On most American campuses, you are bound to spot a few restaurants where you can pop in for a burger or two and a cold glass of cola, but in terms of campus frequency*, these are the top 17;
17. WHICH WICH
This is a funky sandwich joint, created by Jeff Sinelli (also the founder of the Genghis Grill), that produces sandwiches that are undeniably addictive. Which Wich has proven to be extremely popular on campuses where it is located and it’s always a lunchtime favorite amongst students.
Must try: The Philly Cheesesteak
16. AU BON PAIN
This is a bakery retail unit with a history steeped in French cuisine; businessman Louis Kane bought the store from a French baking equipment manufacturer who showcased their ovens by having French bakers bake with them instore. Their soups are widely known for the freshness of ingredients used and it’s often the spot to catch up with friends at the end of a long day.
Must try: Corn & Green Chili Bisque and the Two Tomato Cabrese
15. DUNKIN’ DONUTS
A truly American brand, this beloved store started out as a little catering service offering sandwiches and snacks to factory workers who worked on the outskirts of town but William Rosenberg, the founder, soon realized that almost half of his profit came from the sale of donuts and coffee and thus, a brand was born. Today, there are over 12,000 stores in 36 countries.
Must try: Blueberry Glazed Donut and the Sausage, Egg and Cheese Sandwich
14. TACO BELL
Taco Bell is a specialty restaurant offering up Tex-Mex delicacies such as quesadillas, tacos, nachos and burritos. The creaminess of its dips is second to no other and you are sure to find a student or two chowing down on some nachos covered in its signature salsa sauce on campus.
Must try: Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos Supreme
13. GRILLE WORKS
This is a newly established food restaurant brand but don’t let that turn you off; their burgers are packed with a punch of flavor and their buffalo wings are fall-off-the-bone tender.
Must try: Chili Cheese French Fries
12. STEAK N SHAKE
This restaurant was started in the 1930’s by Gus Belt and he gained a massive following right off the start because of his practice of grinding steak into burgers in front of his customers, which was a novel idea at the time. This practice is still carried out in Steak n Shake’s commissary where the open grill is still open to public viewing.
Must try: Garlic Steakburger
11. JAZZMAN’S BREW AND BAKERY
This is a coffee and bakery shop run by the Sodexo group, a services and facility management company with headquarters in Paris. Its specialty coffee blends are an extreme hit with students and most concur that Jazzman makes the best coffee on campus but shhhh, don’t tell Starbucks that.
Freshëns is a restaurant brand that is all about “healthy eating – better living” and offers many healthful choices from hand-crafted crepes to fresh-blended smoothies or a variety of fat free frozen yogurt options. They take enormous pride in creating smoothies that are 100% clean and this means that every spoon of Freshëns smoothie is free from anything artificial and is made with only real fruits and vegetables.
Must try: Maui Mango Smoothie
9. MOE’S SOUTHWESTERN GRILL
MOE is an acronym for Musicians, Outlaws and Entertainers and it’s a fast casual restaurant specializing in the creation of popular Mexican meals. It recently displaced Chipotle Mexican Grill as the Fast Casual Mexican Restaurant of the Year and this can be indirectly related to its growing popularity among college students.
Must try: First Rule of Chicken Club
8. PIZZA HUT
Founded with a $600 loan obtained from their mother, Dan and Frank Carney worked around the clock to build Pizza hut from a little rented location to about 4,000 locations in just 19 years. Pizza Hut now has over 40 variations of pizza toppings to choose from and nothing truly beats munching on some PH’s pepperoni pizza while chilling at the end of a long day.
Must try: Hawaiian Chicken Pan Pizza
7. JAMBA JUICE
This brand was founded by a healthy-lifestyle advocate called Kirk Perron and going through the menu, would literally make your cells jump for joy at the incoming goodness. The options are packed with wholesome ingredients; ranging from fruit energy bowls to vegetable medley smoothies and you can often find college students clutching to a Jamba Juice cup as they make their way to class on a hot summer day.
Must try: Caribbean Passion Smoothie
6. PAPA JOHN’S PIZZA
John Schnatter used the broom closet in the back of his father's tavern, Mick's Lounge, in Jeffersonville, Indiana to start up the first Papa John Pizza restaurant in 1984. Papa’s popularity steadily grew year after year but it blew up even further when they invented the pizza dipping sauce to go alongside their pizza, especially the crust.
Must try: ‘The Works’ Pizza
5. PANDA EXPRESS
This is a fast food restaurant serving up Asian cuisine and it’s the largest Asian-style restaurant in the United States. Their entrees are notoriously delicious and you can trust to find a student or two twirling some Chow-Mein on some chopsticks in any of their campus restaurants.
Must try: String Bean Chicken Breast and Broccoli Beef with Brown Steamed Rice and Mixed Vegetables
Subway is a fast food restaurant with the highest number of franchises worldwide due to the never-ending demand for its sub sandwiches. Its sandwiches come in a number of variations but you can be sure that each one will be drenched with a whole lot of juicy goodness.
Must try: Chicken & Bacon Ranch Melt
3. EINSTEIN BROS BAGELS
Einstein’s is a bagel and coffee shop with over 400 locations in America. Einstein’s has some of the most interesting recipes ever created with bagel as the base and its breakfast variations are sure to get you pumped up for the day.
Must try: Crispy Chicken & Tater Breakfast
Chick-Fil-A is a restaurant brand that has thoroughly entrenched itself into the American college experience, thus it is rare to find a campus without a branch (although these do exist). Chick-Fil-A has a rich history and it prides itself in being one of the first to perfect the chicken sandwich recipe which to this day, it stays true to.
Must try: Grilled Chicken Club
It’s very easy to see why Starbucks is at the top of this list; you can find it on any American college campus either as a standalone shop or sold by little café shops. It is the most accessible beverage brand in America and this makes it a go-to shop for most college students. On a hot summer’s day, nothing truly beats sucking on a cold Frappuccino whilst taking a walk.
Must try: Caramel Frappuccino Blended Coffee
*A sample of 200 universities/colleges from 37 states were chosen at random to obtain the survey results given.
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