Meet Up, Fuel Up: Carnegie Mellon Community Thrives at Campus Coffee Shops

We all have our favorite on-campus coffee shop to grab that perfect cup of Joe. Whether you prefer a cold brew, a latte, or a double-shot, a stop at your go-to coffee place is all you need for a quick pick-me-up. For Carnegie Mellon students, campus coffee shops go beyond just serving up hot drinks and caffeine — they provide a place for community.

Two local Pittsburgh coffee shops with locations at CMU are particular standouts for offering a buzzing social atmosphere and a place to host a study session, catch up with friends, warm up from the cold, and fuel up for the day ahead.

La Prima Espresso

La Prima Espresso Company, one of Pittsburgh’s most acclaimed coffee roasters and espresso bars, has a location right here on CMU’s campus. Nestled in the lobby of Wean Hall, La Prima serves up a full menu of caffeine to keep you focused during lectures, study sessions, or tests.

La Prima is open from 8 am to 6 pm, Monday through Thursday, and 8 am to 4 pm on Fridays. They are closed on Saturday and Sunday, so if you really love their coffee, plan to visit their other locations in Pittsburgh.

La Prima can get busy between classes, as it serves some of the best (and only certified organic) espresso on campus. There are tables in the area, making it a great spot to meet up with friends to study or to simply relax. Or you can grab an iced coffee or treat to go and take it outside to study or catch up with friends when the weather is nice.

La Prima Renovation: Summer 2018

La Prima will undergo a renovation this summer. The entire Wean Hall lobby will undergo a major facelift to improve the overall customer experience with new and flexible furniture, visible coffee production, smarter queuing, and more grab’n’go and bakery options.

La Prima Coffee Sampling: Tuesday, February 20

Don’t miss the special La Prima Coffee Sampling on Tuesday, February 20, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm in Wean Commons in the Cohon Center. Stop by to learn more about this locally-rooted business and taste samples of three free-trade, certified organic roasts from South America, Africa, and Indonesia.

Tazza D’Oro

Tazza D’Oro, located in Rohr Café in Gates Hillman, has been brewing up cups of gold in Pittsburgh since 1999. The Carnegie Mellon Tazza café boasts several tables where you can catch up on studying while enjoying a delicious panini with your latte.

Tazza D’Oro is open from 7 am to 7 pm, Monday through Friday. They are closed Saturday and Sunday but have a new location in Highland Park where you can get your coffee fix on weekends.

CMU students are big fans of Tazza because its menu of sandwiches, croissants, flatbreads, and salads features ingredients that are locally sourced, showcasing how much the community surrounding Pittsburgh has to offer. The mushroom flatbread is a favorite among the vegetarian crowd, and meat lovers enjoy the chicken panini. And don’t miss out on the gluten-free donuts from Gluten-Free Goat or the vegan chia pudding – delish!

Check out the slideshow to see where some of Tazza’s local ingredients come from:

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As for the Rohr Café setting, you can’t find a better place to meet up with a group or study on your own. The high-top seats at the window are ideal for knocking out some solo work or finishing a term paper on your laptop, while the tables with their signature colorful chairs are perfect for meeting with a group to study or socialize. (Or, perhaps, taking a nap between classes.)

Tazza D’Oro featured at February DSAC: Wednesday, February 21

Each month of the academic year, Carnegie Mellon students and staff and Dining Services staff come together to discuss a wide array of campus dining topics – from upcoming renovations, to cuisines offerings, to programming ideas. This month, DSAC will be hosted on Wednesday, February 21, at 5 pm at Stever House in the first floor Reading Room and Tazza D’Oro will be providing the food … and coffee. Don’t miss out! 

ScottySIPS Reusable Mug Program Offers Discounts on Coffee at La Prima and Tazza D’Oro

Coffee Mug icon_BlackWho knew? Sign me up!

With the purchase of the ScottySIPS Reusable Coffee Mug ($17.99), enjoy $2 discounts on hot drip coffee at La Prima and Tazza D’Oro’s on campus locations. You can enjoy $1.00 discounts at other on-campus locations – find out where.

