Off-Campus Dining

Tuition (in-state)
$22,072 ($12,976)
Admission Difficulty
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3 College Sophomore

Off-Campus Dining: The dining options near the school are typical chain and fast food restaurants found in Illinois.

3 College Sophomore

Off-Campus Dining: Off campus food is just fast food

3 College Sophomore

Off-Campus Dining: The off campus food is good, but I think it could be healthier.

3 College Senior

Off-Campus Dining: Student discounts are pretty much seen everywhere on campus

3 College Freshman

Off-Campus Dining: You can use Huskie bucks.


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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 855th
    Best Off-Campus Dining Variety
  • 1275th
    Best Off-Campus Dining Cost

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

A few years ago, the popular Midwestern fast food franchise Portillo's moved into nearby Sycamore, and both locals and homesick students from Chicago flocked to it like it was the Second Coming. That's how desperate the off-campus dining situation is at NIU-students will drive 20 minutes for a hot dog. Forget good sushi or fresh seafood; you'll discover neither in DeKalb. What you will find is a lengthy stretch of chain restaurants like the popular Ruby Tuesday and Applebee's. Their atmospheres are relaxed, their entrees affordable, and their food edible, but distinctiveness and class are not served regularly. Johnny's Charhouse is deservedly regarded as the best restaurant in DeKalb, and while the prices are steep, the food is fantastic. If you're looking to impress a date, you can't do better in the area. Eduardo's also does a credible job presenting authentic Mexican cuisine at decent prices, and the Junction is the ultimate late-night eatery for hipsters, intellectuals, insomniacs, and people sobering up. Off-campus dining is certainly more appealing than dorm food, but it's also a more expensive option, especially if you are already committing more than $50 a week to a meal plan. The quantity of eateries in DeKalb doesn't compensate for the lack of quality and diversity in most menus, but nearly all students end up finding a few places that satisfy their tastes.

Facts & Statistics

Student Favorites
  • Chipotle
  • Johnny's Charhouse
  • The Junction
  • Portillo's
  • Ruby Tuesday
  • Shelley's
24-Hour Dining
White Castle
Best Asian
  • China House Restaurant
  • Great Wall
  • Yen Ching
Best Breakfast
The Junction
Best Healthy
Pita Pete's
Best Pizza
Pizza Villa
Best Wings
Fatty's Bar & Grill
Best Place to Take Your Parents
  • Johnny's Charhouse
  • Ruby Tuesday
Did You Know?
  • Unofficially, Johnny's Charhouse probably holds the DeKalb record for most wedding proposals in an eatery. The upscale establishment has proven to be a very popular place to pop the question.
  • The popular Midwestern chain Portillo's opened a new location in nearby Sycamore in 2005 and promptly ended up serving more than 1,250 people in its first four hours of operation.
  • That Jared guy would love it here. There are four Subways in a five-mile radius of each other.

Grocery StoresWhat's This?

1320 Sycamore Rd., DeKalb
(815) 758-5478
975 S. Annie Glidden Rd.
(815) 748-6200
Wal-Mart Supercenter
2300 Sycamore Rd., DeKalb
(815) 758-6225

Restaurant ListingsWhat's This?

Food: American
2411 Sycamore Rd.
(815) 748-3222
Price: $10-$15
Food: Mexican
1026 W. Hillcrest Dr.
(815) 756-8848
Price: $5-$15
China House
Food: Chinese
1900 Sycamore Rd.
(815) 748-0032
Price: $5-$15
Food: Burritos, Mexican
1013 A Lincoln Hwy.
(815) 756-3715
Domino's Pizza
Food: Pizza
901 Lucinda Ave.
(815) 756-3626
Price: $8-$15
Food: Mexican
214 E. Lincoln Hwy.
(815) 758-2677
Price: $8-$15
El Burrito Loco
Food: Mexican
185 W. Lincoln Hwy.
(815) 756-6060
Price: $5-$15
Fatty's Bar & Grill
Food: American
1312 W. Lincoln Hwy.
(815) 758-7737
Price: $5-$10
Fushi Yami Sushi & Hibachi
Food: Japanese
822 W. Lincoln Hwy.
(815) 748-8868
Great Wall
Food: Chinese
901 Lucinda Ave.
(815) 758-0051
Price: $5-$10
Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches
Food: Sandwiches
1011 W. Hillcrest Dr.
(815) 756-6004
Price: $5-$10
Johnny's Charhouse
Food: Seafood, grill
1950 DeKalb Ave., Sycamore
(815) 756-1155
Price: $10-$20
The Junction
Food: American
816 W. Lincoln Hwy.
(815) 758-5441
Price: $5-$15
Food: American, Italian
1101 W. Lincoln Hwy.
(815) 758-2452
Price: $5-$10
Panera Bread
Food: Bakery, deli
2476 Sycamore Rd.
(815) 748-2135
Price: $5-$15
Pita Pete's
Food: Pitas
901 Lucinda Ave.
(815) 758-3012
Price: $3-$7
Pizza Hut
Food: Pizza
701 W. Lincoln Hwy.
(815) 758-6601
Price: $10-$15
Pizza Pro's
Food: Pizza, wings
1205 W. Lincoln Hwy.
(815) 758-4776
Pizza Villa
Food: Pizza
824 W. Lincoln Hwy.
(815) 758-8116
Price: $8-$15
Food: American, hot dogs
1780 DeKalb Ave., Sycamore
(815) 895-0100
Price: $5-$10
Ruby Tuesday
Food: American
2370 Sycamore Rd.
(815) 748-7900
Price: $10-$15
Food: American
901 Lucinda Ave.
(815) 787-9823
Price: $5-$10
Food: Subs
901 Lucinda Ave.
(815) 758-6481
Price: $5-$10
Tom & Jerry's
Food: American
215 W. Lincoln Hwy.
(815) 758-1675
Price: $5-$10
White Castle
Food: Burgers, fast food
1602 Sycamore Rd.
(815) 756-3400
Yen Ching
Food: Chinese
810 W. Lincoln Hwy.
(815) 758-2007

Student Polls

Rate the off-campus restaurants on the following topics    Based on 120 responses

Very poor
  • Cost
  • Convenience
  • Healthy/organic options
  • Late-night options
  • Quality
  • Student discounts
  • Variety/number of options
  • Vegetarian/vegan options

How would you rate the diversity of off-campus dining options?    Based on 143 responses

  • 25% A nice variety of local spots and ethnic cuisine.
  • 36% Enough variety to keep things interesting.
  • 36% Mostly just chain restaurants and fast food.
  • 3% An endless repetition of the same few places.
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