The University of Massachusetts, Amherst, arguably known best for its dining. Ranked as number one in dining multiple times in the past, every student here favors their own dishes. If you find interest in one of the four dining halls, one of the many cafes or student businesses around campus, or even the restaurants, there exist some meals that you absolutely must try. Even with all of these different options to choose from it can seem impossible to know what to choose when you visit the dining hall.
Keep reading to find out what Top 10 fan favorite dishes on campus you absolutely must try!
10. Harvest Mac & Cheese
Mac and cheese—a staple of UMass Dining no matter what dining hall, restaurant or food court you go to. Even though you can get it almost anywhere on campus, nothing beats the warm, cheesy, macaroni and cheese made fresh at Harvest.
Harvest, one of UMass Amherst’s organic food stops located in the Campus Center, draws your eye with healthy, organic food options along with some of UMass’ staples like the mac and cheese. Top off that cheesy goodness with some other good Harvest choices such as the kombucha, pizza, salad or something from the hot bar. If you visit the Campus Center, you must visit Harvest, especially if you need a quick, hot plate of mac & cheese on the dash.
9. Hainan Chicken and Rice
Available as a unique, handmade dinner dish, the Hainan chicken and rice serves your taste buds a rich, flavorful delight. Originating in Hainan, China, but just as popular in other Asian countries, eating this unique dish replicates the feeling of enjoying it at a street side restaurant in East Asia. This dish, found at any of the four dining halls located on campus, is usually put together fresh right in front of you by the amazing dining hall staff.
“It’s chicken and rice with veggies and a small side of soup,” UMass Amherst junior Angel Lin said. “I like it because the chicken is so tender and soft, and I really enjoy the steaming hot soup and rice.”
The Hainan chicken and rice plate will fill you right up, especially after a cold winter day. For those craving Asian food, or simply wanting to try out something new, you must try this dish. Keep an eye out on the updating menus for a chance to get some Hainan chicken and rice.
8. Lemon Parmesan Broccoli
This food might not replace an entire meal, but it makes a delicious side dish to accentuate the other fantastic food you pick up at the dining hall. The dining hall staff bakes the broccoli first before seasoning it with garlic and lemon. Then, they sprinkle on a decadent dusting of parmesan cheese. Even if you hate broccoli, I promise this dish will make you love it.
This side dish goes with everything. Chicken, steak, pasta, whatever you pair it with. Pile on some lemon parmesan broccoli to get your daily dose of vegetables. Visit almost any dining hall on campus to taste this light, flavorful dish. Commonly made, this dish practically serves itself!
7. Franklin Dining Hall Deli
Do you like sandwiches? Do you want the choice of tomato basil bread or wheat, pickles or cucumbers, swiss cheese or pepper jack? Franklin Dining Commons’ deli station provides a perfect array of choices to make when you decide what you want put in your wrap or sandwich. If you ever feel indecisive about what you want to eat, visiting the deli might satisfy your hunger.
“I love the deli at Frank because it has so many options,” UMass Amherst junior Ria Deshpande said. “There’s so many cheeses, breads, vegetables, all of it is so expansive. They also make it right in front of you, fresh for you to see.”
What beats a fresh, toasted sandwich after a long hard day of studying? Top it off by asking for some chipotle mayo or pesto dressing on it. What if you don’t like the pesto or a certain type of bread? Then mix and match with the many different options available at the deli. The UMass deli experience satisfies even the pickiest eaters!
6. Vegetable Pho
Served at almost every dining hall yet hard to catch comes the elusive vegetable pho bowl. This delicious dish tends to be a rarer delicacy, seen only ever now and then since the recipe varies so greatly from the usual dining hall foods. Made with thin, white noodles drowning in mouthwatering vegetable broth alongside scallions, green onions and tofu, this pho will satisfy your hunger.
“I love the pho even though they don’t really have it that often,” UMass Amherst junior Prisha Singh said. “It’s so homey and warm, like a nice, hot bowl of noodles after a long day.”
