Last year, the Daily Meal ranked Columbia’s dining halls third-best in the nation. If you’re wondering why we didn’t come in first, well, you’re probably the only one. Regardless, the truth is that the food only tells part of the story. So, we have endeavored to unravel the ever-vibrant social fabric of each of our hallowed dining halls. If you’re a first-year with a ridiculously large meal plan (which you definitely are if you’re choosing to read my monumental column on dining halls), check out these tips and useful information on making friends while eating at Columbia.
Ferris Booth Commons:
Pristine, modern, and sophisticated, Ferris is the queen of the dining halls. She scoffs at John Jay’s lack of personalized pasta and wrap stations. Ferris compensates for its lack of variety with very high quality meals—a day without cilantro at Ferris is a rare day, indeed. Cilantro is fancy as fuck.
People who go to Ferris are those who appreciate consistency. If you seek a friend/lover who will come back to you for the same old tricks time and time again, make your way to Lerner. There’s no flakiness in a Ferris-goer. It also just so happens that the more cultured members of our community are Ferris-leaning. People who make references to Nietzsche and Freud in your Lit Hum class are probably at Ferris right now ordering olives on their “dash of pesto” pasta. Whether these folks are your type or not is, of course, up in the air. Just know you can find them at one of the coveted balcony tables.
Hospitable, classic, and enormous, John Jay rules over all other dining halls in both age and history. Its chestnut decor and academic seats create an aura of importance. It’s the quintessential Ivy League dining hall—people from all around the world come to get a taste. Taste in the sense of experience, and not actual food, that is.
The Jay dwellers are a very distinct type. They are kind and warm, and appreciate an irreverent twist every now and then. They live less in the moment and more in the big picture, constantly appreciating life for its endless opportunities. If you’re looking for a more abstract thinker in a companion, definitely check out John Jay; it’s an infectious environment that focuses less on practicality (i.e., the quality of food), and more on aesthetic.
Comforting, delicious, and funky, JJ’s Place may be the most bizarre place on campus. Students walk down a flight of stairs to enter a cavern of colorful mood lighting and R&B. Around the corner is a grill that produces the least healthy, but most incredible-tasting food you have had in years—we’re talking mozzarella sticks that bring to mind the county fair back in whatever irrelevant town you’re from.
Yes, it’s true that JJ’s is dominated by athletes looking to get the full bang for their buck with four omelets and seven burgers. That said, who doesn’t like someone who can down more food than you? It’s an impressive (perhaps even sexy?) feat in and of itself. Aside from this stereotypical demographic, though, JJ’s also attracts hilarious, late-Thursday-night drunkards, as well as those who dig the weird amount of board games that the cafeteria has to offer. Did I play Jenga here during NSOP? Absolutely. Does that mean I’m a loser? Absolutely not! With that in mind, you’re going to find the most eclectic group at JJ’s: People discussing quarterbacks dine next to people discussing java, and for that, I think it’s fair to say that JJ’s is the best place to find a friend. Bonus points if you make a friend on a Thursday night, because we all know that’s prime time for the sad drunks who like to wallow in their chicken wings post-raging.