At Notre Dame, and probably at many other schools as well, the dining hall is more than just where we grab a quick meal. It’s a social hub, meeting place, and break from the day. It’s where you’re guaranteed to see everyone you know, whether that’s a good thing or not!
However, dining halls on any college campus are inevitably surrounded by debate concerning how good the food and facility is. Some people might disagree with me, but compared to most other schools, Notre Dame’s food is very good. According to our campus dining website, we’ve been ranked highly (top 50, occasionally top 10) for many years now. If you’re someone who doesn’t see how that’s possible, then maybe some of my advice can help!
My first tip would be to think ahead. The dining hall lists their menu for each day on the Dining section of Inside.nd, and I find that literally no one knows about or takes advantage of this. It’s helpful for me during times like burger night (which most people love, making me an anomaly) because I know ahead of time that the dining hall will be absolutely packed with lines and serving solely burgers. Because I’m able to see that ahead of time, I might decide that that’s a day for me to enjoy a better dinner in Duncan Student Center or Lafun.
Another way to make the dining hall better for yourself is to investigate other areas, especially the ones where you can make your own food. Waiting in line for stir fry or browsing the usual homestyle/grill/pizza section will turn out well most of the time, but you can get more creative. You can make great sandwiches in the deli section with the panini press, great salads with the many toppings in the salad bar as well as the meats in other sections, and even waffles with a leprechaun on them. My favorite thing right now is to make a breakfast sandwich with a bagel, and toast it with eggs, bacon, cheese, and anything else they have in the breakfast section that day. Another crowd pleaser is getting the warm cookies right after they take them out of the oven and topping them with the amazing soft serve, or even making a delectable ice cream sandwich.
Other sections that should not be taken for granted include the fruit on select days, the vegetables, the cinnamon rolls in the pizza section, and the drinks. There are actually a ton of drink options, and in North Dining Hall there is an abundance of different tea options. I probably shouldn’t be advertising this, but it is all too easy to bring food out with you or fill up all of your water bottles with any drink of choice. Personally, whenever I’m running low on tea from Mountain Rose Herbs, I have a bad habit of stealing a handful of tea bags to hold me over!
As I hope I’ve demonstrated, some creativity and planning can take you a long way when it comes to the Notre Dame dining halls. There has to be some way to make it manageable, and even enjoyable, to eat there every day for months on end. Still, Thanksgiving will be much needed, so go Irish, beat food comas!