The W&M First Year Experience

Entries Tagged as 'Food'

Figuring Out Food in College

June 22nd, 2017 by W&M FYE · 1 Comment

Figuring Out Food in College

Hi everyone, it’s Ally Brimmer again! Since meal plan deadlines are coming up, I wanted to briefly discuss the who, what, when, where, and how (much) of dining at William & Mary.

Eating On-Campus

As I’m sure most of you know there are three on campus dining places where you can use meal swipes: Sadler, The Caf, and Marketplace.

Marketplace is the smallest place to eat with food that is good for a quick meal or when you are on the go. For example, they have sandwiches, pizza, chicken tenders, salad, etc. It has the options every day (except when it isn’t open Friday after 2 or Saturday) with a little variety thrown in there. Because Marketplace is small, it can get pretty crowded right at 6:00 PM. My go-to is a grilled cheese with a fried egg on top.

Sadler is the solid “middle” dining option. They have more variety when it comes to stations for people with dietary restrictions (for instance there is a vegan section). While they mix up the main dishes that are served, there is consistency. There are permanent stations for sandwiches, pasta, salad, cereal/waffles, and soft serve ice cream. Note to self though, it can be very difficult to find a table for lunch at Sadler if you are going right at prime lunch time. Everyone is getting out of their classes at 12:20 PM or about to head to their 1:00 PM. So, I wish you luck on your impossible task.

The Caf is the biggest dining hall of the three (it might just be the layout though). If I’m being honest, my freshmen year I only went to the Caf during orientation when my entire hall went. However, my sophomore year I had a class in Adair Hall so my friends dragged me to the Caf and I’m glad they did because I was missing out. The Caf has a lot of variety as well as its basic stations. I’m for sure going to be putting in the effort to eat there this year partially because of its ice cream selections. Unlike Sadler, which just has vanilla and chocolate soft serve, the Caf has a mix of rotating flavors like cookie dough, mint chocolate chip, strawberry, delicious flavors etc.

Where you live and where your classes are will play a major role in where you eat. Because convenience is often key. Once you figure out your schedules and your activities, your food routines will start to take shape.

Dining Dollars

Moving on, dining dollars come with your meal plan and are used via your W&M ID and act like a cash substitute. The main name that is it known by is “flex,” it took me a while to figure that out. Dining dollars don’t roll over into the next semester so you should be spending it all before December. As of right now, the main places to use your dining dollars are Dominos, Swemromas, the Student Exchange, and the Crust. There used to be more places to use dining dollars, but they have recently closed, so until the announcement of any new businesses, those are some of the core places.

To use your dining dollars for Dominos you have to CALL THEM. Basically, you call Dominos, place your order, and then you have to say you would like to use your student ID or flex and then you read off your student ID number to them. Dominos is great though so it is worth calling for.

While I don’t drink coffee from Swemromas,  the Aromas in Swem library, I use a large chunk of my flex there for bagels, muffins, croissants, sandwiches, and the occasional smoothie. Not only is Swemromas a nice place to hang out and do some work, the food and drinks are really great.

The Student Exchange is a small grocery/convenience store in the bottom of Sadler where you can pick up things like tissues, medicine, snacks, eggs, milk, ice cream, etc. and use either your dining dollars or your W&M express.

Finally, there is the Crust which is right next door to Wawa. It’s mainly a pizza place, but they also serve salads, pasta, and gooey skillet cookies. Be aware that it can get very busy and rowdy on the weekends.

Cooking in the Dorm

Most people I knew Freshmen year only used the kitchens to make sweets like brownies or cookies. There is a kitchen in every dorm so you are free to use them to your heart’s desire, but you will have to go to your duty office and rent out any cooking supplies you need. Even though you are required to have a meal plan, it is very easy to cook for yourself as long as you have your ingredients and the supplies are still available for check out.

