A Guide to Making the Most of Your Meal Plan — The Heights

A Guide to Making the Most of Your Meal Plan — The Heights

Going into my second year at Boston College, I felt that I had a pretty good grasp on how to navigate BC Dining. The Rat has the best muffins, Stu is superior to Mac (yes I lived on Upper as a freshman but would occasionally venture over to Newton Campus to eat at Stu), and CoRo Cafe coffee is perfect for mornings after a late-night study session. Everything I knew changed when I walked into Lower for the first time this year. I was taken aback by the many lines, no employees directing me where to go, and who knew they used real plates? Whether you are a freshman who is still learning where all the dining halls are or a senior who lived off campus last year and is re-adjusting to on-campus dining, here are my tips to getting the most out of the BC Dining experience.

Three Main Dining Halls 

There are three main dining halls on campus that each serve a different population of students. McElroy Commons, or Mac, which is home to Carney’s and Eagle’s Nest, mainly serves freshmen who live on Upper Campus and sophomores who live on CoRo. Carney’s, on the third floor of Mac, is open for three meals a day, seven days a week. Walking into Carney’s for the first time this year threw me for a loop, as it is currently being renovated. Despite the temporary serveries, the food is still the same, and it’s a great spot to grab a quick meal between classes since the lines are typically pretty short. There are four lines with different options, and I was surprised by the amount of open seating. If you don’t want to wait for a table, I recommend stopping by.

No matter what grade you’re in, you’ve probably heard about Eagle’s Nest, or Eagle’s, which has returned to its pre-COVID-19 form. Open from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, Eagle’s offers make-your-own salads, bowls, and sandwiches. Since Eagle’s no longer relies on GET Mobile to serve students its food, the lunchtime crowds have certainly returned in full force. Pro tip: wait out the after-class rush by 20 minutes, then grab your Eagle’s food to avoid the long lines!

Next up is Stuart Dining Hall, which is located on Newton Campus. Like Carney’s, Stu is open for three meals a day, seven days a week, and mainly serves freshmen. Unlike the other major dining halls on campus, Stu has a smaller and more intimate feel. The cozy atmosphere—enhanced by the booths and famous “Yellow Room”—makes Stu the perfect place for overwhelmed freshmen to unwind and enjoy a meal.

Even though students who live on Newton are definitely biased, my friends on Newton raved about the specialty meals that Newton served, such as toasted ravioli, churros and chocolate, and even lobster. Last semester, my friends and I traveled to Stu to celebrate a friend’s birthday to simulate “going out.” Since we had to take the bus, it felt like we were off campus. Even if you live on Upper, I recommend taking the trip to Stu at least once during your freshman year—you won’t regret it. 

Finally, Lower Live is the largest of the three full-service dining halls. Located in Corcoran Commons, Lower mainly serves sophomores, juniors, and seniors living on Lower Campus. It features four main stations including a “North End Blend” station that serves a variety of pasta and the Screamin’ Eagle steak and cheese subs station. Even though Lower is always changing its offerings, if you don’t see anything you like—which happens from time to time—make sure you don’t miss the customizable salad bar, daily soups, and self-serve rice cooker.

Located upstairs inside of Lower is The Loft @ Addie’s, which serves customizable poke bowls, burrito bowls, and flatbreads and is open from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. If you are looking to mix up your mealtime routine, definitely check out Addie’s, where you can also order your meal on GET Mobile. The upstairs seating near Addie’s is a great spot to eat or do work with friends during the week, and the atmosphere is less chaotic than downstairs.

Cafes and Coffee

If you are a caffeine addict like myself, then starting your day off with a high-quality cup of coffee is crucial. The Rat, located in the basement of Lyons, is my favorite place to grab coffee on Main Campus. The Rat is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. for breakfast and lunch. It serves hot New England Coffee brand coffee as well as something that can be hard to come by at BC dining halls—iced coffee. Since coffee at the Rat is self-serve, you can customize your coffee however you want with milk and syrup flavoring options. The Rat is especially great for everyday coffee because it’s on your regular meal plan, so you don’t have to worry about running out of your Residential Dining Bucks like at CoRo or Hillside.

The Rat also has a variety of breakfast and lunch options including pastries, cereal, salads, soups, and—of course—its famous mac and cheese. You might have heard the buzz that the Rat also now serves sushi, which is made fresh daily. Even if you aren’t usually a sushi person, I would recommend the veggie rolls and edamame if you’re looking to try something new. Also, don’t miss the Rat’s panini presses and toasters, which can totally elevate a mediocre breakfast or lunch from the fridge. 

The Rat’s café-like atmosphere and large windows make it my favorite place for studying or just catching up with friends. The Rat also serves late night Sunday through Wednesday from 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. If you’re studying late in O’Neill and want a pick-me-up, late night’s mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, and french fries will do the trick. 

I know many of you New Englanders swear by Dunkin’, but Hillside Cafe, located on the first floor of Maloney Hall, might turn you into a Starbucks fan. Hillside, which is open 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, serves breakfast and lunch options, including omelets and sandwiches as well as coffee. If you are in need of something a little stronger than your typical Rat coffee, I recommend the “Director,” which is four shots of espresso and light cream over ice. Those of you who were on campus last year probably have taken advantage of this already, but pre-ordering Hillside meals for timed pick-up using GET Mobile is a great time-saver, especially since Hillside gets crazy during the post-class rush.

From Thursday to Saturday nights, Hillside transforms into BC After Dark, which serves bar food, such as burgers, wings, and fries. Students who are 21 and older can order alcoholic drinks along with their meals too. If you want a restaurant experience without having to leave campus or pay for an expensive meal, visit BC After Dark. There are a few fun events held here too—my friends and I even won a BC Yeti cooler at one of its trivia nights last semester!

Coming Soon…

Many BC students, including myself, are eagerly awaiting the re-opening of CoRo Cafe, the Market, the Chocolate Bar, and The Bean Counter

Like Hillside, CoRo Cafe also serves barista-made specialty drinks using Starbucks coffee, from chai lattes to oat milk hot chocolate. CoRo also serves flatbread pizzas and has a variety of snacks that you can buy on your meal plan. Be careful to avoid the common mistake of buying tons of meals and coffees at CoRo at the start of the year or you may blow through your limited Residential Dining Bucks money. According to the BC Dining website, CoRo will only be closed at the start of the fall semester, so you can expect a return soon.

Located on the first floor of Stokes South, the Chocolate Bar serves Peet’s Coffee, sweet treats like cookies and chocolate-covered Oreos, and sandwiches. It almost seems like a fictional place to me, since it was closed my entire freshman year, but the stories upperclassmen tell about the Chocolate Bar have me excited for its return. They say it’s the perfect place for a between-class pick-me-up.

Like the Chocolate Bar, the Bean Counter, which is located in Fulton Hall, also serves Peet’s Coffee, snacks, soups, and salads. Both are currently closed but are scheduled to open soon.

Even though many students, including myself, often complain about BC Dining and that it sometimes misses the mark, knowing how to best navigate it can help make the most of the experience. I hope you find this guide useful—now go grab your friends and enjoy having a meal plan while you can.

Featured Graphic by Olivia Charbonneau / Heights Editor 

Photos by Ikram Ali / Heights Editor, MC Claverie / Heights Editor, and Molly Bruns / Heights Staff  

 


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