A Delectable Dining Directory

Where to find the best eats at Dartmouth.

by Manasi Singh | 9/7/21 3:00am

by Sophie Bailey / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

Navigating how to feed yourself is a common worry among many freshman college students. Not only do freshmen have to learn how to fit eating into a newly unregulated schedule, they might feel uncertain about the type and quality of food available on campus. While this worry is common, it is, for the most part, unfounded. For the size of Dartmouth’s campus, there is actually quite the selection of food. In fact, Niche.com ranks the College’s food in the top 10% of U.S. universities. This comprehensive guide to Dartmouth Dining Services will hopefully serve as an introduction for the Class of 2025 on where to find the best grub on campus.

How to dine at Dartmouth

Incoming students are automatically placed on the Ivy Unlimited dining plan. This plan has unlimited meal swipes and an extra $250 in dining dollars, what most students call DBA. Swipes are used to enter the Class of 1953 Commons — better known to students at “Foco” — for unlimited access to food selections at the dining hall during each of the first three meal periods: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Students can also use that swipe for a numeric meal swipe equivalency, which varies in value depending on the time of day, at another dining location on campus. Similarly, dining dollars can be used like a debit card at different meal spots around campus and will cover what the meal equivalency value of your swipe does not.

’53 Commons (“Foco”)

’53 Commons is Dartmouth’s all-you-can-eat buffet-style dining hall, open from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. for three different meal periods. 

For breakfast, students can choose from an oatmeal bar, omelette station and continental breakfast items, as well as other areas with cereal, yogurts, fruits and pastries. Lunch and dinner options are similar and feature a salad and soup bar, pizza and pasta station, stir fry station, grilled and fried foods and a daily entree, along with vegetarian and vegan offerings and kosher and halal fare. ’53 Commons is definitely the most popular spot for dinner due to sheer size alone, but is also a really great place to eat if you’re looking to grab dinner in a bustling social environment. 

Catherine Grimes ’24 said looking ahead at the menu was something she did prior to entering the dining hall in order to make the process more smooth.

“The first time I went to Foco, it was a bit overwhelming,” Grimes said. “So if you get overwhelmed easily, it's nice to look at the menu online and kind of have an idea of what you're going to get beforehand.”

Collis Cafe and Market

Aside from housing offices and meeting rooms, the Collis Center for Student Involvement has its own cafe and market. Located right between ’53 Commons and Main Street, Collis is a convenient location to grab a bite to eat, especially for breakfast and lunch. 

Collis breakfast is the spot to hit if you’re looking for a lighter meal or a quick spot to grab and go. During the earlier hours, students can have breakfast and deli sandwiches, eggs, and smoothies. Dinner at Collis is famous for its pasta station that features a side of garlic bread, as well as stir fry with various protein and veggie options. Collis sushi is also a popular item, made fresh by a professional chef. In addition to the fresh food items, there is a coffee and tea station available as well as pre-made sandwiches, pastries, fruits, and other quick snacks.

This year, Dartmouth Dining plans to add a bubble tea machine in Collis Cafe. Dartmouth Dining Services director Jon Plodzik emphasized that his team hopes it becomes a popular way to make use of dining dollars and meal swipes.

“I think it's just such a winner for us and a winner for everyone, because people love it,” Plodzik said. “We have three pallets worth of bubble tea ingredients in a warehouse ready to go,” in anticipation for student arrival, he added. 

Collis Market is an on-campus convenience store located in the basement of Collis Center that carries items including health, medicine and beauty supplies, in addition to offering snacks and school supplies. Students can use credit cards and DA$H to purchase items from Collis Market. 

Novack Cafe

Conveniently located on the ground floor of Berry Library, Novack Cafe hits the spot for students craving a jolt of energy on campus. Novack offers a wide selection of Starbucks beverages, warm sandwiches, pastries and bagels and a variety of prepackaged snacks available for purchase with a meal swipe equivalency or DBA.

Novack is also open during a fourth meal period — late night — some nights of the week. Late night at Novack often serves students studying late in the library and features its full menu, making it the spot to hit for a caffeine or sugar run. Students will typically head downstairs from the library, grab a snack with some friends and then head back up to wherever they are working.

