Whether it is fuel for an all-nighter at the library or some grease as the morning-after antidote for a late night out, a trustworthy food establishment is an essential part of campus life. As a college sophomore who blogs about food regularly, it took some detective work to discover the best places outside the radius of my road bike. Through the swift wires of the Internet, I sent a rallying cry to trusted fellow foodies on campuses nationwide. From this sampling of avid eaters, I gleaned this list, in no particular order, of the most satiating spots.
Here are the top 10 nosh spots across campuses nationwide. The criteria: cheap, delicious, and more or less ubiquitously known and loved amongst the student population. So, if you are feeling ambitious in this season of March Madness, make a bracket, take a road trip, and pick the winner. And if you have suggestions, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
1. Rotier's -- (Vanderbilt, Belmont): The best cheeseburger in Nashville for 11 years in the running makes Rotier's much more than your average Southern meat-and-three. Rotier's regulars have scores of high falutin' adjectives to describe this 65-year-old institution. "At one time I questioned the existence of God," said Belmont student Corey Winfrey. "Then I laid my lips on the beauty that is the Rotier's cheeseburger on French bread." Jimmy Buffet shared these sentiments; his encounter with "heaven on Earth with an onion slice" that inspired "Cheeseburger in Paradise" was at Rotier's. 2413 Elliston Place, Nashville, Tenn. 37203 -- (615) 327-9892
2. F&M Patio Bar -- (Loyola New Orleans, Tulane): Dance on pool tables and gorge yourself with waffle fries until sunrise because F&M is open "'til at least 4 a.m." Always packed with college students, it caters to the young-'20s crowd. Meet some new friends, hop in the photo booth and down some famous cheese fries. But keep your photo strip grease free -- they have a wall devoted solely to strips of married couples who met at F&M. Who knows how your night will end! 4841 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70115 -- (504) 895-6784
3. The Sink -- (University of Colorado): This "Boulder Burger Institution" has been flipping patties for more than 80 years. Hand-painted murals coat the walls and create a mesmerizing, cartoon narrative history of the Rocky Mountain town. A student favorite is "Flip Night" – the bartender flips a coin and if you call it right, your drink is a quarter. 1165 13th St., Boulder, Colo. 80302 -- (303) 444-7465
4. Freebirds -- (Rice University): A motorcycle riding Statue of Liberty raises a foil wrapped burrito torch in her left hand. Welcoming the huddled masses, this build-your-own burrito line offers options like roasted garlic or BBQ sauce. In case the standard bursting-at-the-seams burrito is too small, the monster option weighs almost three pounds. "Well you know, I was a Chipotle girl," said Rice junior Coco Owens. "Then I came here and I went to Freebirds. They had queso. I'm a Freebirds girl now." 3745 Greenbriar St., Houston, Texas -- (713) 524-0621
5. Golden Harvest - (Michigan State University): A family-owned and living room-sized diner dishes out breakfasts with clever names like "The Mother Trucker" (meaning add biscuit and gravy to your meal), "Adam and Eve on a Raft" or a Polish Omelette "as big as your head" with Kielbasa and sweet peppers. The only complaint is the wait time for one of the coveted tables, but luckily the walls are decked with enough eclectic decorations that a game of I-Spy should pass the time. 1625 Turner St., Lansing, Mich. 48906 - (517) 485-3663
6. Beans & Barley - (University Wisconsin Milwaukee, Marquette): What began as a small health food store is now a favorite destination on Milwaukee's east side. Sit down to a meal in the cafe, or grab a sandwich on the fly from the deli. There is a vast selection of salads, soups, hot and cold sandwiches, burritos, desserts, smoothies and breakfast. After dinner, pick up a six-pack of local beer, some fresh produce or Wisconsin famous cheese from the specialty market. 1901 E. North Avenue, Milwaukee, Wis. 53202 -- (414) 278-7878
7. Heartland Cafe - (Loyola University Chicago): Paying homage to tie-dyed times past, this creaky wood-paneled restaurant dates to the early 1970s. The Heartland also has a small general store stocked with left-wing magazines and free trade coffee. The restaurant serves up "wholesome food for the mind and body." The extensive menu uses locally sourced produce, caters to the vegetarian crowd, and offers ample selections of draft beer. 7000 N. Glenwood Avenue, Chicago, Ill. -- (773) 465-8005
8. Taqueria Y Fonda - (Columbia University): A Mexican flag striped awning marks this Upper West Side dive that satiates the south-of-the-border cravings of the Columbia University masses. Free delivery until midnight means you might find a Hansel and Gretel trail of salsa verde marking the delivery routes around Morningside Heights. Traditional tacos and giant burritos abound, but they also offer authentic regional dishes from Southwestern Mexico. The adventurous palate can try chicken pipian (a sweet pumpkin sauce) or mole verde. 968 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10025 -- (212) 531-0383
9. O'Rourke's Diner - (Wesleyan College): This 69-year-old diner boasts an eight-page menu with 30 omelets, 14 benedicts and an inventive collection of hashes (think smoked duck or wild turkey), as well as the Middletown local tradition of steamed cheeseburgers. In 2006, a fire pillaged the joint, but locals raised over $300,000 to help Brian O'Rourke get back to the grill. Starting at 6 a.m. daily, belly up to the bar or settle down in a deep booth to enjoy the finest in diner fare. 728 Main St., Middletown, Conn. 06457 - (860) 346-6101
10. Rosetta's Kitchen - (Warren Wilson College): Warren Wilson college is nestled in the Swannanoa Valley with a 1,100 acre campus that boasts a working farm and a matrix of forested hiking trails. The school draws an environmentally and socially conscious crowd and Rosetta's Kitchen dishes out the farm fresh vegan soul food that these students crave. Brown rice, kale and tempeh reign supreme and the staff is a "dedicated crew of brilliant freaks of various persuasions." A garlic bulb, heirloom tomato and trowel wielding Lakshmi is mascot for the "constant flow of creative souls" who seek nourishment here. 111 Broadway St., Asheville, N.C. 28801 -- (828) 232-0738
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