At Carnegie Mellon, campus coffee shops go beyond just serving up caffeine — they provide a place for community.

Where’s your favorite campus spot for coffee?

Plant-Forward Eating at Carnegie Mellon

Students on college campuses across the country are eating up the plant-forward movement. Good thing, too, because eating more plants, and fewer meat and dairy products, not only makes for a healthier you but also a healthier planet.

Vegans, Vegetarians & Plant Forward – What’s the Difference?

Different from vegan or vegetarian eating, a plant-forward diet doesn’t exclude meat—rather, it simply makes plants the focus of one’s diet. So, for example, at dinner time, the plant portion of your meal—the salad or grilled veggie, let’s say—takes up more space on your plate than the chicken parm, pork chop, or strip steak.

CMU Loves Plants, Students & the Planet

“Offering more nutrient-dense menu choices is better for student nutrition,” says Director of Dining Services Pascal Petter.

Carnegie Mellon Dining Services embraces the plant-forward approach as part of its program because student health and wellness is a number one priority—and also because it recognizes the role the food industry plays on environmental impact and sustainability.

“As we continue to shape the dining program on our campus, specifically in relation to health and wellness, we know that offering more nutrient-dense menu choices—fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains and legumes—is better for student nutrition, ultimately impacting our students’ academic performance, social and emotional wellness, fitness goals, sleep patterns, and so much more in their day-to-day life,” says Director of Dining Services Pascal Petter. “Additionally, our program is committed to a more sustainable approach to food service operation. In fact, all leaders in this industry need to have a seat at the table to make a true impact on the health of our communities and our planet.”

Plant-Forward & the Environment

According to the World Wildlife Foundation, dairy cows—and their manure—emit enough greenhouse gases to contribute considerably to global climate change. Moreover, if manure is handled improperly, it can degrade local water resources and compromise ecologically significant areas. And here’s a pretty staggering statistic: according to the United States Geological Survey, one quarter pound hamburger requires 150 gallons of water to make.

Plant-forward eating attempts to lessen the harmful environmental impacts that result from mass meat and dairy product production.

Plant-forward eating attempts to lessen the harmful environmental impacts that result from mass meat and dairy product production. Purchasing and eating local fruits and veggies lessen that impact even more. But the change really takes hold when a majority of diners treat meat and dairy as sides instead of the main dish.

This past summer, Carnegie Mellon’s Dining Services Director Pascal Petter and Dietitian and Nutrition Educator Jessica Tones, as well as CMU chefs from CulinArt Group, joined other universities and industry leaders, including Stanford University and Google, at the fifth annual Menus of Change conference, which focuses on nutrition and public health, environmental stewardship and restoration, and social responsibility and food service. Established by the Culinary Institute of America and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Menus of Change initiative offers practical, actionable solutions that help food services organizations transition to plant-forward dining experiences, decreasing their environmental footprint through water conservation and more.

“Menus of Change inspired us and our CulinArt chefs to re-craft some of our menus and to create plant-forward menus at new dining locations that just opened at the beginning of the 2017-2018 academic year,” says Tones. “I also walked away from the conference with a renewed awareness of the importance of compost and recycling options in an effort to reduce food waste on campus, so I make sure that these options are always available during our campus dining events by way of student groups who focus on the environment and sustainability issues.”

CMU Food Day at the Rangos Ballroom in the Cohon University Center.

Dining Services celebrated National Vegetarian Month with a Best Vegetarian Dish on Campus sampling and competition. In addition, campus partners hosted information tables on various wellness and sustainability topics and the CMU community shared their love of plant-based foods with a fun, interactive photo booth. “We were excited to highlight our dining vendor’s most delicious plant-based offerings, while sharing resources for nutrition, health, wellness, and sustainability on campus,” says Tones. “The response to the event was overwhelming, and it was a powerful opportunity to shape the future of food on campus by engaging the community in the discussion.”

