Dartmouth Dining Services Hacks

by Caitlyn McGovern | 8/30/19 3:35am

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by Justin Kramer / The Dartmouth Senior Staff
“Dartmouth Dining Services — or DDS, as the kids these days call it — will be your best friend and greatest enemy this coming term.”

Glittering trays of chicken nuggets, steaming hot waffles fresh off the press and ice cream — so much ice cream — await behind the doors to Foco. At the start of your freshman fall, I’m sure you’ll eat one, two, three or maybe four meals a day in Dartmouth’s only all-you-can-eat dining location. 

But by the middle of October, the chicken nuggets will look like regret, the hot waffles will leave your heart cold and the ice cream … too much ice cream. It’s a grim place to be, and I was there once before. 

Dartmouth Dining Services — or DDS, as the kids these days call it ­— will be your best friend and greatest enemy this upcoming term. You’ll love DDS for the late night mozz sticks and macaroons, yet hate them for closing Collis for lunch and dinner on the weekends.

After doing some soul-searching through the Collis stir fry line, HOP salads and Novack soup, I fell back in love with my meal plan sophomore year. It took me much longer than my friends did to realize that I did not, in fact, need to eat the same five things every day if I got just a little creative. While you, ’23s, will never know the struggle of half-cooking your chicken at Foco’s do-it-yourself stir fry station or the joys of garlic bread being included in the pasta-dinner special at Collis, you should know how to make your Dartmouth dining experience enjoyable. 

Foco (a.k.a. the Class of 1953 Commons, a.k.a. ’53, a.k.a. freshman fall)

Over the course of a term, Foco will put out just about anything you can imagine, from Chicken Monday (think housemade battered chicken, mashed potatoes and lots of corn) to the cinnamon monkey bread to tomato basil soup. With so many choices to choose from, it’s easy to customize your own meal and make Foco your friend.

A fan favorite hack is making sandwiches using the variety of bagels found by the cereal bar. Whether it’s a BEC (bacon, egg and cheese) in the morning or a melty toasted turkey and cheese at lunch, you can go crazy with any combo you want. A literal hot take would be to make a quesadilla in the sandwich toaster, adding on some guac from the sandwich bar. 

“For dessert, grab two freshly baked Foco cookies and put a scoop of your favorite Gifford’s ice cream between them. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.”


If you’re looking to spice up your breakfast or post dinner snack, roll through the ice cream bar and throw some toppings onto your Greek yogurt. From chocolate chips and M&M’s to Reese’s Pieces and rainbow sprinkles, you can add some pizazz to an otherwise bland bowl. If you’re feeling extra zesty, sneak over to the hot beverage area, and add some honey! For dessert, grab two freshly baked Foco cookies and put a scoop of your favorite Gifford’s ice cream between them. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

Collis (a.k.a. the student center, a.k.a. the best place you’ll ever go)

Collis fills in the gaps for the food you crave that Foco doesn’t quite have. The smoothies are fantastic (highly recommend mango, strawberry and pineapple with half guava juice half coconut water), and you can have freshly made sushi four nights a week. But where Collis truly shines is in its custom-made stir fry and pasta. 

Your first venture into making your own bowl of tri-color pasta with half-alfredo-half-red sauce will be a perilous one. The line of all-knowing upperclassmen can be daunting, but fill up your container (located under the salad bar) with your vegetables, hop behind the tall ’20 in front of you and be patient. If you want to do the meal swipe special, fill up a soup container with your vegetables, and let the Collis pasta gods (i.e. Brett) know you’re doing this so they can mark you container accordingly (oh, and don’t forget to write your own name on the container, too). With multiple different types of pasta (gluten-free included!) and three different kinds of sauce PLUS meatballs, you’re in good hands. P.S.A.: Add a side of chicken from the stir-fry to your pasta. YUM.

For stir fry, you can use the pre-mixed vegetables at the stir fry station or — if you’re feeling adventurous — use your own from the salad bar! Be sure to have your vegetables weighed at the cash register before you get in the stir fry line, and you’ll receive a slip of paper noting the cost of your corn and kale in exchange for your ID. There are loads of different sauces you can top your creation off with, and don’t forget Dave’s Original seasoning!

Got extra time (and DBA)? Make an avocado salad! Pick up a ripe avocado, a handful of cherry tomatoes, a ring or two of red onion, a dab of corn and as many lemon wedges as you can. Slice and dice up your veggies (not the corn though), and toss them together with olive oil, salt and pepper, and you’re set!

P.S.: Say hi to Brett, Dave and everyone else at Collis for me. They are truly the nicest people, and are the unsung heroes of this campus.

The Hop (a.k.a, the Courtyard Café)

Whether you’re craving a BLT, a cinnamon bun or mozzarella sticks, the Hop has something for everyone at every hour of the day. While the everyday options are extensive and delicious, keep your eyes peeled for the daily specials both at the grill and hot bar. The mac and cheese on Tuesdays is to die for and when DDS puts poutine fries out, you better bring your eating pants along for the meal. If you’re feeling adventurous, ask for a chicken tender “tendy” wrap or opt for one of the Bob sandwiches. Add a hash brown in and you’ll never want to leave the Hopkins Center ever again.

KAF and Novack (a.k.a. Baker-Berry Dream Team)

King Arthur Flour — or KAF, as we call it — has delicious pastries, to-die-for quiches, fresh salads and beautiful sandwiches. Even better, bring your own mug for a chance to get a free drink! Plus, they sell freshly baked baguettes that you can turn into the perfect avocado toast. On top of that, you can use your extra DBA at the end of the term to buy custom ordered cakes for you and your friends. A huge win in my book.

Novack sells everything from Hot Pockets to Gushers to wellness shots. With something to eat at every hour of the day, you can get a BEC on a biscuit and muffin for breakfast or Moe’s Southwest Grill for dinner (on certain nights of the week). If you buy a sandwich, be sure to ask for it to be warmed up.

And with that, I have bequeathed upon you my DDS knowledge. While I’ll be gone for the next two terms studying abroad and getting a taste of the “real world,” I’ll be dreaming of Collis pasta with pesto until I get back in spring 2020.

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