Campus Dining

Washington, DC
Admission Difficulty
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1 College Junior

Campus Dining: Absolutely the worst. No dining halls. J Street is a joke

3 College Sophomore

Campus Dining: There are a lot of options around campus, but you're forced to spend a certain amount of money every semester in the dining hall which is not very good and is expensive.

4 College Junior

Campus Dining: We have options in the city that isn't too bad.

1 person found this useful Report
2 College Sophomore

Campus Dining: Overpriced with few options. Also, campus dining is required for at least freshman year. After that, students have the option to use money at outside vendors.

1 person found this useful Report
5 College Freshman

Campus Dining: It's good we can eat anywhere around campus


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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 59th
    Best Ethnic/Kosher Options
  • 150th
    Best Vegetarian/Vegan-Friendly Options
  • 207th
    Healthiest Dining Options
  • 329th
    Best Late-Night Dining Options
  • 458th
    Best Cafeteria Variety

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

David Glidden
Fuquay-Varina, NC
International Affairs (Spanish minor)
View all previous student authors

While some universities work on a meals-per-week plan, GW’s system is a little different and much more convenient. At the beginning of the semester, freshmen and sophomores must purchase a meal plan, which works as a declining debit card. Freshmen are required to use a $1,700 a semester plan. This plan includes a $1,000 credit to spend at any on- or off-campus venue that accepts the GW Colonial Cash meal plan. There is then $700 mandatory dining dollars—more commonly referred to as J Street money—to be spent in a few specific dining venues, primarily the J Street food court in the student center. Non-food items can be purchased with the $1,000 of Colonial Cash at participating stores like the GW Bookstore and CVS. Any extra mandatory dining dollars are carried over from the fall semester to the spring semester, but not from the spring to fall. Remaining money from the $1,000 can be carried over to the following year.

Although students like the convenience of GW’s non-mandatory part of the meal plan—no one tells them what to eat or when to eat it—what gets the most protests from students is the fact that they are required to spend $700 per semester in a food court that they get sick of very quickly. The University is frequently attempting to address the problem, adding in new options and offering more variety. J Street, the large food court in the Marvin Center, offers Chinese, pizza, pasta, burritos, Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, and more. For students who quickly tire of these greasy fast food restaurants, the food court offers a sandwich bar, limited juices, grocery items. There is also J Street Café, a pay-by-the-pound dining venue with rotating hot entrées, a salad bar, fresh fruit, and a few kosher options. Perhaps because of the variety offered, students usually complain about the quality of the food as well as the price, even though the Colonial Cash exempts students from DC’s 10 percent sales tax at on-campus locations. The ease and convenience of GW’s meal plan is a perk that many transfer students coming from a university with a single cafeteria enjoy, even if most GW students gripe about the lack of variety, healthy options, and price.

Facts & Statistics

Average Meal Plan Cost
$3400 per year
Freshman Meal Plan Required?
Student Favorites
  • GW Deli
  • Johnny Rockets
  • Lindy's
  • Pita Pit
  • Potbelly's
  • Subway
  • Wendy's
24-Hour Dining
The 7-Eleven in the Mitchell Hall basement. Most residence halls have vending machines in the lobby or basement.
Off-Campus Places to Use Flex Money
There are tons of places you can use your Colonial Cash, a required declining balance program. For a complete list of retail partners, visit
Special Options
One of GW's greatest traditions lies in a small cart parked near the Marvin Center on weekend nights. Manouch, a hot dog vendor, sells his delicious franks and hot pretzels late into the night after most other dining venues are closed. There's nothing like a Manouch hot dog to satisfy the late-night munchies of after an evening of partying. During the day, there are also a few snack carts near the Gelman Library and a vendor near Kogan Plaza who sells coffee, cappuccino, and pastries. Students must pay cash at most vendors.
Did You Know?
  • GW does not operate on a "meals per week" system like most universities. With the Colonial Cash dining plan, students can eat at participating on- and off-campus dining venues and restaurants using a declining balance system, meaning students are allocated a certain amount of money at the beginning of the year that can for the most part be spent wherever they want, whenever they want. However, some of this money, the "mandatory dining dollars" can only be spent at select locations, primarily the J Street food court area in the student center, the Marvin Center.
  • Many off-campus stores and restaurants accept money from the Colonial Cash plan, including barber shops, clothing stores, Chipotle, CVS, and the Safeway grocery store, to name a few.
  • Because most of the venues that take the mandatory dining dollars are closed on weekends, the University offers themed Sunday Night Dinners every Sunday at the J Street Café that allow students to use their mandatory dining dollars on weekends.

