College days (and nights) call for quick, delicious, maybe not entirely good for you, but sometimes not that bad, affordable, available late, munchie-pleasing, drunchie-satisfying meals. That's a lot to ask for from a dining location. Luckily, some of the best college fast food restaurants can manage it all, and then some.
Whether it's two in the morning and you're in desperate need of a pizza, or you're simply running from one class to the next, a girl's gotta eat. Stat. In fact, we all got to eat. College students especially seem to have an unending appetite, and honestly, what you find at your dorm's dining hall doesn't always cut it. These places, however, always seem to do the trick, whether you're in the mood for a giant bowl of chow mein, a fruit-filled smoothie, or a healthy teriyaki bowl. Just talking about it is making my stomach growl. College was a great experience, and I miss it like hell sometimes — I'm starting to wonder if this is why.
Looking for a place to eat? I present to you a definitive list of the top 10 places to grab a bite for college students, ranked from better to best. So enough chitchat, get your chopsticks, special sauce packets, and Sriracha ready. It's go time. (To-go time, that is.)
10. Panda Express
Panda Express is everywhere, and it is also the solution anytime you need a quick Asian food fix. While it might not be the most authentic Chinese food on the planet, it is some of the most delicious. Added bonus: no added MSG. And they have fortune cookies.
9. Daphne's Greek Cafe
You may not be able to pronounce it correctly, but you're definitely able to eat one in two minutes flat. I'm talking about gyros. Silent "G." Sometimes, you're just not feeling burgers and pizza... and during times like that, you go to Daphne's.
8. Papa John's
Delivery pizza is a necessity in college, and Papa John's will never let you down. As it turns out, fresher ingredients lead to a better tasting pizza. Who knew?
I could tell you where I was every Tuesday night after my three hour lecture and afternoon fast... Rubio's. At $1.50 a taco, it's the college student's best friend. Crispy, hand-battered fish with some fresh cabbage, salsa, and white sauce for half the regular price, unlimited? This place was a staple during my undergrad years.
6. Jimmy John's
Oh, Jimmy John's. Your free smells get us every time. Gourmet sandwiches are always a win in my book, and this place isn't kidding when it says it's freaky fast. Whether you're in the mood for a plain but perfect slim, or you're feeling up to taking on the legendary JJ Gargantuan, this is the place to go for all your sandwich cravings.
5. Jamba Juice
Maybe you go here once and a while for some of their tasty oatmeal or a pretzel, but when it comes down to it, Jamba Juice's smoothies are what keep hangovers bearable. It is also quite possibly the only way to get your fruit count in for the day between classes. Everyone at least feels healthy drinking a full-sized Jamba, which is really all that counts, right?
4. Jersey Mike's
I was actually introduced to Jersey Mike's after my college days, but if I had known about this place when I was in school, it would have been a game changer. Sorry Subway, but Jersey Mike's slices the meat right in front of you. And nothing compares to having a sandwich prepared "Mike's Way." Bless Mike, for coming up with that perfect combo of flavor.
Chipotle may not exactly be authentic Mexican food, but it's still mouth-droolingly delicious. Their barbacoa meat is always extra tender, and who can say no to that guacamole? Not to mention, they have corn salsa, guys. Corn salsa. Done.
2. Flame Broiler
Flame Broiler is one of the few college fast food places that you can actually feel good about ingesting. It's where you find the perfect combo of grilled meat, steamed veggies, and fluffy rice. Be sure to say yes to the added green onions options, and grab a handful of teriyaki sauce to-go.
1. Panera Bread
Bread bowl of broccoli cheddar soup? How about a roasted turkey and avocado BLT? Or the BBQ chicken salad? You know what, why don't you just do a "You Pick Two" deal with an extra side. Oh yeah, on top of that you get your choice of freshly baked bread, chips, or an apple (get the bread, duh). Panera is the holy grail of college culinary delight. They even have seasonal menu items. So fancy.