A guide to NU dining: where Wildcats grab a bite


File illustration by Angeli Mittal

From Fran’s cheesy quesadillas to Plex East’s stir fry, NU Dining has plenty of meal choices for our hungry Wildcats.

Jessica Ma, Reporter

Nothing compares to your grandma’s homemade chocolate chip cookies, but the ones at Sargent Dining Commons sure come close. From dining halls to cafes, Northwestern has some (purr)fect options for hungry Wildcats.  

Freshmen and sophomores are assigned to the Open Access Meal Plan, which includes unlimited dining hall meal swipes, five meal exchanges per week, three guest swipes per quarter and 125 dining dollars per quarter. You can use your meal plan at any dining location on campus. 

To help you digest what all of this means, we compiled an overview of where to eat and how to spend your dining dollars. 

Dining Halls

Dining commons provide a space for unwinding, whether you’re catching up with friends or enjoying a meal in solitude. NU has four dining halls for you to explore, each with its unique quirks. 

On south campus, Allison Hall has a two-floor dining hall with modern furnishings. Allison Dining Commons also hosts a teaching kitchen, where students can try cooking classes. Toward the center of campus, Foster-Walker Complex houses two dining spaces: Foster-Walker Plex East and Foster-Walker Plex West. Plex East is a campus celebrity, known for its made-to-order stir fry and fully allergen-free food. If you’re up north, Elder and Sargent are the dining halls to visit. Notably, Elder Dining Commons has a street-food station, offering international eats for your worldly taste buds. 

The dining halls also have salad bars and sandwich options. And if you’re in a rush, you can always take your meal to-go with an Ozzi reusable container. 

Dining Dollars & Meal Exchanges

But dining halls aren’t the only places Wildcats find their next meal. Students can take advantage of their dining dollars and meal exchanges throughout the week.

In Norris University Center, you can use your meal exchanges at MOD Pizza, customizing a personal pizza or salad with your favorite toppings. Like MOD, sandwich shop Wildcat Deli and burger joint Patty Squared are also at Norris and accept meal exchanges. 

Maybe you know a ‘Lisa’ or ‘Fran’ back home. But at NU, Lisa’s Cafe and Fran’s Cafe are hot spots open past midnight where students can use their meal exchanges and dining dollars. Located in Slivka Residential College, Lisa’s is well-known for its crispy chicken tenders and french fries. The cafe also sells ice cream, sandwiches and other snacks. At Willard Residential College, Fran’s offers cheesy quesadillas and creamy milkshakes. 

Starbucks (dubbed ‘Norbucks’), Dunkin’ and Viet Nom Nom are popular options for dining dollar spending in Norris. Tech Express in Technological Institute and Kresge Cafe in Kresge Hall serve plenty of hustling college students. And at student-run coffee bar BrewBike in Main Library’s Café Bergson, you can use dining dollars to buy a coffee as a caffeinated energizer for your study session. One of campus’s hidden gems, Café Coralie in Pancoe-NSUHS Life Sciences Pavilion provides coffee, pastries and beautiful views of campus. 

Dietary Accommodations

NU Dining celebrates inclusive dining and aims to accommodate a variety of dietary needs. In the dining halls, Rooted stations offer rotating vegetarian and vegan options. Pure Eats stations are allergen-friendly, preparing gluten-free meals without sesame or the top eight food allergens. Kosher stations are located in Allison and Elder, and all dining commons have halal options. 

If you have special dietary requirements, you can set up appointments with the campus dietician at [email protected]. 

Beyond the food

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, NU’s dining options have you covered. But there’s plenty of online resources to help you keep track of your options. 

If you love making playlists, you can download Rockbot to queue music in the dining commons and at Norris. You can also look at menus on Dine On Campus to plan your next meal. Lastly, make sure to follow NU Dining on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for updates. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @JessicaMa2025

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