With over 10 dining halls and 18 cafés scattered throughout Cornell’s campus, each boasting their unique strengths and weaknesses, Cornell dining can be overwhelming for a freshman to navigate. Throughout my first year at Cornell, I found myself trying out different places, but taking random guesses at what to order. If you’re keen to discover the tastiest menu items and fit in like a true Cornellian, know that you’re not alone. Thankfully, I’ve compiled a list of the top five hidden gems at Cornell eateries, complete with specific recommendations on what to order, as not all menu items are created equal.
Bus Stop Bagel’s Make Your Own Bagel:
Although I am not a huge bagel enthusiast, I do enjoy visiting Bus Stop Bagels when I crave them. Bus Stop Bagels is a cozy, inviting bagel shop located conveniently near the agricultural quad. There are a mix of booths and seats inside to sit, however, at busy times there are lines that run out the door. Bus Stop Bagels offers both savory and sweet bagels, and many people love their egg sandwiches. Personally, I have a sweet tooth, so I tried creating my own bagel from their menu. I chose a cinnamon raisin bagel and added Cornell’s honey roasted peanut butter, cinnamon sugar creamed honey, mixed berry cream cheese and banana.
Too extra? Perhaps.
The bagel was soft and fluffy with a delightful cinnamon flavor. The honey roasted peanut butter was creamy and salty, which balanced out the sweet cinnamon sugar honey. The mixed berry cream cheese was smooth and luscious, and the fresh berry flavor was a lovely addition. The banana slices completed the whole experience adding a delicate, sweet flair. It was a fantastic combination of flavors that I highly recommend trying.
Although you can always order a regular egg and cheese bagel, I encourage you to experiment with different spreads and flavors. Here are some mouthwatering combinations to consider if you want to try something new:
1. Cinnamon Raisin Bagel + Honey Roasted PB + Nutella + Banana
2. Cinnamon Raisin Bagel + Blueberry Apple Butter + Honey Roasted PB + Honey Walnut Whipped Cream Cheese
3. Spicy Italian + Basil Pesto + Bacon Scallion Whipped Cream Cheese
Temple of Zeus’s Cookies:
Temple of Zeus, located adjacent to the bustling Arts Quad, is a popular spot for students within the College of Arts & Sciences to relax, study and indulge in delicious treats like lattes and pastries. Because of its popularity, Temple of Zeus is not exactly a hidden gem. However, while the café offers a vast menu of food items, some are better than others. Among the many options, there is one hidden culinary gem that is underrated and definitely worth trying: chocolate chip cookies.
You might be thinking, chocolate chip cookies are a dime a dozen at every dining hall, right? While it’s true that most dining halls offer cookies, they pale in comparison to the heavenly ones you’ll find at Zeus. If you’re a true cookie connoisseur, you’ll appreciate the bakery-style cookies at Zeus that are moist, soft, thick, cakey and boast a melty texture with ample chocolate chunks, all baked fresh. The double chocolate cookies are equally delightful, with a more pronounced cocoa taste that’s sure to please.
Mac’s is a vibrant café situated right in the heart of the Statler. Although the majority of customers are Hotel School students, don’t let that deter you from trying their exceptional smoothies — in my opinion, the best at Cornell. They offer a variety of fruit and frappuccino-style drinks, and I highly recommend trying two of them.
The first smoothie, known as the cookies and cream frappuccino, falls somewhere between a frappuccino and a milkshake. It delivers a much-needed caffeine boost, a sugar rush and the delectable taste of oreo cookies and milk. While it’s not an everyday drink, it’s definitely a treat worth indulging in!
The second smoothie is perfect for those who prioritize health and fitness. Even those who despise vegetables rave about the Green Smoothie. Its secret ingredient is spinach, which is indetectable amidst the fruit and orange juice that compile the other ingredients. Be prepared for long lines during peak times, but trust me, it’s well worth the wait, especially on a hot summer day.
Louie’s Lunch Milkshakes
Louie’s Lunch, situated adjacent to Risley Hall, has become a well-known food truck due to its convenient location, fast food-style offerings and extended hours until 3 am. It’s not surprising that Louie’s is busiest during late-night hours, attracting a diverse clientele, ranging from hard-working students seeking a respite from late-night studying to partygoers looking for a quick bite after a frat party. While some students may frequently complain that Louie’s Lunch food is too greasy, the reality is that after a long day, grease can be just what the doctor ordered. The real standout at Louie’s however are their customizable milkshakes. With virtually any flavor combination possible, you can create your dream shake. Personally, I have two go-to favorites: the Peanut Butter and Chocolate, and the Strawberry and Chocolate. Other flavors include Caramel, Maple, Mint, Mango, Banana and Vanilla.
TruFru has become a popular snack at Cornell after gaining fame on TikTok. This healthier chocolate treat features frozen blueberries, raspberries and strawberries coated in both white and milk chocolate and packaged in small containers. You can find TruFru at various locations on campus, including RPCC and Café Jennie. It’s the perfect option if you’re looking for a small, delicious and healthy-ish snack to satisfy your sweet tooth without reaching for a chocolate bar, muffin or buttery pastry. Give TruFru a try — it’s pretty delicious.
Reva Rao is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]