The Definitive Ranking of ISU Dining’s 11 Campus Cafés

I love that Iowa State has 11 campus cafés for students to use. They are all managed by the department called ISU Dining, which is in charge of providing food here on campus. All 11 cafés are spread around campus and they all have very different menus, feels, and services they provide. I’ve eaten at all the of them, expect one, so basically I know it all. 🙂 They are all great, but as a student you’ll fall in love with some more than others because they are all so different! No one student’s ranking is the same, but here is MY ranking of the 11 cafés on campus…which is clearly the right ranking. 🙂

1 – ABE’s Harvest Café


It’s the NEWEST café on campus so it’s my favorite because I’m always into whatever is new. (I know, how dare I.) It’s the new kid on the block and all the other cafés be jealous. It has two hot food options to choose from Monday-Friday and they are usually things you can’t find anywhere else on campus. You can find me here every Wednesday with my BFF Melissa.

2 – Courtyard Café


It may be small in size, but it’s cozy feel makes the café feel like it’s located in your hometown’s downtown. Lots of great specials each week, which are always hot and made to order! Plus, the view of the Lagomarcino Courtyard is beautiful during every season.

3 – Global Café


This café opened during my junior year, and it quickly became my favorite because it was in the Harl Commons space in Curtiss Hall. This is the only place with self serve coffee, with part of the proceeds benefiting the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, a college program helping farmers and families in rural Uganda.

4 – Design Café


My design major roommate loves this place. He says this because of the made-to-order deli located in the café, and he claims it makes the best sandwiches on campus. I personally love their music selection at this café, it’s all chosen by the students working there so it can get pretty crazy sometimes.

5 – MU Market & Café


It’s a café and a market, which means so many options!! IT ALSO HAS A SMOOTHIE BAR — YUMMMMM! It’s open on the weekends, so that’s a huge plus, and its location in the Memorial Union is great! Lots of organic and vegetarian meals are located here too.

6 – Bookends Café


Open late just for you, as you study in the library!! They always have lots and lots of pastry options to choose from. That apple nut bread is to die for! The Red Bull Smoothie they make is my fav when I’m there writing a paper.

7 – Froots Café


You can use meal bundles here!! SCORE!!! The coolest thing is that it’s located in State Gym, one of the rec centers on campus. Froots is a brand that offers healthy snacks or meals that go with all-natural smoothies, shakes, fresh-squeezed juices, and MORE! Not your everyday café so be sure to check it out!

8 – Business Café


I like to say the College of Business needs a café so that all the business students can become addicted to coffee like everyone else in the business industry. I know right, I’m hilarious. 😉 It’s a very open café with lots of sitting options and it’s giant windows give you a great view of central campus.

9 – Caribou Coffee


All the Minnesotans at Iowa State love Caribou Coffee. Caribou>Starbucks in the land of 10,000 lakes and let me tell you, this is a very strong belief those Minnesotans hold. All the other cafés on campus serve Roasterie specialty coffee, but here you can find the full line up for Caribou’s drinks PLUS all the deals you can find at all the other cafés on campus. So basically ISU’s Caribou>every other Caribou in the world.

10 – Hub Grill & Café


Now, Caribou Coffee is located in the Hub with the Hub Grill, so the café part comes from Caribou Coffee. (AKA 9 and 10 are the same thing/in the same building.) At the Hub Grill you can find the most extensive menu at a café for breakfast and lunch. They offer grilled items, fresh made-to-order deli sandwiches, and all kinds of other food options. Very busy during lunch, but well worth the wait!

11 – Gentle Doctor Café

Gentle Doctor

In all honesty, I have never been here being it’s a café not located on central campus, so that’s why I had to put it last. So this café is for all the vet med students. Their classes are located on the College of Veterinary Medicine portion of campus so the café is located there instead of on central campus…weird. 😉  All I know is that the café gets its name from the famous Petersen sculpture that bares the name Gentle Doctor.

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