Food. The most important part of college besides, arguably, your education.
The menu for the dining hall can make or break my day. Will there be a beaming smile slapped across my face as I scoop some of Maplestreet Commons’ mac and cheese bites onto my plate? Or will I sulk my way over to the grill and shovel up soggy cauliflower to put next to my unseasoned chicken? Every day is a gamble.
Unless you know where to eat.
Because a new provider, Aramark, has taken over Miami University dining this year, the validity of these rankings may change. As of last year, however, the locations I gathered stood in the upper echelon of Miami campus cuisine. So, here are the top seven places to eat on campus, ranked.
I felt reluctant to put the on-campus Starbucks on the list, but in the end, it serves as a personal favorite and ultimate lifesaver. It’s reliable, tasty and perfectly located on campus for when you need a quick pick-me-up from working on a project at Armstrong.
The coffee tastes far richer than Cafe Lux, King Cafe or any of the dining halls’ water-flavored coffee with a tree bark aftertaste. Besides the many coffee options, Starbucks also sells pretty reasonable breakfast and lunch choices.
One of the major downsides is the line. I’ve admittedly waited upward of 40 minutes just to lay my hands on a spinach and feta wrap paired with a caramel macchiato, but I have never regretted it.
The rankings of the next three dining halls are pretty interchangeable. Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different ranking every time. I placed Garden the lowest because it may have the coveted Zen Garden that (used to) let students make their own stir fry, but it still has fewer options than the other two. The food here stays pretty consistent, and every day at least one item on the menu will catch your eye.
Soft serve station. Need I say more? Don’t worry, I will. Even though Martin Commons also has a soft serve machine, it did not make the top seven for obvious reasons. Martin famously stands as the lowest-ranked dining hall on campus. The small size of Martin already sets limitations to your dining experience. However, Western, the newest of the dining halls, has space for an abundant salad bar, a sandwich station, an international bar and a grill area.
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The only reason I put Maple higher on the list than Western is because of the Southwest Station. Last year, sadly, this station was only open during lunch hours. However, whenever I had the chance to serve myself a heaping serving of guacamole paired with chicken and some pico de gallo, I knew my day was set for success. Maple shines brightest during its lunch hours. During this time, students can also snag some spring rolls from the stir fry station.
3. Marketstreet at MacCracken
This place really does have it all. Marketstreet looks and feels like a mini, on-campus grocery store. During the day, I can use meal swipes to grab a breakfast sandwich in all of its cheesy glory and sip on a personal smoothie. If I’m desperate for some popcorn, I can run over and grab a bag because of its late hours. But, be warned: dining dollars may feel like fake monopoly money, but in places like the campus markets, your money fades fast.
Maybe it’s because I only find myself inside the Farmer School of Business on the rarest of occasions, but Dividends feels like it houses something ethereal. The infamous build your own salad station ranks supremely higher than any other dining options. You can also feast on a delicately warm panini, order a bento box or sip on a latte. Dividends has so many options, and all of them are delicious.
1. Armstrong Student Center
Armstrong Student Center takes the place for the best dining options, mainly because it has the most options. From pizza to wings to sushi, Armstrong is also a reliable option, with made-to-order food. It also provides the perfect atmosphere to either catch up with friends or work on some upcoming assignments.
Armstrong has many choices for dining, so take your pick.
Café Lux: for a quick coffee and muffin pick-me-up.
Red Zone: it satisfies your Buffalo Wild Wings craving for wings and seasoned fries.
Pulley Diner: I am a sucker for a classic diner breakfast. Also, milkshakes.
Haines’: Mediterranean-inspired fresh dishes.
Kabar: sushi, stir fry and more.
Eiffel Pizza: pizza and pasta for some carb-loading.
Emporium: Armstrong’s market where you can get snacks or a meal.
Field to Fork: salads that rival those of Dividends.
Honorable Mention: Bell Tower Commons
Only the people on campus in fall 2020 or earlier have been graced with the experience of dining at Bell in all of its glory while it was still fully operating.
This dining hall closed due to the pandemic and only briefly reopened in 2020 to then eventually close again. The flavors from the Chipotle-esque burrito bar and quesadilla station live in the distant memories of the class of 2023. Even though I have never eaten there myself, the praises given by older students make this spot worth noting.