By Deanna Han ‘23
One of the big concerns incoming college students have is food. Is the food good? Will I get sick of the food? Are there a lot of options? Fear not! While Pomona is small with only around 1,600 students, it is a part of The Claremont Colleges, consisting of five undergraduate colleges (the 5Cs) in the same square mile! In total, there are 7 dining halls shared among the 7,000 students at the 5Cs.
I left Pomona in the middle of March, and since then I’ve been craving the food at our dining halls. How many college students can say that? To explain, let me take you on a journey of my favorite meals at each of the dining halls available to Pomona students.
- Cheese tortellini. This is a staple at the dining halls. I don’t have an exact memory of how many times they serve it each week, but for at least half a typical week it’s an option.
- Loaded baked potato. This is also commonly available at Frary. I genuinely love potatoes so much and equally love adding in all the cheese, bacon, and sour cream that will fit in my potato.
TIP: If you’re ever in a rush, head straight for the panini line. The panini line is always really short, and they make GOOD paninis.
- Sunday brunch. This is one of my favorite meals (admittedly, I have a lot). While Frank doesn’t open until 11 a.m. on Sunday, you’ll see people start to line up around 10:45 so they can be first in line for sushi and Teo’s amazing omelets.
- Thursday night burritos. These are so good. You can choose either a burrito bowl or have the staff wrap it the traditional way into a huge burrito. It really does make for a fulfilling dinner.
- Any holiday dinner. Frank goes all out for every holiday dinner. This includes Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, Family Weekend. It’s insane. All the food is so pretty and the entire hall is decorated to the nines.
TIP: Don’t wait in a longer line just because there’s more people or because you think you’ll get something better. Sometimes there will be two lines for the exact same food and one line is drastically shorter.
Bonus tip: Frank also has cookie jars placed around the dining hall so keep your eye out for them.
Oldenborg is Pomona’s center for modern languages and international relations. It also has a small dining hall that serves lunch. The dining hall is unique: tables have flags, and you can only speak the language represented by the flag sitting on each table. (During the week, there are over 25 language options.) While this is great as a space to practice a language, people rarely come here for the food (but there are good vegetarian options). Not only is it the smallest dining hall, it is also only open from 12 noon to 1 p.m. on weekdays. But they also host speakers in a side room, so you can take your lunch and enjoy a talk on politics, international relations, journalism, or other topics.
- Saturday Pitzer Pasta. This is honestly among my top three favorite meals at all the 5Cs. The dining hall opens at 5 p.m., so all my friends and I will leave Pomona at 4:40 to walk up to Pitzer and wait for the doors to open. It’s honestly just amazing; you get to choose your protein, toppings, sauce, and type of pasta. They make it right in front of you, and it’s just *chef’s kiss.*
- HOT TAKE: Friday Pitzer Pad Thai is overrated. I’m so sorry, I know this is definitely an unpopular opinion, but I’m from Seattle. The quantity and variety of Thai food around the Seattle area is overwhelming but so, so good. While Pitzer Pad Thai has good noodles, it’s not really Pad Thai.
Hoch-Shanahan (Harvey Mudd)
- Monday Steak Nights. Enough said. There is also no extra cost to eating a steak! Not only do you get an eight-ounce steak (!!!), but you also choose how you want it cooked. Sometimes when I’m eating my steak, I forget that I’m in a college dining hall and not a restaurant.
- Thursday Poke Nights. While most of the other colleges have their version of poke, my favorite will always be HMC’s. There are so many different options in terms of sauce, base, toppings, and fish.
TIP: The number of desserts offered at the Hoch surpass any other dining hall.
Collins (Claremont McKenna)
- Sunday Night Mongolian Stir-fry. This was a staple for the first couple months of my sponsor group dinners, so it has its own special place in my heart. (Your first-year sponsor group has Sunday dinner together.) I’ve probably experimented with every type of sauce offered for the stir-fry and all the different types of vegetables. I definitely miss this meal a lot more than other meals just for the feeling of family and being with my sponsor group.
- (not a meal but….) Collins also has a Dole soft-serve machine (yes! like the ones at Disneyland) that I would die for. It makes dessert seem slightly healthier than it really is.
- Wednesday Night Pho. I don’t really like pho that much, so believe me when I tell you that I keep coming back to Scripps for the pho. It’s actually so good.
- Friday Night Chicken Wings. I love buffalo chicken wings so much, and Malott is the only dining hall that will consistently serve chicken wings. On Friday nights, Malott usually isn’t too crowded so it’s nice to have a break from the typical long lines.
TIP: If you’re coming to Scripps for lunch, do not show up before 12:30. Classes usually end at 12:15, and the lunch crowd will flood in. While your next class may start at 1:15, you’ll have plenty of time to get food. Whether you show up at 12:10 or 12:30, you will get your food at the same time, so you might as well come later. Waiting 20 minutes in line for food is no fun.
These are just my opinions! I know there are a lot of people who disagree with what I count as some of the best meals at the 5Cs. (Sorry to everyone who loves Pitzer Pad Thai). There are seven different dining halls so you will find a lot of favorites for every day of the week (like me)!
All in all, the food at the dining halls is unparalleled to any other institution. We’re so lucky to have seven amazing dining halls filled with great food all within 1 square mile. I miss it every day but hopefully I’ll be reunited with my favorite meals soon 🙂