CMU Plant-Forward Initiatives

Plant-forward is not just better for the environment—it results in less processed, tastier foods that are rich in nutrients. And the proof is in the pudding at CMU!

Nourish, CMU’s allergen-friendly kitchen, is now certified by Kitchens with Confidence.

As The Tartan recently reported, CMU Dining Services is taking steps to encourage plant-forward eating on campus. Nourish, CMU’s new allergen-friendly kitchen, features a menu free of the most common allergens and plenty of plant-forward options like vegan coconut chia pudding, a quinoa crunch bowl with white bean hummus and kale, and house-made vegan sesame “cheese.” Additionally this fall, Garden Bistro opened in Resnik as a 100% vegan food service station that offers sandwiches and made-to-order sauté bowls. Carnegie Mellon Café now offers smoothies and smoothie bowls, and finally, Evgefstos, the Cohon Center’s vegetarian and vegan location, makes custom and signature “superfood” bowls Monday through Friday.

Next year, the Tepper Quad marketplace will open to the community to feature “AVI Pure,” an entirely new standard of cuisine focused on a modern and holistic approach to food that ensures minimal impact to the environment. “The AVI Pure at Tepper Quad will offer a dining marketplace that is social, collaborative, and healthy in its approach to food, the community, and the environment,” says Petter.

What is your opinion on the plant-forward eating movement? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Carnegie Mellon Leads the Way with Allergen-Friendly Eating

From making new friends to exploring new activities and figuring out what you’re really passionate about, college is one of the most exciting times of your life — especially at Carnegie Mellon! While navigating and exploring your new home away from home, the last thing students should have to worry about is issues related to food allergies. As universities around the country become increasingly sensitive to students’ dietary concerns, Carnegie Mellon Dining Services is taking the lead on this weighty and prevailing topic with Nourish, an allergen-friendly kitchen that opened this fall.

Allergen-Friendly Food Full of Taste

Nourish features a menu that is prepared entirely without gluten and the eight ingredients most likely to cause allergic reactions: eggs, wheat, dairy, soy, tree nuts (except coconut), peanuts, shellfish, and fish. Nourish is operated by CulinArt Group and led by Executive Chef Victor Schmidt, who has been serving allergen students at Carnegie Mellon for eight years.

“Chef Vic has poured his passion for food and his allergen expertise into the Nourish menu,” says Director of Dining Services Pascal Petter. “It’s a diverse and delicious menu that our entire campus community can enjoy.”

Prepared and sealed in a dedicated kitchen to ensure safety commitments to guests with dietary restrictions, the menu features a wide variety of made-to-order and grab-and-go foods, including sandwiches, salads, bowls, pizza, burgers, and hot entrees. There are also a number of unique vegan and plant-based offerings that can be customized to nourish sampleplease any palate.

Students, faculty, and staff can place their orders for pick up at Nourish, located on the second floor of the Cohon Center, using GET Food via the app or online from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Additionally, grab-and-go menu items are available at a number of on-campus locations: Carnegie Mellon Café, Entropy+, Rothberg’s Roasters II, Heinz Café, and Maggie Murph Café.

Campus Dining Meeting the Needs of Students

Food allergies aside, students tend to have stricter dietary preferences than the general population. According to Technomic’s 2017 College & University Consumer Trend Report, they’re more likely to follow special eating plans, including vegan, vegetarian, or semi-vegetarian (e.g., pescatarian) diets. The report also notes that 49 percent want to avoid meat and animal products in their meals.

“While accommodating dietary preferences has long been one of our dining program’s primary objectives, providing delicious, nutritious, allergen-friendly meal options to students unable to tolerate certain foods or ingredients is just as important to our program and the university,” says Petter.

Allergic reactions can present serious health risks and can even be life-threatening. A study at the University of Michigan found that while 47.7 percent of students with food allergies reported that they maintain a prescription for emergency medication including self-injectable epinephrine, only 6.6 percent of these individuals reported always carrying this device.

