The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

The weekly student newspaper of Bucknell University

The Bucknellian

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Bucknell’s campus dining: A personal ranking

Maddie+Hamilton+%2F+The+Bucknellian+
Maddie Hamilton / The Bucknellian

When it comes to Bucknell Dining, we all have our own two cents. Personally, there have been times when I’ve eyed the food offerings with disdain, resorting to pricey DoorDash orders or hasty attempts at homemade meals. Yet, on better days, the curly fries at Bison Café hit the spot. It really depends on the day if you ask me. I want to emphasize that my opinions are not meant to undermine the hard work and kindness of our dining employees; rather, they reflect my own thoughts on the food. Here’s my personal rankings and opinions on the various dining spots on campus (coming from someone who eats vegetarian).

Let’s start off with The Bison Café. It’s your go-to for a quick bite or a sit-down meal with friends. The sandwich and “Mexican” stations? They’re okay, but I’ve always thought of them as off-brand versions of the popular chains Subway and Chipotle. The wrap station offers a nice change of pace, but I’ll never understand the chokehold that the chicken tender wrap has on some of my fellow students. When I’m in the mood for some fried goodness, the grill station delivers, especially with those crispy curly fries and mozzarella sticks. Bison Fresh, on the other hand, was a huge letdown for me. The food felt like a really bad attempt at Mediterranean food and was unusually cold and odd-tasting. 

But let’s talk about the real MVP: Bada Basil. This place single-handedly makes Bison Café my top pick on campus. Do not even get me started on these pasta bowls. Through thick and thin, these bowls have satisfied my intense cravings for some hearty pasta, which is made to order and seasoned how you’d like. I really feel like this station needs to have longer hours, as it really is the best food at the Bison. The Alfredo sauce smacks every time. 

Second, we have the 7th Street Café. I know it’s more centered on drinks than anything else, but it’s a top pick for me. The drinks are always so nice and there’s countless options and combinations. I love being able to grab a milkshake, a scoop of ice cream, or a refreshing drink. The atmosphere and interior, from the comfy chairs to the strong smell of coffee, is very pleasant. I wouldn’t even attempt to compare it to Dunkin or Starbucks because honestly, the Café is delightful in its own authentic way. 

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Despite my initial excitement for Choolaah Indian BBQ, I found it fell a bit short. This is definitely just my own bias, as someone who grew up with authentic South Asian cuisine. I will say that it offers a flavorful alternative for those seeking variety on campus, especially the standout mango lassi. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the samosas and some rice with tikka masala on numerous occasions. I’d confidently rank it 3rd on my list – I just wish the Lassi was available at other campus dining venues.

At 4th place, we have The Commons Café. I separate this from Choolaah because the only thing I really get are the flatbreads and the salad. The flatbreads are a classic, and I love grabbing one every once in a while. Waina Ali ’26 said “The commons is great, but I do feel that it is a bit overpriced”. Overall, it’s simple and gets the job done for when you need a quick, tasty bite. 

Flyson and Concessions tie for fifth place in my book. Their cheesy and/or greasy offerings are perfect for late-night cravings or game days. Not many people know this, but all the purchases made at campus concessions help support local groups, so be sure to grab some cheese fries or a hot dog guilt-free. I think it would be awesome if some of their menu offerings were available at The Bison every once in a while. 

Coming in at sixth is the Bertrand Library Café. It’s been a lifesaver during study sessions, even if the food and drinks can be hit or miss; I just feel that the coffee itself is so watery. But hey, it beats trekking out of the library for a snack.

Although it offers the most variety, I would place Bostwick Marketplace as last. Unfortunately, when I had swipes, the only thing I enjoyed was the salad bar and the smoothie bar. The flavor of the actual food often falls flat for me. It’s as if they’re playing it way too safe. The primary issue I have with Bostwick is that the cultural food is always so unauthentic and a huge letdown. Amanda Kalaydijan ’24 pinpoints this issue in a broader context: “There is obviously a disconnect between the cultural food prepared and the communities it highlights. I would suggest that Bucknell Dining reach out to campus cultural organizations to offer a tasting critique of what they intend to serve in order to validate its authenticity before presenting it to the campus community at large”. 

Overall, the food here is just a bit too bland and repetitive. Sure, they throw in some specials, but it all starts to taste the same after a while. I envy colleges and universities that have chains like Sbarro, Chick-fil-A, and Qdoba available right on campus. Considering the amount of money that students pay to attend here, one would expect us to have some well-known brand names. Rumor has it that Bucknell is thinking about switching up dining a bit more, and I’m truly hoping that we get some new, flavorful, fresh, and quality food on campus. 

Final Ranked List from best to worst: 

  1. The Bison Café
  2. 7th Street Café
  3. Choolaah Indian BBQ
  4. The Commons Café
  5. Flyson and Concessions
  6. Bertrand Library Café
  7. Bostwick Marketplace
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