Best College-Town Food

I know the topic is somewhat random, but college-town eats has been a curiosity of mine for the past few weeks.  I love visiting college-towns in general, and  one big reason is to visit the distinct eateries around campuses.

With that said, I thought I’d start a series of posts on the best college-town food.

First off, here are the qualities that I look for in college-town food:

1)  Cost – It’s all about bang for buck, and obviously, the cheaper the better.  I believe most college students would agree with me.  Unless you went to a private school that rhymes with Shmanford.


Greasy food in a college-town is a must.

2)  Greasy Food (and I mean all kinds) – Pizza, burgers, cheesesteaks, wings, etc.  Enough said.

3)  Eclectic (in many ways) – Greasy Food is an absolute must, but then healthy food is also a major plus.  This shows that you have activists on campus (sorry for the generalization!  It’s simply a playful one.  Sort of), along with your normal junk-eating college kid.  In addition, if you have quality Mediterranean, Mexican, Indonesian, etc. in the same area, then the cool “culturally-fluent” factor goes up considerably.

4)  Distinct – If you claim you have the best college-town food because there’s an In-N-Out next to campus (a la UCLA), then you’re likely saying that your campus lacks character.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d LOVE to have an In-N-Out next to campus, but that’s not a distinct college-town restaurant in my estimation.

5)  At least 3 REALLY nice restaurants, where one can take an occasional date or eat with the parents and relatives when they visit.  By nice, I mean more than $15/plate, and still tastes dang good.

6)  Food places are easily accessible from campus via walking or public transportation (at most a ten minute car ride away).  This one’s courtesy of Jongmin.

Would you add anything else to this list?

In my opinion, with the criteria above, Berkeley would win this competition hands down.  I’ll tell you why in a future post.  Here are a few other places I’ve visited:

– NYU – The Village

– Columbia – Morningside Heights

– Stanford – Palo Alto

– UC San Diego – La Jolla, CA

– Princeton- Princeton, NJ

– Harvard/MIT – Cambridge

– UCLA – Westwood

– USC – Downtown LA

– UVA – Charlottesville

– Yale – New Haven

– Northwestern – Evanston

– Gordon College – Hamilton, MA

If you’d like to make the case for another college-town, please do so.  I’m willing to visit, because cheap, greasy food is my idea of a heavenly time.

Again, I’m fairly confident Berkeley wins, but I’m willing to hear others out on this.  I’m actually afraid to visit UT Austin.  For some reason, I have an eerie feeling that they’d have the best food, and that seems like an injustice considering their coaching staff connives its way to votes in the Coaches/USA Today Poll.  Yes, I’m still bitter, and forever will be.


7 responses to “Best College-Town Food

  1. i agree that Berkeley should win that hands down.
    but here are a few more places that should be on the list.

    Rutgers, NJ
    UPenn + Drexel, Philly
    U of Pitt + Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh

    i think another criteria should be that most of these eateries are within a walking distance or a public transportation ride or two away (or under 10 minutes by car) – to level the playing field for poor college kids without a car.

  2. oh yeah. let me also add univ. of toledo.

  3. Your criteria are ridiculous. You basically looked at what Berkeley has, then made those the criteria for the best college food town. Absurd.

    I’ve heard good things about U of Chicago (the food in the ghetto is apparently legendary) and UNC.

  4. Jongmin, that’s a good one. I added it to the list.

    Danny, what would you add? These are seriously the qualities I look for in college-town food. I actually think most college kids would agree with me. I can’t help it if Berkeley fits the bill. 🙂

    I would concede that the following could also be added to the list:
    – Late-night hangouts with good food.
    – Coffee Places
    – Dessert/Sweets

    Even then, I think Berkeley would win.

    I think that there’s great food at other places (like northwestern’s wings place bj’s or the hoagie place at princeton), but I don’t think they rival Cal in terms of quantity of places.

  5. i vote penn in philly bc we recently got a lot of new things! 🙂

    plus we have super cheap food trucks all over which are actually pretty tasty and make for quick lunches to the busy student! 😀

  6. Since I have nothing at stake in this discussion (and have visited enough college campuses), I’d say Berkeley would definitely rank in the top 1 of college-town foods, especially when it comes to diversity (i.e. mexican, korean, chinese, ethiopian, indian, vegetarian, thai, pizza, hoagies, soup/salad/sandwich, tons of cafes, etc.).

  7. Vegas, Baby! Cheap local’s casino food (2$ breakfast, $3 lunch, $4 dinner), variety — Mediterranean, sushi, Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, etc., and high-end stuff too — Charlie Palmer’s, Matsuhisa, etc. Lots of all you can eat for starving students too.

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