A Guide to Duke Dining Halls

Why Duke Dining is Tops!

Written by a Duke Student and Opus College Prep alumni

Duke University has one of the best dining programs in the country. In fact, Duke Dining was ranked 1st in the country in 2016 and 2017 by The Daily Meal. The Daily Meal studies over 2000 four-year universities’ food programs and ranks them based on healthy food options, sustainability, service, what makes Duke Dining unique, how the food’s nutrition is conveyed, and the overall dining program. Hosting dozens of events each year that include cooking classes, chef demos, and nutrition and wellness events, Duke Dining places immense effort into maintaining its top notch dining program.

Each semester, Duke students receive food points that are loaded on to their DukeCard. These food points are spent by swiping the DukeCard whenever a student purchases food/drink at Duke. Food points can also be used for ordering food from off-campus restaurants. 

Duke offers over 45 dining locations which include 36 on-campus locations, off-campus restaurants that deliver, and food trucks. The university recognizes the popularity of food trucks among the students, which is why there is a Google Calendar that conveys the time the trucks will be on campus and where they will be located! Sandwiches, fruits, soups, and make-your-own salad bars are available. Gluten-free bread, cookies, pasta, bagels, and desserts are offered to students who cannot eat gluten. There are also gluten-free food trucks. Since Duke prioritizes healthy food, there are plenty of nutritious options for students with any dietary restriction. All Duke food is labeled as vegan or gluten free and caloric information about each food is located in the Duke menu, which allows for an informed decision when choosing what to eat. Additionally, there are food options to deliver straight to the dorm room. What sets Duke Dining above other universities is not only the food, but the service they provide! Duke servers are always very welcoming, which can be especially appreciated by first-year students as they no longer eat at home with family.

On East Campus, there are 3 dining locations – Cafe at Smith Warehouse, Marketplace, and Trinity Cafe. Marketplace, a 3 star Green Restaurant Association certified dining location, is the biggest and most busy dining area. It features an all you can eat breakfast, dinner, and weekend brunch with 8 venues to choose from. These venues include wood fired pizza, stir-fry, southern-style cooking, vegan and vegetarian food, gourmet soup and salad, and dessert.

On Central Campus, there are 4 dining locations – Cafe 300, Freeman Center Cafe, Nasher Museum Cafe, and Terrace Cafe. These cafes offer full service coffee bars, freshly baked goods and treats, sandwiches, wraps, locally grown and organic dishes, and ice cream.

West Campus offers 9 dining locations. Pitchforks is a popular dining area with a never ending menu and countless gluten free options. Zweli’s Cafe at Duke Divinity is another favorite. It offers authentic Southern African cuisine and was recently voted as the #1 restaurant in Durham for vegan and vegetarians. They also cater to those who eat meat. Red Mango Cafe, located at Wilson Recreation Center, offers a fresh fruit bar, smoothie bowls, non-dairy and vegetarian options, and more.

At Bryan Center, there are 4 dining locations – Beyu Blue Coffee, McDonald’s, Panda Express, and The Loop Pizza Grill. At Brodhead Center, more than a dozen dining areas are offered. Students can choose from a 100% vegan-inspired venue, authentic Indian food, Panera Bread, East and Southeast Asian food, sushi, freshly made Italian dishes, Latin American food, and more. 

Nutrition information for all dishes can be found using NetNutrition, which is an online tool that allows you to accomplish nutritional goals while dining at Duke. Using this tool also enables you to eat balanced meals, avoid possible allergens, and select preferences for diets like ‘gluten free’ or ‘vegan’.

As you can see, the variety of food and quality of service Duke offers is exceptional. Duke Dining caters to anyone and everyone, regardless of dietary restrictions and food preferences. Duke prides itself in its innovative dining program, and that’s why it is recognized across the country! 

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