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A Truly Unbiased Ranking of Harvard’s Upperclassmen Dining Halls

Image of students gathering in Quincy Dining Hall.
Image of students gathering in Quincy Dining Hall. By Courtesy of Christine L. Li
By Aiden J. Bowers, Contributing Writer

For most Harvard students, Harvard University Dining Services, or HUDS, provides the vast majority of our daily nutrition, for better or for worse, in sickness or in health, and until graduation do us part. But perhaps students haven’t been making the most of their unlimited swipes. Read further for a thorough and painstaking journey through Harvard’s upperclassmen cuisine — as presented to you by a fearless first-year with a uniquely unbiased perspective on the matter.

Each rating is based on three categories: Food, overall taste and texture; Ambience, physical presence of the dining hall; and Experience, flow, functionality, and layout.

12. Adams: It’s like eating in a castle, but at what cost?

Food: 2.0/5.0

Ambience: 4.0/5.0

Experience: 1.5/5.0

This dining hall was a place of high highs and low lows. A plate of steamed kale, chicken parmesan, chicken a la plancha, and braised pork bondiola had little to offer aside from a brackish flavor palette. Considering that the only way to get in as a first-year is to lie and say you live in Pforzheimer House… well, Adams was not worth the trouble.

11. Cabot: In this case, no press is bad press.

Food: 3.0/5.0

Ambience: 2.5/5.0

Experience: 3.5/5.0

A lunch of BBQ turkey tips, roasted brussels sprouts, carrots and leeks, cherrystones, white bean escarole, and alu chole was deeply unexceptional. Despite house pride, outdoor seating, and a nice overall flow to the space, the cafeteria feel was overwhelming, reminiscent of a high school lunchroom fitted with cork boards, long plywood tables, and empty white walls.

10. Kirkland: Lowell, but less grandiose.

Food: 3.5/5.0

Ambience: 3.0/5.0

Experience: 3.0/5.0

With smaller tables than Lowell House, Kirkland has a more intimate community atmosphere, but its warm soda and complete lack of napkins on the tables might just cancel that out. Spicy chicken stir-fry, stir-fried green beans, and jasmine rice provide depths of flavors and textures — but the fried calamari and grilled chicken unfortunately did not.

9. Eliot: All ambience, all flow.

Food: 2.5/5.0

Ambience: 4.0/5.0

Experience: 3.5/5.0

This meal began with an interrogation from a HUDS worker, culminating in a second lie about living in Pfoho. Eliot’s ravioli, garlic mashed potatoes, roast beef, and locally-caught fresh fish just didn’t hit the mark. What Eliot missed in cuisine, it made up for in ambience, delivering a spacious kitchen and a mix of tables that eliminate a cafeteria feel.

8. Pforzheimer: Home, sweet (P)home

Food: 3.5/5.0

Ambience: 3.0/5.0

Experience: 3.5/5.0

Food is the tiebreaker between Eliot and Pfoho. Creamy garlic pasta, marinara, juicy meatballs, flavorful ratatouille, and herb-roasted chicken with cacciatore sauce made the quad dining hall experience thoroughly enjoyable. While the cute bistro-esque kitchen doesn’t make up for the bland dining area, the two-storied room makes for a varied and interesting experience.

7. Mather: Easy on the stomach, less so on the eyes.

Food: 4.5/5.0

Ambience: 3.5/5.0

Experience: 3.5/5.0

Frittata, french toast, farfalle, pork sausage, and hash browns — all thoroughly delicious in their own right. Yet, the seating in Mather is incredibly cramped and it doesn’t have much to offer visually. Despite a large influx of natural light, the overabundance of concrete and gray carpeted floor doesn’t scream “bon appetit.”

6. Quincy: Feels like college, but tastier.

Food: 4.0/5.0

Ambience: 4.0/5.0

Experience: 4.0/5.0

An enjoyable space with even better food: Tofu curry noodle stir fry, cabbage, beer battered and fried fish, and tartar sauce create a salty and savory flavor profile. The dan dan noodles were saline and the meatballs dry, but were made up for by the modern mural filling the far wall, making for a colorful, abstract, and controversial conversation piece. Perhaps tablemates can bond over trying to decipher the image.

5. Leverett: As exclusive as it is tasty.

Food: 4.0/5.0

Ambience: 4.5/5.0

Experience: 4.0/5.0

Roasted spicy potatoes, tuscan butter salmon, farro with mushroom and tomato, and harissa chicken thigh all delivered a creamy, aromatic, herbal, and flavorful combination. The space is gorgeous and covered in emerald Leverett banners — still, there’s better, more available dining elsewhere.

4. Winthrop: Better than Leverett, less hassle.

Food: 4.5/5.0

Ambience: 4.5/5.0

Experience: 4.0/5.0

Winthrop had the same food as Leverett, only whipped potatoes instead of roasted — making them creamy, delicate, and delightful. Winthrop marginally outperformed Leverett in flavor and texture; the half-underground dining hall did not disappoint.

3. Lowell: Looks like “Pride and Prejudice,” tastes like heaven.

Food: 4.0/5.0

Ambience: 5.0/5.0

Experience: 4.0/5.0

An inconvenient dish return system is made up for by superb chicken tikka masala, barley hash, and alu chole, as well as a stunning yellow and white interior. The salmon with green curry might be the best-cooked fish from HUDS yet though the flavor leaves something to be desired.

2. Currier: Worth the walk.

Food: 5.0/5.0

Ambience: 4.0/5.0

Experience: 5.0/5.0

Currier is delicious. Creamy garlic pasta, aromatic herb roasted chicken with cacciatore sauce, well-cooked yellowtail flounder, delightfully umami ratatouille with chickpeas. Paired with a calming and comfortable atmosphere, there’s (almost) nothing better.

1. Dunster: Leaves Currier outperformed.

Food: 5.0/5.0

Ambience: 5.0/5.0

Experience: 4.5/5.0

Dunster is the best dining on campus. A seitan quesadilla, basmati rice, coconut curry chicken, chicken thigh, and cauliflower delivered a cohesive yet varied flavor profile unlike other dining halls. Add to the equation boom-boom sauce, found in only a few dining halls, and the luscious, dark wood that frames the space, and you’ll have a truly wonderful lunch or dinner.

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