Campus Dining

Ames, IA
Tuition (in-state)
$19,838 ($7,726)
Admission Difficulty
Very Easy
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5 College Freshman

Campus Dining: The dining options here are really great and provide foods for people with special dining plans.

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Freshman

Campus Dining: Most of the dining centers are about the same but I went to Union Drive Marketplace most just because I live by it. There are choices that are the same daily such as the sub line but many things change. The food is usually pretty good. My friends who have visited say they are jealous of our school so I think that says a lot. The meal plans are hard to judge because there are just so many places and options. I think it is hard to fall into a specific pattern just because you want to try so many things.

1 person found this useful Report
4 College Freshman

Campus Dining: There are many places one can go to eat on campus with various options to choose from. The food is great and are pretty healthy. The dining halls are nice and have a lot of spots so you can almost always find somewhere to sit.

3 College Junior

Campus Dining: The dining center food is similar to that at any other college. It is good to an extent but I was not sad to leave it behind and gain my own kitchen in my own apartment.

3 College Sophomore

Campus Dining: Too expensive in my opinion. However, there are tons of options, and most of the time you can find something you'll enjoy. Health info is available for pretty much everything, and an online ordering option make the on-campus restaurants extremely convenient. Also readily available are gluten-free foods and other health-related eating options.


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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 45th
    Best Cafeteria Variety
  • 63rd
    Best Quality Food
  • 115th
    Best Late-Night Dining Options
  • 136th
    Healthiest Dining Options
  • 166th
    Best Ethnic/Kosher Options

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Staci Harper
English/Rhetorical Studies/Speech minor
View all previous student authors

While it is nowhere near gourmet quality, Iowa State offers pretty decent food choices. Whether or not you like cafeteria food, Iowa State has a place to eat when the need arises. While most students find the cafeteria to be at least edible, there are a few who absolutely love it. But, one thing is indisputable: choice. Different foods are served at each dining hall, and the menus are always changing. Variety keeps food from being totally unbearable for those who miss mom's cooking.

Students need to find their niche in dining. If hot meals really don't appeal to you, make sure you eat when the deli sandwich line is available. The salad bar is always available during dining hours and offers various vegetables, yogurt, cottage cheese, and a form of Jell-O or other fruit salad. Soft-serve ice cream is also available in most dining halls. Sack meals are available for students who have class during dining hours or would just prefer to eat in another location. Dining plans and meal times are becoming more flexible, attempting to accommodate more students. The Hawthorne Market & Café offers food that is not mass-produced, and most people find that the food is quite good and reasonably priced. It also offers Starbucks coffee, soft-serve ice cream, and daily specials.

Facts & Statistics

Meal Plan Available?
Average Meals/Week
Average Meal Plan Cost
$3989 per year
Freshman Meal Plan Required?
All campus residents are required to purchase a meal plan.
Student Favorites: Campus Dining Hall
  • Conversations Dining
  • Seasons Marketplace
  • Union Drive Marketplace
Student Favorites: Campus Restaurant/Vendor
  • Caribou Coffee
  • Clyde's Sports Club
  • Panda Express
Student Favorites: Breakfast Food on Campus
  • Omelets
  • Waffles
Student Favorites: Lunch/Dinner Entrée on Campus
  • Chicken
  • Pasta
  • Pizza
Student Favorites: Late-night Snack on Campus
  • C-store food
  • Godfather's pizza
24-Hour Dining
Off-Campus Places to Use Flex Money
Did You Know?
Iowa State holds the world record for making the world's largest Kellogg's Rice Krispies Treat. The 2,480-pound treat—made by students, faculty, staff and volunteers during Iowa State's April 2001 Veishea celebration—broke the previous record of 2,260 pounds set by Michigan State University.

Dining Halls & Campus RestaurantsWhat's This?

