Clearly the most important aspect of any college (and associated college town) is its food. While any school can brag that it has x number of dining halls or y number of restaurants near the university, every school has its hidden gems. As an incoming student, you should be just as worried about the best places to get coffee and the best ice cream options as you should be about the size of classes and housing options.
What you’ll find below is a “best of” list of foods on and around campus, courtesy of the Argus editors. Keep our advice in mind as you enjoy your WesFest experience and continue to explore campus in the fall!
Everyone needs a caffeine fix every once in a while (or every day). On those days, it’s important to know where the best coffee is, even if it’s not at the most convenient locations.
“Call me dull, but my iced lattés from Pi Café always satisfy. They’re a bit smoother than other Pierce Brothers coffee options around campus.”
“Probably Klekolo—at the very least they really know their coffee and offer a variety of coffee that has the caffeine level of espresso for those especially hellish days.”
“Off campus, Zen Roasters [is the place] to buy coffee. It’s the only coffee roaster located in Middletown or anywhere in the surrounding area…NoRA Cupcake sells Zen Roasters. Brew Bakers and [The New England] Emporium are fun to sit in but don’t have the highest quality coffee, and Fusion Bakery has nice coffee. Lizzy B’s Sweet Celebrations will give Wesleyan students coffee for free after 6 p.m.”
“Espwesso coffee is hands down the best. It’s a struggle because I hate drinking coffee at 9 p.m., but sometimes I’m willing to make the sacrifice.”
Brunch is the most exciting meal of the week (or day, if you go for breakfast, brunch, lunch, second lunch, and dinner, as I’m wont to do), and it’s good to know there are so many good options around. Officially speaking, Wes dining options only do brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
“Brew Bakers’ turkey-brie-cranberry-chutney panini. It probably doesn’t even qualify as brunch, but it is so good.”
“WesWings breakfast sandwiches with eggs, cheese, and ham, hands down. They’re always toasted just right, and there’s not too much cheese. Perfect comfort food… after the previous night.”
“Shout out to ‘The Mess.’ Red and Black, Sundays only, ask for Richie: bagel with bacon, hash browns, and two fried eggs. Get it with ketchup, cream cheese, and hot sauce. Off the menu is the way to go.”
“O’Rourke’s. Why even ask? Banana bread french toast is quality.”
“[Usdan] omelets, of course! Spinach, tomato, and feta.”
“Best brunch on campus is WesWings—go for the breakfast pail. Best brunch in Middletown—a few choices. O’Rourke’s is classic…I would go for a bread, pancake, or an egg-based meal. Cafe 56 is brand new. Their offerings feature classic American fare with a Latin-American twist. Their chef is Guatemalan but studied cooking in America and France. It’s a really charming eatery with delicious food and also amazing breakfast pastries made by an on-site baker.”
“If you’re looking for a more casual affair, Brew Bakers makes a mean pumpernickel bagel with cream cheese, capers, red onions, and lox. Just make sure you ask for the smoked salmon specifically—they also have a mixed lox and cream cheese spread that doesn’t even come close to the real thing.”
“Challah french toast at Usdan is to die for. It’s naturally sweet, so oftentimes I don’t even add syrup. Alternatively, I heartily recommend the vegan coffee cake. I enjoy a slice along side a cup of coffee as a weekly tradition.”
Usdan Marketplace, the all-you-can-eat dining hall in the center of campus, is always packed during lunch time, and you’ll probably end up there pretty frequently. Even upperclassmen, who have kitchens and are often on all-points meal plans, spend quite a bit of time at Usdan lunch.
“I’m all about the stir-fry. I’ve been having it for lunch probably three times a week since freshman year, and it hasn’t gotten old yet.”
“The sandwich line is always worth the wait. Turkey, pepper jack, and pesto is the best combo—so simple yet so tasty. And you always have to panini. I miss the panini maker so much when I’m home.”
“Vegan macaroni and cheese is the best, even for carnivores.”
“Make your own buffalo grilled cheese by buttering two slices of bread, spreading some blue cheese on each slice, then generously covering them with shredded cheddar. Then slice up some grilled chicken and dunk it in lots of hot sauce and blue cheese and put it in the sandwich. Stick it in the panini press for a couple minutes. Then serve it with potato chips, a side salad, and a pickle.”
“The vegan pad thai is probably still my favorite go-to dish in the Marketplace.”
Best Late Night Option
There seemed to be a pretty consistent favorite, and that was the Whey Station grilled cheese truck. Check it out.
Best Ice Cream
Ice cream is the best end to every meal and is available at various dining options on and around campus. There’s ice cream during lunch and dinner at Usdan, and Weshop has a great selection in the frozen corner.
“The soft serve at Usdan is probably some of the highest quality in the region. It’s made with Ronnybrook milk (which is made from the milk of organic, grass-fed cows and not genetically modified) and really fresh, natural ingredients. If you want to get ice cream off campus, a fun fact about Cold Stone is that they make all their ice cream fresh on the premises, and Lizzy B’s Sweet Celebrations has Praline’s ice cream, which is a small, Connecticut-based company that makes delicious homemade ice cream.”
“I’m a huge fan of Usdan chocolate soft serve—preferably piled high with Oreo crumbs or, failing that, Cocoa Puffs (a little crunch complements soft serve quite well). Who knew that cereal would be such a great ice cream topping?”
“Usdan chocolate soft serve. Put it in a glass, add chocolate milk, mix it up with a spoon. Unlimited handmade double chocolate shakes. Game over.”
“Vecchitto’s Italian Ice makes the best gelato I’ve ever tasted. It’s only open during the summer (Memorial Day to Labor Day), so be sure to get it during orientation! The almond gelato is to die for.”