Eating Off-Campus

Here comes my favorite part. Williamsburg is a very food-oriented place. There are so many restaurants within walking distance with all kinds of wonderful food. The eateries range from cheap (like Wawa) to expensive (like the Blue Talon). While you might want to limit how much you spend for food off-campus, it is nice to treat yo’ self and mix up what you are eating every now and then. Personally, I love the bacon cheese fries at College Delly, the beef bowls at Wawa, the sandwiches at the Cheese Shop, and the fried pickles at Retros! Take this fun Buzzfeed quiz to find out which off-campus eatery you are!

Tags: Food · Welcome

Something To Look Forward To!

February 8th, 2017 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hey, everyone! My name is Max Maiello and I’m a sophomore here at the college double majoring in Public Policy and Environmental Policy. Despite being February, today in Williamsburg is unusually 72 degrees and sunny! To celebrate this abnormal but amazing weather and to get you excited about being on campus next semester, I’m going to tell you all how I’m spending my day .

My typical Wednesday can start one of two ways: waking up three hours before my first class or waking up with less than thirty minutes. The start of my day always depends on when I get to bed the night before, which usually depends on how late I stay up doing homework. Luckily, today was one of the days where I was able to wake up three hours before my 10:00 a.m. and enjoy some rare winter sunshine and Vitamin D.

I texted my friend Catherine, whose schedule is literally the same as mine to a T, and she met me to head over to the gym. At William & Mary, there is an extremely high statistical probability (or just luck?) that you will find someone who has similar interests and goals with yourself. For me that person is Catherine. At the start of 2017, we decided that we would rule this semester; we were going to be productive, efficient, and enjoy ourselves as much as possible. So, at 7:00 a.m. in the morning we headed to the gym. At the end of our workouts (she loves the elliptical and I’ve been obsessed with running to remixed pop hits), we sit in the sauna for about five minutes to “sweat out the stress and negativity.” Walking out of the gym, especially on a day like today, you feel like a totally new person.

We get breakfast together, which usually is an omelet at the caf (formally known as The Commons Dining Hall but it’s the caf). For breakfast every day of the week, you can fill cups with whatever omelet ingredients that you want and the most amazing caf worker ever makes you a freshly made omelet. Pro tip: always ask for extra cheese, and if you’re in the mood grab some salsa from the nacho bar.

After breakfast, I get ready for my day while Carnise, a goddess who will clean the biggest mess at the cost of some heart-warming sass, wipes down the bathroom mirrors. We talk briefly about how I look so much better when I don’t “dress like a hobo” and wear sweatpants, and I walk to my first class of the day, Urban Politics. From there, I head to my favorite class, Politics of States and Localities, where I enjoy learning about lobbying and interest groups, and theorize why there has been a noticeable increase in telephone calls to Congressional representatives over the past year.

Once that class is over, I meet some friends at Cosi. Cosi is an amazing soup, salad, and sandwich café (or is it a restaurant, no one really knows) that accepts Flex, the money provided with your meal plan. It’s the best place for a healthy and somewhat light meal on campus, and their Turkey Avocado sandwich never fails to hit the spot. Instead of sitting inside, we brought our meals to the Sunken Gardens, a giant field at the heart of campus where on a day like today at least a hundred students ate, played, sunbathed, or worked.

One of my favorite moments at W&M is sitting with a group of friends casually doing our homework. I emphasize the word casually, because if you manage your time well you don’t always have to sit, focus, and finish something with a time constraint. I have no shame in saying that it takes me an hour to finish an assignment that would normally take twenty minutes, because that hour consists of joking with friends, discussing the topic of my assignment, and conversing about their opinions and insight. There’s a saying that you learn as much outside the classroom as much as you do inside, and believe me, that saying is 100% true. Five kids with five different majors and five different sets of life experiences sit down together and cover multiple topics form multiple perspectives – this is what William & Mary is all about.


After my third class of the day, I meet up with another one of my friends at The Grind, a quaint coffee shop located on campus in what was once a tiny brick house. Since it’s so nice out today, I have to embrace my inner basic-ness and order a large iced latte. Today might honestly be the one day in the winter when ordering an iced latte wouldn’t make me feel socially awkward. We sit outside on the terrace of tables and break out our laptops; she sets to work on biology and I begin coordinating a group project I have for one of my classes making a campaign video.