Dining Halls & Campus RestaurantsWhat's This?

2000 Penn
Location: 2000 Pennsylvania Ave.
Food: Au Bon Pan, Bertucci's, The Burro, F Street Bistro, Johnny Rockets, Vaccaro's Italian Pastry Shop, Wasabi to Go
Hours: Varies by location
5th Ave Bagels & Deli
Location: J Street
Food: Bagels, kosher, sandwiches
Hours: Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Location: Mitchell Hall
Food: Convenience store
Hours: Daily 24 hours
Ames Dining Hall
Location: Mount Vernon Campus
Food: Entrées, fruit, salads sandwiches, snacks
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
Campus Fresh
Location: Lerner Health and Wellness Center
Food: Frozen yogurts, smoothies, sports bars and drinks, wraps
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m.-8 p.m.
Location: Potomac House
Food: Breakfast items, burgers, sandwiches
Location: J Street
Food: Chicken sandwiches, salads
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Location: J Street
Food: Frozen yogurt, smoothies
Hours: Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
G-Dub Java
Location: Duques Hall
Food: Coffee, pastries, salads, sandwiches, sushi
Hours: Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
G-Dub Java
Location: Mount Vernon Campus
Food: Coffee
Hours: Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
GW Deli
Location: 22nd and G Streets
Food: Sandwiches, snacks
GWU Hospital Cafeteria
Location: GWU Hospital
Food: Variety of breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals
Ivory Tower Dining
Location: 616 23rd St., NW
Food: Dunkin Donuts, Gallery Cafe, Gallery Market, Pita Pit, Potbelly Sandwich Works
Hours: Varies
J Street Café
Location: J Street
Food: Entrées, fruit, salad, soup, vegan
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Lindy's Red Lion
Location: 2040 I St. NW
Food: Burgers
Hours: Monday-Thursday 10:30 a.m.-1:30 a.m., Friday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-2:30 a.m.
Little Italy
Location: J Street
Food: Italian, pizza
Hours: Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Pizza Italia
Location: In the World Bank building across from Thurston Hall
Food: Pizza
Smart Market
Location: J Street
Food: Fruit, pastries, salads, snacks
Hours: Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Location: J Street
Food: Sandwiches
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Location: 1959 E St.
Food: Subs
Hours: Daily 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Tonic Restaurant at Quigley's Pharmacy
Location: G and 21st Streets
Food: Burgers, dinner entrées
Hours: Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 5 p.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
Uptowner Cafe
Location: Lisner Hall
Food: Burgers, sandwiches
Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m.
Location: J Street
Food: Fast food
Hours: Monday-Friday 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m.
WOW Café and Wingery
Location: Marvin Center, 5th floor
Food: Burgers, salads, wings
Hours: Daily 11 a.m.-12 a.m.
Yaya's Asian Kitchen
Location: J Street
Food: Pan Asian
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

Student Polls

Rate campus dining on the following topics    Based on 82 responses

Very poor
  • Convenient hours
  • Ethnic/kosher options
  • Healthy/organic options
  • Late-night options
  • Quality
  • Value
  • Variety/number of options
  • Vegetarian/vegan options

What are the best food options on campus?    Based on 8 responses

  • 44% Off Campus
  • 19% Carvings
  • 12% Whole foods
  • 12% Founding Farmers
  • 6% Sweetgreen
  • 6% Gallery

What are the worst things about the campus meal plan?    Based on 6 responses

  • 56% Bad food, inconvenient hours
  • 22% Debit card system is nothing special
  • 22% A la carte system is horribly overpriced

What are the best things about the campus meal plan?    Based on 8 responses

  • 50% GWorld
  • 30% Nothing
  • 20% Convenient, but not too tasty

What are the worst food options on campus?    Based on 10 responses

  • 64% J-Street
  • 36% No dining hall


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