The vast majority of students at Notre Dame choose a meal plan when they live on campus.
The most popular plan provides 14 meals a week with 500 "flex points." Flex Points are accepted at select on-campus eateries, including Starbucks, Smashburger, Taco Bell, and all of the campus cafes.
Your 14 meals would be eaten at either North Dining Hall or South Dining Hall—all students can eat at either one.
While it may not seem like it at times (I am strongly biased toward my mom’s cooking), the food options available at Notre Dame are actually amazing and the dining hall does an awesome job of varying the food from day to day.
For breakfast, there is usually sausage, bacon, eggs, at least 10 different types of cereal with regular milk or almond milk, different types of bread, and pancakes.
Lunch and dinner offer items like rice, pasta, potatoes, different styles of meats chicken and fish, broccoli, carrots, and other types of veggies.
Fruits are available at every meal during the day—the most popular ones, in my opinion, being pineapple, apples, cantaloupe, and melons.
There is also a self-serve salad bar with as many dressing options as you can imagine!
In light of the diversity in food being far too vast to talk about everything, I will tell you my five favorite foods at the dining halls and why I love them.
1. Waffles! In both dining halls, there are at least two waffle makers that are available during breakfast and usually during lunch as well. I think waffles are amazing because you can dress them up with fruit, Nutella, peanut butter, or syrup.
2. Stir fry! This past year, Notre Dame upgraded their stir fry system to be more efficient. They now partner with Grubhub for this! Rather than wait in lines for meals to be made, students can swipe their cards on the newly-installed ordering machines, place their order, and leave. When their order is done, a text is sent to the student’s phone, and they can come and pick the hot and steamy ready-made stir fry. Chicken, beef, and shrimp are the meats usually offered with the stir fry, along with a plethora of vegetables. This is available during dinner time from Monday to Thursday!
3. Egg making station! Although Notre Dame offers standard ready-made scrambled and boiled eggs, I like to be creative with my eggs. At the omelet station, there are multiple vegetable ingredients available to create whatever specialty eggs you want. So for those who prefer their eggs sunny side up, still runny, or well done, the choice is yours. I usually put tomatoes, onions, and spinach in mine. Delicioso!
4. Pot stickers! Sometimes they are steamed, other times pan-fried. Either way, there’s not much to say—they’re always well-made and I just love them.
5. Chili! I actually became a chili fan because of the dining hall chili. They have just the right texture and mix of ingredients. It's always hot and ready, and my girlfriend and I discovered it together, which is going to be a cool memory I will always have!
Another cool thing about the dining halls is that there are specific nights for different types or styles of foods. These include Hawaiian night, Mexican night, and Indian night, where foods from these cultures or places are served. On Mardi Gras, foods native to New Orleans are served. These include Jambalaya, Gumbo, and the oh-so-delicious beignets. If you haven’t had them, you have to! My friends from NOLA really appreciate this. My personal favorite is wing night! It’s not from a place or a particular culture, but I just love chicken wings. I have had the privilege to enjoy flavors like plain, honey, and regular BBQ, honey garlic, buffalo, teriyaki, and Korean style.
One thing to note is that on Fridays during Lent, no meat is served in the dining halls. There are usually at least two types of fish and many more meat-free foods. For those who are not Catholic and who may want some meat during one of those meals on Lenten Fridays, there are several restaurants on Eddy Street that can serve this purpose.
Non-Dining Hall Food Options
LaFortune Hall (a.k.a. LaFun to students)
In LaFun, there are a bunch of places to grab a bite to eat! Smashburger, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut (famously nicknamed, TacoHut), Subway, and a Starbucks together form what is known as the Huddle Food Court. At Smashburger, the avocado crispy chicken club sandwich is my favorite! Smashburger shakes are also awesome! They are made with Haagen Dazs ice cream!
Also, the Huddle Mart allows people to buy not only ready-made microwaveable meals, but also basic groceries and endless snacks and ice creams to satisfy those late-night cravings. Regardless of what you want to eat, or where you want to eat it, there will always be an option close by that can cater to those hunger pangs.
Duncan Student Center
In the newer Duncan Student Center, students can choose from restaurants like Hagerty Family Cafe, Modern Market, and Star Ginger. Star Ginger serves a variety of Asian cuisine, and Modern Market serves freshly-made pizza, a plethora of sandwiches, as well as snacks to go with these meals!
I personally love Hagerty Family Cafe because they serve crepes and smoothies! They’re some of the best smoothies I’ve had, and the Cheesecake Supreme Crepe (a combination of strawberries, Nutella, and cheesecake) is just sublime.
There are also some hidden gems on campus! The bookstore has an Einsteins Brothers Bagels, a campus favorite. Hesburgh Center is home to Garbanzo, which is some of the best Mediterranean food I have ever had.
Cafe de Grasta is also a fan-favorite restaurant. It is located on the first floor of Grace Hall on the northeast side of campus. The cafe is open weekdays for breakfast and lunch, offering daily specials as well as soups, salads, a deli bar, and popular chicken wraps.
There are many other cafes and to-go spots located all over campus as well. These serve snacks, baked goods, tea, coffee, and some sandwiches. These include the Charron Family Commons in O’Shaugnessy Hall, McCourtney Espresso Cafe in McCourtney Hall, and Kitz Kafe in Stinson-Remmick Hall.
Eddy Street Commons
This a handy restaurant and shopping area near the Southern border of campus, where there are also offices, hotels, and condos. It's easy to get to via bike or walking. Food options on Eddy Street include Barbici’s Italian Street food, Brothers Bar & Grill, Five Guys, and Blaze Pizza. Some of them, like Jimmy Johns and Chipotle, even take Domer Dollars.
Rest assured, you will never go hungry at Notre Dame—no matter what kind of food you like or whether you have special dietary needs. And remember, all these locations and cuisines would not be possible without all the awesome staff members that run them. Don’t forget to show them your appreciation while you feast!