Here’s a tip to stay ahead of the rush! Keep an eye on the UMass Dining app to stay updated on the menus. UMass student or not, everyone can view the menu through the app. You may just catch the dining halls on the fateful day they serve pho. Make sure to get in line quick because the pho station will fill up before you know it.
5. Chicken Katsu
Here comes another delicious Asian dish. Found again at most dining halls comes the chicken katsu–crispy Japanese fried chicken. Served with wasabi and rice, the fried chicken offers some of UMass dining’s best. Often times, the chicken at the dining halls tends to be undercooked, but the fried chicken in the katsu proves some of the best.
Stop by one of the dining halls for a plate of chicken katsu, a cozy meal that reminds you of something simplistic yet delicious. Still not enough? Drizzle some spicy mayo or hoisin sauce on it and I promise it’ll warm your nerves while taking some of that typical college student stress off your back.
4. Blue Wall Southwestern Wrap
Here comes another fan favorite recipe by UMass dining. You won’t find the famous Southwestern Wrap at any of the usual UMass Amherst dining halls. Instead, you’ll find this amazing dish at the Blue Wall Food Court, housed in the Campus Center. Served at the restaurant Green Fields, the Southwestern wrap claims many adoring fans.
“It’s super healthy and tastes really good,” UMass Amherst senior Smit Patel said. “I get it with spiced chickpeas and chipotle mayo dressing; it’s always a great lunch choice for me.”
The chipotle mayo and spiced chickpeas add a slew of flavor to the lettuce, black beans and avocado already in there. The southwestern wrap proves a fantastic, healthy alternative to lots of other foods. You can even add in chicken, eggs or other protein substitutes. Grab one on your next trip to Blue Wall.
3. Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Ever find yourself homesick for a classic grilled cheese sandwich? I’m here to tell you UMass Amherst offers just that. A fan favorite among students, the grilled cheese frequently finds itself available in every single dining hall every single day.
“The grilled cheese is definitely one of my favorites,” UMass Amherst senior Ananya Venkatesan said. “The crisp, the melted cheese, the little bit of softness yet the little bit of crunchiness, it’s the best part of UMass dining.”
No matter what meal you want it for, the grilled cheese sandwiches are always out for your enjoyment. Top them off with some fries and your favorite condiment of your choosing. Even if you want to eat it for breakfast you can do that, too. The dining halls keep the grilled cheese sandwiches out all day for student enjoyment, so you can have some for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
2. Dim sum
Dim sum: a traditional Chinese dish…or more like dishes. Served as an assortment of Chinese snack foods, dim sum frequents all the dining halls around campus. While like the vegetable pho—a rarer food item to get—if you catch the dining halls on the right day, you’ll find it.
Enjoy some dumplings, pork buns, sticky rice and custard buns alongside tons of other iconic UMass Dining food. This variety filled meal will surely satisfy each and every one of your taste buds. Don’t like the pork buns? Then try the custard buns instead. Whenever you want to try a taste of all of those things, the dim sum lies waiting for you!
1. Franklin Stir-Fry
One of the ultimate, most popular dishes at UMass Amherst: the Franklin Dining Hall stir-fry. The stir-fry station functions buffet style, with a vast assortment of vegetables you can add to your plate before taking it up to the chefs who whip it into a steaming hot plate of stir-fry. The stir-fry chefs make the stir-fry to however you like it.
“What can I say?” UMass Amherst senior Jigar Patel said. “The authentic techniques they use to make the stir-fry reminds me of home. I like the diverse flavors, the vibrant sauces, the fresh vegetables; all of it combines to make a really awesome meal.”
My personal favorite includes adding spinach, peppers, carrots, onions and tofu, before the chef cooks it with rice and plenty of spicy sauce. Known for its versatile and malleable nature, the stir-fry chefs make your dish exactly how you want it. You can tell the chefs exactly what noodles or rice you want, whether you like chicken or tofu, garlic or no garlic; all of it lies in your hands. The Franklin stir-fry serves as an absolute must eat when visiting UMass Amherst.