From there I join a group of my fraternity brothers on the volleyball court located conveniently nearby. You can always rent a volleyball from Yates, the adjacent freshman dorm, or bring your own. One of us brings a speaker out to play music, and we play past sunset since the court is lit. Not for one second did anyone remember that it was February in Virginia or care that it was only a Wednesday.

After the game, Catherine and I continue our New Year’s Resolution of being productive and head to the library to chisel away at our work. We join a table of our mutual friends on the first floor of Swem, where unlike the second and third floor it is fully legal to talk and act somewhat obnoxiously. Sure, we stop every ten minutes to discuss our friend’s Instagram post or throw popcorn at each other, but then we get back to it and crack down. If you’re feeling hungry, there’s always the chance someone else you’re with is down to order Domino’s pizza or barbecue chicken.


(When you realize you don’t have a Swem pic with Catherine and upload some with Roselyn instead.)

(When you realize you don't have a Swem picture with Catherine and upload one with Roselyn instead.)

And that is what I did on the infamous 72 degree February 8th. In all honesty, it isn’t that much different than my usual day no matter the weather. Everyone at the college has a different story and spends their day differently, but that’s just one small glimpse of how a student could spend his or her day. So get excited! Next year your routine could be very similar, or even completely different – you’ll Find Your Experience!

Tags: Food · Welcome

Eating with a Special Diet

June 15th, 2016 by W&M FYE · No Comments

Hello all! My name is Alexis Plofchan, and I am a rising senior at William & Mary studying Economics and Data Analytics. I am one of the 10 Orientation Area Directors (OAD) and have been #blessed to be assigned to the Botetourt Complex along with my favorite human, Patrick Linehan! You won’t miss us come orientation because our average height is 6’2”, and we have been told that we rock the black polos better than the other eight OADs.


Coming into college I had just found out I was gluten intolerant and also needed to cut back on my intake of sugar and eat all my meals as clean as possible. I transferred from a big state school where, for a year, I essentially did not follow my diet at all because I found it too hard to do so. I did not have much guidance in how to find what was good for me on campus and when I did manage to find something that fit with all my various restrictions, it tasted like plastic. However, that changed when I came to William & Mary. I didn’t find it as hard to find food, and the food wasn’t horrible to eat!

This blog post follows one that a fellow OAD, Biddie, wrote a few weeks ago, where she talked about the food options in Williamsburg. However, this one focuses more on how to navigate diets, allergies, or just general food preferences one may have. Hopefully, this will help with any initial nerves some of you may have about having to stick to food restrictions in dining halls and give you the resources to reach out to people who may help along the way.


The Dining Halls – Sadler, the Caf and the Market Place: Those who have food preferences like vegan and vegetarian can find food in the vegan/vegetarian sections. I am not vegan or vegetarian, but I have many friends who are and often times come back to the table with a better looking plate than what I have found for myself. The options in this station often include kale, beans, pita, cooked veggies, and much more. Make sure to ask the dining services staff if you are looking for any specific food and see if they are able to get that food later in the semester.

Those of you who have allergies and need to ensure that your food has not been contaminated like I do should absolutely reach out to the campus dietitian and plan to meet with her soon after you arrive on campus. In general, being an advocate for yourself in college is essential in order to be successful. However, in terms of finding food to eat and being able to enjoy that food, being proactive is going to go a long way. I have found that Dining Services is extremely responsive when it comes to accommodating, but they can’t help unless they know what you need.

You can click here for more information about special diets through Dining Services.

Swemromas: Being able to grab food when studying is essential to surviving exam week! Luckily, Swemromas has some much needed gluten free options that will hold you over before you are able to get a substantial meal! Some of the best gluten free cookies I have ever had were first found in Swemromas and are often times gone within a week because everyone (gluten free or not) love them! They mark all the food in ways that ensure you know if you can eat them or not depending on your allergy. Plus, you can use your Flex!


