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1920 Commons Credit: Gregory Boyek , Gregory Boyek

Although every freshman is required to sign up for a meal plan through Campus Express, there is a much wider world of dining at Penn beyond 1920 Commons. Here are some of the options near campus both on and off the meal plan.

Dining Halls

Alongside Commons, Hill House and Kings Court English House encompass Penn’s 3 all-you-can-eat dining facilities. Use your meal swipes for a lunch in-between classes or a prepaid dinner with friends afterwards.

Commons is the biggest and most bustling dining hall with the widest variety of food. Because of what some consider to be Commons’ checkered records of previous health violations, some students avoid Commons entirely, whereas others make it their second home on campus.

Each dining hall has some sort of vegetarian and vegan option daily, and meals can be taken on the go with sustainable Green2Go boxes.

Meal swipes do not transfer from semester to semester, so choose your meal plan wisely and consider how much Commons food you really want to eat.

Dining Dollar Cafes

Most freshman meal plans come with Dining Dollars, which may most notably be used at the Mexican-style Tortas Frontera, located in the ARCH, and at Houston Market.

Many cafes on campus also accept Dining Dollars, including the Starbucks under 1920 Commons, Mark’s Cafe in Van Pelt Library and the Bridge and Plaza Cafes in Huntsman Hall.

The Gourmet Grocer under Commons also accepts Dining Dollars, which can be used on groceries including organic fruits and vegan supplies.

Any place that accepts dining dollars will accept the PennCash that parents can add to your account to help you get by.

Williams Cafe is the one location in a campus building that won’t accept Dining Dollars, but their coffee and croissants are worth the price and the post-foreign-language-class line.

Sansom and Walnut Streets

Take your first college date to White Dog Cafe beside Kings Court English near 34th and Sansom streets and fall in love with the dog decor. Also on Sansom are Baby Blues BBQ and Federal Donuts to satisfy your desires for fried dough and chicken, while Cosi is right up the street near Pod, a pan-Asian restaurant with a futuristic interior.

Wishbone near 41st and Walnut streets serves almost exclusively fried chicken and is open late to satisfy those midnight cravings.

Past the go-to supermarket Fresh Grocer is a long line of eateries including Hummus Grill for Mediterranean fast food, Jimmy John’s, Capogiro Gelato, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Sweetgreen and Chipotle.

Down near 34th Street on Walnut and across from your English class in Fisher-Bennett Hall there is another Starbucks, and not far are an Auntie Anne’s, Dunkin Donuts, Quiznos and more.

Spruce Street

A dozen food trucks line Spruce Street beside the Quad everyday, from Mexican to fruit smoothies to the Real Le Anh’s Chinese food, waiting for busy students and faculty to hungrily walk by.

West of the 36th Street intersection starts the row of restaurants from Beijing for quick Chinese food, Saladworks, HubBub for coffee, the Philly Pretzel Factory and finally the all-important Wawa at the corner of 38th.

A little farther up you’ll find Allegro’s Pizza and Copabanana at the corner of 40th and Spruce streets for margaritas and Mexican food.

Make a right on 40th and you’ll pass by Qdoba, Greek Lady, Hip City Veg, Ben & Jerry’s, Smokey Joe’s bar and the Harvest Seasonal Grill and Wine Bar.

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