Foods can cause adverse reactions other than allergies, too. For example, people experience intolerances or sensitivities to food that cause a range of digestive issues, which can result in secondary conditions such as migraines, chronic fatigue, inflammation, skin problems, nutrient malabsorption, and severe nutrient deficiencies. Many of these individuals do not produce the enzymes necessary to break down certain types of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, including dietary fiber or sugars. Students with these reactions may need to eliminate many of the same types of food that the Nourish menu is designed to address.

nourish sampling
Students enjoying their first taste of Nourish during a tasting event.

“Even minor health issues can take away from a student’s college experience and journey,” says Jessica Tones, Carnegie Mellon Dining Services’ nutrition educator and dietitian who joined the team last fall. “Carnegie Mellon is committed to reducing this source stress for our students by offering safe, delicious, and convenient food options. That’s why opening Nourish for this academic year was a number one priority for me and for our dining program.”

Serving Safe Foods on Campus

For students with severe food allergies, even the tiniest exposure can produce an adverse reaction. That’s why designated food preparation areas and equipment are required to ensure their safety and health; for instance, cutting boards used to slice bread should chopping vegnever be used to chop vegetables, and separate refrigerators and food storage areas are needed to avoid unintentional cross-contact.

Equally essential is staff training: even common allergens have many aliases — like semolina for wheat and casein for dairy — so food service employees need to be aware of alternative names. Training should also emphasize accurate labeling and communication with students who have allergies.

Carnegie Mellon is excited to offer allergen-friendly dining with Nourish. These safe, delicious meals will make eating on campus easier for students with dietary restrictions, who often feel like an invisible group. Going to college is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that should be enjoyed to the fullest — without worrying about food allergies!

Carnegie Mellon Dining Services wants to hear what you think of Nourish. Share your feedback here!

Carnegie Mellon Dining Plans: Low in Stress, High in Nutrition and Convenience

Dining Gets It – You’re Busy!

As a Carnegie Mellon student, you’re busy. You have class in an hour, a paper due tomorrow, and a midterm exam next week. On top of everything else, you’re hungry, so it’s hard to concentrate. But your next meal isn’t exactly what you want to be thinking about. So, what are your options?

You could put off eating until after your classes, run to the grocery store, buy ingredients, and cook a nutritious meal at your apartment or residence hall. Of course, by the time you’ve done that, you’ve lost at least two hours of what might have been productive work time — and you could be in for a long night ahead. Alternatively, you could grab a couple of snacks, which will energize you for a while … until you crash and burn a few hours later. With deadlines approaching, the last thing you need is to feel sluggish. There’s got to be a better option, right? There definitely is.

Nutrition Is Paramount to Success

“As a college student, your mental and physical health is as important as your education and extra-curriculars. In fact, nutrition is essential to success,” says Jessica Tones, dietitian and nutrition educator for Carnegie Mellon Dining Services. “Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods has been linked to improved cognition and mental functioning, in addition to lower stress levels, lower rates of chronic disease, and lower incidences of mood disorders. Having a dining plan helps you nourish your body consistently throughout the day.”

Of course, the problem is that stress and poor nutrition often go hand in hand: stress or lack of time leads to poor food choices, which in turn leads to a diminished physical and mental state that further increases stress in a vicious cycle. This cycle can be hard to break, but Carnegie Mellon’s dining program is designed to provide students with, convenient meal options for every palate.

A Healthful and Convenient Way to Eat on Campus

CMU’s dining plans offer a range of options and choices for students throughout their time as an undergraduate student or graduate student. They offer convenience for students who live or spend a lot of time on campus because dining locations exist on nearly every part and corner of campus. Additionally, investing in a meal plan removes the stress of figuring out where your next meal is going to come from, making it easier to take care of yourself (and treat yourself) when you’re busy or stressed.

Community Dining Plans

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Carnegie Mellon’s Community Dining plans offer undergraduate and graduate students a mix of meal blocks and flexible dollars per semester. Traditional Dining Plans, which are required for first-year students and function on a biweekly basis, are also available for undergrads and grads.