The Daily Grind: The Daily Grind (typically referred to as the Grind) is great at accommodating for food allergies. They have veggie options, gluten free bread and are extremely careful if you tell them you have any sort of allergy. The food there is some of the best on campus, and the environment is great to sit and do some readings for classes. If you are lucky, they have freshly made gluten free pastries that test the boundaries of mixing foods but turn out amazing—like the chocolate chip orange muffin I had the other day. I tend to treat myself to food at the Grind every once in a while in order to look forward to something nice after an exam or a paper! If I had it my way and had the funds, then I would eat there every day!

Aromas: Like the Grind, the off-campus Aromas’ location offers a variety of great food like the breakfast sandwiches and BLTs; you can substitute for gluten free bread or get a variety of vegetarian options. They also make sure to take into consideration any allergies you might have. Just make sure to mention it when you order! They have amazing desserts and pastries that are dairy free, nut free, and gluten free. They aren’t always available, but there will be many days when you are lucky and get to treat yourself with a tasty snack.

The Cheese Shop: The Cheese Shop being thoughtful and accommodating for any and all dietary accommodations is a blessing because of how great their sandwiches with house dressing are! I have never had any issues when ordering food and have noticed the extra time they take in preparing it in order to ensure there is not contamination.

Food for Thought: All my friends will tell you—I have an unhealthy obsession with this restaurant. It is about two miles down the road, which makes it a little too far to walk to (unless you are trying to get a big workout in) but only about five minutes by car. Each of the food and meal options spell out what allergies may be affected by the food. They are extremely attentive when it comes to dietary restrictions and work hard to accommodate any changes or substitutions you may request. They divide their plates up by color where each color represents a different allergy. For example, a dark blue plate means it is gluten free. I love Food for Though because of how many options there are for me and how much I feel like I am getting a great meal for a great price.


If you come to campus and find you are not satisfied with any options that you are able to eat and cannot figure out what to do, then there is always the option of cooking meals in your dorm kitchen. You could make it a roommate or hall-mate bonding experience and make meals once a week that will last the whole week! Make sure to tell your RA about any restrictions so they can be aware when doing hall socials. You don’t want to be the only one unable to eat something!

In short, make sure to explore all options and ask the dining service staff as many questions as you want in order to ensure getting substantial meals. There are a number of resources and food options for students on- and off-campus. You just need to make sure that you seek them out and are proactive in your approach.

I am very excited to have you join the Tribe so soon!

Tags: Food · Prep for W&M · Welcome

FOOD IN THE ‘BURG: Where to Eat & How to Pay

May 24th, 2016 by W&M FYE · 2 Comments

Hi, everyone! My name is Elizabeth Marcello (but my friends call me Biddie) and I am the Orientation Area Director for the Yates building! During Orientation in August, you’ll probably see me running around in a black polo with food and coffee in my hands. I decided to write a guide for Williamsburg’s best & cheap eats, including my favorite drinks and food choices at each of these places.

Elizabeth Marcello

Elizabeth Marcello

On move-in day my freshman year, I excitedly unloaded my luggage into my room in Eagle H (Green & Gold Village for life), and my parents helped me set up my room. We ran off to Target to pick up some last minute items like a lamp, some pens, etc. As my mom and I were browsing the aisles, she stopped and asked, “Is there anything we’ve forgotten?” I stopped–eyes wide–and stared at the Cheez-Its in front of me. “Food,” I gasped. I had forgotten about food.

This blog post is the official low-down on your food options in Williamsburg. So basically, it’s the most important thing you will read all summer. This list will provide the useful descriptions of the on and off campus dining locations, and you’ll find that there really is a little bit of everything and every flavor in Williamsburg. LET’S DIVE INTO SOME CARBS!


