5C Dining Hall Reviews

Reviews by Max Maleno (’20), Jonah Cartwright (’20), Tiffany Madruga (’20), Zoe Ryan (’20), Sydney Wallace (’20), and William Teav (’19)

This month, I had the wonderful opportunity to dine at a nearby nationally renowned restaurant.  Consistently ranking one of the best in its class, the eatery greets its patrons with tropical palm trees and a pleasant outdoor patio.  I was reminded of the establishment’s high-status by a line that extended out the front entrance. The delectable smell of the night’s specialty dish only made the wait even more tantalizing.

Upon entering, the hostess disclosed to me that the restaurant exclusively offers a buffet-style service.  After setting my knapsack down at my table under stained glass windows, I swerved through cozy Spanish Colonial Revivalist halls to reach the main buffet room.  The staff was incredibly amicable and assured the clienteles smoothly received their cuisine.

Photo by Max Maleno. Juicy Grilled Teriyaki Salmon plate completed by Carribean Rice, and Snap Peas.

The dishes I chose were some of the best I’ve had in town.  The salmon was so tender I could have eaten it with a plastic fork, and the sweetness of the teriyaki blended perfectly with the saccharinity of the snap peas.  For dessert, I was offered a selection of freshly baked chocolate chip, sugar, and double chocolate cookies. I failed in my attempt to resist them, and my choice to succumb was justified by the melting sensation of the confection in my mouth.

Could you guess where I ate? Malott Commons ☺

Collins Dining Hall sits at the center of the Claremont McKenna College Campus, serving three meals a day of sometimes high end, but mostly casual dining. More affectionately referred to as “The Bistro” by CMC students as a toast to the community that the dining hall represents, Collins has always felt more like a lively restaurant then a dreary dining hall. While seemingly always jam packed with people, the room still feels intricate and open due to the floor to ceiling windows that look out over the campus and provide a lot of natural light.

The menu gets pretty creative throughout the week, featuring many flops and lots of hits. For athletes at the Claremont Colleges, there are always readily available protein and a pretty adequate salad bar. The drink station is over the top to say the least, featuring every kind of soda, juice, or milk you could ask for. The dessert bar, while improving over the years, is constantly a dissapointment. For infrequent visitors, the best meals to attend are midweek lunches and weekend brunch.  If you can avoid the lunch rush, “World Wok” and “Little Italy” are a must try. Collins brunch features a variety of dining options, including a pasta bar and ready made smoothies, but the biscuits and gravy might be the best part.

If you are looking to enjoy a mid-day meal and escape the monotony of class and homework, Collins Dining hall is the place to go.

Photo by Tiffany Madruga. Ken’s Pad Thai garnished with chili flakes.

At the early hour of 4:45 pm on Friday afternoons, a line already begins to snake around the entrance of Pitzer’s dining hall. Ken’s pad thai draws a crowd of students from all over the 5C’s and the wait can be upwards of 40 minutes. But is it worth the wait? As someone who is a 4:45-or-bust-friday-pad-thai regular I’m definitely biased, but for what is definitely the highlight of my week, I’d say yes. I have (shamelessly) waited 40 minutes for the savory pad thai and it was worth every minute.

Some of my other Pitzer dining hall favorites include Thursday Burrushi, Buffalo Wing Wednesdays, and of course the many desserts that accomodate any dietary needs you may have. The lines at Pitzer generally move pretty quickly (except for Friday pad thai), so it’s a nice alternative to the Hoch. Pitzer also has a nice ambiance with pop music playing in the background and loud conversations filling up the room so if someone drops a plate or cup, there isn’t much attention drawn to what can be a sticky situation. Although I love Pitzer’s loud and lively vibe, I would not recommend going there on a date since it can be difficult to listen to what the other person is trying to say. If you’re looking for a stark contrast to the Hoch experience, McConnell is the place to be.

As far as ‘all you can eat buffets’ go, the Hoch is the real deal.

Photo by Tiffany Madruga. Seasonal Berry Salad topped with fresh Smoked Salmon.

When you picture a restaurant that costs a single meal swipe for unlimited food, you probably think of the stomach flu you got after Golden Corral or your local buffet that your Grandma swore by for 10 years before it closed for a health code violation. But the Hoch defies all your preconceptions. Immediately upon entering, you can’t help but notice the clean interior, the oddly large living trees, the interesting but certainly out of place glass ceiling, and most importantly the hustle and bustle of students. As a long time fan of the Hoch, it is terribly disappointing that the Hoch is now ‘mainstream’. What once was a short salad line is now at least a 20 minute wait, and even on days when salmon is the main attraction, the off campus students file in like the food is free. It hurts me to say this, but even Simple Servings has been tainted by the unwelcome visitors.  The Hoch has truly outdone themselves with delicious and nutritious food, but at what cost! So next time you think you can grab a quick bite at the Hoch, you better think again.

Have you ever just wanted to get away? Relieve yourself of the anxiety of seeing someone you know? Like a certain someone you “got to know” the night before? Or a professor who teaches the class you recently dropped? Maybe you just want to walk 20 minutes for a “dank cinnamon roll” on a Sunday morning (Sabrina Drescher, 3-Star Google Review).

I have found the place for you: a casual dining commons where the sophisticated student can grab a meal to enjoy either alone or with their peers. There are always short lines (the 6 days of the week that Frank does not carry berries) due to the lack of popularity from 5C students. I believe Frank is a hidden gem for those willing to take the trek to find it.

For the vegetarians, what Frank lacks in properly prepared tofu, they make up for it in their “Farm to Frank” salad option comprised of the freshest locally grown ingredients Frank can find. Those who feel overwhelmed by the endless opportunities provided by other dining halls will be happy with the limited options provided by Frank. This lack of options is made up for in the variety offered by Frank’s 2-week long menu. Frank will have something different from one Monday to the next, reducing the monotony of “Taco Tuesday” or “Poke Thursday”. So next time you need an excuse to get away from another meal with friends, tell them you’re going to Frank and you will be on your jolly way to solitude.

Frary Dining Hall, snugly located at the center of the Claremont Colleges and a brisk walk away from the Honnold Mudd library provides solitude and respite for weary students. The interior of the dining hall is dominated by a massive painting titled Prometheus, painted in 1930 by Jose Clemente Orozco.

People go to dining halls for one thing – food. Fortunately for us ravenous folk, Frary excels at delivering excellent cuisine. Their main courses are quite tasty and leave you hungry for more (which you can get since the lines are super reasonable). My personal favorite is the roasted beef strip loin with asparagus, pao de queijo, garlic aioli, and chimichurri sauce. There are plenty of vegetarian options available at Frary. They seem to have kale frequently and their premixed salads are always satiating. Frary also offers many unique amenities: their acai bowls, unlike those at other Claremont Colleges dining halls, contain real acai. During weekday dinners, students are able to enjoy milkshakes of many flavors and thicknesses. On special occasions, the dessert section is stocked with decadent cakes and mouthwatering baked goods. Frary also boasts an impressive assortment of fruits. Where else can you find blood oranges on the 5Cs?

Frary might seem like a long walk but it’s definitely worth it. The food is excellent and the decor makes you forget you’re in college.

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