Bookends Café
Location: Parks Library
Food: Coffee, salads, sandwiches
Hours: Monday–Thursday 7:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday 12:30 p.m.–11 p.m.
Business Café
Location: Gerdin Business Building
Food: Bagels, baked goods, salads, sandwiches, salads
Hours: Monday–Thursday 7:30 a.m.–4 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
Caribou Coffee
Location: The Hub
Food: Coffee
Hours: Monday–Thursday 7 a.m.–8 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.–5 p.m.
Clyde's Sports Club
Location: Union Drive Community Center
Food: Cheeseburgers, chicken strips, salads
Hours: Monday–Thursday 10:30 a.m.–11 p.m., Friday 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sunday 4 p.m.–10 p.m.
Conversations Dining
Location: Richardson Court
Food: Coffee bar and bakery, grill, sandwiches
Hours: Monday–Thursday 7 a.m.–8:30 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.–2 p.m., Sunday 7 p.m.–11 p.m.
Courtyard Café
Location: Lagomarcino Hall
Food: Deli sandwiches, paninis, salads, soups
Hours: Monday–Thursday 7:30 a.m.–6 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
Design Café
Location: College of Design
Food: Salads, sandwiches
Hours: Monday–Thursday 7:30 a.m.–6 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
East Side Market
Location: Maple-Willow-Larch Commons
Food: Convenience items, pizza, sandwiches, snacks
Hours: Monday–Thursday 8 a.m.–1 a.m., Friday 8 a.m.–10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.–1 a.m.
Location: State Gym
Food: Healthy
Hours: Monday–Thursday 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.–6 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m–6 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m.–10 p.m.
Gentle Doctor Café
Location: College of Veterinary Medicine
Food: Coffee, sandwiches, soups
Hours: Monday–Friday 7:30 a.m.–3 p.m.
Hawthorn Market & Café
Location: Frederiksen Court Community Center
Food: Deli, hot meals, ice cream, pizza, smoothies
Hours: Monday–Thursday 7 a.m.–12 a.m., Friday 7 a.m.–8 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.–8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.–12 a.m.
Hub Grill & Café
Location: The Hub
Food: Sandwiches, snacks
Hours: Monday–Thursday 7:30 a.m.–6 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Knapp-Storms Dining
Location: South Side of campus
Food: All-you-care-to-eat
Hours: Sunday–Thursday 4:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m.
Memorial Union Food Court
Location: Memorial Union
Food: Chester's Chicken, Cucina Italiana, Cys & Fries, deli, desserts, The Dish, Fresh Burrito Works, Godfather's Pizza, Panda Express, salad bar, Subway
Hours: Monday–Thursday 7 a.m.–7 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.–3 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.–2 p.m.
MU Market & Café
Location: Memorial Union
Food: Coffee, salads, sandwiches
Hours: Monday–Thursday 7 a.m.–10 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.–8 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.–8 p.m.
Seasons Marketplace
Location: Maple-Willow-Larch Commons
Food: Grill, international, Italian, sandwiches
Hours: Monday–Thursday 6:45 a.m.–9:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m.–2 p.m., 4:45 p.m.–7:15 p.m., Friday 6:45 a.m.–9:30 a.m., 10:45 a.m.–2 p.m., 4:45 p.m.–7 p.m., Saturday–Sunday 10 a.m.–2 p.m., 4:45 p.m.–7 p.m.
South Side Market
Location: Wallace-Wilson Commons
Food: Convenience items, pizza, snacks
Hours: Monday–Thursday 7:15 a.m.–11 a.m., 5 p.m.–12 a.m., Friday 7:15 a.m.–11 a.m., 5 p.m.–9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.–12 a.m.
Union Drive Marketplace
Location: Union Drive Community Center
Food: Hot meals, international cuisine, salad bar
Hours: Monday–Thursday 6:45 a.m.–10 a.m., 10:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m., Friday 6:45 a.m.–10 a.m., 10:30 a.m.–7 p.m., Saturday–Sunday 10 a.m.–2 p.m., 4 p.m.–7 p.m.
West Side Market
Location: Union Drive Community Center
Food: Convenience items, grab 'n' go items, pizza, sandwiches, smoothies, snacks
Hours: Monday–Thursday 7:30 a.m.–1 a.m., Friday 7:30 a.m.–10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.–1 a.m.
World Bistro
Location: Memorial Union
Food: International
Hours: Monday–Friday 10:30 a.m.–2 p.m.

Student Polls

Rate campus dining on the following topics    Based on 114 responses

Very poor
  • Availability
  • 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 10 responses

  • 33% Clydes
  • 20% They're all good options & located all over campus
  • 13% UDCC
  • 13% Memorial Union
  • 13% Conversations
  • 7% Hawthorn

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

  • 40% Easy
  • 20% The uses of Dining$
  • 20% Meal bundles
  • 10% Variety
  • 10% The discount on Dining$

What are the worst things about the campus meal plan?    Based on 5 responses

  • 40% Not a large selection of food
  • 40% Gold Plan has too many meals
  • 20% Expensive
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