Considering its proximity to food and wine hot spots San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Sonoma, it should come as no surprise that food-loving students should enroll in a Berkeley, California school. Inarguably, the best meal you can have (when your parents come to town) is at Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse. The Cheese Board Collective is a classic California cheese shop that grew into a bakery, serving muffins, cookies, specialty breads, and even pizzas. And for those times when savory just won’t cut it, Sweet Dreams Candy Store will cover all gummy, bonbon, taffy, and chocolate needs.
No matriculated student in Ann Arbor has an excuse for being on an all-ramen diet, what with “world famous chipatis” at Pizza House and deep-fried dumplings at University Café. The classic deli-style sandwiches from Zingerman’s Deli, specifically the Reuben, make for perfect study food. And when you’re looking to impress an out of town guest, head to Gandy Dancer for Dungeness crab, cedar-planked salmon, and seasonal specialties.
Study hall can only last so long. So, for students who like leaving the library, Princeton’s food scene proves a more than worthy venture. Stop by Olive’s for a mouth-watering lunch of moussaka, a classic B.L.T, and an oversized cookie. Find delicious dinners at the Blue Point Grill, with an eclectic array of seafood like She Crab Soup, Portuguese sardines, Maine lobster cakes, and shrimp dumplings. And any gelato (or cupcake) hankering can be satisfied at The Bent Spoon, where you can choose from an ever growing menu of flavors like New Jersey honey, peanut butter, and lavender mascarpone.
In late October, before midterms and Thanksgiving vacations with the family, Oxford, Miss. hosts their annual BBQ Throwdown — just one of the many signs that Oxford has become a delicious college town. That Ole Miss throws one of the best tailgates in the country doesn’t hurt, either. Student budget-friendly places like Bottle Tree Bakery (for sweet potato and Andouille soup and gourmet pressed sandwiches) and Handy Andy (for pulled pork sandwiches and slices of apple pie) are student haunts. 208 is the perfect parents weekend dinner spot — or for a stop at their Martini Mondays.
When considering schools, one has to keep in mind the general ambiance and character of the town. No prospective student should hesitate when it comes to Chapel Hill, though; It just conjures images of biscuits, gravy, and endless green lawns. Keeping with that, the best biscuits in town are from Neal’s Deli. Provisions are best found at Farmer’s Daughter, while succulent barbecue can be found at the aptly named The Pig, and sandwiches are of the utmost importance at Sandwhich.
Burlington is a gastronomes town, whether your life is organized by semesters or not. There is no way to overhype American Flatbread, but to say that it would have to be any in-the-know college student’s staple would be an understatement. Likewise, Red Onion serves consistently fresh and flavorful sandwiches and every college town should be lucky enough to play host to The Penny Cluse Café. After hitting the books, reward yourself with a trip to Shelburne Farms.
Vegetarian-friendly with a heavy dose of outdoor activities and cultural outlets, Eugene, Oregon, seems made for students. Did we mention their ever-thriving food scene? Metropol Bakery is the go-to spot for freshly baked breads, sweets, and fresh smoothies. Organic pizzas and microbrews can be found at the somewhat motley Cozmic Pizza, while parents would be happy to foot the bill for moules frites, seared sea bass, and roasted game hen at Marché. Taste of India’s authentic fare has captured the heart of every Eugene denizen, whether they stay for four years or forever.
Already known for being a true food-lover’s town, Ithaca gives students the chance to study in a gorgeous (gorges?) setting with a healthy helping of Greek souvlaki, calamari, and some French fries on the side from Souvlaki House. Seasonal Italian dishes like chicken liver pâté, grilled artichokes, and chicken Milanese at Mercato Bar and Kitchen are enough to pull you away from even the most riveting study session and The Chapter House works for when you have a late class the next morning.
Long known as the hardest partying college town in the country, Boulder can also rank itself among the tastiest. Moe’s Broadway Bagel serves the best in bagels and schmear in town and The Kitchen is a cool and communal space with a seasonal, farm-to-table menu like homemade tagliatelle carbonara, Colorado quinoa with broccoli, and Colorado steak frites. For an even more direct to the source taste of Boulder, students should hit the Boulder County’s Farmers Market.
Madison is one of those great college towns where students and universities are everywhere, but it still thrives in the summer when the students are gone. Great cultural opportunities abound in Madison, but food shines just as bright with places like The Old Fashioned and Harvest Restaurant. Students can hunker down at Bradbury’s Coffee for a study session over their famous crêpes and a latte.