Sadler Center & Commons Dining Hall (aka the “Caf”): Both of these locations allow you to use a meal swipe – aka, it’s buffet style. They both pretty much offer the same types of food options: sandwiches, pasta, entree of the day (my personal favorite is the spring roll and quiche combo), cereal, salad, vegan options, gluten-free options, etc. One time at the Caf, I got real crazy and made a waffle topped with ice cream and fruit. It’s college, why not?  waffle

Marketplace: You can use meal swipes OR dining dollars (“flex”) here. Use a meal swipe to get chicken fingers & fries, a burger & chips, a sandwich & pasta, a chicken sandwich & soup, and more! A swipe gets you an entree, side, fruit, and dessert. You can also use your dining dollars to purchase food like sushi rolls or some tacos from Wholly Habaneros.


Here are some favorite places on campus that you can use flex money as opposed to a meal swipe to get some good eats:

Swemromas: This is what students call the Aroma’s location in the Swem Library. Take a study break or grab a snack on the way to class here! Lattes, smoothies, bagels, croissants, & more. They have heartier meals, too: my favorites are the lox & bagel, veggie pot pie, & pasta salad. Check out this delicious drink I got here!


Cosi: Just below the Sadler Center. Pick up some good sandwiches or burrito bowls here.

Pita Pit: Build your own pita. It’s phenomenal, and you get a punch card that lets you rack up points and get free pitas in the future.

Mooyah: Right next to Pita Pit–this is your go-to for your late night sweet tooth. Their milkshakes are the bomb (the cookie dough one has literal pieces of cookie dough in it!), and their burgers & sweet potato fries never leave you hungry.

The Crust: Pizza & skillet cookies. What is a skillet cookie, you say? Oh, just the most delicious dessert you’ll find in a skillet. It’s a warm cookie with ice cream all over it. Ladies: Thursday is Ladies’ Day at The Crust, meaning skillet cookies are half price just for you. The Crust also has awesome sandwiches like the one I ate recently!


OFF CAMPUS GOOD EATS (aka real money)

You definitely want to use your meal swipes and dining dollars most of the time, but every once and a while, ya gotta treat yo’self. Here are my favorite off-campus dining options that are within walking distance of campus and reasonably priced:

Daily Grind: this is actually on campus (right across from the Sadler Center), but it only accepts real money. That being said, the coffee & food options here are delicious. My personal favorites are the mochas (pictured below) and the chicken pesto sandwich.


Oishii: delicious sushi rolls and hibachi. From personal experience, I can say that getting a hibachi box will likely last you for two meals.

Wawa: a William & Mary staple location. I get my morning coffee here (signature blend with french vanilla creamer) and have befriended the cashiers. Stop in for some mac & cheese, sandwiches, or snacks.

Cheese Shop: spoiler alert: it’s more than just cheese. Go here for gourmet sandwiches (personal favorite: the shrimp salad), bread-ends, and the famous house dressing. Perfect for a sunny day’s lunch.

Brickhouse Tavern: it has a huge projector screen for big games to go along with their huge pizzas. I watched the Superbowl here with my roommate over a huge pizza (see picture below)!  Another great location to watch sports events! brickhouse

Retro’s: just like the diners you see in the movies. Go to Retro’s for your classic burger, fries, & milkshake combo. Plus, the restaurant itself just looks really cool.

Paul’s Deli: known for their cheesy fries (with bacon if you want). Plus, you can just order at the register and pick up your food when it’s called, so you don’t have to deal with leaving a tip if you’re on the fly. Popular location to watch sports.

Aroma’s: the original Aroma’s location. Get all of the same coffee options from Swemroma’s & more here, plus a dining menu. Gourmet pizzas, sandwiches, and salads can be found here, along with a chocolate fondue which is perfect to share with friends. Oftentimes, live bands play here and create the perfect backdrop for a nice evening out. Look at this pretty picture of me eating one of their desserts one night!


College Delly: Tuesday night here is $2 taco night. Grab a bunch and save them for leftovers later. 

Blue Talon: this is actually pretty expensive, but if it’s your birthday, you eat for free! Sometimes groups of friends will celebrate a birthday, and a popular & cheap option is to order the mac & cheese if it’s not your birthday. It has breadcrumbs on top and is delicious. If it’s your birthday, GET THE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE.


Tags: Food · Prep for W&M · Welcome