The Lesser Known Dining Halls At Columbia University

A comprehensive guide to the dining hall experience.

Photography by Samantha Candelo-Ortegon

Most students have heard of Barnard and Columbia’s classic dining halls, such as Hewitt Dining, Diana Center Cafe, John Jay Dining Hall, JJ’s Place, and Ferris Booth Commons, but if you find yourself looking for something with less wait time, or just to mix things up, then this guide is for you. Here at the Barnard Bulletin, we took on the challenge of breaking down some lesser known dining halls so that you can figure out exactly where to go, whether you’re in a hurry or have some time to enjoy your meal. 

Generally, the dining halls fall under two categories: Grab and Go and Buffet. 

The first Grab and Go dining hall opened in early 2023, when Peet’s Coffee & Tea, located in the Milstein Center on Barnard’s campus, was replaced with the vibrant, fun, Barnard Bubble Tea and Sushi Spot. Carina W., Barnard student said, “For Grab and Go, the Sushi spot is your best bet.” If you ever need a small bite or would like a refreshing drink, without walking all the way to 109th Street Broadway to Gong Cha, arguably the most popular boba spot around campus, the Bubble Tea and Sushi Spot is a perfect option. Tyra M., a Board of Trustees Representative, said “It’s very niche, and well established. I think that place is amazing and they have amazing chefs!”.   

Although this tasty spot isn’t open on the weekends, it is open for lunch and dinner throughout the week from 11:00am to 8:00pm. 

If you are craving a coffee-shop style drink, Liz’s Place is the most convenient option. Located on the first floor of the Diana Center Cafe, it offers an assortment of teas, pastries, and coffee, along with breakfast sandwiches throughout the day, as supplies last. “My go to order is a medium iced dirty chai oat milk latte,” says Rhessa W., Barnard student. “It’s really good every time and a great alternative to Starbucks.” The cafe also has a snack area, where students can use the handy self-checkout if the lines are too long. 

Heading over to Columbia’s campus, The Fac Shack is a new addition to East Campus, next to Wien Residence Hall, where students can grab delicious street food and head on their way. “I ordered butter chicken and rice and it was pretty enjoyable!” says Morell K., Columbia student. “There aren’t really places to sit down, but there are two tables by the truck.” Open from 11:00am to 3:00pm for lunch, the Fac Shack is a nice alternative to the dining halls on campus. 

If you aren’t craving street food but still need a place to grab a quick bite, Chef Mike’s Sub Shop is the perfect place to grab a hefty sandwich along with some chips, a drink, and a salad. Chef Mike’s, like any sandwich shop, has a menu of different types of sandwiches, including vegan and vegetarian options, as well as the option to make your own. Unlike other dining halls where the meal preparation can take a longer time, Chef Mike’s is usually relatively fast with their orders. “I love Chef Mike’s,” says Michael O., Columbia student. “It is very convenient and I enjoy the fact that I get to make my own sandwich.”

The buffet-style dining halls usually have a much slower pace and often have fairly nice settings. Faculty House, located next to East Campus Residence Hall, is a multipurpose building that has a student dining hall located on the second floor. This dining hall is open for lunch from 11:00am to 2:30pm, and allows students the opportunity to feel as though they are off campus. “I go here when I want healthy options and want to feel as though I am off campus,” a Barnard student said. “They have a great menu and the ambience is great.”

The new rave has been the dining hall named after Grace Dodge Dining Hall that has recently opened at Teachers College. Grace Dodge was one of the founders of Teachers College, and had a reputation for “improving the well-being of impoverished women and children.” This dining hall is open during the week for brunch hours and dinner, and has four stations including the Grill Station, Vegan Station, Pizza Station, and Salad Station. “It’s the next best thing!” says Carina W., Barnard student. “I went during brunch and the workers were so nice and they make their waffles right on the spot.”

Now that you have the basic rundown of the dining halls and shacks on and off campus, deciding where to eat in a hurry should be less of a hassle! 

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