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Power Ranking Penn State’s 5 Dining Halls

After careful deliberation and investigation, we might finally have an answer for the age-old question that every freshman has asked: “Which dining hall is the best?” Everyone weighs in, but for such an opinion-driven debate, no credible citations can be made — until now.

Keep in mind that our ranking system is obviously completely subjective and meaningless and is definitely open to debate in the comments. The rulings are all out of 10 points, and are determined by the following three categories.

Food: The most important part of a meal is the meal itself. As most dining halls serve similar food, the rankings will be hardly vary in this category, but certain dining halls will receive bonuses for their selections.

Accessibility: The physical traits of the dining hall. This rating includes location on campus, size of the hall itself, and locations of key areas within the hall.

Comfort: Includes, but is not limited to, the amount and auditory impact of freshmen in said hall. Self-explanatory. Also factors in the halls’ aesthetics.

Convenience stores were excluded from the rankings (i.e. The Mix, The Big Onion, Bluespoon Market, etc.).

Let’s get started:

5th: Findlay Dining Commons, Findlay Commons

East Halls Stock Findlay Commons

Food: 6/10

Accessibility: 5/10

Comfort: -1/10

Total: 10/30

The food in East Halls isn’t anything special, nor is anything else at the high school cafeteria disguised as Findlay’s dining area. As far as environment goes, it’s buried in the northeast corner of campus, where only freshmen preside. And boy, do they. The dining halls are curiously designed, with it being far too easy for non-regulars to lose their food and friends. And while the dining areas are large enough to avoid people you don’t want to eat by when it’s busy, the constant unwanted noise and blatant ignorance makes every meal feel like a date with the Willard Preacher. NEXT SLIDE.

4th: Northside, Warnock Commons

North Halls Stock Warnock Commons

Food: 7/10

Accessibility: 5/10

Comfort: 9/10

Total: 21/30

North Halls, home to your humble author, holds what is likely the most underrated dining area on campus. North Halls is the smallest dining hall by far, but it’s also the quietest and quickest. The selection of food is the smallest as well, but the organization is the most logical of anywhere on campus. You literally walk in, the buffet is right next to you, and the staff members get you your food like the well-oiled machine they are. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for, but it’s a huge plus for Warnock. Nearly 100 percent of the time, it’s quiet, spread out, and consequently very cozy. And their specialty pizzas — truly unrivaled.

3rd: Pollock Dining Commons, Pollock Commons

Pollock Halls Stock Commons

Food: 7/10

Accessibility: 5/10

Comfort: 10/10

Total: 22/30

The Pollock dining experience is just that: an experience. Getting your tray and food can be a slow, cramped affair, but the selection is large enough to offset that. After you have your food, you’re presented with the most modern-looking dining hall across campus. Whether you eat in the comic book room, the fireplace room, or in the countless other bright, unconventionally colored areas, it’s a fine place to eat, but also a dope place to study or converse.

2nd: West Food District, Waring Commons

West Halls Stock Warin Commons (2)

Food: 9/10

Accessibility: 8/10

Comfort: 6/10

Total: 23/30

From my observations, the previous three selections are in their consensus spots. Here is where I present some controversy. While some believe West should claim the No. 1 spot due to its deliciously awful, yet manipulative cookies, that isn’t enough to set it apart. The eating area is huge, and rarely nears its capacity. The selection of food is quality, and for those who don’t like their famous cookies, the ice cream bar is right next door to make delicious multi-tiered blends. West isn’t missing much…

1st: South Side Buffet, Redifer Commons

Food: 10/10

Accessibility: 8/10

Comfort: 8/10

Total: 26/30

…but it doesn’t have a sushi bar. South Food District, or as I like to call it, the Sam Ficken of dining commons, is simply the best around. It’s super spread out, has a cozy aura, and quite a selection of food. Walking in the main entrance and being able to see the entire layout from the top of the stairs is cool as hell.

Redifer is best known for its à la carte options, but the buffet isn’t too bad, either. The long stretch of food is unlike the other dining halls, and if that doesn’t interest any patrons, just head over to the sushi or smoothie bars. No other dining hall can compete with its location, either. Residents of South and Pollock Halls have easy access, and students from North can just make a beeline down Shortlidge to the best dining area on campus. The South Side Buffet takes the crown for Penn State’s number one dining hall.

Do you agree or disagree with these rankings? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Doug Leeson

Doug is a sophomore and Onward State's Assistant Managing Editor. Dislikes: popcorn, Rutgers, and a low #TimberCount. Likes: "Frozen," Rec Hall, and you. Contact him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @DougLeeson.


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