Food. The most important part of college besides, arguably, your education.
The dining room menu can make or break my day. Will there be a beaming smile on my face as I scoop up bites of Maplestreet Commons macaroni and cheese on my plate? Or am I going to sulk my way to the grill and shovel some soggy cauliflower to put next to my unseasoned chicken? Every day is a bet.
Unless you know where to eat.
Since a new supplier, Aramark, took over the University of Miami restaurants this year, the validity of these rankings may change. As of last year, however, the places I’ve rounded up are at the upper echelon of Miami campus cuisine. So here are the seven best 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 my personal and ultimate lifeline. It’s reliable, tasty, and the perfect location on campus for when you need a quick boost after working on a project at Armstrong.
The coffee tastes much richer than Cafe Lux, King Cafe or any diner water flavored coffee with a tree bark aftertaste. Along with the many coffee options, Starbucks also sells quite reasonable breakfast and lunch choices.
One of the main drawbacks is the line. I admittedly waited over 40 minutes just to get my hands on a spinach and feta wrap with a caramel macchiato, but I never regretted it.
The rankings for the next three dining rooms are pretty interchangeable. Depending on who you ask, you’ll get a different ranking each time. I placed Garden at the lowest because it may have the coveted Zen Garden which (previously) allowed students to do their own stir fry, but it still has fewer options than the other two. The food here remains fairly consistent and each day at least one menu item will catch your eye.
Sweet service station. Need I say more? Don’t worry, I will. Even though Communes Martin also has a soft serve machine, he didn’t make the top seven for obvious reasons. Martin is reputed to be the lowest ranked dining hall on campus. Martin’s small size already places limits on your dining experience. However, Western, the newest of the dining areas, has room for an abundant salad bar, sandwich shop, international bar, and grill space.
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The only reason I put Maple higher on the list than Western is because of the Southwest station. Last year, unfortunately, this station was only open during lunch hours. However, every time I had the chance to help myself to a healthy helping of guacamole with chicken and pico de gallo, I knew my day was set for success. Maple shines brightest during its lunch hours. Meanwhile, students can also catch spring rolls at the stir-fry station.
3. Marketstreet in MacCracken
This place really has it all. Marketstreet looks like a mini grocery store on campus. During the day, I can use meal recipes to have a breakfast sandwich in all its cheesy glory and sip on a personal smoothie. If I desperately need popcorn, I can run and grab a bag because of her late hours. But beware: restaurant dollars may look like counterfeit monopoly money, but in places like campus markets, your money quickly fades.
Maybe it’s because I only find myself inside the Farmer School of Business on very rare occasions, but Dividends feels like it houses something ethereal. The infamous build-your-own salad station ranks supremely higher than all other dining options. You can also enjoy a delicately warm panini, order a bento or sip a latte. Dividends have so many options, and all of them are delicious.
1. Armstrong Student Center
Armstrong Student Center takes the place for the best catering options, mainly because it has the most options. From pizza to wings to sushi, Armstrong is also a reliable option, with dishes made to order. It also provides the perfect atmosphere to catch up with friends or work on upcoming assignments.
Armstrong has plenty of choices to eat, so take your pick.
Café Lux: for a coffee and muffin pick-me-up.
Red Zone: It satisfies your craving for Buffalo Wild Wings and seasoned fries.
Pulley Diner: I’m a sucker for a classic breakfast. Also, milkshakes.
Haines’: fresh Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
Kabar: sushi, stir-fries and more.
Eiffel Pizza: pizzas and pastas for a little carbohydrate.
Emporium: Armstrong’s market where you can buy snacks or a meal.
Field to Fork: salads that rival those of Dividends.
Honorable Mention: Bell Tower Commons
Only those on campus in or before fall 2020 had the opportunity to dine at Bell in all its glory while it was still in full operation.
This dining room closed due to the pandemic and only reopened briefly in 2020, eventually closing again. The flavors of the Chipotle-esque burrito bar and quesadilla station live on in the distant memories of the Class of 2023. Although I’ve never eaten there myself, the accolades from older students make this place deserve to be noted.