Novack is a major employer of students on campus. First-generation, low-income students make up much of the staff at Novack due to the location’s flexible hours, generous pay and sense of community.

Courtyard Cafe (“The Hop”)

Courtyard Cafe will not only be new for members of the Class of 2025, but also for members of the Class of 2024, as it was closed this past school year. The cafe — which juniors and seniors refer to as “The Hop” — is located inside of the Hopkins Center for the Arts and specializes in grilled and fried foods, with a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan foods. Plodzik also noted that students will be able to try the “Incogmeato” menu items, such as veggie burgers, vegan soups and foods that imitate meat. 

Like Novack, the Hop will once again be hosting late night dining until midnight this fall, which will feature every fried and grilled snack you could possibly want, including waffle fries, mozzarella sticks, mac and cheese bites, onion rings and so much more. Late night at The Hop ends up being a big part of most Dartmouth students’ social life, as most people come with their friends.  

“I feel like a big thing is, like, you go to college, and then you ask someone to go get lunch and make friends.” Grimes said. She said many members of the Class of 2024 missed out on that after having to eat almost all meals inside of their rooms during their first two weeks on campus. Late night ended up being a fun way for her to hang out with friends over snacks.

“During COVID, everything has been pretty monotonous, so it’ll be nice to have things opening back up,” Grimes said.

Residential Snack Bars

Closed during the pandemic, residential snack bars will be reopening come fall term, serving students from 8:00 p.m. till 2:00 a.m. The three snack bars are located in Brace Commons in the East Wheelock cluster, Goldstein Hall in the McLaughlin cluster and House Center B — which many students know at “The Cube” — between the Allen and School House clusters. These snack bars mostly serve prepackaged snacks, candies and treats and will be staffed primarily by students. 

“[The snack bars] were designed to bring people together, because you tend to move so many times when you’re a Dartmouth student, in between buildings, that this is like the one place that you could kind of call your second home,” Plodzik said. He added that he hopes freshmen will benefit from the later hours and more casual setting of the snack bars as they adjust to college life. 

Chait Mehra ’23 expressed his excitement for having a dining option stay open past 12:00 a.m., noting that during the pandemic, all dining options closed at midnight.

“I’m just really glad that there’s an option that’s gonna be available to us post-midnight now — the only option if you’re hungry after midnight as things stand is Domino’s, which isn’t the best for your body or bank balance,” Mehra said.

Cafe at Baker

Last year, King Arthur Flour — now called King Arthur Baking Company — closed the doors of its Baker-Berry location, much to the dismay of Dartmouth students. However, a new cafe is slated to open on Sept. 2 in the same location as KAF on the first floor of Baker-Berry. 

Plodzik said that Dartmouth Dining has attempted to bring back favorites from the previous coffee shop in its location, while still having a different menu than other dining locations. 

“It will feature a lot of the items that were really popular at the King Arthur Flour: We have awesome Mocha Joe’s coffee, and we’ll have Rishi’s tea,” Plodzik said. He added that many handmade pastries that were student favorites will be returning, including hand pies.

Other Dining Options

While the dining spots listed above are most popular for undergraduate students, there are a few other options available around campus just in case you’re not satisfied. 

Ramekin Cafe, located in Anonymous Hall, primarily serves graduate students near the Geisel School of Medicine, according to Plodzik, but is also open to undergraduates. The cafe offers a selection of sandwiches, soups, salads and Starbucks coffee. 

This fall is also likely to see the opening of a new dining spot at the Irving Institute for Energy and Society. The dining location, called “Renew,” will serve cafe-style options similar to Ramekin and, like Collis Cafe, bubble tea. Renew is not slated to open until early November, once construction on the Irving Institute is completed.

Additionally, the Center for Engineering and Computer Science building, which is currently under construction but will likely be open to students by the fall, will feature another new restaurant called “Back of the Napkin.” This restaurant will have an assortment of grab-and-go meals and what Plodzik called a “make your own espresso” spot.