The Quad: Bruins savor taste of UCLA’s No. 1-ranked dining hall food
Epicuria is a go-to spot for hungry students. This dining hall includes a variety of dishes that allows students to choose foods that cater to their palate. (Daily Bruin file photo)
By Joanna Wang
Oct. 24, 2021 6:28 p.m.
From Bruin Plate’s veggie-infused flatbreads to Epicuria’s pasta bars, students can always find something they enjoy at UCLA’s No. 1-ranked dining halls in America.
But these dining halls offer more than just delectable dishes.
Second-year business economics student Victor Chen said that he appreciates the balance and nutrition dining halls offer.
(They give) you a balanced meal for carbs, protein, veggies (and) dairy,” Chen said. “It’s just a lot of nutrition you can get.”
UCLA spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said in an emailed statement that the university strives to create the right balance for Bruins.
“Taste is an important criterion for us, and this is reflected in the fact that UCLA has been ranked best college food in America for several years,” Vazquez said. “Other factors that are considered are health and sustainability. UCLA is a part of the Menus of Change University Research Collaborative with the goal of offering more sustainable options with a focus on increasing the amount of minimally processed, plant forward whole foods, and using healthier oils, as well as less red meat, sugar and salt.”
At Bruin Plate, nutrition criteria and standards are developed by dietitians to provide balanced meals. According to Bruin Plate’s website, entrées and main dishes should have no more than 400 calories and less than 10% of calories from saturated fat, while grilled meat, chicken and tofu should have no more than 150 calories and 4.5 grams of saturated fat.
Vazquez said that UCLA dining halls are working to improve their facilities through various means.
“UCLA is working to increase the number of menu items that meet the MCURC principles across all dining halls and grab-and-go eateries,” Vazquez said.
Vazquez said that each grab-and-go or dine-in hall has different focuses, and therefore, food options vary accordingly.
The dining halls’ distinct themes enable most Bruins to find a place that fits their taste.
Second-year communication student Sara Lehman said that she likes Bruin Plate and Epicuria above other on-campus food options.
“I’m pretty flexible with my eating habits. I’m not too picky. In general, I just like most foods, but I would say, (Bruin) Plate and Epicuria are my favorites,” Lehman said.
But every student has their own preferences and personal dining hall rankings. Chen said that he agrees that Epicuria tastes great but ranks De Neve the highest.
“I might say De Neve [is my favorite] because De Neve never disappoints me. I always know what I’m going to get,” Chen said.
Beyond nutritional value, UCLA dining also works to ensure comfortable dining experiences. Vazquez said that dining halls utilize indoor set-ups to create a pleasant environment.
“Each of our restaurants is designed to offer a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere through the seating, layout, lighting and décor,” Vazquez said. “Some of our dining locations, such as the Study at Hedrick and Epicuria at Covel, for example, also serve as ideal locations for studying and meeting to work on assignments with extended hours and power charging stations throughout.”
Chen said that he agrees with UCLA’s No. 1 food ranking and that his experience of dining halls at other colleges cannot compare with that of UCLA.
“You don’t see seafood at other colleges. Our dining hall is always super varied – there’s always something new,” Chen said.
Chen added that if anything were to change, he would request more meat options.
“I feel like at Epicuria especially, it’s just a lot of carbs, but they don’t really offer a substantial amount of meat. So I feel like they can really up their protein distribution. … I don’t want to just eat carbs,” Chen said.
Lehman said that while food at UCLA is delicious, she wishes other creative food options would be offered.
“One thing that I really want them to get is protein shakes. I know (Bruin) Cafe has smoothies, but that part’s closed right now. So once that opens, that’ll help. But it’d be nice if there was a place where we could make protein shakes,” Lehman said.
As Bruins continue to explore what each dining hall has to offer, savoring the No. 1 ranked food fuels Bruin pride.
“I really like how our dining halls really put a lot of effort into making good food,” Chen said. “The menu changes from day to day, and there’s also a lot of options, which is really nice, and they’re all pretty good.”