On-Campus Dining at Cornell: A Definitive Ranking

As a self-proclaimed ‘foodie’ and seasoned Cornell diner, here is a (very biased) ranking of the best spots to eat on campus.

1. Manndibles​

The Manndibles dining experience is guaranteed a positive and healthy one. Manndibles offers the best vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and whatever else you want-free options. The vegan desserts are surprisingly moist, and the coffee beats the grody dining hall brew. Usually bustling with sorority girls and cool CALS professors, Manndibles is open on the weekends and is especially popular amongst those who study religiously in Mann during finals season. Since Big Red Bucks  are not accepted, here’s a pro-tip: buy yourself $20 gift cards to save $5 for each.

2. Becker Dining Hall

Becker on West Campus is arguably the best dining hall on campus because of its friendly service and quality of food unparalleled by any other dining hall! Eat at Becker for authentic Chinese food on Tuesdays and Italian on Thursdays or honestly just go there on any day, because it will always be good.

3. Terrace

If you ever want to observe Hotelies in their natural habitat, head over to Terrace where the staff is friendly and the students are even friendlier! Terrace has a plethora of food options, including salads, wraps and Vietnamese Pho.

4. Trillium

If you haven’t had a salad at Trillium, are you even a Cornell student? In all honesty, Cornellians from all colleges (even Engineering) flock to Trillium for lunch because of its high-quality food and beverage selection. This means the line-ups are usually chaotic – there is a big influx at 11:45am and 1:00pm. Whether you are yearning for a Chipotle-style burrito bowl, orange chicken, or alfredo pasta, Trillium offers international cuisines to satiate any craving. Trillium is also home to the best burgers on campus!

5. Keeton Dining Hall

Living in the shadows of Becker is Keeton, the most underrated dining hall on campus. Why is it so high in the ranking? Though only two Cornell Dairy ice cream flavors are offered daily, Keeton is home to the only Indian food on campus, dim sum for brunch, iced coffee and an extensive fruit selection.

6. Temple of Zeus

Though its name may suggest otherwise, Temple of Zeus is neither a Greek restaurant nor a temple. Zeus consistently has amazing soup options but does not accept BRBs, so make sure you have cash or card in hand.

7. Café Jennie

Café Jennie is dangerously located in the heart of the Cornell Store, allowing you to shop and eat all in one go! If you’re lazy like me and don’t want to haul yourself to Collegetown for Starbucks, Café Jennie is a great alternative. It also offers patterned cups that will look great on your Snapchat story.

8. Robert Purcell Community Center (RPCC)

The overwhelmingly large selection at RPCC is exciting yet overwhelming. Though RPCC thrives in the quantity category, it lacks in quality. It also takes a long time to meander around and weigh your options, which may be stressful for indecisive eaters. The line-ups for made-to-order brunch food are also always outrageous.

9. Bear Necessities

The go-to spot for first-years after a long Cornell day is Bear Necessities, aka Nasties. This is the place where the Freshman 15 comes to fruition. As one of the only places on campus that sells mozzarella sticks and other junk foods until the wee hours of the night, Nasties is extremely busy during the late hours on the weekends.

10. Synapsis Café

Awkwardly located in a glossy, white building no one knows the name of (FYI it’s apparently called Weill Hall), the hidden gem that is Synapsis is known for its amazing Chobani smoothies. Make sure to ask for a smoothie card – if you buy ten you can get one free!

11. Green Dragon

Green Dragon is your quintessential artsy café with quirky décor and elusive AAP students we seldom see in the broad daylight. Who knows why, but starting this month, Green Dragon will no longer accept cash.

12. Risley Dining Hall

The food at Risley is pretty decent but is nothing magical. Definitely pay a visit there if you live vicariously through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (I do).

13. Bus Stop Bagels

Upon arriving at Cornell, it became clear that debating the quality of the glorified bagel is a rather controversial topic. So to avoid any criticism or conflict, I’ll just say that the bagels at Bus Stop are neither good nor bad.

14. Okenshields

The food at Okenshields is OK at best. As the only dining hall on central campus, many are drawn to its convenience despite its mediocrity. The blasting chart topping pop music juxtaposed against the eerie medieval décor results in a truly odd dining experience that will make you leave thinking “what era did I just emerge from?” The desserts, however, are above average, particularly the chocolate chip cookies.

15. Cook Dining Hall

Though pretty decent on Friday nights, Cook easily has the worst selection out of all dining halls. The fruit in particular is subpar, unless you like your bananas fully green or black. The only upside is that it closes late on weeknights.

Happy eating, my friends!