By Ishaan Rai and Clayton Kincade
Washington, D.C., is full of endless quality dining options. But if you’re busy with schoolwork and/or have a limited budget, you probably have no choice but to eat most of your meals on and around Georgetown’s campus. You may have heard mixed reviews for our on-campus dining options, but luckily for you, The Hoya is here to lay out the top spots and help you make the best of what Georgetown has to offer!
Meal Plan Backgrounder
Before we begin, here is a basic explainer of the different types of meal options you should be familiar with:
- “Meal swipes” constitute one meal at the university’s main dining hall, Leo J. O’Donovan Dining Hall (“Leo’s”), or another approved location. Each meal plan will have a certain number of swipes per week included in its package.
- “Meal exchanges” substitute one “meal swipe” for a more expensive or illustrious meal, though this option is often limited depending on your weekly meal plan.
- Finally, “Flex dollars” serve as regular money to use at various student-run locations and campus restaurants, though you do not have to pay tax on any items used with this form of currency. You are able to refill your “flex dollars” at will, but you cannot refill “meal swipes” or “meal exchanges” without changing your meal plan entirely.
Leo J. O’Donovan Dining Hall
Lovingly shorthanded as “Leo’s,” this dining hall is your one and only stop for maximizing those regular meal swipes. Nestled between New South and the Southwest Quadrangle, Leo’s is divided into two floors. The downstairs contains the traditional college dining options with more than six dining stations each offering a different cuisine. These stations rotate their menus between meals and change every day. That said, there are a few staples, like the salad bar and yogurt bar, that never go out of style!
Upstairs Leo’s is where the restaurant-style cuisine resides. Each station offers a fixed selection of food, including a mini bodega-style market, Latin cuisine, Mediterranean fare and Asian fusion dishes. There’s also a location called Launch, which cycles weekly through traditionally American meals like chicken tenders and burgers, as well as local restaurant pop-ups. These locations either take normal meal swipes or meal exchanges, so we recommend visiting this space just a few times a week for an upgrade in taste and flavor — just keep in mind that upstairs Leo’s is closed on Fridays and Saturdays.
Leo’s also contains Whisk Coffee Shop and Bakery, a go-to, pick-me-up establishment that serves pastries and coffee as well as breakfast sandwiches and fruit. The line is often long after morning classes, so plan accordingly! Whisk has a special menu for meal swipes, but outside of these options you have to pay with flex dollars.
Epicurean and Company
Right by the entrance to Darnall Hall is the main campus restaurant, Epicurean and Company (“Epi’s”). The food is much tastier than Leo’s, with a noodle bar, pizza and a variety of sandwiches like the “Bradley Cooper.” In past years, this upgrade in quality came with a price, though, as Epicurean only took flex dollars or real money — not meal swipes.
However, HoyaEats recently announced on their Instagram that they would be accepting meal exchange options this year. While the quality of these options is promising, we cannot guarantee that this will be a slam-dunk. Thus, we recommend coming to Epi’s occasionally, like on weekends when Upstairs Leo’s is closed.
Royal Jacket + Crop Chop
In the Leavey Center, you will find two more venues to use your meal exchanges: the sandwich counter Royal Jacket and the salad bar Crop Chop. Royal Jacket offers classic sandwiches like a caprese or a meatball sub. The meal swipe deal comes with a sandwich, a bag of chips and a drink, making it a solid post-class option. Royal Jacket also sells items like sushi and overnight oats.
Crop Chop, meanwhile, is your standard salad bar that figures as Georgetown’s own Sweetgreen. The meal exchange lets you create a personalized salad with four to five toppings and a protein, such as chicken, fish, falafel or steak. The line during the typical lunch and dinner rushes can get incredibly long at Crop Chop, so we recommend going before noon if possible. Overall, both of these options are smart alternatives to lunchtime at Leo’s.
The Corp Locations
The Corp is a student-run Georgetown company that owns a variety of shops across campus. In addition to general convenience stores like Vital Vittles and Hoya Snaxa, The Corp also runs four cafes on-campus: Uncommon Grounds (UG) in the university bookstore, More Uncommon Grounds (MUG) in the Intercultural Center, Midnight Mug on the second floor of Lauinger Library, and Hilltoss in the Healey Family Student Center.
These cafes offer a uniform selection of coffees, teas and pastries in each of their locations. Since the Corp cafes are scattered everywhere, you’ll often never be less than a five minute walk from one of them! This is where, we predict, you will spend most of your Flex dollars. However, make sure to budget accordingly! While these options are convenient for late night studying and early morning fixes, the expenses add up quickly.
In addition to The Corp locations, Georgetown hosts several chain restaurants including Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks in the Leavey Center, as well as Einstein Bros. Bagels on the bottom floor of the Car Barn. These locations only accept cash/card or Flex. If you’re using Flex dollars, be mindful of your spending habits: these pricey, but convenient, locations can drain a semester’s worth of Flex in a week.
Some meal plans — but all required plans for first-years — come with free access to Grubhub+. Grubhub+ allows you to order at many restaurants in the District with no service or delivery fees. While online ordering and delivering food is an expensive option, we recommend this option for very special cases when it’s impossible to go out for the night or everything else on campus has closed. Flex dollars are accepted as a form of payment on Grubhub+, so be very careful in budgeting if you decide to go with this option.
Nonetheless, there are many ways to utilize on-campus dining in the Georgetown neighborhood without online delivery. Some places in Georgetown, like &Pizza, take Flex dollars as a form of payment, so scavenge those storefronts to see if you’ll be able to use your funds there.
As a final pro tip, go to the Hoya Hospitality website for a full list of hours and availability for all on-campus dining locations. You can also view the daily menu of Leo’s beforehand. We hope this makes your Georgetown campus dining experience a tad more enjoyable, and happy dining!