Outdoor Dining Spots

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The Best Spots to Eat Outside On Campus

So, my friends and I step out of La Burrita with food we Snackpassed seven minutes earlier…Where to next? I don’t know about you, but finding an outdoor place to eat at—and soon, before we get hangry or the food gets cold—can be a bit of a struggle.

To help us all out, here are some Hosea-endorsed spots around campus to eat at for various occasions: alone or with company, at a table or on the grass, for convenience or for a great chat over a great view. These places are where I would take my friends, and where I have made fond memories—hopefully you will as well!

The Most Scenic Spot

The grass leading up to the Campanile.

A seat with a view from the ledge by the Campanile looking back out over the grass to the Bay.

I have to kick off the list with my favorite spot on campus to eat at: the ledge by the Campanile. This place attracts first-years and more generally the adventurous type, but welcomes all—with caution, of course. One of the first times I hung out with my floormate from Unit 2, who is now my housemate, we grabbed a pad thai dinner and ate by the Campanile, with music from my portable bluetooth speaker and a sunset view of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. Since then, I have brought many of my closest friends there. There are only two spots available, but surprisingly enough, they are not too hard to get so I would definitely have this place on my bucket list of places to picnic.

The Central Spot

Tables by the Golden Bear Cafe in the evening.

If you’ve just ordered take-out on the south side of campus (Telegraph Ave or Durant Ave), or from Cal Dining at The Den or Crossroads, chances are you’re entering the campus from the Sather Gate area. The closest and most convenient seats near this hub of campus activity are the tables by the Golden Bear Cafe, assuming you’re lucky enough to find an empty spot. If you can’t, no worries—there are also many benches outside Dwinelle Hall where you can relax and take a quick bite before your next class.

Benches abound in Dwinelle Plaza.

My Favorite Grassy Spot

The grassy lawn outside the Valley Life Sciences Building.

Fresh grass and flowering magnolia trees—sounds like a lovely, natural dining spot to me! You can find this lawn outside the Valley Life Sciences Building, on the Zoology and Botany side. While you’re there, it would be a shame not to snap some Instagram-worthy photos in front of the pink floral background.

The Best Table Spot

Picnic tables outside McLaughlin Hall.

If a pleasant dining environment with tables is more to your taste, then you’re going to like the West Plaza area outside the Engineering building (McLaughlin Hall). The tables there are one of my favorite spots to sit, as they are usually clean and less weather-worn compared to others.

The Lively Spot

Memorial Glade is inviting from every angle, but second-year Hosea Chen likes to sit on the ledges in front of Doe Library.

Finally, there’s the classic picnic location: Memorial Glade. If a meal tastes better to you in a vibrant atmosphere, then this is your spot. I would recommend sitting on the ledges in front of Doe Library or the terrace to the left that overlooks the Glade. Either way the Glade is a center of good vibes on campus. Most of the time, there are people just hanging out or reading, playing spikeball or guitar on the grass—all good company on a sunny day.

Honorable Mentions

A few more honorable mentions for nice outdoor dining spots around campus include the Stanley Hall Patio (Yali’s Cafe Area; left), the Haas School of Business courtyard (middle), and the tables outside Wurster Library (right).

How does this list match up to your favorite outdoor spots?

That is all for this guide on Hosea-endorsed places to dine at before you graduate. As gentle reminders, please keep the spaces clean so others can enjoy them, too. For places that are harder to reach, please be sure to exercise good judgment and caution when getting there. Be safe out there and have fun, Golden Bears!


Hosea Chen is a second-year majoring in Cognitive Science, and minoring in Creative Writing and Data Science.