July 1, 2022

What I Wish I Knew About Campus Food Before Coming to Cornell

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After I received my Cornell acceptance letter, I dove head-first into every Google search about campus, wondering what the food would be like. It seemed silly, but it was something that mattered to me. Navigating campus eateries, both on and off campus, I’ve mastered the perfect places to visit for every scenario. Here are the best places to eat on campus for oddly specific scenarios that I’ve encountered (while living on North Campus):

When it’s nearing 2 a.m. and you have the munchies, you go to Bear Necessities on North Campus. Those churros hit different. Sometimes, there isn’t any other place where you can get fresh fried mozzarella sticks and your usual groceries when the day has just barely started. Not only is Bear Necessities (aka, “Nasties”) a convenience store with a large variety of foods, but Nasties is also the place to go for generous portions — to get the most “bang for your buck.” For example, if you’re up before 9 a.m., ordering the Sausage Burrito is one of the best decisions you can make when you have a long day ahead of you. I remember the first time I ordered it. I was stunned that it looked like two chipotle burritos in one. The mixture of veggies, the warmth of the tortilla, the bite of the sausage and melted cheese with egg, mmmm.

When you have to run to catch a bus but don’t have time to eat, you order a smoothie from Crossings. 

Order this ahead of time on the GET mobile app. It’s worth it, I promise. My go-to smoothie from Crossings is the Cocoa Piennana with yogurt: a thick and creamy, yet healthy blend of cacao and fruit medleys. It’s so convenient and fills me up fast. Sometimes, I wish I had the recipes for these drinks. I’m honestly very bummed I can’t find these same shakes during the summer when Crossings is closed. 

For some gourmet sandwiches, there are a variety of options; choosing the location closest to you is the smartest idea. Mann Cafe, Goldies, Cafe Jennie, Zeus (not Cornell Dining), and Crossings are ideal

I guess the word “gourmet” is a buzzword on its own, but how I define gourmet is a delicious sandwich made with intention, with ingredients that blend together beautifully. Crossings has these amazing Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas. They hit differently with that crema sauce. Some people don’t like the crema sauce, but I’d say it’s worth a try. Mann Cafe sandwiches — I can declare from my experience working there — are made fresh-to-order. Maybe a little too fresh sometimes because the line goes out the door. I’ve had to hustle to make 8-10 sandwiches within a few minutes. My recommendation is to get the Chicken Pesto sandwich and swap out the chicken for bacon. 

When you’re in a burger and milkshake mood at 1 a.m., stop by Louie’s food truck (also not part of Cornell Dining).

Located on Thurston Avenue in between the Latino Living Center and Risley Hall, Louie’s famous food truck can be a craving on its own. Their shakes are amazing. Their hash browns are crispy and soft like a tater tot. Their burgers and hot dogs are cooked to perfection, all served to you with a smile on the employees’ faces. Please tip if you go there: the employees aren’t paid much per hour and most of their wage comes from tips. They’re open until 3 a.m. during the school year, which is rather convenient when you’re in the computer room at the Latino Living Center, grinding out papers.

When it’s Sunday morning and you’re starving: brunch at Morrison Dining Hall.

Brunch has always been a favorite meal of mine, and Morrison Dining knows how to do brunch with pizazz. Because they usually offer a wide array of meals no matter the time of day, their brunch offerings include all the classic breakfast foods with a spin. I love when they make the breakfast pizza. It reminds me of that Tik Tok trend of that person saying “mmm, all the flavors are melting on my tongue!”

When you want Starbucks, go to Libe Cafe. When you want Peet’s Coffee, go to Cafe Jennie’s. When you’re in the mood for something different, get Copper Horse Coffee from Mann Cafe. 

I’m a coffee enthusiast. I believe that every coffee chain has beans with their own unique tastes. If you’re like me, here is a little guide. 

  • When I want something sweet, like a frappuccino — something that’s about 70 percent sugar and 30 percent coffee — go to Starbucks, our closest on-campus branch being Amit Bhatia Libe Cafe in Olin Library
  • If I’m craving a piece of home (Peet’s Coffee is a Californian coffee chain based out of Berkeley and there are several near my home in California) and want something that’s more coffee-based and customizable go to Cafe Jennie’s in the Cornell Store
  • When I want something a little different that’s a kind of in-between between these two brands, go to Mann Cafe which uses locally sourced coffee beans from Copper Horse Coffee, a local Ithaca-based coffee company.

If you’re in Collegetown at midnight, you can stop by Insomnia Cookies following a 7/11 run.

It’s even better if it’s followed by a trip to Wings Over. The way I would do anything for those garlic parm-coated wings with blue cheese on the side, with some tater tots or waffle fries, mmm. It’s also hard to find anything open in Ithaca past midnight, but with Collegetown, you’re in luck. Wings Over is open late, and so is Jack’s Grill, D.P. Dough, 7/11 and Insomnia Cookies. 

If you’re on Central between classes and feeling expensive, stop by Terrace. If you’re closer to the Ag quad, head over to Trillium.

I can’t really explain how those pastas are so exquisite. I know Terrace is in Statler and isn’t cheap, but it’s expensive because their burrito bowls are flavorful and never bland, and they definitely don’t skimp on portion sizes. They also have pho which is great when you’re in the mood for a noodle soup that is different from ramen.. Trillium is a little cheaper and has amazing burgers and pasta. Again, they do not skimp on the portion sizes, something that is worthwhile if you’re spending your BRBs.

I could go on, but I think that’s about most of my inner foodie highlights from my freshman year. There’s so much good food both on and off campus. Given that you’re hungry (and you have money, BRBs or meal swipes), you will likely be satisfied with your options. Cornell has great food, and it’s honestly one of my favorite parts of going to this school. Dig deep, my fellow foodies. 

Daniela Wise-Rojas is a rising sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. She currently serves as Assistant Dining Editor on the 140th Editorial Board.