Eating at the dining commons can be overwhelming, especially with so many options. During the first few weeks of school, I wanted to try EVERYTHING the dining commons had to offer. How else was I supposed to know what was good and what wasn’t? I quickly realized that this is probably how everyone gets the dreaded freshman 15, but I was determined to find out which dining commons was the best for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you’re still trying to figure out where to eat next, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.

Nathan Campos / Daily Nexus

Breakfast: If you can actually wake up in time for breakfast, Carrillo is the way to go. You can get your breakfast “eggs-actly” how you want with your very own made-to-order eggs. On top of that, you can literally have a waffle stamped with the UCSB logo for breakfast every single day if you want to. And let’s not forget about its fruit selection. Not only does it have the basic bananas, apples and tangerines, Carrillo is also supplied with the juiciest cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple and sometimes even watermelon in all of UCSB. So let Carrillo start your day. You won’t regret it.

Lunch: The best dining commons for lunch is Ortega, hands-down. The fact that they have made-to-order paninis has me shook to the core. You can choose between sourdough and wheat, ham and turkey and provolone and cheddar. Also, I don’t know how or why, but Ortega makes the BEST fries, whether they’re regular fries, crinkle-cut or curly fries, Ortega somehow makes them so that they’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. In addition to paninis and fries, you also always have the option of a great salad bar, burgers and sushi!

Dinner: This is up for debate. Some might say DLG has been the best and always will be the best, but Portola is making a comeback. Portola’s “The Brick” serves up some of the best-tasting pizza, and their salad bar is on point. It definitely has the best variety of salad options. It even has pre-crushed eggs for your salad, so you don’t have to do it yourself (something that none of the other dining commons have!) And to end your night, Portola’s soft serve is unbeatable. Pro-tip: Dip your ice cream cone into a bowl of cereal. Frosted flakes work the best. Portola is literally so good that taking a 10-minute bus ride from campus is no big deal.

Honestly, all the dining commons are pretty good, but it just depends on where you go and what they’re serving that day. I would encourage everyone to try each dining commons at least once for every meal to find out what your own preferences are, but I’ll always stand by my opinion that Carrillo has the best breakfast. It’s worth the walk across the lagoon.


Winnie Lam
Winnie Lam serves as the 2020-2021 On The Menu Editor. She has an unhealthy obsession with Trader Joe's and she loves all things matcha.