Students Say It Best

But don’t take Dining Services’ word for it: many current students enrolled in meal plans rely on them to stay healthy — and end up being pretty happy, too.

Current student Russell Holbert (left) not only loves his CMU dining plan but also Au Bon Pain (ABP) and Bri, who is part of the ABP team, as indicated by this photo he posted on the To Dining With Love Facebook page on Valentine’s Day. Thanks for all the love, Russell!

Russell Holbert, a soon-to-be-senior studying music, said this about his meal plan: “I love having a meal plan! It let’s me be social while eating my meals and helps me attend more events on campus. I don’t worry about finding time to shop and cook. It’s been such a convenience being able to get food where and when I want it, and it has helped me maintain commitments around campus at any time of day.”

After all, mealtime shouldn’t just be a study break. It’s an opportunity to explore campus, socialize with friends, and even meet new people. And with the extra time afforded to Russell by having diverse food options at his fingertips, he can take advantage of everything Carnegie Mellon has to offer, including extra-curriculars and special events.

Kanisha Vaughn, a junior studying psychology, echoed Russell’s sentiments: “I personally like having a meal plan because I like the convenience of being able to get food on campus, especially at times when I’m on campus late or need to grab quick food in the middle of the day. I would love to be able to cook regularly, and I did try it for a while, but I often get home late at night, and once I’m in my dorm room, I usually don’t want to have to cook — in fact, I usually just want to go directly to sleep. So it’s nice knowing that if I have the time and desire to cook, I can; but if I don’t have time to cook one week, I don’t have to force myself to take the time out to do so, since I have a meal plan.”

Dining Is Here to Serve You!

At Carnegie Mellon University, dining plans vary based on students’ needs and interests; they’re flexible, so students can get the most out of their meal plan. With more than 30 locations across campus, you’ll never have to eat at the same place twice in a row (unless you want to), and you’ll always have access to a satisfying meal, whether it’s an early breakfast or second dinner late at night. Chances are, you’re already busy enough — don’t let meals stress you out even more!

Learn more about your meal plan options today!

Getting to Know Michelle Mirabella

Michelle Mirabella is the Housefellow for Boss House and McGill House, two residence halls located on “the Hill” area of Carnegie Mellon’s campus. She also serves as the Coordinator of Community Standards and the Integrity-Process Advisor for the university’s Disciplinary Committee. A Carnegie Mellon alumna, Michelle graduated in 2010 with an undergraduate degree in professional writing and a music minor. She earned her master’s in higher education administration and student affairs from New York University.

She’s excited to back at her alma mater working within a community that helped shape her as the person she is today. Let’s learn more about Michelle!

How did you come to join CMU?

I applied to Carnegie Mellon for my undergraduate and was accepted in spring of 2006. I graduated four years later and then worked as the Acting Housefellow for Boss and McGill for a year after graduation. After five years working at other institutions – both domestically and abroad – I’m excited to be back!

What have you learned about the Boss and McGill communities so far?

McGill and Boss complement one another in forming the BaMily. Both houses are intimate in size and engender a sense of family. McGill House is an all-women’s mixed class residence and Boss House is a themed residence focusing on global living. As a cohesive BaMily community, we can delve deeply into topics germane to our house identities, like intersectional feminism and intercultural competency.

What makes you most excited about being at CMU?

The students. Students at Carnegie Mellon are uniquely passionate and pointedly interdisciplinary in their approach to challenges.

What is an important life lesson you have learned from a student or students?

The beauty of intentional gratitude; I have seen this exemplified by RAs and CAs throughout my time as both a student and professional at Carnegie Mellon. This concept goes further than supporting one another, than appreciating one another. It is genuine gratitude for someone that allows you to support and appreciate them in return. This strikes a special place in my heart.

Outside of work, what are your hobbies/interests?  What are you passionate about?

