Any college students number one concern… Food. At Iowa State, that is no different. Iowa State currently has 5 dining centers to choose from. I won’t be ranking other types of food centers on campus mainly because you can’t use your meal swipes at those locations.
I tried to incorporate every aspect of these centers in my ranking decision, however, the ranking choice is ultimately my own and has been shaped by my personal experiences with each place.
With that in mind, here are the Iowa State dining centers ranked.
Storms dining center is located out by Wallace and Wilson towers. Not many Iowa State students venture out there as it is a mile or so away from campus. As a previous resident of Wallace, Storms and I quickly became acquainted.
I have ranked Storms at the bottom of this list for a couple reasons. The first being that the menu is not that varied and is very picky-eater friendly, which in my case isn’t that bad. However, their rotation is predictable, if you had burgers last Thursday, you’ll probably have them again this Thursday. The second reason is that the size of the dining center only allows it to be set-up in certain ways, which makes the flow of the dining center difficult and confusing. However, Storms does have a pretty cool light-up bubble wall that creates a calming and relaxing dining experience. Storms is by no means horrible, but it is at the bottom of the list for its repetitive nature.
Some favorites of ours: boneless wing bar, blue bunny ice-cream scoop-it-yourself station.
4. Friley Windows
The most recent addition to Iowa State dining, Windows serves a variety of food much like a couple other dining centers. However, Iowa State needed a bit more food diversity. At Windows, you are exposed to types of food you can’t get at other centers, like lamb, lentils, and other exotic, ethnic foods.
Now, if you are a picky eater, Friley Windows is probably not the best place to eat.
However, its modern atmosphere and unique dining set-up is something every student should experience once. Who knows— maybe you’ll find a new food you like! Make sure to check their hours online at Iowa State dining’s website. They are closed over the weekends except for late night on Sunday, and they don’t open for breakfast.
Here are just a few items on their menu: Spaghetti and meatless balls, soft pretzel bites, and green chili chicken quesadillas.
3. Union Drive Community Center (UDCC)
Notably the largest dining center on Iowa State’s campus, UDCC caters to a large population of students. By having to do this, however, the menu is also very repetitive. UDCC used to have to accommodate all of Friley as well as other dorms around such as Eaton and Helser as it was centrally located between all three. UDCC is arguably one of the busiest dining centers since it is so close to many buildings on campus. Iowa State tried to alleviate this by adding Friley Windows, while this addition may have helped, UDCC is still a very busy place to eat.
Even though it is repetitive, it does have a great variety of food. This place is a picky-eaters’ paradise. If you like Asian cuisine, they have a station just for that. If you like having boneless wings on Wednesday, make sure you get there early every Wednesday or you’ll be in a line that seems like it could go out the door.
Some favorites of ours: Orange chicken, birthday cake dessert bars.
Located on the ground floor of Maple-Willow-Larch dorms on the east side of campus, Seasons is the second biggest dining center Iowa State has. Just like any Iowa State dining center, Seasons is repetitive but, their menus have a longer period of time in between each repetition, unlike UDCC or Storms. Seasons is also a busy place to eat since it’s the closest center to M-W-L, Buchanan, and Geoffrey. It even caters to many residents of Old Richardson Court which is just across the way.
Seasons is also arguably the best place to get dessert. Every dining center has the same baked desserts, but Seasons has ice cream and frozen yogurt machines, complete with a full range of toppings. Those toppings include cookie dough, gummy worms, brownie bites, peanut butter, M&Ms, etc. Personally, this dining center was one I ate at a lot out of pure convenience, but it still had a great variety and always had something I, a fellow picky eater, could enjoy, whether that be a chicken sandwich or classic chunky chicken noodle soup.
Some favorites of ours: ravioli bar, pot roast with potatoes and carrots.
Located in the basement of the Oak and Elm dorms, Conversations is the smallest dining center on campus. But don’t be fooled by its size, Convos has the best selection of foods and the longest cycle of repeated foods. One downside to it being a small facility is it also has small cooking and baking capacities. To combat this issue, your food is served for you at each station by dining center employees.
Conversations has more group seating than any dining center on campus, which makes it a great place to go with a group of friends, but if you like to eat alone, they always have a place for everyone. Often times, organized groups on campus like to eat here because of its friendly, inviting, and cozy atmosphere. As a former resident of Freeman Hall, Conversations was the closest dining center to eat at, and during winter Convos was my savior. Not only was their food good, but it took not even 2 minutes to walk to. For residents of Old Richardson Court, it is among the top places to eat, especially for dinner.
Make sure to check the times, though. Convos shuts down over the weekends.
Some favorites of ours: traditional ramen, chicken sandwich.