While Burlington, North Carolina itself may be flooded with fast-food drive-thrus and restaurants, Elon University offers a delicious reprieve from those greasy burger and fries. With any Elon meal plan comes full access to all Dining Halls and with the meal exchange program, meal swipes (on the +7, +14 or block plans) can be used to grab a bite to eat at various eateries around campus. Every dining location has something unique to offer with a meal for every craving. Here is the almost definitive ranking of the best places to eat around campus (according to me):
1. Qdoba Mexican Grill
One of Elon’s newest editions to the restaurant scene. This dining location features fresh and flavorful cuisine prepared exhibition-style in full view of the customer. Menu items include: 1.25-pound (.5 kg) burritos, grilled quesadillas, nachos, a variety of tacos and my favorite – the naked burrito. While I’ve found the perfect blend of rice, steak, queso and other condiments for my specialty burrito bowl, it’s always fun to go and mix it up. The flavor combinations are both endless and delicious which puts Qdoba at the top of the list.
2. Acorn Coffee Shop
Acorn is a golden spot for getting anything from a bagel to a cup of chilli and everything in between. Featuring Starbucks brewed coffee and a sandwich bar, this little coffee shop is the perfect place to hang out with friends after class or meet for a late-night study break. The cafe is open until 1 am everyday which makes it a hot-spot for those late night cookie cravings. Most of my meal swipes go to either an everything bagel with cream cheese, a mozzarella and pesto grilled cheese or an apple cinnamon muffin, microwaved to warm delicious perfection.
3. Fountain Market
The Fountain Market is located on the first floor of the Colonnades Dining hall and is home to Boar’s Head Deli, Crouton’s Fresh Tossed Salads and Cheeze Please. The Market also includes a mini-grocery store so if you’re running low on cereal, soup, cookie dough or even deodorant, you can pick it up there. This is a great spot to grab a quick meal and is frequented a lot by business students post-class because of it’s close proximity to KOBC (The Koury Business Center). The Boar’s Head Deli makes delicious sandwiches that you can either create yourself or pick from a menu. Crouton’s let’s you create your own salad from a salad bar with everything you could ever want on a salad, including a personal favorite of mine, Goldfish! At Cheeze Please, you can craft your own grilled cheese and throw in a side of tomato soup for those days when you’re looking for a little comfort food.
4. Lakeside Dining Hall
Lakeside is the newest edition to Elon’s Dining Hall family. It’s high beam ceiling and spacious seating area makes it an ideal place to gather with friends for a sit down meal. I love going to dining halls because for just one meal swipe you can get as much food as your heart desires, and at Lakeside that could mean everything that’s being served. This Dining Hall is home to the International Cuisine Bar where every week there is a different country theme and traditional food from that country is served. Lakeside also has a great salad bar, a vegetarian/gluten-free section and some excellent dessert options to grab on your way out.
Chick-Fil-A, for those who do not know, is a classic southern fast-food restaurant. I know I said Elon offered a reprieve from fast-food America but Chick-Fil-A’s fried chicken sandwich is incomparable to any burger you’d find at McDonalds. With a meal swipe you can get a sandwich or chicken nuggets accompanied by the all too delicious waffle fries. Chick-Fil-A is one of my favorite off campus food stops so the fact that it is on campus, and I can use a meal swipe, makes my life all the more easier. (Just don’t forget a cold lemonade and the special Chick-Fil-A sauce on the side!)
6. Varsity Sports Grill
My favorite and the only place to get a Reuben sandwich on campus, makes Varsity one of my top dinner spots. A Reuben, which is a hot sandwich of corned beef, swiss cheese, thousand island dressing and sauerkraut, maybe my favorite meal but that’s not all Varsity’s menu has to offer. You can get everything from a good ol’ fashion BBQ sandwich, to a make-your-own wrap or choose to make a salad from the salad and soup bar. Varsity, as a Sports Grill, is also a great hub for sports fanatics alike. It features a theater like room, with big comfy seats and a large screen projector so you won’t miss a second of your favorite sports teams game.
7. Java City at KOBC
This little coffee café is located on the second floor of the Koury Business Center. It’s a perfect place for students in the business school to stop before those early morning classes for a steaming cup of freshly brewed Joe. They also offer a selection of bagels, muffins, sandwiches and various other snacks to grab on the go on your way to class or just to sit and munch on while you study. I’ve even been guilty of grabbing a quick bite mid-class.
8. Winter Garden Café
Elon’s Winter Garden Café can be found within the Mosely student center right outside of the Lakeside Dining Hall. It is home to Freshii’s, Topio’s and my personal favorite breakfast sandwich spot, Biscuitville. At Freshii’s you can select from a variety of salads, wraps, bowls and even frozen yogurt. With such a large selection, this is a great spot when you’re dining with a lot of people. It’s also at such a convenient location that it makes for a great lunch spot while you’re on campus going from class to class. Topio’s is where you can get almost every college student’s go to meal, pizza. With a meal swipe you can get two slices of any kind of pizza they’re serving or a calzone. Biscuitville, another one of the newer editions to Elon’s Dining Family, is where you can get all kinds of breakfast foods, like the classic fried chicken on a biscuit or a simple burger and fries. It’s a great stop for a tasty and filling meal in the morning, but don’t forget your side of hash browns!
9. Colonnades Dining Hall
Colonnades is another one of the 3 Dining Hall options here on Elon’s Campus. The Dining Hall always has a large selection of food with a pizza bar, sandwich bar, salad bar, desert bar, an area for their featured entrée’s of the hour and little bites to eat in between. It’s a great place to eat with friends or if you’re just looking for a lot of variety in meal choices. I love Colonnades when my stomach is extra rumbly because the amount of food you can get is unlimited (and trust me you can find students with stacks of plates). It’s also a great place to go if you want to eat and study at the same time. While Colonnades is a great place, it’s far from where I live so I don’t frequent it as often as I’d like which puts it so low on my list.
10. McEwen Dining Hall
Oh, McEwen, home to Late Night. While I have not actually been to this dining hall during regular meal hours, I have been here many a times during their 10pm-3am shift. Late Night McEwen is one of the only dining hall locations that stay open until the wee hours of the morning. Serving food like tater tots, burgers, hot dogs and fries, aka everything you shouldn’t be eating at 2 am but definitely are craving. It’s a great for late night study meals or a bite to eat on your way home from a late night as a friends house per say. Late Night is only open on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays and while sometimes the late night crowd can get rowdy, it makes for a great social dining experience.