Language and language learning, reading up on current events/feminist theory/social justice. These are my main hobbies and passions. I speak Spanish as my second language and dabble in Portuguese and Italian. I have also taught English as a foreign language. I am fascinated by the language learning process and how language shapes our experiences as we move through the world.


All-time favorite book.

I don’t do favorites unless you ask me my favorite number. Context is relevant for me. One book I believe is important is Feminism Is for Everybody by bell hooks. I highly recommend it.

If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Perhaps in this moment, I would choose the very author of the book I previously mentioned: bell hooks. Her work focuses on the intersection of race, capitalism, and gender.

You’re stranded on a desert island – what three things would you love to have with you?

A water desalinator, a huge box of flares, a journal/pen combo to document.

Connect with Housing & Res Ed!

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Food For Thought

Studying for finals requires energy, stamina, and constant focus. You have been training your brain all semester, similar to the way an athlete trains their body for competition. Imagine if an athlete skipped meals, ate mindlessly, and refueled with candy, junk food, and caffeine in preparation for a big race. Without balanced nutrition, even the best athlete’s performance would suffer!

brain-2-graySurprisingly, our brain, which is only 2% of our total body weight, consumes 20% of the calories we eat. This means that eating quality food consistently throughout the day is essential for our mind to perform at its best.

During this busy time it may feel overwhelming to spend time thinking about meals, so here are a few tips to keep your brain out of the fog:

  1.  Eat a morning meal and get your brain into gear! Grab a breakfast sandwich with a side of fruit, a quinoa breakfast bowl, or a fruit and yogurt parfait. Enjoy a coffee with breakfast, but steer clear of the sugar-laden flavored lattes that can cause your energy levels to crash.
  2. Don’t skip meals. Aim to eat a meal every 4 to 5 hours to maintain a steady supply of energy to the brain. Pack snacks like trail mix, granola bars, or fresh fruit for those times when you can’t squeeze in a meal.
  3. Stay hydrated. Water is essential for delivering nutrients to our cells (i.e. brain cells!) and can help curb cravings for junk food. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, which means that extra hydration is in order if you are drinking coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks during long study sessions. Carry a water bottle and use the water fountains around campus to refill regularly!

Now, let’s look at some of the brain-boosting foods that can help you maximize your study time.


Go green with vegetables like spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard, and broccoli! tumblr_nabgwdrqgs1rge63io1_1280Leafy greens are packed with protective antioxidants like vitamins A (in the form of beta-carotene) and C, and nutrients that boost cellular antioxidant defense like sulforaphane, which is found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or kale. The good news is that you can find greens all over campus – check out a few of our favorites!

  • Grill ‘n’ Greens –  every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the Global Flavour station in Resnik, chefs prepare lean proteins and super food greens grilled to order. You can choose from greens like bok choy, Swiss chard, kale, broccolini, radicchio, and more.
  • Super Foods Vegetarian Salad at Rothberg’s Roasters II. This salad is packed with good-for-you food: kale, Brussel sprouts, Napa cabbage, red cabbage, radicchio, as well as chickpeas, broccoli, pickled carrots, cucumbers, flax seed, avocado, edamame, and signature lemon vinaigrette.
  • Kale salad at Tazza D’Oro – kale, roasted butternut squash, and dried cranberries, served with apple cider vinaigrette.


Nuts and seeds like walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, or flaxseeds may be small, but they deliver big nutrition. They provide a variety of unsaturated fatty acids, which are essential to brain structure and function. A diet lacking in fat can lead to sub-par brain performance, so to ensure you are operating at full capacity, sprinkle nuts and seeds on a salad or grab a handful for a satisfying snack. There are lots delicious ways to enjoy nuts and seeds when dining on campus:

  • Harvest Turkey Salad at Au Bon Pain, featuring roast turkey, romaine and spinach, cranberries, grapes, granny smith apples, goat cheese, walnuts, and balsamic vinegar.
  • Super Foods Wrap at Rotherberg Roasters II – this wrap will keep you full and focused with wheat berries, almonds, cranberries, bell pepper, ginger, honey, orange, avocado, arugula, and tomato, on a whole wheat wrap.
  • Snack on a KIND Bar from Entropy+.


