Before its recent campaign to improve food, Cal’s poor campus dining gave prospective students a reason to attend UCLA instead. Now, Cal Dining is proving itself by offering the nation’s first all-organic salad bar and hiring gourmet chefs to design meals. While everyone likes to make fun of dorm food as second-rate to local dining, no upperclassman would turn down a free "swipe” to Crossroads, which is why when the dining halls are open to the public during move-in days they are packed with older students. The huge, 800-person capacity commons is clean, modern, and gives students more of a buffet-style setting, rather than a cafeteria atmosphere. Most students buy a lunch item at the Golden Bear Café and catch dinner at Crossroads. The other on-campus restaurants serve less-enticing entrees with less variation, but they are nonetheless good places to grab a quick snack or sip coffee and read. Most students also agree that the meal plan is a good idea for incoming students because it’s considerably flexible, convenient, and affordable, and it gives students one less thing to worry about when adjusting to Cal.
Every cafeteria offer a several entrées each night, a soup and salad bar, an American entrée like chicken and potatoes, pizza, burgers, sandwiches, Asian, Mexican, and pasta. There is always at least one vegetarian option, sometimes to the point that there’s no strong “real meat” entrée available. Also, almost every cafeteria offers soft-serve ice cream and several dessert options, which are inconsistently good. Almost everyone agrees that while the food is nothing compared to local restaurants and most stop eating at the cafeteria after freshman year, it is fine.