Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Navigating on-campus dining at Northwestern

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.

For many, going to college is the introduction to school meals with variety beyond the standard high school cafeteria. With five dining halls, eight different meal locations and three markets on campus, there are various means of having different foods daily. Here is our breakdown of the options available on campus with the first-year meal plan.

What is the first-year meal plan?

Along with the requirement to live on campus for their first year, first-years are automatically assigned to the Open Access meal plan. 

With unlimited meal swipes, this plan allows students infinite access to on-campus dining halls, meaning there is no need for concern on running out of swipes or an accidental swipe equating to a lost meal. In addition to unlimited student swipes come three guest swipes per quarter, perfect for inviting friends or family members to a dining hall during move-in, family weekend, move-out or other visits. 

Also on a quarterly basis, the plan grants students $125 in dining dollars. From snacks, school supplies, toiletries, meals and coffee, dining dollars bring shopping and food runs to nearby campus locations. On a weekly basis, students have five meal exchanges. Available at various on-campus dining locations, meal exchanges are select meals that come at the cost of a meal exchange as opposed to dining dollars or actual money. 

Dining halls

The classic keystone of the college dining hall experience, dining halls offer a variety of different foods that allow students to put together their own meals for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Since first-years have unlimited swipes, dining halls can effectively serve as a spot for multiple quick snacks throughout the day. 

Each dining hall is located in a student residence hall. South Campus’ Foster-Walker Complex houses two dining halls next to one another: Plex East and Plex West. Plex East only serves Pure Eats foods, offering dishes free of common allergens and gluten during the second half of the day. The neighboring Plex West, open during regular hours, offers more options, including a breakfast omelet bar, fruit and salad bars, cereal section and dessert offerings. 

A brief walk from the Plex dining halls is Allison Dining Hall, the other South Campus dining hall that offers the same selections as Plex East in addition to a larger seating area, a Pure Eats section and a kosher station. The kosher section, open at select times, offers a selection of kosher food daily, except during Shabbat. 

Elder Dining Hall, located on North Campus, is the other campus dining hall with a kosher section, also offering a street food section that offers different dishes daily. Sargent Dining Hall, the other North Campus dining hall, offers the same selections as Allison with the exception of the kosher station. Menus and hours are available on the Dine On Campus website and accompanying app.

Where to spend dining dollars

Students on the Evanston campus can shop and eat at various locations with dining dollars, saving off-campus trips and actual dollars. 

At Norris University Center, the campus student center, students can shop from a selection of refrigerated drinks, frozen goods, salads, over-the-counter medications, candy and snacks at The Market. Plex and Lisa’s Cafe, located in Slivka Hall, have similar shopping locations that also include toiletries, household supplies, school essentials and seasonal goods. 

The Evanston campus is also home to four — soon to be five – locations for sweet drinks or a cup of joe: Starbucks — dubbed “Norbucks” — at Norris, Tech Express at the Technological Institute, Café Coralie at Pancoe Life Sciences Pavilion, Protein Bar at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion and a forthcoming smoothie location at Norris. In addition, locations that offer meal exchange options also have a variety of dining dollar menu options.

Where to use meal exchanges

There are currently six locations that offer meal exchanges: MOD Pizza, Buen Día, 847 Burger, Wildcat Deli, Lisa’s Cafe and Fran’s Cafe. The first four are all located on the ground floor of Norris with shared seating, with MOD being the last to close at 10 p.m. Lisa’s, located North, and Fran’s, located South, are both open until 1 a.m., making them perfect for late dinners on campus.

Important things to keep in mind

Although weekly schedules tend to remain the same, it’s key to note different holidays and breaks that might make for earlier closures. Students can also keep track of dining dollars and meal exchanges with the GET Mobile app.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @TheMicahSandy

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