Omega 3 fats are also known as essential fatty acids (EFAs), or fats that cannot be made by the body and must be obtained from food. Among the long list of omega 3 EFA health benefits, brain development and cognitive function are at the top! Omega 3 fats may also boost your mood, something we all need during the stress of finals week. The most potent sources of omega 3 fats are found in marine foods, such as salmon, trout, albacore tuna, mackerel, oysters, and seaweed. If you prefer plant-based sources, reach for walnuts, soy, flaxseed, chia seed, and pumpkin seeds.

These dishes will help you enjoy the recommended 2 to 3 servings of fish each week:

  • Create your own unique poke bowl at iNoodle with your choice of rice or noodles, vegetables, up to two types of raw or cooked fish or shellfish, and customized flavor with sauces and spices.
Poke bowl at iNoodle
  • Blackened Salmon Sandwich at the Underground, featuring a blackened center cut salmon filet topped with melted provolone on a whole grain Kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato, and creamy dill sauce.
  • Nakama Sushi – choose from a wide selection of raw, cooked, and vegetarian options, rolled fresh daily.  Nakama sushi is located in Resnik Servery, but can be found in grab-and-go coolers around campus as well!


Grains provide a dense form of carbohydrate, the nutrient that is most efficiently used to fuel the brain. The best grain foods for our body and mind are whole, unprocessed plants that digest slowly and provide a steady supply of energy. Choose whole grains like oatmeal, barley, quinoa, whole wheat, corn, or brown rice, which will provide sustained energy as you study.

  • Start your day with steel cut oats at the Carnegie Mellon Cafe, complete with your choice of custom toppings like flaxseed, hemp seed, dried fruit, and more!
  • Supergrain bowl at Evgefstos – every Monday and Thursday create a custom Supergrain bowl at the only exclusively vegetarian dining location on campus.
  • Crunchy Quinoa Salad at the Underground – quinoa, kale, shredded carrot, red cabbage, cucumber, scallion, red pepper, edamame, and cashews, with spicy peanut dressing over spring mix. Yum!


Just like whole grains, beans and other legumes (like lentils and peas), provide slow-digesting, complex carbohydrates. Beans also pack a full serving of protein per 1/2 cup, making them a great choice when you need your meal to keep you satisfied so that you can keep your mind on your studies. Beans offer an excellent source of B vitamins like folate and B6 that are linked to regulating metabolism and maintaining normal brain and nervous system function. When you order food on campus, ask for beans on a salad, in a burrito, or make them your main dish!

  • Chana Masala at the Taste of India – chickpeas are the star of the show in this
    Chickpea salad & mushroom panini at     Tazza D’Oro

    flavorful Masala curry dish.

  • Build your perfect tacos, burrito, or bowl at El Gallo de Oro. You choose between black beans or pinto beans, combined with rice, protein, vegetables, and the salsa that fits your spice level.
  • Chickpea salad at Tazza D’Oro – this grab-and-go salad is tossed with Mediterranean spices, lemon, and olive, making it a filling and flavorful treat. Pair with a panini made with a multigrain roll and a mixed green salad for the perfect trifecta of brain food!


Berries are truly a powerhouse fruit. Due to the high skin-to-fruit ratio, berries are low in calories, high in fiber, and provide a dense source of unique plant nutrients, called phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are concentrated in the skin of fruits and are linked to the color of the fruit. The highest concentration of a group of phytonutrients called anthocyanins are found in dark blue and red berries such as blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries as well as cherries, and red and purple grapes. Anthocyanins have been shown to improve memory, as well as protect brain cells by reducing inflammation. Take advantage of berry benefits by adding them to your yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, smoothie, salad, or simply enjoy them as a snack!

Carnegie Mellon Dining Services wants to know what foods help you to stay focused during finals. Share your tips here!