The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

The Student News Site of University of Kentucky

Kentucky Kernel

Follow us on Instagram

The do and don’ts of UK Dining

Students fill their plates in Champions Kitchen on Friday, Aug. 19, 2023, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

There are a host of things you can avoid doing as a student at the University of Kentucky. 

You can sleep in and skip class, you can put off doing your laundry for two weeks and you can ignore your bank statements as you buy nearly the same iteration of a royal blue T-shirt for game days over and over again (one or two will do the trick). After all, you’re the adult calling the shots now.

And while those may not be the best things to avoid (for your sake, go to class, and for everyone else’s sake, do your laundry), there’s one thing you absolutely cannot avoid: eating.

You’re bound to forget to eat breakfast some mornings, and it may be tempting to forgo dinner in favor of studying a little more for that big exam, but even the hardest working Wildcats have to eat. Luckily, students have a myriad of food options, but if you’re new to campus, trying to navigate UK’s dining halls and restaurants can be tricky, and throwing an unsuspecting freshman into Champions Kitchen at lunchtime is like putting a rabbit in a rainforest. 

In any case, knowing the best stations to visit in each dining hall and planning out your trip can save plenty of time and make your experience all the more convenient. 

UK has two main dining halls on each side of campus — Champions Kitchen on north campus and the Fresh Food Company on central campus. Champions Kitchen is located on the first floor of the Gatton Student Center, and the Fresh Food Company can be found in The 90 across from William T. Young Library. Both dining halls offer breakfast, lunch and dinner at a variety of different restaurant-style stations. Champions Kitchen’s stations include Pasture, Homestyle, La Mesa, True Balance, Eiffel Pizza, Simmer and Sweet Dreams as well as a salad bar and a quick breakfast station. Likewise, the Fresh Food Company is home to Bowman’s Grill, Cozy Classics, the Local Slice Pizza Co., Woke Vegan Junk Food, Zen Wok, Nathan’s Taqueria and its own salad bar and breakfast station.

A meal swipe or Flex dollars can get students all-they-can-eat for each dining hall visit.

If it seems like a lot, that’s because it is. However, there are a few do’s and don’ts to follow when it comes to eating at both Champions Kitchen and the Fresh Food Company.

Do: Check the menu ahead of time

Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner menus for the dining halls can be found on UK Dining’s website. Giving both of these menus a quick read before you leave for class can take away a lot of the stress that comes with crowded dining halls, as you’ll waste no time reading signs or trying to decide between the salad bar or pizza (treat yourself to the latter).

Don’t: Visit every station and wait in every line

Stopping by every food station and sampling their offerings of the day seems enticing, but you’ll spend more time standing in lines and walking around the dining halls than you will eating if you do so. Students are able to build entire meals at single stations like Homestyle and True Balance, but oftentimes your best bet is picking a protein-rich entrée from one station and a couple side choices from other stations. Homestyle, Pasture, Bowman’s Grill, Cozy Classics and La Mesa all tend to be pretty busy at prime lunch and dinner hours, while the soup and salad stations, True Balance and vegetarian/vegan options are always quickly available. It’s best to read the menu ahead of time and choose one or two things you’re okay with waiting in line for.

Do: Get dessert

For a busy college student, a sweet treat can mean the difference between a great day and a genuinely awful one. Seriously. Make it a point to grab a cookie or some ice cream each time you visit Champions Kitchen or the Fresh Food Company, you’ve earned it. 

Don’t: Forget about your other options

Students aren’t limited to Champions Kitchen and the Fresh Food Company at UK. Campus is also home to several fast food restaurants and mini-markets called Wildcat Pantries. Flex dollars can be used to purchase meals at any fast food chain on north campus (Chick-fil-A, Subway, Panda Express and Auntie Anne’s) and central campus (Chick-fil-A, Zen Sushi and Blue Agave Grill). Wildcat Pantries also accept Flex dollars and can be found in The 90, Agricultural Science Center North and Holmes Hall. These are great options for those burnt out on the dining halls, but they can deplete your Flex balance rather quickly, so it’s best to fight the urge to eat Chick-fil-A for every meal of the day. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Gray Greenwell, Features/Copy Editor

Comments (0)

All Kentucky Kernel Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *