The Question: What is food like on and off campus?

IMG_3987Welcome to The Question, where you’ll get answers about life at Brown all year long! I’m Celina Stewart, and I’ll be bringing you insights (and photos!) into my fourth year at Brown and my answers to some of the questions I wish I’d asked before college. 

Alright, so this question might not be the ~most~ pressing question you have about Brown. But let’s face it: when you’re eating every meal someplace new, you want to think about quality, variety, and price. We have a great column on this blog devoted to food, but I wanted to give my perspective as well to give a mix of prospectives. So, what is food like on and off campus?

For all of you interested in Brown’s dining services, check out the website for our two main dining spaces, the Sharpe Refectory (‘Ratty’ if you’re in the know) and the V-Dub (I honestly can’t remember the official name for this one). These are the two dining halls that you may recognize as being the typical college dining halls – both offer a variety of options, including vegan, Kosher, and vegetarian options. At the Ratty, you can find things such as the salad bar, a hamburger/fries type bar (typical ‘American’ fare), and a vegetarian bar. At the V-Dub, highlights include a changing menu, a sandwich bar, and a waffle making station (honestly worth the walk).

We also have several other options for dining and quick eating on campus, which you can use meal plan swipes and ‘points’ for, depending on the time of day. The first is the Blue Room, which offers ‘grab and go’ options (like packaged pastas, spring rolls, etc), drinks, and often times take out from local restaurants such as my Indian food favorite, Kabob and Curry, and the local Chinese eatery, Shanghai. They also offer a variety of baked goods, like muffins and a quick coffee bar. Andrews Dining Hall, which I sadly have not been on meal plan to enjoy, offers a similar option on Pembroke campus. I have seen people grabbing pho and pizza there, and it looks delicious.

We also have a couple other options in our Student Center, which include a small food store for all your minimart type goodies, and a new coffee shop in the Underground.

Notable accolades about Brown dining:

  • Ranked the 6th Healthiest College food offerings in America.
  • We donate leftover food to the Food Recovery Network, which provides food to local pantries.
  • Received a A on PETA’s vegan scorecard.
  • Certified Green by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

Freshman year, this is great. You spend all your meals surrounded by friends, laughing and going back again and again to put sprinkles on your soft serve cone (true story, but to be fair I recall having a great salad during the same meal). What happens sophomore year, when you’re living slightly further away from central campus, may have gotten a little bored with the dining hall food, and want to branch out for a couple meals a week?

First, you can downgrade your meal plan, both to save money and limit your guilt for eating off campus. Second, you can start to enjoy the local Rhode Island offerings!

Clearly, I’m a proponent of food trucks (for those of you that read my column frequently, yes the photo is from Lotus Pepper – excuse my overload of chili sauce, that stuff is honestly addicting). Fortunately, Providence has a vibrant food truck scene, and we get several on campus on a daily basis.

We have a couple main streets with restaurants near campus: first, Thayer Street, which runs directly through the heart of campus. On Thayer Street, you can find great Indian food at Kabob and Curry, as well as pizza at Nice Slice or Antonio’s (and they usually stay open during blizzards!), and a great, local coffee shop called Blue State as well as a tea shop called Tealuxe. You can also find great tacos at Bajas, or Korean food at Soban. We also have a couple chains- Johnny Rockets, Chipotle, Starbucks (don’t worry about giving those up when you get here!).

Another great street to check out is Wickenden, which is a little bit more hipster and feels slightly less college-y and more integrated into the Providence community (it barely borders campus on the East Side). On Wickenden, we have some other great restaurants, including another Indian option, several Japanese restaurants, and a cute coffee house called Coffee Exchange. We also have a great Ethiopian restaurant.

If you want to venture downtown, you can get into the more Providence-feeling restaurants, including the great Italian fare on Federal Hill, and the modern, gourmet restaurants in the Jewelry District.

If you’re like me, you’ll want to have a variety of options when you arrive on campus. Take the time to assess how and what you like to eat- I went off meal plan my sophomore year, and have cooked the majority of my meals each year after that. So, do you have any questions about food (or anything else) at Brown? Send me an email!

Want more photos and FAQ updates? Check out @thebruinclub on Twitter! Have questions or comments for me? Want more details?  Send an email to celina_stewart@brown.edu and I’ll get back ASAP!

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