Ask any Penn State student, and they’ll probably have a lot to say about their experience living on campus. Some complain about the communal bathrooms (or if they’re lucky, brag about East halls’ single-use ones), others remember the noise in the halls and most recall memories with their roommate. However, when it comes to PSU dorm life, there’s one topic that rarely goes unmentioned: the food.
For years, the pros and cons of Penn State’s five dining halls have been heavily debated. In this article, VALLEY seeks to answer the burning question that students are always talking about: “Which dining hall is the best?” After trying each one, here is VALLEY’s hot take!
#5: Warnock Commons (North Halls)
Coming in last for overall dining hall experience is Warnock Commons. One reason this dining area trails VALLEY’s list is its location. Centered in North Halls, Warnock is somewhat hidden in a corner of campus, leaving it relatively undesirable in terms of convenience.
Secondly, Warnock Commons has the least number of food options. The common area is the only one on campus without an Edge coffee shop, leaving its choices limited to a buffet, a deli, a grill and a market. The food in the buffet isn’t bad, but it usually doesn’t include much besides the standard menu offered across all dining halls each day. Some claim, however, that the highlight of North Dining is the chicken tenders served at the deli.
#4: Waring Commons (West Halls)
This one is controversial, but West’s food district earns fourth place for a few reasons. Again, let’s first consider location. Although it’s situated within the charming architecture of West Halls, Waring isn’t close to much except the Pattee and Paterno Library.
When considering food, Waring has a few notable highlights. The infamous warm cookies are unique to West dining, and almost any Penn State student would agree they taste better than most cookies on campus. Served daily, the pizza is also made fresh, and some claim it tastes better than pizza options at other dining halls.
Overall, however, Waring’s food choices are pretty limited. The commons includes an Edge coffee shop, West Wing (a deli/grill), a market and a buffet. The food expands very little beyond the classic dining hall menu.
#3: Pollock Commons (Pollock)
Some students swear by Pollock, but after weighing the pros and cons, VALLEY places this dining experience right in the middle. Pollock has a decent location, being relatively close to the HUB, South Halls and downtown. As for food, most of Pollock’s options are located in the buffet. Pizza and pasta are served daily, so you can count on that if the menu of the day doesn’t suit you. The buffet also includes a salad bar, an ice cream bar, cheeseburgers and a few additional healthy meals.
Perhaps Pollock’s claim to fame is its unique market. Not only does the large market offer a wide variety of grocery options, but there’s also an Asian fast-food and a smoothie shop located within it. Both are online order only, making it easy for students to avoid the line.
#2: Findlay Commons (East Halls)
If you are or have ever been a PSU first year, you’ve probably walked through Findlay’s halls. Findlay is centered in East Halls, the most popular freshman living area, located near the football stadium and the Bryce Jordan Center. The common area is the largest and most newly renovated, offering many options for students to choose from.
In Findlay, you can explore a large market for a variety of snacks and to-go meals. The commons also has Bowls, an açaí bowl station, and an Edge coffee shop. The buffet includes the typical food plus a salad bar, fresh waffles, late night food and vegan options. However, most first-year students claim that the food served gets repetitive.
#1: Redifer Commons (South Halls)
Last, but certainly not least, is VALLEY’s number one ranking: Redifer Commons, located in South Halls. In regard to location, Redifer is a two-minute walk from downtown and a five-minute walk to the HUB. The commons are often frequented by students living in South’s sorority dorms.
What merits South’s winning title is its impressive array of food options. South dining offers much more than the standard Edge coffee shop, market and buffet; there are also multiple fast-food stations. For example, go to In-A-Pickle for deli-style wraps and hoagies. Or, stop by Fresco y Caliente for Mexican favorites, including bowls, nachos and walking tacos. Craving açaí bowls? Redifer has that too. Plus, you can’t forget Piatto Felice — Redifer’s buffet-style Italian restaurant. With all this AND a delicious salad bar and grill, South dining undoubtedly takes the cake.
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