Campus Dining

Iowa City, IA
Tuition (in-state)
$26,279 ($8,057)
Admission Difficulty
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3 College Sophomore

Campus Dining: There is a good amount of variety as far as dining options go, but the healthy options are of low quality and make it even easier and more desirable to eat unhealthy food. It is difficult to find healthy food that is fresh and/or cooked well. The unhealthy options, however, are excellent. Overall the dining food is average.

4 College Sophomore

Campus Dining: I love exploring new places to eat at Iowa

4 Recent Alumnus

Campus Dining: two convenient locations. Wide selections of food available. Possible to eat healthy with smart choices. Only negative feedback is expense.

3 College Sophomore

Campus Dining: Some days are better than others. The week day choices have tons of variety but not so much to choose from on the weekends. I think its dumb that the meals we don't use don't roll over to the next year because we paid for them and are sometimes too busy to use all our meals a day.

3 College Junior

Campus Dining: The variety of food choices is good, but there are only 2 dining halls and they are very crowded during lunch and dinner times.


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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 30th
    Best Cafeteria Variety
  • 135th
    Best Vegetarian/Vegan-Friendly Options
  • 138th
    Healthiest Dining Options
  • 143rd
    Best Ethnic/Kosher Options
  • 175th
    Best Quality Food

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Kelly McPhee
Naperville, IL
View all previous student authors

Dining at the University of Iowa is nothing for incoming students to get too excited about. The dining halls offer many different food choices, yet after a few weeks, the choices grow old, and you’ll be clamoring for some home cooking. Many students complain that the selection seems very narrow after the first few weeks, and they want different types of food. But take consolation in the fact that most students only have to eat in the dining halls for a year. The IMU also provides students a chance to get away from dorm food for a night or two. The only downfall is that you have to pay cash or Hawk Dollars for these meals—you can’t use your meal plan.

Unlike other major universities, there are very few halls at UI for students to use their meal plan. However, in the past few years, the University has redone Burge Dining Hall and added many satellite cafés all over campus. The food itself is better than almost every high school cafeteria, but it still tends to grow old after a while. The staff has about two weeks worth of differentiation in meals, but after that, they just begin to repeat. It’s a good idea to try your own combinations out of what is offered at the dining halls—you never know when you’re going to stumble across the next great sandwich.

Facts & Statistics

Meal Plan Available?
Average Meals/Week
Freshman Meal Plan Required?
All campus residents are required to purchase a meal plan.
Student Favorites
Places in IMU
24-Hour Dining
Off-Campus Places to Use Flex Money
Special Options
You can use your “Hawk Dollars,” which come with your meal plan, in many different locations around campus, such as the several convenience stores in residence halls or in the IMU. You can also use these dollars at the food carts around campus.
Did You Know?
The University of Iowa offers "Lunch with the Chefs," in which IMU's award-winning cooks create a themed lunch one Thursday during every month of the school year. Students, friends, and their visitors are welcome to join in on the feast, usually served in the Iowa Memorial Union from 11:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., with seating on a first-come-first-serve basis. Admission is $7, or $6 for UI students with their school IDs. Both cash and University ID charges are accepted.

Dining Halls & Campus RestaurantsWhat's This?

Burge Market Place
Location: Burge Residence Hall
Food: American, pizza, sandwiches, wraps
Hours: Monday-Friday 6:45 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Location: Eckstein Medical Research Building, first floor
Food: Pastries, sandwiches, soups, Starbucks, sushi
Hours: Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
The Filling Station
Location: Dental Science Building, first floor
Food: Salads, sandwiches, Seattle's Best coffee, snacks
Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Food For Thought
Location: UI main library, first floor, south side
Food: Drinks, pre-made sandwiches, sushi
Hours: Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday 6 p.m.-11 p.m.
Hawkeye Express
Location: Burge and Hillcrest
Food: Quick meal options, sandwiches
Hours: Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-12 a.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-12 a.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-12 a.m.
Hillcrest Market Place
Location: Hillcrest Residence Hall
Food: American, grill, international cuisine, salads, sandwiches, soup, waffles
Hours: Monday-Friday 6:45 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Java House
Location: Iowa Memorial Union, ground floor
Food: Fair-trade coffee, tea, pastries, smoothies
Hours: Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.-12 a.m., Saturday 7 a.m.-12 a.m., Sunday 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
Law Canteen
Location: Boyd Law Building
Food: Hot entrees, pastries, pre-made sandwiches, Seattle's Best coffee
Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Lindquist Coffee Cart
Location: Lindquist Center, second floor
Food: Pre-made sandwiches, salads, snacks
Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Mayflower Market
Location: Mayflower Residence Hall, first floor
Food: Groceries, smoothies
Hours: Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-1 a.m., Friday 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Location: Medical Education Research Facility, first floor
Food: Smoothies, snacks, wraps
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Nightingale Café
Location: Nursing Building, first floor
Food: Baked goods, pre-made salads, sandwiches, snacks
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Oakdale Cafeteria
Location: Oakdale Hall
Food: Hot entrees, salad bar, sandwiches
Hours: Monday-Friday 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Pat's Diner
Location: Pappajohn Business Building, first floor
Food: Bakery, individual pizzas, sandwiches
Hours: Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
River Room Café
Location: Iowa Memorial Union, first floor
Food: Deli, grill, hot line, Starbucks coffee
Hours: Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.-12 a.m., Saturday 7 a.m.-12 a.m., Sunday 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
Union Express
Location: University Services Building, first floor
Food: Hot sandwiches, salads, snacks
Hours: Monday-Friday 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Union Market
Location: Iowa Memorial Union
Food: Groceries, snacks
Hours: Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.-12 a.m., Saturday 7 a.m.-12 a.m., Sunday 7 a.m.-11 p.m.
Union Station Food Court
Location: Iowa Memorial Union, ground floor
Food: Grill, Pizza Hut, salad bar, sandwiches, sushi, tacos, wraps
Hours: Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-11 p.m., Friday 7 a.m.-12 a.m., Saturday 7 a.m.-12 a.m., Sunday 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

Student Polls

Rate campus dining on the following topics    Based on 117 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 worst food options on campus?    Based on 16 responses

  • 59% Burge
  • 18% Hillcrest
  • 9% Pancheros
  • 9% Chipotle
  • 5% Some local bar food can be dicey

What are the worst things about the campus meal plan?    Based on 13 responses

  • 67% Too many meals in a plan
  • 20% Not always the best food
  • 7% Cafeteria Style
  • 7% Expensive

What are the best food options on campus?    Based on 18 responses

  • 42% Hillcrest
  • 27% Downtown Iowa Restaurants
  • 15% Burge Dining Hall
  • 15% River Room Cafe

What are the best things about the campus meal plan?    Based on 15 responses

  • 57% Don't have to worry about paying every time
  • 22% Easy to get to
  • 22% Offer a variety of foods
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