets and sandwiches!

  • West: The dining halls on West are undoubtedly the best on campus. The food is just so much better–definitely worth the walk. My personal favorite is Rose, which is similar to Risley in that it’s smaller, but offers really good quality food. Becker is one of the larger ones and its selection is varied. I’ve only been to Keeton and Bethe once or twice, but I liked both of them a lot. A few tips I have in regards to West campus dining halls: Wednesday nights are resident-only dinners, which means the rest of us suffer. Also, these houses frequently designate a theme for a certain night (i.e. Mexican night, Pho night, Italian night) so check the menu to see which sounds best!

Cafes (offering food):

  • Trillium: Loaded with custom options such as salads, sandwiches, quesadillas, wraps, and Asian food. They also have lots of soups to choose from. If you’re willing to wait in a long line, you can’t really go wrong here.
  • Terrace (Statler): Plenty of good-looking food (burritos, paninis, baked potatoes) that I haven’t tried yet because I’ve been braving the salad line. Statler food is good on the whole, so Terrace is a winner. Like Trillium, the salad line gets ridiculous so plan ahead.
  • Mac’s (Statler): Can get pretty crowded and pricey, but has extremely good food. I haven’t tried much besides the daily hot entrees and the custom chopped salads (they offer spinach and kale!), but the sandwiches and pizza look and smell fantastic. They also have some scrumptious looking cinnamon rolls if you get there around breakfast-ish time.
  • Big Red Barn: Choices are slightly limited, but they have a Pho bar, breakfast wraps, sandwiches. I don’t know much about this one, actually. I got a sandwich once and neither loved nor hated it.
  • Martha’s (Human Ecology): I’ve eaten here once. I tried to order a flatbread salad, but it was busy and it would be a long wait and I was short on time, so I just bought a pre-packed salad instead. However, their options are more unique and, from what I’ve heard, very good.
  • Dairy Bar: Can’t say much about the food but GO FOR THE ICE CREAM. JUST DO IT. You won’t be sorry.
  • Synapses: I don’t spend much time by the Engineering quad, but I’ve at least been to Synapses. The food looks and smells really good, but I’ve only really gotten bubble tea/smoothies here. Tip: Don’t get the bubble tea.
  • Temple of Zeus: If you can get past the fact that they don’t accept BRBs, Temple of Zeus is actually really good. They have these honey-nut-seed bars that are great to grab in the morning along with a case full of donuts, croissants, muffins, and cupcakes. Real-food includes delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches, and they charge you less for soup if you bring your own bowl. Tip: Get mozzarella on your sandwich. It’s fresh.
  • Goldie’s (Physical Sciences Building): Goldie’s for the win. Good soups, Starbucks coffee/beverages, lots of pastries, and killer sandwiches. I can never decide which one to choose, but the Chicken Panini is my go-to. They have pretzel buns, for crying out loud. Pretzel buns! So yummy.
  • Ivy Room: Because the two share a wall/window, you get to look in on the suckers in the Okenshields line. Ivy Room is probably my favorite of these cafes. Their salads are great because they usually have more fruit/better chicken than competing salad bars, and they have an all-day omelet/egg/pancake/french toast station. Also offered are grill sandwiches, quesadillas/taco bowls, good Asian food that comes with a skillet full of rice, and really large slices of pizza. I just love Ivy Room.

Like I said, I haven’t yet eaten at every establishment on campus, so this list is fairly incomplete. However, I hope this has either helped you decide where to eat when you visit campus or made you really hungry. Either result is acceptable to me.



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