If you’ve ever toured Georgetown with Blue and Gray, you might have heard student tour guides wax lyrical about Leo O’Donovan Hall, the only dining hall on campus. Whether you believe them or not, you don’t have a choice: as a freshman, you’re required to have a meal plan, because the university believes that “participation in the dining experience is a fundamental part of developing community among resident students.” (If you don’t live in an apartment your sophomore year, you’re still stuck with a mandatory meal plan.)
So, whether you like it or not, you have to eat what the university’s food establishments are going to feed you. Here are some tips on how to best manage this arranged marriage between you and a meal plan.
Choose your meal plan wisely. As a freshman, your only choice is to choose from a weekly plan, which means that you can use a certain maximum number of “swipes” at Leo’s (and some other places) per week. Any unused swipes do not roll over to the next week. By default, the university places you on the All-Access 7 plan. However, you will find that there is generally no reason to get an unlimited meal plan unless you plan on becoming a sumo wrestler.
Know your meal exchange options. As of this fall, meal plan options have expanded exponentially. You can use meal swipes at the assortment of restaurants on the top floor of Leo’s, rebranded as LEO|MKT, as well as most locations in the Leavey Center and Einstein’s Bagels in Car Barn. However, your meal swipes will only get you a predetermined set of options at each place. The options are pretty robust, but it is wise to be aware what your swipes will get you at each location.
Don’t be afraid to spend time alone at Leo’s. It’s hard to coordinate with people for lunch at Leo’s, so do it alone. During lunchtimes, you’ll find many people by themselves studying with a book or laptop. It’s typically quieter during the later lunch hours as well, after 12:30 p.m.
Take food home. Consider bringing tupperware to stuff some extra sandwiches or cookies home or take some apples and bananas. It’s also common knowledge that people steal cutlery, plates, and napkin dispensers for their home convenience from Leo’s, though that’s not something we necessarily endorse. The university can search your bags under the meal plan policies and charge you for theft.
Know the hours of operation. Due to the renovations to Leo’s and the meal exchange locations around campus, your food options will depend on what time you decide to eat. The food provided by the Fresh Food Company on the bottom floor of Leo’s fluctuates between meals and most of the LEO|MKT locations are closed on the weekends until they reopen on Sunday nights for dinner. You can check out the full operation schedule here.
There are other places to eat on campus too, but you have to pay out-of-pocket. There’s Hoya Court in the Leavey Center, with Chick-fil-a, and Crop Chop—all solid places for a quick lunch or dinner. Chick-fil-a does not accept meal swipes, so you’ll have to shell out some cash for those waffle fries.There’s also the new Royal Jacket Deli and a Starbucks in Leavey; Vital Vittles also sells a variety of sandwiches. At the Healey Family Student Center, there’s Hilltoss, a salad place run by the Corp, and the Bulldog Tavern, which is pretty mediocre and has a very slow service. The Tavern accepts meal swipes after 8:00 PM on weekdays and all day on weekends.
At the bottom of Darnall Hall, there’s Epicurean, which is open 24 hours on Mondays through Saturdays and serves sushi and sandwiches; it also has a pricey pay-per-pound buffet throughout the day. Just outside the main gates, there’s Wisemiller’s—more commonly known as Wisey’s—which sell a wide selection of affordable sandwiches, snacks, and Oreo cookies. The catch: none of these places will accept your meal plan. Be prepared to eat into your pockets to treat yourself at these places.
Photos: Georgetown Voice/Megan Howell
This post was originally published in August 2017.